Casual acceleration through the bottom three cogs was slightly problematic for the Aprilia Quick Shift, often resulting in clumsy clutchless up changes. A slight dip of the clutch while holding steady throttle provides reliably slick changes in those situations. In the upper gears, the AQS always works seamlessly, as it does throughout the entire gearbox under moderate to full-on acceleration.
The engine tolerates being lugged at low rpm in a taller gear, illustrated by its smooth, shudder-free top-gear roll-on acceleration from 30 mph (2200 rpm), something that’s not an option with a Ducati Streefighter. And the Tuono’s sweet spot when cruising the highway is incredibly broad and free of vibration between 50 and 90 mph in top gear. This, along with the low-cut windscreen’s non-turbulent airflow at helmet height, makes for a serene, gliding sensation while keeping with the flow of freeway traffic.
“On the open road, the Tuono performs well, but it has two characteristics that, for me, detract from its potential as an all-day ride,” wrote Dean. “The seat, like on so many other Italian bikes, is too hard and a little too slick, so it doesn’t do anything to help offset the bike’s firm suspension; and the throttle response is too sensitive, especially when the throttle is just barely cracked open.” The seat truly is brutal after a few hours, and that, combined with how badly the yellow seat-skin material shows dirt smudges, gives ample reason to seek an accessory replacement.
A few raw edges are to be expected with an Italian thoroughbred such as this. Besides, the moment you experience the Tuono’s full performance potential, most of those shortcomings are either forgiven or forgotten. “Open the throttle quickly, and the speed is delivered in a deceptively fast manner,” said Conner in his notes. “The power comes in such a linear manner above 6000 rpm that you don’t realize how quickly you are eating up numbers on the speedometer.”
Those digital speedometer readings are pretty accurate below triple digits, too; I verified this with our test gear after pulling a full-on vertical third-gear power wheelie at 90 mph without any assist from the clutch! That’s an amazing feat that I don’t recall ever before achieving on a production motorcycle. If those kinds of antics make your palms sweat, know that APRC offers three selectable levels of wheelie control that do a good job of keeping the front Pirelli Rosso Corsa skimming the road surface.
Launch control is another feature of APRC, albeit one of little use outside of actual race starts. Even then, I achieved my best launches and quickest quarter-mile test results with all electronic aids defeated. There also are 8 levels of traction-control sensitivity that can be toggled with a thumb and forefinger on the left handlebar switchpod; and unlike the systems on competing bikes, TCS can be switched on and off on the fly. Set to its lower sensitivity levels, the system is very effective at maintaining a minimal amount of rear-tire slippage, allowing for some massively thrilling corner exits.
Minor chassis tweaks between the Tuono and the RSV4 include moving the headstock 10.5mm forward, a 0.5-degree increase in rake, 2mm of additional trail and a 0.3-inch-longer wheelbase. It all adds up to enhanced stability that drew no complaints from any of our testers. The chassis was extremely agile, yet the Tuono remained remarkably composed when ridden hard on backroads. The gearing felt a tad tall, however, requiring the use of first gear to maximize drive out of the hairpins when ascending the face of one of our favorite roads in San Diego County. Considering the bike’s generous freeway sweet spot, dropping the 16-tooth countershaft sprocket by one tooth would be a very productive improvement.
Suspension calibration is unaltered from that of the RSV4 R, resulting in an honest track-quality level of feedback through the Sachs fork and shock. The front feels extremely planted and tracks over bumps and ripples without unsettling the chassis or altering its line. Steering is light and neutral, allowing quick side-to side directional changes with notably less effort than required on a typical clip-on-equipped supersport. There’s also very little tendency for the bike to stand up when turning in with the front brakes applied; in fact, trail braking is something the Tuono does particularly well. The two-piece (non-Monobloc), radial-mount Brembo calipers up front provide an excellent balance of initial bite and sheer stopping power.
After flogging the Tuono through several miles of extremely technical tarmac, I realized that I wasn’t being physically worked like I would have been on most any other machine at that same pace. The relaxed sporting ergos, light controls, nimble handing, confidence-bolstering electronics and stirring exhaust beat put me in a zone that made me feel anatomically connected to the Tuono. That’s a sensation I’ve chased ever since getting a class M endorsement on my license many years ago.
Thank you, Aprilia. Now I just hope I can keep that license!
|Importer:||Piaggio Group Americas, Inc.
257 Park Ave. South, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10010
|Customer service phone:||212/380-4400|
|Warranty:||2 yr./unlimited mi.|
|Type:||liquid-cooled, four-stroke V-Four|
|Bore x stroke:||78.0 x 52.3mm|
|Valve train:||dohc, four valves per cylinder, shim adjustment|
|Valve adjustment intervals:||12,400 mi.|
|Carburetion:||(4) 48mm throttle bodies|
|Oil capacity:||4.1 qt.|
|Electrical power:||450 w|
|Weight: tank empty||452 lb.|
|Weight: tank full||480 lb.|
|Fuel capacity:||4.5 gal.|
|Seat height:||32.6 in.|
|Ground clearance:||4.7 in.|
|Load capacity (tank full):||404 lb.|
|30 mph indicated:||30 mph|
|60 mph indicated:||60 mph|
|Claimed wheel travel:||4.7 in.|
|Adjustments:||compression and rebound damping, spring preload|
|Claimed wheel travel:||5.1 in.|
|Adjustments:||compression and rebound damping, spring preload|
|Front:||120/70ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa|
|Rear:||190/55ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa|
|1/4 mile:||10.07 sec @ 140.84 mph|
|0-30 mph:||1.2 sec.|
|0-60 mph:||2.8 sec.|
|0-90 mph:||4.8 sec.|
|0-100 mph:||5.6 sec.|
|Top gear time to speed: 40-60 mph||3.3 sec.|
|Top gear time to speed: 60-80 mph||3.2 sec.|
|Measured top speed:||166 mph|
|Engine speed at 60 mph:||4268 rpm|
|Avg. range inc. reserve:||140 mi.|
|From 30 mph:||27 ft.|
|From 60 mph:||121 ft.|