Triumph Speed Triple vs. Aprilia Tuono vs. Kawasaki Z1000

Three of the best naked bikes of recent years. And all could be yours for under £5k.

So there we were, wheeling a 2004 Kawasaki Z1000, 2004 Triumph Speed Triple (the 955i variety) and a 2007 Aprilia Tuono out of the van. And I’m stood there thinking we might as well go home because the Aprilia’s won it. It’s barely two years old, looks like it’s been carved from a block of granite and wears its digital dash, radial callipers and upside-down forks like a Welterweight boxer’s glistening belt. It makes the other two look like the sportiest thing they’re capable of is a game of pub darts.

All three bikes are great examples, the Z1000 and Speed Triple may look expensive when sat next to a Tuono that’s over two years fresher but it’s a testament to their re-sale value and a worrying insight into how much someone’s lost on that Tuono in just two years..

Click to read: Aprilia Tuono owners reviews

So first up the Tuono. I set off and was instantly reminded of the first Tuono I rode back in 2003 when they were launched. For naked bikes they were a revelation, but so stiff and sharp, gone was the plushness of naked bikes like the Ducati Monster. This was a Sambuca shot to the Monster’s Mojito.

Then the Tuono Racing came out, a totally bonkers Tuono featuring carbon-fibre bodywork, lightweight Marschesini wheels and a race-chip. The Tuono Racing was like holding onto a German Shepherd that’s just seen a squirrel run up a tree. And this 2007 standard Tuono I was riding felt exactly the same, it was going to be trouble, I just didn’t know quite when.

It’s an all-or-nothing bike, with super-sharp throttle response, rock-hard suspension and an even harder seat. Don’t get me wrong, the Tuono is a buzz, it’s precise and instant, sporty and aggressive and you may think “Yes yes, these are the things I want” but I’m not so sure.

There’s a tense rigidness to this bike, it feels anxious and needs to be calmed down. You notice it most the moment you get back on the gas out of a corner; it sits up, jerks forward and demolishes the revs - the motor doesn’t appear to be stressing, there’s no progression of power, just instant on-and-off delivery. And as if this chassis needed any help, the massive bars means the merest millimetre of direction change on the bars puts you on a different side of the road, let alone a different line. Perhaps popping a couple of Valium in the tank on the next fill-up would do to calm it down.

But in all seriousness, I got off the Tuono with a post-rollercoaster like buzz. Glad I was alive. I think if I owned one, I’d return from a Sunday blast and probably want to smash things up in my back garden. It doesn’t do anything to chill me out. I like my nakeds relaxed and - for a seriously capable bike - that’s one thing the Tuono can’t do.

Click on Next Page below on the right to view the Z1000 review.