First Ride

First ride: Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR review

If you're after a superbike with flat bars, you'll struggle to find better

WHAT do you want from a naked motorcycle? A do-it-all bike? Something you can tour on? Or a bike for weekend blasts? It strikes me that most bikes are designed to do one thing very well but spend most of their life doing something else. For example Adventure bikes that are used for the least adventurous thing in the world: commuting.

However the naked bike has a tough job description; it’s got to be a decent bit of everything for almost everyone.

Today, the term ‘naked’ is about as unhelpful as it’s ever been in describing the type of bike you’re looking at. Take a few of the Tuono V4 1100RR’s rivals as an example: Kawasaki’s Z1000 is listed in their Sports category, while Honda’s CB1000R is listed in their Street category. BMW’s S1000R is listed as a Roadster.

You might think I’m nit-picking but in order to figure out what a bike’s good at, you’ve got to be able to understand what it is that Aprilia have designed it for – and what bikes it’s better than. 

Somewhat helpfully, Aprilia’s range is too small to have categories, so let’s just work off the line Aprilia used in their press conference. The new Tuono is ‘the fastest and sportiest ever naked’. That should be fairly easy to prove one way or another.

Clearly the most obvious change for the new Tuono is its capacity hike, up from 999.6cc to 1077cc, thanks to a wider bore – up from 78mm to 81mm but the short stroke remains the same. While peak power is up to a claimed 175bhp from 170bhp, Aprilia have focused on making the new Tuono more user-friendly.

The engine isn’t the exact one from the new RSV4 RF, although it does share some new internals, including new connecting rod pins, lighter con-rods and a revised crank case to improve oil flow and therefore power loss. The con-rods alone are 400g lighter. The new Tuono isn’t just bored out for more of everything; it’s more efficient at using the power it produces too.

Other notable changes are the swingarm and engine position. The swingarm has been lengthened by 4mm and the engine is positioned further forward - both changes designed to improve traction and also lessen rear tyre wear. One other change that stands out to me is the headlight, which is now 1.5kg lighter than before. Any weight reduction on the front end, especially when it’s situated high, like the headlight, results in less effort to hustle a bike around and that’s no bad thing.

The Tuono still packs all the gadgets and features an upgraded version of its aPRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control), electronics package. Most of it is incredibly useful: traction control, ABS, a quickshifter. Some of it not that useful: launch control. “I’m just nipping down to the shops, love… RAHH-BAHH-BAHH-BAHH---BOOM”.  I’m sure you could live without it.

There are also three riding modes, Track, Sport and Road. The power output remains the same throughout but the throttle response and delivery is adjusted.

The Tuono ain’t a tourer, that’s for sure. The riding position is about as sporty as it gets and by sporty, I mean verging on uncomfortable. Rolling along at 60mph, I take my hands off the bars for a moment and place them where I feel comfortable and I end up with my hands about four inches back and three inches up from where they were. Perhaps I need longer arms.

It’s a similar story for the foot pegs too; comfortable would be around an inch lower than they’re set. The position of the bars and pegs isn’t bad, in fact quite the opposite, I just can’t see myself choosing this bike if my riding was all about bashing out hundreds of cross-country miles.

A small note for the pillions: the passenger seat, although small, appears to make good use of the space it provides. The pegs are set high too, so good luck with that. Sorry to break it to you but you were not who the designers were thinking of when they penned the first sketches for this bike.

But that, you’ll be glad to know, is about that when it comes to the negatives I felt while riding this bike. Everything else is peachy...

Stick it into Sport mode and get stuck in. Although the motor produces a good old wallop of torque right from the word go, you’ll no doubt spend more of your time from 7,000rpm upwards. The noise the motor makes is worth the asking price alone and couple that to the quickshifter and you can turn any road into your own personal MotoGP. The curdling noise of that V4 is momentarily paused by the spit and pop of the quick shifter before the revs carry on surging and the soundtrack gets that bit more frantic.

The Tuono V4 1100RR is quick but it’s not savagely fast, it’s effortlessly fast. It doesn’t have that ‘wait-for-it-here-it-comes-WALLOP’ of an inline-four, nor does it have that instant kick of a big v-twin that has your knees scrabbling to grip  onto anything in your sight like a monkey clinging onto a wet rock. It’s a great blend, the power delivery is refined but the soundtrack is about as smutty as it gets.

Our test route was on tight, twisty, bumpy, broken and greasy Italian roads. The sort of roads that look great in photos but in reality, they were hard work.

They did however show how well suspended and how well fuelled the new 1100R is. My past experiences with the second generation Tuono v-twins were that they were firm to the point of being solid and the fuel-injection was super-snatchy too. The V4 naturally softens off the delivery but the fuelling is now noticeably better than before. A tight and greasy uphill hairpin is the last place you want to 50-pence-piece a corner thanks to poor power delivery but the V4 doesn’t grumble, even when loaded up at low revs and it delivers the exact response you’d expect from the input you give it.

Likewise the suspension had to deal with some ‘authentically Italian’ road maintenance. Big grooves, lots of camber drop offs and pot-holes but the front end stayed composed throughout. It wasn’t like the 1100R glossed over the terrain, you could definitely feel the bumps you rode over but the important thing for me, was that the bike never amplified any of the problems.

When you pick up the pace, comfort-wise, the Tuono doesn’t feel too bad as the wind presses into your body and takes some of the strain from your wrists, but around town, is more take-it-or-leave-it and I’d rather leave it and take something else if commuting and town-work were where I did the majority of my riding.

The one place we didn’t test the Tuono and arguably the place where it would be most as home, was the track. Having ridden the RSV4 RF around Misano World Circuit in the morning and then the Tuono 1100RR around Rimini’s roads in the afternoon, it felt like we had just been tickling the Tuono and not getting out of it anything like what it was designed to do.

There were moments on the road where you got a glimpse of all the best bits of the Tuono working together, the way it felt planted going into corners, the planted feel on the way out and the way the engine felt as it got going - but most of the time we were held up by a granny in a Fiat Panda doing 35mph. That might be the problem you encounter with a bike like the Tuono on the road: it devours anything at legal speeds and needs to stretch its legs.

Which leads me to think about who the Tuono V4 1100RR is for. If you’re after a naked bike, there are so many options to choose from. If you’re after a superbike with flat bars, you’ll struggle to find better.

Model tested: 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR

Engine: 1077cc 65-degree V4

Price: £13,135

Power: 175hp at the crank at 11,000rpm (claimed)

Torque: 88.8lbft at 9,000rpm

Weight: 199kg (no battery or fluids)

Tank capacity: 18.5 litres

Seat height: 825mm

Available: now

Watch our video review of the 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR

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