Riding bikes is always a pleasant experience in Europe’s cool weather. Once you’ve adjusted to fast-paced traffic shooting at you from the ‘wrong side’ of bends, there’s no looking back, as you experience runway smooth roads that are scenic, with disciplined traffic. Add to all that, riding on the same streets bike racing god Valentino Rossi grew up on, around his home town of Tavullia and you’re now even closer to biking nirvana. Tavullia’s a typically Italian, pretty and laid back small town, with surprisingly narrow, slightly bumpy and hilly streets, no shortage of bends, forever changing elevation and even the occasional view overlooking Valentino’s personal race-track; Rossi’s Ranch.
Put simply, Aprilia picked a really impressive setting to let us loose on its quick, purposeful-looking naked bike, the updated Tuono V4 1100RR, also available in top-end ‘Factory’ trim. Aggressive and Italian, the 2015 Tuono comes with a new front fairing, is 1.5kg lighter, still distinctly Tuono with twin headlights on both sides of an LED-fired pilot lamp. It’s hard to spot Italian bikes that aren’t seductive and the Tuono V4 1100RR isn’t an exception.
The 2015 Tuono RR is smart in deep sea blue paint, with black wheels, a sporty carbonfibre fender and angular, flowing lines. Gold-tone upside down front suspension and an alloy frame contrast with the rest of the Tuono, while a sleek belly fairing leads up into the bike’s big radiator. The V4 1100RR’s massive tank offers good thigh grip, ahead of which is a neatly turned out instruments bay. Revving the engine swings a red needle that reads up to 15,000 on a white analogue background, supported by an LCD box with speedometer, odometer, clock, gear indicator and all the Aprilia’s substantial electronic riding aids, everything in legible format.
Aprilia’s done well on rider controls; palm grips, mirrors and switches are all easy to live with, including toggle switches for the electronics and extra ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ buttons tucked around the horn. The Tuono V4 1100RR has a set of buffed alloy levers but Aprilia’s not done the clutch justice, omitting reach adjustment at the lever as well as hydraulic assist. This was amplified, as I'd spent the morning sampling the fierce RSV4 RF at the Misano race track named after Marco Simoncelli. I was doing my best to avoid taking on too much of the clutch lever, nursing a sore left wrist and finding it a touch too heavy on the day.
The Tuono V4 1100RR leaves most of its engine exposed, while a shapely single (4-into-2-into-1) exhaust runs down the right of the bike. The Tuono comes with nicely padded, comfortable split seats, and a slim, sharply styled tail-fairing.
Attention-to-detail is right up there with the best, as are fit-finish and overall build on the Tuono.
Aprilia’s bumped up displacement from 999cc to 1077cc, sticking to a V4 configuration and completely reworking the Tuono engine. This liquid-cooled, 65 degree ‘V’ runs 48mm Weber-Marelli throttle bodies controlled by a ride-by-wire throttle. There are new crankcases with magnesium head shrouds, 400gm lighter connecting rods and smaller crank pin diametres. Technical jargon aside, there’s 20bhp more at the wrist on the V4 1100RR at the same engine speed (8,000rpm) as on the outgoing Tuono. Performance is more than ample for any Indian road, the Tuono V4 1100RR making 173bhp at 11,000rpm, enough to overwhelm its tyres on occasion when negotiating the narrow Italian corners around Tavullia. The V4 1100RR puts out a deep and resonant soundtrack when given some stick and strong drive from the V4 thrusts you out of corners with a fierce rush, helped by a prodigious 12.2kgm of torque stepping in at 9,000rpm.
You have Aprilia launch control (ALC) to allow you to leap off from rest quickly, and three stage riding modes – Track, Sport and Road that don’t alter power output, but suitably manage delivery. Power wheelies are effortless on the Tuono V4 1100RR, likewise effortlessly reigned in and controlled by Aprilia’s wheely control (AWC), in three progressive settings. There’s also an eight-stage traction control system (ATC) adjustable on the move, which you will appreciate on the Tuono V4 1100RR, as the fast Italian bike puts down all the power you could need, so very quickly. The Tuono V4 1100RR often overcomes its rear tyre, sending it squealing into the safety of the bike's advanced electronics.
The powerband is wide, with strong acceleration felt from a little over idle speeds. The Tuono V4 1100RR cracks away as required, with instant response and a robust bottom end, the big motorcycle powering seamlessly through to its limiter. I found myself glad to have such a wide array of clever electronics on my side, with smooth, clutch-less and quick up-shifts possible without even closing the throttle; just a tap on the gear lever being all the rider has to input. The Tuono’s power is very accessible, with no pressure to rev the big V4 or toggle the gearbox.
Gears shift precisely on the Tuono V4 1100RR, its six-speed cassette format box providing perfectly matched ratios for the bike. The big V4 comes with a slip-enabled clutch, this working perfectly to keep the rear-end lock free when coming down hard through the gearbox. And although the 1100RR has no qualms about this, you don’t want to attempt really high speeds in excess of 170kph, as the lack of a full-fairing makes that cumbersome.
Aprilia’s reworked the Tuono V4 1100RR's ergonomics and the revised riding position is good for sporty, spirited riding, just about bearable to cover long distances in. The V4 1100RR comes with slightly lower spec, Sachs adjustable suspension front (USD forks) and rear (Monoshock), while the Factory Tuono upgrades you to more premium, all Ohlins kit, including the steering damper. Aprilia’s shifted the engine a bit forward and lengthened the Tuono’s alloy swingarm a little, also working to lower the centre of gravity on the bike. Tyres on the Tuono V4 are by Pirelli, with ample grip, and the brakes come supported by a switchable, race-spec Bosch 9MP ABS system.
On the road, the Tuono V4 1100RR is stable at all speeds, steering confidently wherever you point its nose, with no more effort required than expected of a big bike in this class. The RR’s suspension was set stiff and sporty on our ride, which assured the bike handled flawlessly around slow, fast and even bumpy corners. The steel-braided, line-equipped brakes offered powerful bite, and stopped the bike firmly every time. Overall, the 2015 Tuono excels in terms of handling.
To compete in India long term, and fight rival big bike makers at eye-level, Aprilia could consider expanding its dealer reach beyond Pune and Chandigarh, somehow bringing pricing down to meet rivals; Kawasaki, Ducati, Triumph and Benelli who are all taking advantage of lower duty on Asian import routes or assembling in India.
You can buy the 2015 Tuono V4 1100RR in India for Rs 17.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune), either in grey or blue, and Aprilia will import one in after you book. To conclude, the 2015 Tuono makes a really potent naked bike, sitting close to the top of its class. A no compromise electronics package, big power and confident handling do make the Tuono a really attractive, irresistible bike to ride.
Fuel tank capacity 18.5litres
Dry weight 184kg
Engine layout V-four, liquid-cooled, four-stroke
Power 173bhp at 11000rpm
Torque 12.2kgm at 9000rpm
Specific output 160.6bhp per litre
Power to weight 940.2bhp per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed, 1-down, 5-up
Front suspension USD telescopic forks
Rear suspension Monoshock, alloy swingarm
Front brake 320mm discs (ABS)
Rear brake 220mm disc (ABS)
Wheels 6-spoke alloy
Rim size (f-r) 17 inches
Tyre size (f-r) 120/70 x 17- 200/55 x 17 inches