Aprilia Tuono – Cycle Torque Magazine

24 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Aprilia Tuono – Cycle Torque Magazine
Aprilia Tuono 1000

Aprilia’s touring sportsbike


Test by Tim Sanford. Pics by Keith Muir.

FOR committed sportsbike freaks there is nothing like the thrill of thrashing a good bike through a set of demanding corners and in that environment there are few bikes as good as Aprilia’s RSV. But ride it in traffic for a few hours… or up the freeway for a couple of hundred kays and the body starts to give you grief, the bum pain intrudes… not to mention the bike’s mental decay as you force it into a task it wasn’t designed for – and hates.

Aprilia is not the only manufacturer to recognise the market’s need for a bike with excellent sporting credentials as well as engineering for practical riding but its RSV 1000 Tuono has all the ability you could want on both counts.

Even before you straddle the Tuono you can feel the sense of purpose which surrounds the bike: a clear intention to surmount the divergent challenges of the sportsbike and the tourer. How do you achieve that? The rear view is dominated by the massive 190/50 tyre and that is pure sportsbike.

Up front there is the combination of the fully adjustable 43mm Showa forks and the twin 320mm fully floating Brembos with their four-piston opposed calipers – specifications similar to Aprilia’s top-of-the-line RSV of not so long ago.

Brake lines are braided front and rear. Rear suspension is by a progressive linkage with a Boge monoshock controlling the movement of the shapely and well-braced swingarm. The range of suspension adjustment at both ends provides the bike with settings which you can tailor to your specific use: the ride can be nice and plush to give you relaxed travel over less forgiving secondary roads or you can make it firmer for a good adrenaline-pumping track day.

Or you can leave it on the standard settings which, although on the firm side, will cope with most things a road rider is likely to come across.

There is one item which doubtless plays an important role in maintaining the bike’s excellent road manners: tucked away down in the front of the tank is an Ohlins steering damper; it’s well hidden and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d also never know that you’d needed it. You already know the engine is a v-twin but although the Tuono is technically a “naked” bike, there are so many little covers and mechanical accessories clustered around the power plant that its actual configuration doesn’t really stand out. One thing that is obvious is its narrowness – and looks are not deceiving in this case.

The engine comes with the expected electronic controls of fuel and ignition functions except, strangely enough, an automatic system to help the bike warm up when first started. It’s a cold-blooded beast and it needed a few minutes on the fast idle lever to wake up and get ready for action; our test was in early summer so expect to spend even longer in winter. Our test bike was fitted with an Akropovic can and it looked good and sounded superb.

Touring features of the bike start with the riding position – it’s much more upright than a pure sportsbike and the bars are set nice and wide. There is some room for adjustment of their position but there is even more for the foot controls, each of which has eccentric adjustment for the toepad.

The tank is usefully large and holds 18 litres including four litres in reserve. In the quest for weight reduction the tank is plastic, so sadly a magnetic tankbag is not an option. Down the back there are several very useful locations for ocky straps and the pillion perch is flat enough to use as a luggage pad.

For long hours on the freeway I found the stylish little nosecone very good at keeping the wind off the body and on one trip when it turned very cold in the high country, I was even more grateful.

On the styling side the bike looks great with its combination of colours and sharp-edged components; the only clashes come from the elliptical mirrors – which work superbly so there can be no practical argument – and the odd fixture which supports the number plate and reflector. It looks very much like an afterthought.

On the road

One of the first things you notice about the Tuono is that the narrowness of the bike is no illusion – I would liken the sculpting of the knee position under the tank to the feel you get when riding a horse with an expensive, custom-fitted saddle. It instantly makes you feel very much an integral part of the bike.

Once the bike is warmed up and rolling the second thing of note is the incredibly well sorted engine management system – the Tuono engine is a one-litre v-twin but it is so absolutely smooth in its throttle response it feels more like a multi. Good manners like that plus the excellent low and mid-range torque make the bike completely stress-free in traffic and in the commuting chore.

Aprilia Tuono 1000

The only distraction – and it’s a minor one – came from the transmission: the clutch will feel on the firm to heavy side for some riders and its take-up is fast. Also, the gearbox felt a trifle notchy; it never missed a shift but it was very reluctant to select neutral once stopped; a few more kays on the odometer may well fix that.

For commuting and touring the upright riding position is excellent and the wide bars give a feeling of relaxed but effective control. Riding for lengthy periods on freeways was no chore and I found the firm seat still comfortable after several hundred kays. The footpegs are set back a bit and that allows a nice lean forwards when travelling fast.

As far as overtaking is concerned, the highway never presents a problem – twist the throttle and the job is done instantly to the deep and mellow tune of that lovely Akropovic can.

Okay, so much for the touring side, its a dream. And as a sportsbike? Nail it out of a corner and there’s all of that RSV stuff happening down below: the fluid and seamless rush of power from the v-twin and the fantastic howl of the pipe.

It’s quite addictive and I found myself always looking for the twisty way home – a sure sign you’re on a bike worth thrashing. Getting information from the instruments was good (the digital speedo is big and clear) and not-so-good (the analogue tacho lacks contrast and is difficult to read). The styling of these you’ll either love or hate: the speedo lives in an oblong block surrounded by the round analogue tacho which presents its information with a series of ever-increasing bars.

At night it looked great but so-so in daylight.

Once you start thrashing it, the Tuono’s pedigree becomes immediately apparent: the steering is precise and turn-in to corners is very rapid which all adds up to very nimble handling on twisting roads. The transformation of the bike’s character from sedate kilometre-crunching tourer on the highway to naked sportsbike in the twisties is truly impressive and it has that same confidence-inspiring road-hugging ability which is so very familiar on the RSV.

The last word

As a bridge between the worlds of aggressive sports riding, relaxed touring and mundane commuting there are few bikes which do the job as effectively as the Aprilia Tuono. With a recommended retail price of $19,990 it is good value. For another nine grand you can get the ‘Factory’ variant but that takes you further into the sportsbike realm and for another $3,600 you can secure a flagship RSV.

For the do-it-all bike the basic Tuono gets my nod.

Aprilia Tuono 1000
Aprilia Tuono 1000
Aprilia Tuono 1000

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