MT-10SP, S1000R, Tuono Factory and Super Duke R hit Europe’s best road
Aprilia’s new Tuono 1100 V4 Factory, the BMW S1000R Sport, KTM 1290 Super Duke R and the Yamaha MT-10SP are the hardest, most extreme super-nakeds money can buy.
The new machines rival sportsbikes with searing performance, cuttingedge technology and they’re powered by biking’s most evocative engines: BMW’S screamadelic inline four, Yamaha’s howling crossplane masterpiece and because they’re not shackled by superbike racing rules, KTM and Aprilia have allowed themselves to run riot.
By upping the capacity of its wailing V4 to an 1100 the Tuono’s motor churns out a mesmerising arc of stinging power and bulging grunt. The Super Duke’s rumbling 1.3-litre V-twin is simply a thing of ground-churning wonder.
It’s race-bred chassis technology allround, too. The Aprilia sits on Öhlins suspension and the KTM on WP’S finest. The Yamaha and BMW have electronic semi-active units – Öhlins for the SP and an Hp4-derived Sachs system on the S1000R, which also runs forged aluminium wheels on this test bike (a £1250 option).
Top- spec tech
Radial Brembos are a staple on all but the MT-10SP and these super-nakeds are packed with the latest electronics: rider modes, traction control, cornering ABS, quickshifters and autoblippers (except the Yamaha). The Aprilia even has a pitline limiter and launch control (as does the KTM). And talking of the pointless end of electronics scale, they have anti-wheelie. Why? Fortunately
you can turn them all off.
They’re fast and clever beyond comprehension, but they’re refined, too. They all have cruise control, comfy seats, full colour displays (except the Beemer, which makes up for it with heated grips) and the KTM also has keyless ignition. They ooze quality, as they should with their premium prices.
Trans Europe express
To give them a proper workout we decided to take them across France, into the immaculate south west of Germany and on to the magical B500, south of Baden-baden (see page 29).
This Playstation-perfect ribbon of tarmac, embedded in lush scenery, could easily be the Nürburgring’s wilder, long-lost feral brother and scorching through on the BMW, Yamaha and KTM is sensory overload. But like hacking into a computer game and unlocking the cheats, it’s another level when you jump on the Aprilia.
‘They’re fast and clever beyond comprehension’
Best Tuono ever?
You might think the new Tuono is made from metal, rubber, silicone and plastic, but it’s actually crafted from velvet, butter and gunpowder. The speed with which it dives into corners is almost otherworldly and the sensation of feel, grip and stability from the front end borders on the spiritual. It has the poise to lean further than its rivals and carry more corner speed. It explodes from turn to turn and demolishes straights with blissful speed and the haunting V4 soundtrack ricocheting off the Black Forest’s trees sends shivers down an already electrified spine.
Few machines, even full-blooded race replica superbikes, serve up such exquisite feel through their chassis or shower the rider with a sense of speed and occasion.
Over on the Yamaha the riding ex- perience is dominated by its glorious crossplane crank motor and in the words of fellow tester James Doherty: “It wheelies even when you don’t want it to,” which best sums up the madness of the MT-10SP. It’s an inline four that thinks it’s a V4, so it’s no surprise it feels like the Aprilia, rocketing out of corners and making a glorious racket along the way. It might sound and even accelerate like Rossi’s M1 in the lower gears, but the power delivery is nonthreatening, so it’s easy for all levels of rider to manage.
The MT-10SP is just as agile in the B500’s tight sections and with the electronic Öhlins set to its stiff setting, it’s stable in the fast parts, too. It doesn’t quite have the Tuono’s braking power (an autoblipper is conspicuous by its absence) and the suspension is slightly floatier when you shove the Yamaha on its side, but the MT is a class act. Swap the sports Bridgestone S21 tyres for something stickier and the gap to the Tuono would shrink.
Lunatic BMW, wild KTM
Sniffing at the Yamaha’s tailpipe is the S1000R Sport. It’s a crazed lunatic on the throttle, has precise steering, loves long, fast corners and its electronic suspension manages to find grip at every opportunity, at the expense of a small amount of feel at the limit. Its five-year-old design Bridgestone S20 tyres are adequate, but don’t wrap you in a soft duvet of confidence and grip you get with the Tuono’s Pirelli Super Corsa SPS. As with the MT-10SP, fitting sportier tyres would transform ride quality, feel and grip.
KTM’S fabulous new Super Duke R is as fun as it looks. You can feel the Austrian firm’s orange off-road blood coursing through its veins. It’s tall, thin, roomy and you’re pitched right over the front, as if you are riding a supermoto. Slow to medium speed corners are the KTM’S thing, where it steers with Tron-like speed and accuracy. Jam it into a corner, throw it onto its side and fire out the other side, in a booming, tidal wave of torque, Metzeler M7 Sportec RR rear tyres painting graceful black lines into the Bavarian tarmac.
‘The BMW is a crazed lunatic on the throttle’
With so much grunt on tap youõd think the Super Duke R would be long-revving and lazy, but the power delivery is snappy and short. Youõre up and down the gears more than the others to stay in the motorõs narrow mid-range sweet spot, so youõre always working hard to keep up. Itõs not as planted in fast sweepers as its lower, longer rivals and its ABS, even on its sportiest settings can be intrusive when you lean on the brakes hard.
They can do the miles too
With senses rinsed from a day of supernaked excess on the B500 weõre back on the motorways to complete our 1300mile round trip. None of these supernakeds are particularly uncomfortable, which is what makes them so appealing compared to race reps. Minimal bodywork reduces the chance of speeding, too. All have cruise control, so itõs just a case of sitting back and watching the miles drift by.
If you could take the best bits from each bike for grinding-out long journeys youõd choose the wind protection from the Yamaha, the KTMÕS legroom and the seat, heated grips, switchgear, dash and cruise control from the BMW. Messy switchgear blights the Yamaha and Aprilia, while the Tuono also takes the award for the most complicated, hardest to fathom and read dash. If you could take the best bits for everything else, youõd choose the Aprilia.
‘You’re up and down the gears to keep the KTM in its sweet spot’ ‘With senses rinsed from a day of super- naked excess on the B500 we’re back on the motorway’
Super nakeds don’t come much wilder than the Tuono
It’s thirsty work riding the Black Forest’s stupendously good B500 all day Get yourself down to the B500 Think of the B500 as the Nürburgring’s two-lane brother
Super-nakeds camp out with the scoots
Think of the KTM as a supermoto on steroids