SU­PER NAKEDS Aprilia Tuono 1100 RR vs. BMW S1000R vs. KTM 1290 Su­per Duke R vs. Yamaha Fz-10

—from road to track and back, this fast, fun four­some goes head to head.

Cycle World - - Contents - By Don Canet

Back in 2012 the fi­nal stretch of a once all-dirt road to the 14,115-foot sum­mit of Pikes Peak was paved, and with this change of sur­face came a new chap­ter in the his­toric Race to the Clouds. As speeds in­creased and elapsed time up the 12.42-mile course plum­meted, safety con­cerns arose. Fol­low­ing a pair of tragic com­peti­tor fa­tal­i­ties, the event or­ga­niz­ers in­tro­duced an equip­ment stan­dard re­quir­ing el­i­gi­ble mo­tor­cy­cles to have been man­u­fac­tured with a one-piece han­dle­bar.

With this “safety” ini­tia­tive the Pikes Peak In­ter­na­tional Hill Climb has be­come a premier show­case for the thriv­ing sport naked seg­ment.

At this year’s 96th run­ning of Amer­ica’s se­cond old­est motorsport race, a 2017 KTM 1290 Su­per Duke R rid­den by for­mer KTM fac­tory su­per­bike pi­lot Chris Fill­more shat­tered the all-time mo­tor­cy­cle record to be­come King of the Moun­tain.

In at­ten­dance serv­ing as a Squadra Alpina rookie rider coach (an­other re­cent PPIHC safety ini­tia­tive) I wit­nessed Fill­more’s his­toric feat and was equally im­pressed by the Su­per Duke R. As chance had it, I trav­eled di­rectly from Pikes to Thun­der­hill Race­way lo­cated in Wil­lows, Cal­i­for­nia, for the GEICO Cy­cle World Track Day Shootout, a two-day event of­fer­ing a rare op­por­tu­nity to ride with read­ers while con­duct­ing the track por­tion of this su­per naked test.

Shar­ing the 3-mile, 15-turn road course with roughly 80 rid­ers each day meant log­ging com­par­a­tive timed laps wasn’t fea­si­ble, and lap times re­ally aren't the point with these fun-fac­tor ma­chines. So Cy­cle World As­so­ciate Ed­i­tor Sean Macdon­ald, Ed­i­tor-in-chief Mark Hoyer, guest tester/red Bull Street Freestyle rider Aaron Colton, and I gath­ered on-track im­pres­sions of each bike’s per­for­mance at speeds much greater than what is sanely pos­si­ble on pub­lic roads. The event was a great suc­cess as read­ers got to ride for free, meet new friends, and in­ter­act/ride not only with mag­a­zine staff but also tal­ented Mo­toamer­ica rac­ers and to speak with rep­re­sen­ta­tives and/or demo gear from Bell Hel­mets, 6D Hel­mets, Alpines­tars, and Pirelli.

Now to in­tro­duce the real stars of the show: Chal­leng­ing the “King” KTM 1290 Su­per Duke R is an Aprilia Tuono 1100 RR, de­fender of the throne as Best Open Class Street­bike in last year’s Ten Best Bikes and re­turn­ing with updated elec­tron­ics and brakes. The Bavar­i­ans have also upped their game, as the 2017 BMW S1000R is en­dowed with a mod­est power in­crease and cor­ner­ing ABS. Round­ing out our test is the Yamaha

FZ-10, a full-fea­ture af­ford­able op­tion in the cat­e­gory based on the YZF-R1.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of Pirelli’s CT Rac­ing (ctrace­ track­side tire ser­vice put the bikes on equal foot­ing with street/track­day Di­ablo Rosso Corsa ra­di­als. The tires held up to count­less laps of abuse while pro­vid­ing plenty of side grip to see ev­ery bike here ground­ing pegs and muf­flers when rid­den at a quick A-group pace.

Once all testers had put in mul­ti­ple ses­sions aboard each bike we had a meet­ing of minds with unan­i­mous praise voiced for the un­matched track prow­ess of the Aprilia Tuono 1100 RR. “Hands down, my fa­vorite en­gine here,” Hoyer re­marked of the 65-de­gree V-4 en­gine’s unique char­ac­ter. “And it’s not just that it’s tech­ni­cally su­pe­rior in terms of bal­anc­ing bot­tom-end torque and a top-end that just won’t quit; it’s also one of the most beau­ti­ful sound­ing and in­spir­ing in its power de­liv­ery.”

Cor­ner exit drive was right at hand with in­tu­itive re­sponse, and the ad­di­tional 500 rpm on top (over its pre­de­ces­sor) al­lowed stretch­ing a gear be­tween turns. “The throt­tle comes in like but­ter when you roll back on mid­corner and is beau­ti­fully con­trol­lable all the way un­til you grab the next gear,” Hoyer en­thused with added grav­ity from an over-the-moon Colton. “It’s the most im­pres­sive mo­tor pack­age I have ever rid­den,” he de­clared. “Low-end is smooth as but­ter and the top-end could get a rocket into space.”

Har­ness­ing that power is the most com­pre­hen­sive and con­fig­urable elec­tron­ics pack­age of the four. Its Rsv4de­rived APRC (Aprilia Per­for­mance Ride Con­trol) now in­cludes auto-blip clutch­less down­shifts, a pit speed lim­iter, and cruise con­trol. This, along with eightlevel TC and three-level Wheelie Con­trol ad­just­ments that can be changed on the fly, means find­ing your pre­ferred set­ting, while more in­volved than the oth­ers, is easy as di­al­ing 911 once fa­mil­iar with the process. The Tuono also has a Launch Con­trol func­tion for race starts; how­ever, I don’t rec­om­mend its use if you value clutch longevity.

With the most planted feel of the lot, the Tuono’s han­dling was the epit­ome of rid­ing on rails yet of­fered su­perb agility work­ing the track’s side-to-side tran­si­tions. Its up­graded Brembo M50 calipers, 330mm front discs, and Boschimu-en­abled cor­ner­ing ABS proved a per­fect ad­di­tion to Aprilia’s well-re­fined pack­age.

Such was not the case re­gard­ing the brakes on the BMW S1000R. “I thought brake fade was a thing of the past, but even with re­peated bleed­ing the front sys­tem on the S1000R went from pretty good to spongy in less than three laps

at the track,” Hoyer noted. “I ad­justed the lever all the way out and still had to re­sort to four-fin­ger brak­ing at the track.” Ex­ces­sive lever travel spooked more than one rider, as Colton also ex­pe­ri­enced “brake fade on ev­ery out­ing” with Macdon­ald com­plain­ing of “in­con­sis­tent brake feel” as well.

Our test unit came equipped with BMW’S HP forged wheels, a $1,375 op­tion said to pro­vide a 5-pound weight sav­ing and sub­stan­tial re­duc­tion in rolling in­er­tia. This, along with its ti­ta­nium muf­fler and rel­a­tively wide, high­lever­age han­dle­bar, lends the S1000R a lithe re­sponse at turn-in, but it also proved the most ner­vous and un­set­tled of the lot when push­ing a quick pace. “At the track, the BMW seemed to feel slightly dif­fer­ent go­ing through the same cor­ner in the same way,” Hoyer said. “It was odd, and I can only think that the elec­tronic sus­pen­sion is what’s caus­ing this.” His view was backed by Colton, who also felt the DDC sus­pen­sion was not con­sis­tent from lap to lap and at times had a pump­ing, lost feel­ing in the rear.

Adding to our Beemer’s baf­fling be­hav­ior was oc­ca­sional non-op­er­a­tion of its bidi­rec­tional Gear Shift As­sist Pro, a new ad­di­tion to the Pre­mium Pack­age. De­spite that, we can’t imag­ine a buyer pass­ing on this $1,900 add-on, which also in­cludes DDC, Dy­namic TC, ad­di­tional ride modes in­clud­ing Ride Mode Pro (for greater cus­tomiza­tion of elec­tronic aids), cruise con­trol, “cor­ner­ing” ABS Pro, heated grips, and a stylish en­gine spoiler.

KTM of­fers up­grades for the 1290 Su­per Duke R in the form of a Per­for­mance Pack ($475.99) that in­cludes a bidi­rec­tional Quick­shifter+, Blue­tooth de­vice con­nec­tiv­ity with its new TFT dash dis­play, and MSR (Mo­tor Slip Reg­u­la­tion) that elec­tron­i­cally con­trols the de­gree of en­gine-brak­ing. There’s also a Track Pack ($299.99) that un­locks ninelevel TC ad­just­ment, throt­tle re­sponse se­lec­tion, launch con­trol, and al­lows Wheelie Con­trol to be turned off.

Un­for­tu­nately our test­bike didn’t have the lat­ter so we made do with pre­set TC and a rather nan­ny­ish an­ti­wheelie fea­ture. Of course to the de­light of our guest wheelie mae­stro, the

sys­tem can be turned off to un­leash the full thrill of the V-twin’s mon­ster midrange torque. “If the Aprilia is a su­per­bike with bars on it, the KTM is a su­per­moto with a mon­ster en­gine,” re­marked Macdon­ald, who took a shine to the Duke’s men­ac­ing styling. “Love the looks. It feels ex­otic and spe­cial and ob­nox­ious when you’re on it. The looks re­flect the ob­scen­ity that is the mo­tor.”

De­spite an ad­di­tional 500 rpm ex­ten­sion to the rev range in­cluded within the lat­est up­dates, we found the Duke de­manded more gear changes per lap than the oth­ers. Tap­ping into its meaty midrange and run­ning a gear taller in most cor­ners greatly helped. “So much torque ev­ery­where!” was Hoyer’s in­spired take. “To­tal brain re­cal­i­bra­tion


re­quired when jumping off of one of the higher-revving four-cylin­der bikes. I got into a groove on the race­track and felt like I was fly­ing but at the same time never felt rushed or over­whelmed.”

Taller and nar­rower than the oth­ers, once ac­cli­mated to the KTM’S roomy on-top non-hun­kered-in sen­sa­tion, then the hard-cor­ner­ing fun un­folds. “Felt tall and nar­row, but I man­aged to drag the shifter mid­corner and changed gears!” Hoyer ex­claimed af­ter hot lap­ping the Duke with base­line sus­pen­sion set­tings. “Luck­ily, on street pat­tern, this was an up­shift… I minded my lean an­gle and ad­justed the shifter for more clear­ance fol­low­ing that and it was fine.” KTM has the fore­sight to in­clude a de­cal un­der the seat with sug­gested preload and damp­ing ad­just­ments for road or track use. While more lively and less planted than the Tuono, the Duke railed the cir­cuit at speed and braked with the con­fi­dence and vigor one would ex­pect from its new M50 caliper/bosch-en­abled cor­ner­ing ABS setup. I now see how this stock plat­form pro­vided the base for con­quest of the moun­tain.

View­ing the spec chart would sug­gest the FZ-10 is dis­ad­van­taged in this fast com­pany in hav­ing some­thing north of 20 fewer peak horse­power than the oth­ers. But the R1-de­rived in­line-four holds its own and is rich in char­ac­ter with a unique sound and feel thanks to its cross­plane crank con­fig­u­ra­tion. “Great mo­tor, nice power down low, but fun through­out the rev range,” Macdon­ald re­marked. Colton con­curred: “Very fun, lin­ear mo­tor. Im­pres­sive wheel-lift­ing power through third gear.”

While we all found the de­liv­ery in­tu­itive and three-level trac­tion con­trol easy to grasp, to a man we noted edgy re­sponse when ini­tially open­ing the FZ’S throt­tle. “Even in the softer throt­tle set­tings, it took adap­ta­tion to the smal­lopen­ing quick­ness of the Yamaha’s rideby-wire sys­tem,” Hoyer stated, ref­er­enc­ing the trio of ride modes la­beled STD, A, and B. “Af­ter a few laps at the track or sev­eral miles on the street, I was able to cope, but I think the FZ-10 would ben­e­fit from fine-tun­ing in this re­gard.”

De­spite weigh­ing in se­cond light­est to the BMW, the Yamaha chas­sis felt softly sprung when hus­tling it around

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