MT-10SP, S1000R, Tuono Fac­tory and Su­per Duke R hit Europe’s best road

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Michael Neeves CHIEF ROAD TESTER

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

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