Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 10th May 2011

Kevin Ash takes Aprilia’s new Tuono V4R for a spin…

The Tuono name has a proud history for Aprilia, adorning some of the most hardcore superbike-based streetfighters ever produced by a mainstream factory.

The first Tuono – ‘thunder’ in Italian – appeared at the end of the 1990s and amounted to nothing more than an RSV V-twin with the bodywork removed. Where other companies were detuning engines to suit their move to an upright, naked machine, Aprilia pushed boundaries by leaving it with its full complement of horsepower. As a result, the Tuono was a wild wheelie monster, and hugely exciting for that.

Although some changes have been made for the new Tuono V4R, the spirit of the name has been retained. Okay, the motor has had some changes made to the cam timing and some intake and exhaust modifications which knock a dozen horsepower off the peak, but with the original RSV4R superbike making huge power that still leaves the Tuono with a very healthy 165bhp, and as a bonus, a boost to its low and midrange torque.

The chassis is based on the superbike’s but with the front half altered to extend the wheelbase, while the engine mountings are different to lower the centre of gravity, both moves made to improve stability. There’s little by way of corner cutting: the forks and radial Brembo brakes are from the RSV4R, the rear shock is the same bar a ride height adjustment facility, and with the APRC version you get the full gamut of electronics, including an eight-level race-type traction control, launch control, wheelie control and three different engine modes.

The riding position, thankfully, is less cramped than you might expect, seeing as how tiny the RSV4R is. You do still feel perched up on top of the bike but there’s enough legroom and a good reach to the bars, even for taller riders. Shorter ones might find the stretch to the ground a bit far.

Fire up the engine and you’re greeted by an angry growl from the V-four engine, then snick it into gear, pull away and the fun really starts: the engine is magnificent, with prodigious amounts of torque supported by a massive hit of power at high revs. The bike is furiously fast, and the soundtrack is utterly compelling, a glorious mix of angry wails, snarls and sighs.

The Sachs-built suspension is firm but its quality shines through on bumpy roads as it keeps the bike in exceptionally good control. You do feel road shocks, especially through the bars, but stability is excellent and agility impresses too. For carving up backroads the Tuono V4R makes a fine weapon, but don’t stray anywhere too far from civilisation as the fuel consumption then the range will come as a bit of a shock. Even in gentle road riding the best the onboard computer could tell me was that I was achieving 39mpg, and getting enthusiastic this quickly dropped to 28mpg. Bear in mind too that I’ve yet to find a bike economy computer that isn’t optimistic, so the real figures are likely even worse.

In turn, this means the range is limited, and sure enough my low fuel warning was flashing after just 92 miles, after mixed riding. This means around 120 miles to dry, so you’ll do well to know where the fuel stations are on your route.

This is a high performance bike though and many riders won’t be bothered by range of economy, they’ll be more interested in fast blasts and track days, which is why Aprilia unleashed us onto the Valencia MotoGP circuit for an afternoon. Some changes were made to the bikes to suit track riding, many of which an owner would also do, such as altering the damping settings and sliding the yokes down the forks to quicken the steering. An accessory steering damper was also fitted, but Aprilia also changed the standard 190 section rear tyre for a 200 section, then fitted an RSV4R rear shock so the rear ride height could be raised. An owner might conceivably replace the rubber, but not the shock so this wasn’t quite playing straight – I can tell you what the modified bike is like on the track, but not a out-of-the-crate one.

It is, in fact, fabulous, with sharp steering and an easy agility as well as stupendous performance from the engine and brakes. The traction control meanwhile takes your breath away: on the lower settings, 7-8, it intervenes too early, but increase it to 4, then 3 and if you’re very brave, 2, and it lets you crack the throttle open wide and leave big black lines behind you coming out of turns as the bike twitches and scrabbles for grip without ever losing control.

It’s a glorious sensation once you’ve overcome the years of conditioning that prevents sane riders from grabbing such big handfuls of throttle while leaning far over, but learn to trust the electronics and for most riders it will move their ability on by huge leaps.

The wheelie control impresses too, gently lowering the front after it lifts under acceleration, but the launch control, designed for fast and dependable getaways off the line, underwhelms. Few riders will use it after the initial curiosity plays.

A thrilling, wonderful sounding road bike and probably pretty impressive on the track even in standard form. It’s priced well too, considering the equipment levels and performance.

Photo: Milagro

Get Aprilia bike insurance for the aprilia tuono v4r aprc.


PRICE £11,495 (Tuono V4R standard: £10,495), available now
ENGINE 65 degree V-four, liquid cooled, dohc 16v, 999.6cc
POWER 165bhp @ 11,500rpm
TORQUE 82lb.ft @ 9,500rpm
TANK/RANGE 3.75 gallons (17 litres)/ 130 miles
TRANSMISSION Six gears, wet slipper clutch, chain final drive
CHASSIS Twin spar aluminium
SEAT HEIGHT 32.9in (835mm)
WHEELBASE 56.9in (1445mm)
RAKE/TRAIL 25°/ 4.23in (107.5mm)
WEIGHT 404lb (183kg) (dry)