By Roland Brown
‘PITY the poor Aprilia engineer who has to try to improve this bike!’
That’s a strange thought to be flashing through my mind as I’m aiming the revamped Aprilia Tuono Factory down a twisty road in the Dolomite foothills of northern Italy. But the naked V4 seems so stunningly quick, agile, refined and generally close to perfection that anyone charged with improving it further will face one hell of a job.
This hasn’t always been the case. Aprilia’s hyper-naked headbanger has been touched by brilliance ever since 2011, when the Italian firm whipped off the RSV4’s full fairing and bolted on a flat handlebar to create the original 999cc V4R.
But back then, tweaking the Tuono was relatively easy. That original V4R combined stunning performance and state-of-the-art APRC electronics with a hard seat, tiny tank and darts player’s thirst in a way that seemed almost deliberately antisocial.
Updates including a new tank and seat sorted the most obvious shortcomings, and Aprilia didn’t stop there. By last year, the upmarket Tuono V4 1100 Factory featured a punched-out and even more powerful 1077cc, 175hp engine, Öhlins suspension and updated brakes and electronics.
And now the Tuono has been revised again. As before, it comes in two versions: the Öhlins-equipped Factory flagship (as tested) features an RSV4-style tailpiece and wears Supercorsa SPs. The RR has Sachs springs and steering damper, a more conventional dual-seat, and comes with harder-wearing Diablo Rosso III rubber as standard.
Both models use the same 1077cc V4 engine, which is reworked with DLC-coated piston pins and honed rods to reduce friction and help ease the Tuono through Euro4 emission limits, in conjunction with a new exhaust system and revised fuelling and cam timing. The new motor revs 500rpm higher but its vital statistics – peak power 175hp at 11,000rpm, maximum torque 89lbft at 9,000rpm – are unchanged.
So too are the rigid aluminium frame and swing-arm, but the Factory’s front end is revamped with Öhlins NIX30 forks that are slightly lighter in both spring rate and weight (by 800g).
More significantly the Brembo front brake system is comprehensively upgraded, its larger 330mm discs gripped by M50 Monobloc calipers (from M4.32s), operated via a radial master cylinder and equipped with Bosch cornering ABS.
The Tuono’s electronics have been state-of-the-art ever since the original V4R was launched six years ago with its then optional APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) package of easily adjustable traction control, plus quick-shifter, wheelie control and launch control.
This latest model ups the stakes again, adopting Bosch’s 9.1 IMU to allow more sophisticated traction control – still adjustable on the move by paddles for left thumb and index finger – and cornering ABS. The left switch-gear also incorporates a new button for adjusting either wheelie control or the new cruise control, and another to engage the new pit-lane limiter.
There’s also a new joy-stick with which to explore the new 4.3-inch full-colour instrument panel, which has alternative ‘Road’ and ‘Race’ layouts, plus day and night versions of each.
There’s a lean angle indicator within the digital speedo, a tacho bar and host of lights for the APRC functions, plus the three engine modes, which in Tuono style all give the full 175hp output and are titled Sport, Track and Race.
That might all sound complicated but the set-up is intuitive and simple. The bigger, more complex exhaust system required for Euro4 means the Tuono is 2.5kg heavier despite those lighter forks. But at 209kg with fuel it’s still very light, and felt slim and controllable as I set off from the launch base in Trento.