The perfect guide to get yourself Aprilia’s badass super naked
When it comes to naked bikes, Aprilia don’t do things by halves. The Italian firm was the first to unleash a full-on super naked back in 2003 when the original Tuono appeared, setting the formula of ‘rip a fairing off a superbike and stick on some flat bars’, which still exists to this day. So when the V-twin had finally run its course and the RSV came to be replaced by the RSV4 with its V4 motor, fans of the firm’s naked were waiting for Aprilia to follow the superbike up with a Tuono variation.
They didn’t have to wait long, as the Tuono V4 arrived in late 2011. Predictably, it was properly bonkers…
Boasting the performance and features of a superbike in a machine for riders that ‘given the chance would use a race bike just to go for a coffee’ according to its marketing, in true Tuono spirit, Aprilia certainly didn’t pull any punches with the new Tuono V4. This was a super naked with a WSB-winning chassis containing a V4 motor with a claimed 167bhp and 111.5Nm of torque, not to mention a full electronics package backing it all up. But was it really just a naked RSV4?
In terms of its architecture, the V4 engine was basically the same. However, new valve timing, fixed rather than variable intake ducts, a heavier flywheel and a lower rev limit did see some of the V4’s performance taken away for use in its new naked guise. It has to be pointed out, however, that Aprilia also shortened the first three gear ratios, so it was hardly lacking in zap. It proved to be a similar story for its chassis.
Using the same design as the RSV4’s frame, and looking visually identical, the Tuono actually featured altered geometry to assist its handling with the motor lowered in the chassis and the rake and trail subtly modified. Anyone who has ridden a V-twin Tuono will know they like to weave slightly at speed, so this was a move by Aprilia to help ensure its more powerful version would remain stable, and it most certainly didn’t detract from its handling.
Given a race track to aim down, the Tuono is quite simply staggering, as its superbike DNA allows it to mix it with any sportsbike. You will never get left behind in terms of cornering ability on track with the Tuono, as there is bags of ground clearance, and its Sachs suspension is remarkably effective. Not up to Öhlins standards, but still very impressive and if you want some gold, there is always the Factory version. It’s a bit of a shame the same can’t be said for the Brembo brakes, which aren’t quite as fierce as you would expect when the pace ups. However, this is a fairly small gripe on what is otherwise a brilliant track bike, which is all underpinned by Aprilia’s excellent APRC electronics package with its 8-stage traction control and anti-wheelie. But then naked bikes are generally ridden on the road, so how does the V4 fare in the real world?
At this point the shine does start to tarnish slightly on the V4, as it has a few irritations that raise their head on road rides. For starters, the seat is horrifically solid and the fuel range poor to say the least, both of which Aprilia slightly sorted out in the 2014 update. There is the abrupt throttle response, which can be irritating at slow speed, and the fact that the anti-wheelie is a little too keen to keep the front down. This is a Tuono, after all, so wheelies should be mandatory, and not requiring a flurry of button pushing to free the front wheel’s contact with the road. The Tuono V4 is exactly what you would expect it to be – a naked RSV4 with stacks of attitude, a razor-sharp chassis, thumping V4 motor and a few irritations that compromise its road ride slightly.
Despite its failings, we just loves the Tuono V4, precisely because of its raw nature. It isn’t a perfect super naked, but this only adds to its fun factor, as it gives the bike a bit of spirit, which some more refined inline fours lack. Then you see its price in the used market. Aprilia models depreciate like hell, and you can now pick up a first-generation Tuono V4 for just over `10 lakh, if you search diligently! That’s a WSB-spec chassis with a V4 motor kicking out a genuine 142bhp in a bonkers naked bike, which even has a full electronics package, and it can be had for `10 lakh. It’s not just the Tuono that is crackers, because its price tag is as well!
Words: John Urry