The 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R ABS is a great bike – fantastic even. And I say that because after riding it, the Tuono has gone from a bike that was close to the bottom of my ‘want to own list’ to instead become a bike I would love to have as my everyday ride. Yes, it’s extremely fast and yes, it’s got more technology than an average car. But it’s also more than capable and comfortable enough to use a commuter. It’s not just a track weapon. The Aprilia Tuono V4 R is just an all-round practical motorcycle – one with a wonderful soul, too.
The Tuono V4 R ABS was first released in 2011 and was itself derived from the potent (and highly acclaimed) RSV4 which has won four WSBK championships since its release in 2009. Aprilia hasn’t reinvented the wheel with the updated 2014 Tuono V4 R ABS, but that’s not to say this is a minor update. There’s a lot more than just a few cosmetic changes here and it’s enough to push this bike to the head of the class against its competitors. The most significant updates are updated Brembo brakes, slightly more power, a bigger fuel tank and some significant updates the APRC, or Aprilia Performance Ride Control software.
As soon as you sit on the bike, you know that despite Aprilia labeling the Tuono V4 R as a naked bike (I think semi-faired is a more accurate description), it’s definitely in the streetfighter mold. While sitting on it doesn’t feel as aggressive as the donor RSV4, this isn’t designed as a long range tourer. You sit quite forward and almost feel like you’re over the top of the bars. It’s not uncomfortable by any means, but don’t expect a laid back feel when you swing your leg over it. Others have also stated that there’s not enough leg room (the pegs are positioned back and high like a sportsbike) but I didn’t find it a problem with my 6’2″ frame.
The seat is okay, but again I wouldn’t want to be spending all day on it if riding for hundreds of miles at a time. It’s supportive and thankfully less slippery than the Tuono’s previous pew, but it’s definitely been designed with the track in mind rather than overall comfort. The pillion seat is another matter however. On first glance it appears to be a race cowl, but is in fact an attractive but uncomfortably sculpted pillion seat with the handholds integrated into the bike’s bodywork. Clever and it does look nice, but it’s not really practical for anyone to sit on for more than a short distance.
Rear view mirrors offer a decent amount of vision behind you. I found them easy to adjust for my personal preferences and they show a good amount of the road on either side of your body. The kickstand is located in an annoying place however. You need to put your foot in front of the pegs, then underneath and behind to push the kickstand down.
To say the Tuona is fast is an understatement. It’s definitely twist the throttle/lose your license fast. And sure, there are quicker bikes around but the lack of fairings and a proper windshield heighten the sense of speed and no doubt the sound of the Tuono’s V4 engine tricks your senses too. The sound of the Aprilia Tuono V4 R’s engine is beautiful. I only think Ducati can lay claim to an exhaust note as intoxicating as the Tuono’s and even they might struggle in comparison. I found myself blipping the throttle on downshifts even when I was crawling to a stop at the traffic lights just to hear the engine growl. I unfortunately didn’t have any tunnels to ride through on my test to really have fun, but the sound of the engine as you tear through the gears all the way to redline is a highlight.
Aprilia claims that the Tuono V4 R will reach 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and the standing quarter mile in a fraction over 10 seconds. I have no reason to doubt them. Top speed is around 165 mph. It’s definitely a bike where you have to keep one eye on the speedometer at all times – the bike reaches a speed of around 80 mph in first gear alone.
And yet, with all that speed and power, this bike is quite happy to plod along on city streets as if it were a smaller capacity learners bike. The Tuono feels completely normal when you’re around the suburban landscape in second gear – it’s just that it can also turn into a rocket should you choose to twist the throttle hard enough. Fueling is brilliant. Even in first gear the application of power to the rear wheels is smooth as melted butter when you roll on the throttle. I continue to not understand how the likes of Honda and Kawasaki cannot provide good fuelling on their entry level bikes while the likes of Aprilia can do it so easily on a 170 bhp super naked. Go figure.
To me, the practicality of this engine is possibly the biggest highlight from my test. I was expecting an extremely fast machine, one capable of outperforming everything except a few supercars. What I wasn’t expecting is the same bike being so compliant and so easy to ride at ‘real world’ speeds.
The Tuono features both a quick shifter and a slipper clutch. The quick shifter is brilliant and is probably the best that I’ve sampled. If you’ve never used one before it does take a little getting used to as the sensation of just tapping up on the gear selector with your foot without actually moving it or the clutch lever or even coming off the throttle is strange at first, but after a while it becomes second nature. Although just like clutchless upshifting, you need to shift up while accelerating and close to redline for the gear changes to be smooth. The slipper clutch isn’t too dissimilar to most bikes and definitely comes in handy during a spirited ride when you need to slow rapidly.
Again, for a bike that’s more superbike than tourer, the Tuono V4 R seems just as happy on the road as it is on the track. That’s no doubt helped by its weight which is only 414 lb (to put that in perspective, Kawasaki’s popular Ninja 650R weighs 465 lb yet only puts out 71 bhp in comparison to the Tuono’s 170!). Filtering through traffic feels easy, though tight squeezes become difficult due to the bikes wide bars.
Putting your legs around the tank, you’d be hard pressed to believe what lurks underneath. The bike just seems smaller than what it should be given its performance. And that’s a good thing because you never feel like you’re laboring to ride the Tuono at low or high speeds. In fact, it seems to like going around corners just as much as it does thundering down in a straight line.
Those wide handlebars I just mentioned make tipping the bike into corners extremely easy. I found myself needing to make my corner entry later than normal because the bike leans over so effortlessly. The stock Perelli Supercorsas offer plenty of grip without sacrificing too much in the way of comfort. Like all bikes of this level, the suspension is fully adjustable for a wide variety of rider tastes (and more importantly, sizes).
All of this handling is backed up by some of the most advanced rider aids you can get on a bike. The Tuono has the following rider aids:
- 8 Levels of Traction Control
- 3 Levels of Wheelie Control
- 3 Levels of Launch Control
- 3 Levels of ABS
- 3 Levels of Engine Mapping
That’s a lot of variables and it goes some way to explain how this bike can actually be a jack of all trades and at the same time, master of one particular style of riding that you choose. Want to go full squid? Turn the wheelie control off and traction control to 1. Track day? Switch off the ABS. Pouring with rain – turn all the settings up to maximum and ride home safely. It’s as intrusive or not as you want it to be.
What’s also nice is that the traction control can be changed on the fly – something some other manufactures don’t allow. That said, being an Italian machine, the actual design of the interface to change settings isn’t the most efficient or user friendly. There’s also a delay between menu selections and changes which feels like you’re trying to run iOS 5 on a Nokia from a decade ago.
The Aprilia Tuono V4 R ABS is probably the most complete bike I’ve ridden in a while. It’s eye wateringly fast yet so easy to ride. It’s packed to the gills with technology yet I can turn it all off if I want. It’s sports bike aggressive yet I can enjoy the wind in my face. And despite being heavily related to the WSBK championship winning RSV4, this is a bike that’s as practical as a day to day bike as it as a track weapon.
I have criticisms of it, but they are few and compared to the overall package aren’t deal breakers. First is appearance. Yes, looks are subjective but I don’t think the Tuono will be winning any beauty contests. It does look better in the metal than in pictures, and from behind and to the side it actually looks pretty decent. But that face…
Mileage is probably the Tuono’s Achilles’ heel. In fact, as part of the model upgrade, Aprilia increased the fuel capacity by 0.4 gallons but that’s only a token gesture. The bike has a range of around 125 miles. That’s awful, even for a bike of this power. Compare that to BMW’s S1000R which can eek out 140 miles from its smaller tank, or the KTM 1290 which can manage 150 miles from its 180 bhp engine. You’ll be visiting the gas station a few times a week with the Tuono.
If you can overcome its face for radio and V10 like mileage however, the Tuono V4 R ABS will not disappoint. In fact I have no doubt that riders of this bike will develop a permanent smile whenever they switch on the ignition and go for a ride.
|Engine||65° V4, Dohc, 4 Valves Per Cylinder, Liquid Cooled, 4 Stroke
|Power||170 bph (125 kw)
|Torque||60 ft lb (110 nm)
|Front Brakes||Dual Ø 320mm Rotors, Dual 4 Spot Brembo Gold Series Monobloc Calipers. Stainless Steel Braided Brake Lines
|Rear Brakes||Single Ø 220mm Rotor, Single Brembo 2 Spot Opposed Piston Caliper. Stainless Steel Braided Brake Lines
|Front Suspension||Sachs 43mm Upside Down Forks, Fully Adjustable (Spring Preload, Compression And Rebound Damping).
|Rear Suspension||Sachs Piggy Back Monoshock, Fully Adjustable (Spring Preload, Compression And Rebound Damping).
|Wheels||FRONT: 3.5 X 17” REAR: 6.0 X 17”
|Wet Weight||141 lb
|Tank Capacity||4.88 gallons