Buyer Guide: Aprilia Tuono

The ultimate buying and owning guide by the people who know these bikes best: those who’ve bought them, run them, broken them, fixed them, spent money on them and more

Click to view: Aprilia Tuono owners reviews, specs and image galleries.

Sports bike handling and performance with upright bars. It sounds so obvious but for years no-one did it.

Triumph came first with their T509 which evolved into the modern Speed Triple but Aprilia were next to whip most of the plastic of their race rep and stick on high bars instead. And they made a damn good job of it too.

Most firms soften and detune bikes when they ‘fighter them. Not Aprilia. It’s still hard edged, firm and flippin’ fast. The upright riding position and wide bars mean it’s actually a quicker machine than the equivalent sports bike on the road.

Push above 110mph and the wind pressure robs the rider of steering finesse but it’s still an admirable package of rapid and practical partly thanks to the surprisingly useful fairing. There’s a bonus, too. It’s a fecking two wheeled loon. Colossal low range torque, sharp brakes, that commanding riding position, firm suspension and light overall weight make it perfect for stunting and general cocking about on.

But Italian machines don’t have the best reputation for build quality and robust electrics. We’d heard dealer back up could be poor and spares hard to come by. Are these just internet rumours and a handful of people making a lot of noise?

Fortunately a massive 119 owners filled in our on-line survey, telling us all about their bike and what it’s like to live with. If you want the truth on the Tuono, believe what you read here...

The nuts & bolts

Owners fit a huge range from super sticky track tyres to sports touring rubber.  Three tyres take joint first place in populararity for the MK I bikes – Bridgestone’s versatile and high tech BT-016, its older cousin, the BT-014 and Pirelli’s evergreen Diablo. It’s a similar story for the MK II machines with owners opting for a vast spread or makes and brands. The most popular was Bridgestone’s BT-016 with Michelin’s sporty Pilot Power 2CT and Metzeler’s extremely grippy Rennsport equal second.

Running costs
It’s a premium motorbike so don’t expect to run it for pence. The good news is it’s not fiercely expensive like some Italian machines. Servicing is due every 7,500 miles, alternating minor / major. UK owners of the MK I bike paid an average of £153 and £315 respectively – good value considering the valve clearances need attention at the major service. Intervals are the same for the MK II bike and average prices paid were even lower at £150 and £256. These are much lower than most Ducatis and less even than some Japanese competitors.

It’s still not a cheap bike – fuel is guzzled at an average rate of 33.8mpg for MK I bikes and 33.1 for the MK II. No-one managed more than 40mpg and some were less than 30. Rear tyre life can be very short too with MK I bike owners averaging 2,583 miles from a rear – and a more palatable 5,015 from fronts (wheelie merchants). The MK II is similar with an average tyre life of 2,697/4,258 miles front/rear respectively. What tyres are used makes a difference. Ian Scotson points out he gets 2,700 from a pair of super sticky Metzeler Rennsports but 7,000-8,000 from a pair of sports touring Michelin Pilot Roads.

What goes wrong
We asked: “How reliable has your bike been?” 58% said: ‘100% reliable’, 32% said: ‘It had one minor problem’, 10% said: ‘It’s had a few problems’ and 1% said: ‘It’s had loads of problems’

That’s pretty good if not perfect. It’s a fractionally better result than Ducati’s 749 and 999 models managed last month but we think some of the Japanese models would do better still.

Looking at exact problems, it’s more a wide range of niggles than major grief in most cases. There were 24 MK I UK bikes in our survey. Ten owners reported no problems and the rest had at least one. Sprag clutch faults, battery issues, starter solenoid problems and fork seals failing were all reported twice and eight other quite varied but fairly minor other issues were reported. The only one which might cost a lot to sort is the sprag clutch. Keeping the battery well charged gives it the best chance of staying in good working order.

The MK II bikes were more problematic. Our survey had replies from 32 UK owners of them. Fourteen had no problems at all but the rest suffered at least one fault. Again, it’s a broad list of issues but with some noticeable trends. Six had the clocks mist up and it happened more than once to two owners after replacing the whole unit. Five complained the rear brake needed very regular bleeding and two had a wire in the ignition break and need repairing. Fourteen other one-off faults were reported.

Owner Case Study: “...I’ve done 65,000 miles on mine...”

John Reardon bought his 2004 Tuono R three years ago and he’s taken the mileage from 4,000 to 69,000

“I love it, it’s an animal. It does everything I want it to do. It’s comfortable so using it for work isn’t a problem. It’s very fast, I love how it puts down the power and feels like it wants to rip your arms off. The noise it makes gives me such a buzz too. It’s good to commute on as well. I’ve changed the gearing on mine, making it a wheelie machine. When I do get round to changing I’m going to get another but the Factory model in the original MK I shape. I don’t like the new shape.

“I know it’s had one or two problems: an oil leak from clutch push rod seal, an oil leak from a starter motor o-ring and the sprag clutch failed. That happened just after I bought it and fixing it was expensive. Considering the miles it’s done and the abuse I’ve given it I think that’s pretty good. I can’t raate this bike highly enough, on the track it’s unreal. On the small tight tracks it will give any litre sports bike a run for its money. People ask me why don’t I get a new bike now but, I’ve got no reason to. There’s nothing wrong with this bike and every time I ride it I still come back with a huge grin on my face.”

A common complaint on modern bikes but the Tuono seems better than most. A whopping 56% of UK owners of the MK I machine said they had no complaints about finish and many said it was better than other bikes they’ve had. Of those who did complain they were all minor gripes with no real pattern to them. The MK II’s even better. 59% of UK owners reported no problems at all. The rest were a smattering of minor gripes with two people singling out the horn. We’ve heard the gold frames aren’t as well finished as black ones too.

Dealers and culture
Dealers are rarer than for more mainstream brands. Spares can be slow to arrive with UK owners in our survey waiting an average of 10 days per part. 25% said their dealer usually had the parts they wanted in stock, 36% said parts typically took between two days and a week to arrive but 9% had waited over a month. It’s worth getting service items like oil filters well in advance and bear in mind if your bike gets badly damaged or suffers a major mechanical mishap, it may be off the road for some time. There’s loads of knowledge at

Exhausts are incredibly popular as they let the V-twin roar. Akrapovic is by far the most popular and everyone loves them. Beowulf is second and well liked, especially considering the price while Arrow is third most popular. The only can which gets slated is a Blue Flame which fell apart.

A 15 or 16 tooth front sprocket lowers gearing and is a popular tweak. Opening up the airbox is also widespread and highly rated. A remap from an Aprilia dealer may do the job, if not a Power Commander will but some owners say a Gabro chip (a custom mapped EPROM from Italy) is the best option. There’s a pretty good range of sporty / bling options out there for both models – but less if you want to go down the hard luggage / touring route.

Your Reviews

Log your take on the lairy Aprilia Tuono in our owner reviews section, just head over here and rank the Italian naked.

Owner Case Study: “...I’ve had a MK I and a MK II...”

Paul Hodgeson owned a MK I Tuono Racing. Then he bought a MK II Tuono R and has done 10,200 miles

“This is my second Tuono and the first never missed a beat in three years and 12,000 miles. I have had a few niggles with the MK II,  but nothing to put me off. I love it, in particular the acceleration. The handling is perfect and the attention to detail on parts is beautiful. I fitted an Öhlins rear shock because I was disappointed with the standard shock on the MK II R. The Öhlins allows a great balance between comfort and control which I couldn’t achieve with the standard set up. Forks are great though. I’ve also fitted a Leo Vince exhaust which gives a lovely deep sound and isn’t too anti-social. The bike was designed to have open pipes. The ECU has a sports pipe map specifically for this as standard. Other extras are CRG levers for the bling and additional adjustment/improved feel and a tail tidy.

"Although there are quite a few Tuonos around now they still feel special and exclusive. The pride of ownership is very high because as a package it works so well and is so exciting to ride. There is nothing I would swap it for right now but I am looking forward to an RSV4-based model coming out.”