Fast Bikes - - CORE TEST -

For some years now the Tuono has been king of the cas­tle in the su­per naked sec­tor. It re­ally is a hell of a bike, with its abun­dance of power, sporty han­dling and plethora of elec­tronic aids. Not to men­tion its dev­il­ish good looks. I can re­mem­ber my last jaunt on a Tuono be­ing filled with laughs and happy mem­o­ries, so I was slightly dis­ap­pointed when I threw a leg over the V4 this time round; I hadn’t re­mem­bered it be­ing so un­com­fort­able. Okay it isn’t like lay­ing on a bed of nails but it didn’t seem to fit around my body as nicely as the other bikes; the rear of the fuel tank has un­pleas­ant square edges that dig into your in­ner thighs and the an­gle of the han­dle­bars seemed to em­pha­size the weight go­ing through the out­side of my palms. What didn’t dis­ap­point me was the sound that big 1100 V4 mo­tor made, a rau­cous boom on tick-over which growled ag­gres­sively with ev­ery twist of the throt­tle. And I can only imag­ine it would sound even sweeter should that big numb look­ing ex­haust be re­placed for a fancy lit­tle af­ter­mar­ket num­ber.

All that said, sit­ting on the Aprilia wasn’t a bad place to be. The dash is uber trick (if a lit­tle fussy) and as soon as I got go­ing I for­got all about the Tuono’s mi­nor faux pas. The mo­tor was just as im­pres­sive as I had re­mem­bered it be­ing. Like the KTM, the Aprilia pulls hard from the get-go with oo­dles of low down torque. More than enough to scare your­self silly if you aren’t pre­pared for it. Straight away, the Tuono is an ex­cit­ing bike to ride, even be­fore you start stretch­ing the thing’s legs. And when you do start stretch­ing its legs, things just get bet­ter. The V4 en­gine is like the gift that keeps on giv­ing.

The mo­tor was giv­ing me so much that I de­cided to have a play around with the anti-wheelie and TC set­tings to see if I could set­tle things down a bit (for in­ves­ti­ga­tory pur­poses only, I haven’t turned soft). The menus aren’t par­tic­u­larly user friendly on the Aprilia and it took a while to work out how to al­ter stuff, but I got there in the end. I wasn’t a fan of the anti-wheelie sys­tem if I’m hon­est; it seemed to cut the power too ag­gres­sively and have the front crash­ing to the ground quite un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously.

The shifter and blip­per both worked rea­son­ably well, but there did seem to be a lot of move­ment on the lever be­fore any­thing hap­pened, so you have to be pos­i­tive with your foot ac­tion. But when you are, it slots in nicely whether you’re go­ing up or down the ’box.

The nice thing about the Tuono is that not only can you turn most of the aids off, such as TC and ABS, when you turn the bike off it doesn’t re­vert

back to a ‘safe’ mode (al­though I wouldn’t call a bike al­ter­ing its set­tings by it­self ‘safe’ at all), so well done, Aprilia.

For a £15,999 bike the switches all looked and felt a bit cheap to me. The in­di­ca­tor switch felt re­ally vague and I had to keep check­ing on the dash if I had ac­tu­ally man­aged to turn the blink­ers on as there was no pos­i­tive ‘click’ on, or off for that mat­ter. And the ig­ni­tion switch on the right bar was like some­thing off a kid’s cas­sette player. It wasn’t a game changer but it did seem a bit naff.

What you do get for your money with the Tuono is class lead­ing wind pro­tec­tion. I know it’s only a lit­tle bit of body­work and a diddy screen, but it doesn’t half make a dif­fer­ence. Bomb­ing down the mo­tor­way, with the cruise con­trol set to 70mph, the Tuono is miles less buf­fety than any other su­per naked on the mar­ket, in their stan­dard, un-af­ter­mar­ket-screened trim any­way.

Like the rest of the bikes in this sec­tor though, the Tuono wasn’t de­signed to spend its life bomb­ing down the mo­tor­way and longs to be thrown from one edge of its Pirelli Su­per­cor­sas to the other, be it on track or your favourite B roads. And the Tuono felt like it wanted to be rid­den hard. It didn’t fill me with con­fi­dence in the same way that the Tri­umph did, and it didn’t feel as com­fort­able when the go­ing got rough, as the KTM did. But when I started to push the Tuono it never once gave the im­pres­sion that it wasn’t up for it. It wanted more. I couldn’t get it to wal­low or protest when I pushed it harder and harder like the KTM had done pre­vi­ously and the masses of low down grunt meant I al­ways had a wheelie-able amount of drive com­ing out of the bends that would have needed a down­shift to match on the BMW, and prob­a­bly two down­shifts on the Tri­umph.

The Aprilia felt more like a sports bike than any of the oth­ers in our test – and it might not have been very com­fort­able, but it was fast. Yes you pay a price for it, but if you want to be no­ticed the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 would have to be the bike for you.

The Tuono had bet­ter road man­ners than Boothy.

Even with Frodo on board, the Tuono was stable in the bends. Bel­lis­simo. 28.5 MPG

Masses of grunt meant this was a dod­dle.

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