Aprilia Tuono Can the old-school bruiser cut it in a world of digital nakeds?
REVISITED Keep an eye on the oil The Tuono has a dry sump – with the tank on the left hand side under the crash bung. Rear master cylinder Sitting underneath the gearbox, it overheats, leaving you a weak rear brake.
What we said then
“The Tuono is a bike for almost every occasion. It offers all the performance of a sportsbike without sacrificing the fun factor on the altar of practicality. The engine is a peach and as a package it works really well. At £7500 it even represents great value, and with the options catalogue expected to be massive, your Tuono could be a truly distinctive machine on roads crammed with me-too sportsbikes.” MCN launch report – September 18, 2002
But what is it like now?
The Tuono is a bike that’s proud of its superbike beginnings and looks as brash as the concept of a naked superbike seemed in the early 2000s. I’ve always liked bikes that look brash and hard, like they’d headbutt you for spilling their pint. Even today the Tuono still looks hard and stands out. At a time when the closest we had to a super-naked bike was the Yamaha FZS 1000, the Tuono put a rocket up the class’s arse and it hasn’t looked back since.
Today, when the super-naked market is dominated by bikes nudging £15,000, laden with more electronics than Neil Armstrong would’ve known what to do with, the original still holds its own.
With a bit of choke the tacho needle sits just below 2000rpm on the distinctive, retro sci-fi clocks. The tacho goes all the way round to 12,000rpm – high for a V-twin. The clutch feels heavy – I wouldn’t want to spend too long riding round town – and first gear slots into place with a reassuring clunk.
The engine, even almost 15 years later, is still special. There’s a good spread of torque at the bottom end, making lazy riding easy, but open the throttle and there’s a kick higher up as the entire bike blasts forward, front wheel heading for the sky, tacho needle surging towards 12,000rpm. The brakes (radial Brembos on this rare Tuono Racing model) aren’t quite up to modern standards, but what they lack in power they make up for in feel.
The Tuono is quite a tall bike, and with wide motocross-style bars it’s easy to manhandle through the corners and just begs to be taken by the scruff of the neck. If you want to ride the Tuono more sedately it’ll do that as well, but it really shines when you want a bit of fun. The suspension easily soaks up the unpredictable bumps of Leicestershire’s B-roads. I could do this all day and my grin wouldn’t narrow, but the Tuono needs to return to its owner.
In an age where electronics only let you have the braking force or power they want you to have, the Tuono is everything a super naked should be – fast, raw, visceral, and lots of fun.
Common faults explored
This bike is the Racing model, with Öhlins forks that are prone to cracking at the fork bottoms if the pinch bolts are over-tightened, which is easy to do. The lower-spec Showa forks on the standard model don’t have this problem. If you’re looking for a Racing model specifically make sure it comes with the standard carbon-fibre bellypan and rear seat cover – they fetch a lot on ebay if you need to buy one. The sprag clutch can be problematic with Tuono and RSVS of this era, especially if the bike’s been regularly started with the throttle open. Listen for any noise coming from the left of the engine on start-up.
Meet the family
Rare Tuono Racings like this one go for roughly £5000 today. The Racing was produced in 2003 to compete in the Tuono Cup race series in Italy. It comes with carbon bodywork, white magnesium OZ wheels, suspension and steering damper from Öhlins and a louder Aprilia Racing exhaust. If you’re looking for the ultimate Tuono, this is it.
If the in-your-face Racing isn’t to your fancy the standard Tuono and Tuono Factory are just as good on the road, and much cheaper. The standard Tuono features suspension from Showa and Sachs. The Factory comes with Öhlins suspension and steering damper, radial brakes, and slightly more power than the standard version.
“The sidestands also need upgrading – we swop them with 2004-2007 Honda Fireblade stands.
“We also recommend upgrading the airbox because it’s massively restricted as standard. We make our own airbox kits, which add about five bhp throughout the rev range without fuelling mods. They’re £120.
“The collector mod would be next on my list. It’s basically the same
‘We make our own airbox kits, which add about 5bhp across the range’