Aprilia Tuono

Can the big-sell­ing Yamaha MT-10 con­vince an Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Fac­tory owner to change his mind?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - By Si­mon Hargreaves MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Two bikes exit the cor­ner in first gear. The road is glis­ten­ing from a re­cent down­pour and now re­flect­ing back the blind­ing re­venge of a low, late-au­tumn sun. Both rid­ers crack their throt­tles si­mul­ta­ne­ously, and both bikes’ front wheels pop into the air like cham­pagne corks, fling­ing a pair of cheeky wheel­ies a few yards down the road in sat­is­fy­ing twin parabo­las of ac­cel­er­a­tion. Nei­ther ef- fort nor skills are re­quired to ini­ti­ate the stunt; it’s a nat­u­ral re­ac­tion to a marginally in­del­i­cate wrist ac­tion.

But it’s dif­fi­cult, se­ri­ously dif­fi­cult, to ride ei­ther the Tuono or the MT with­out such oc­cur­rences be­ing ev­ery-ride reg­u­lar. Short-shift­ing as a means of lim­it­ing the height of the front wheel quickly be­comes sec­ond-na­ture. Blat­ter­ing though quick­shifter-as­sisted trans­mis­sion ra­tios of ei­ther bike is like de­liv­er­ing a blis­ter­ing com­bi­na­tion of punches, with the front tyre bounc­ing up and down with each blow like a punch­bag on elas­tic.

The two rid­ers park up, hel­mets off, gig­gling like fools. Kar Lee, Aprilia Tuono 1100 owner and there­fore not a man of whom it can be said fails to ap­pre­ci­ate the odd ver­ti­cal mo­ment now and again, steps off the MT-10. It’s the first time he’s ever rid­den one and I’m dy­ing to know what he thinks. Will he, like so many oth­ers this year, be smit­ten by the Yamaha’s hope­lessly lu­natic power de­liv­ery; an en­gine and gear­box that shove so much thrust into the tar­mac the bike spends more time on its hind legs than Bucka­roo?

“It’s so much big­ger than the Tuono!” says Kar. “It’s like sit­ting on an ad­ven­ture bike. You could tour on it; it’s less ag­gres­sive and ev­ery­thing’s softer. You feel more cos­set­ted.”

There’s a pause while I un­fur­row my brow. It’s fair to say this is an un­ex­pected re­ac­tion. The MT-10 may be many things, but soft and cos­set­ting are not usu­ally said to be two of them.

But maybe we shouldn’t be sur­prised. In 2016, Aprilia’s Tuono V4 1100 Fac­tory won two ti­tles: it’s holder of The Long­est Name Of Any Bike but, more im­por­tantly, the V4 also beat Yamaha’s MT-10 into sec­ond place

in MCN’S hy­per­naked group test. On the road it matches peer­less han­dling with gen­uine sports­bike per­for­mance, slick elec­tronic rider aids and stun­ning looks. On the track, it’s only half-a-sec­ond down on Du­cati’s 1299 Pani­gale S. But the Yamaha’s ace up its sleeve is its price; at £9999, it’s nearly five grand cheaper than the £14,636 Aprilia. Which is why we’re here, with Tuono-own­ing Kar, to find out if the Yam re­ally is five grand less loopy.

I jump on the Yamaha and we fire off down the road, thread­ing a path through a soggy, but slowly dry­ing, Lin­colnshire. The MT-10 is a con­stant sur­prise. Its rid­ing po­si­tion is ex­cel­lent, even if you’re fussy about weather pro­tec­tion. You sit deep in the bike, be­hind a gen­er­ous tank that com­bats enough wind to cruise at 80mph with­out dis­com­fort, en­joy­ing the smooth, steady puls­ing of its 998cc, 152bhp cross­plane in­line four – en­gi­neered to gen­er­ate the charis­matic throaty bur­ble of a gen­uine V4. And in this much Kar is right; you could ride a long way on the MT-10. Comfy seat too. Ideally I’d fit Yamaha’s op­tional fly­screen, and a louder pipe would truly sing along­side the MT-10’S quick­shifter.

But open the taps and boy, that mo­tor be­comes some­thing else. The Yam leaps into ac­tion – pow, pow, pow – lift­ing the front in any gear at any speed given the slight­est lump in the road. It doesn’t feel like power de­liv­ery so much as instant torque de­liv­ery (too instant in Mode B, where it’s ba­si­cally a switch). Just like the par­ent R1, I find the mo­tor an in­tox­i­cat­ing, ad­dic­tive ex­pe­ri­ence I want to keep sam­pling over and over again. I can’t imag­ine ever get­ting blasé about us­ing it. I think it might be the most en­joy­able en­gine I’ve ever used.

The Yamaha’s fully ad­justable KYB sus­pen­sion is no slouch ei­ther. It’s com­pli­ant; sprung and damped to per­form

in all-round con­di­tions rather than ex­cel un­der sport­ing ex­tremes. And the Yam cer­tainly feels more solid than the Aprilia – it has a weighty feel­ing of mass be­ing moved from one di­rec­tion to an­other.

We stop for a brew at a truck­stop and Kar re­mem­bers the thread of our pre­vi­ous con­ver­sa­tion. “That’s what the MT-10’S en­gine is,” he says. “It’s ur­gent. It feels like it’s say­ing, ‘Come on, let’s go, let’s go.’ The Aprilia’s en­gine, on the other hand, has less rush about it;

‘Open the taps and, boy, the Yamaha’s mo­tor be­comes some­thing else’

it takes longer to wind it­self up. But the Tuono’s chas­sis is the one de­mand­ing you go faster and faster. It’s set up to per­form at a pace the Yamaha isn’t com­fort­able at.”

To find out if Kar is right, I take over the Aprilia. And right away, its rid­ing po­si­tion is a cul­ture shock. The rider perches on top of the Tuono, body­weight lean­ing fur­ther for­ward and lower, putting more kilos over the front end. Its cen­tre of grav­ity is higher, and there’s less sub­stance be­tween your knees. At first I feel ex­posed and top heavy, top­pling into the damp cor­ners. Grad­u­ally, the Aprilia re­pays the faith, re­spond­ing with more feed­back as the pace picks up – but it still feels as if its en­ve­lope of best per­for­mance is a speed range far out­side that ad­vis­able on public roads. Kar is right – the Tuono’s chas­sis begs to be rid­den harder. Its V4 mo­tor, mean­while, is less elec­tri­fy­ing off the bat than the Yamaha; more out­right power, but it’s fur­ther up the rev range, re­served for the up­per ech­e­lons of se­ri­ous speed. The Aprilia feels like a scalpel to the MT-10’S carv­ing knife.

Speak­ing of which a carv­ing knife may have been used to shape the MT’S looks. Rid­ing it is one ex­pe­ri­ence; look­ing at it is an­other al­to­gether. Like so many mod­ern bikes, it looks as if no-one could af­ford to style a fair­ing, so they just left it off and added a few ran­dom shards of cheap plas­tic. “It looks kind of sad,” says Kar, star­ing into the MT-10’S eyes. You would too, if you looked like that. The Aprilia is much pret­tier; the qual­ity of its cast­ings, plat­ing and fin­ish is bet­ter than the Yamaha. You can see where the Tuono’s money has gone. It’s a class act.

YAMAHA MT-10 £9999 152bhp, 210kg R1-based en­gine, elec­tron­ics and chas­sis. Sec­ond in 2016 MCN Hy­per­naked test.

APRILIA TUONO V4 1100 FAC­TORY £14,636 165bhp, 210kg Chas­sis and elec­tron­ics from the RSV4 sports­bike, with bored-out 1077cc V4 mo­tor. MCN 2016 Hy­per­naked test win­ner. Tuono owner Kar Lee feel­ing cos­set­ted on the MT-10 The bike on the left is nearly £5k cheaper than the one on the right Novem­ber roads aren’t the ideal hunt­ing ground

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