General

Traction Control - Here and Now

Leap of faith (in gradual stages)

After we'd finished frightening ourselves panic braking on ice, gravel, wet cobblestones and sand it was time to test the latest Bosch traction control (TC) as fitted to Aprilia's delicious new V4 Tuono. This is an eight-stage TC system with eight being the most obtrusive and 1 being no guarantee that you wont flip yourself like a cheese omelette.

We were told to accelerate from rest, shift up to second and pitch the bike into a tight left hand turn that opened out progressively. The aim was to crack the throttle open as wide and as soon as possible. It takes quite a leap of faith to do this on an unfamiliar bike.

But after three or four passes it was fun. The Tuono responds to this cack-handed treatment by not opening its throttle butterflies until it detects that wheelspin is not a risk, despite the fact you've got the cables stretched like piano strings. There's no gurgling, no miss-firing, no popping and banging, it just feels like the hand of God nursing you through the corner opening the taps for you when it's safe to do so.

That was on settings eight, seven and six. Below six things get a bit more conventional in that the rear will pitch and yaw as it slips and grips - this sensation gets more pronounced as you work your way down the TC settings until you get the impression that if you ask too much it will highside you. Still, it's entirely up to you - just pick the setting and choose what you want. Impressive. Particularly when you consider how useful this technology is is on constantly changing surface grip levels - like any normal road.

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