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.

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Comment - By Liam Mars­den WEB PRO­DUCER

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’

2003 2004 Q THANKS: MCN con­trib­u­tor Jon Urry for the use of his Tuono Rac­ing 2006

2007 Work­shop Man­ager at Aprilia Per­for­mance, Tam­worth Over-tight pinch bolts crack the …hlins very forks eas­ily Ð itõs a £600 fix

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