2015 Aprilia Tuono 1100 Review

The 2015 Aprilia Tuono 1100 proves that you can make a wonderfully exciting and practical supernaked from the DNA of a superbike. The latest Tuono from Italian manufacturer Aprilia goes a long way to addressing some of the quibbles that previous models had while retaining the mantle of being the most insanely fun supernaked on the market today.

Note: We had our usual video review in production when a hard drive crash resulted in all our footage being lost. Sad Panda.

Aprilia has been at the top of the pile when it comes to supernakeds for a long time and arguably the original Tuono 1000 R Streetfighter that was released back in 2002 is the first of the supernaked class. Over the years many competitors have come by, such as the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, but the Tuono has always been right there with a great combination of outright speed, handling and rideability.

The all new Tuono – like its brother the RSV4 – gets a pretty big makeover for 2015. Normally, I’d refer to a naked bike’s superbike sibling as the big brother, but in the case of the Tuono it actually has more capacity by means of an additional 78cc. Aprilia’s reasoning for this is to have more torque available – a feature that makes riding in the real world much easier where one doesn’t need (or necessarily want) to ring the neck out of the engine all the time.

 

That sees the V4 produce 175 HP (129 kW) at 13,000 rpm and 121 Nm at 10,500 rpm. That means power is down by about 26 hp on the RSV4, but torque is slightly higher. It also means that the only machine with better specificasion on paper is the Super Duke R, which is sporting an extra 224cc of capacity and also weighs five kilos more.

I honestly could write for pages about the engine in the Tuono. Like the RSV4, it really feels close to motorcycling perfection but because of the increased torque which is also more accessible now thanks to Aprilia’s modifications, it’s even better in the Tuono when it comes to every day riding. No matter what gear you’re in or the speed you’re going, the power just comes on and on and on. It’s so linear too – there’s no abrupt rush of speed once you get to say 8,000 prm – it’s just a beautifully refined engine that honestly doesn’t feel like it has any flaws.

Even at low speeds in stop start traffic where many highly tuned and powerful engines can struggle, the Tuono is quite content to putter along. That’s also thanks to a light clutch lever action that makes low speed movements nice and simple.

Then there’s the sound. Aprilia should really find a way to bottle the exhaust note of the Tuono and sell it. It’s tame and moderately quiet when cruising along but open the throttle and it emits a glorious note – better than anything we’ve heard from a stock motorcycle in a long time.

Handling has always been a strong suit of the Tuono and it remains the same for the new model. Turn in is sharp and quick and the front end provides a tremendous amount of communication. Never once did I have any doubt what the front wheel was up to. This is a bike that makes fast and furious riding seem so much easier than other bikes.

Stopping power is good too, with the brakes offering near perfect levels of feedback and progression when the anchors are applied. Brakes up front are dual 320mm rotors with four pot calipers and back of house is fitted with a single 220mm rotor. This is mated to Aprilia’s Race ABS system which they’ve developed in conjunction with Bosch.

 

Level 1 of the system is made specifically for the track, acting on both wheels and deactivates rear wheel lift mitigation. Level 2 is for hard riding on the roads and activates RLM. The third level is the most intrusive and is designed for use when riding on poor grips surfaces, such as wet roads.

Other electronic aids include Aprilia Traction Control (aTC) which has eight settings, Aprilia Wheelie Control (aWC), Aprilia Launch Control (aLC) and Aprilia Quick Shift (aQS). Like the RSV4, the engine modes merely modify the amount of engine braking when coming off throttle. Like any good electronics package, you’ll hardly notice it’s there for the most part – only really doing anything unless absolutely needed.

The last time we rode a Tuono was the 2013 model, which despite in our opinion being brilliant definitely had its flaws. Its mileage was awful thanks to a thirsty engine and tiny tank. The seat was less than ideal meaning longer rides would see you wanting a butt transplant and let’s be honest, it had a face only a mother could love.

I still wouldn’t call the new Tuono pretty, but it’s a definite improvement. Thankfully, both the seat and range are greatly improved. I managed to use around seven litres of fuel for every 100 kilometres traveled which is adequate for a bike of this performance. Coupled with the fuel tank which now can fit 17 litres of fuel inside, you’re good for about 240 kilometres of riding.

I do have some criticisms however, most of which are the same that I had for the RSV4, but I’m less willing to overlook them given the Tuono is designed more for every day use. Firstly, the dash is looking pretty tired and dated. It’s also an enormous pain in the neck to use and compared to the latest interfaces from Ducati and BMW, is quite archaic. Frustratingly, there’s no fuel gauge either – not even a readout telling you how many kilometres or miles of range you have. Instead, you get a crappy light that comes on when you need to find a service station. And while there’s a standard dial to adjust the brake lever, you’ll need a screwdriver to adjust the reach of the clutch lever.

Those however are very minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things. Overall, the 2015 Aprilia 1100 Tuono is really a masterpiece of modern motorcycling. It’s fast, it handles superbly and despite many refinements still makes for a raw and enjoyable machine. Perhaps I can give it no greater praise than to say that if I had to choose just one bike to go in my garage right now, this would be it.

 

Dear Yamaha, Can we Have a New FZ1?

Yamaha has been one of the strongest companies in the motorcycle scene over the past few years, the resurgence beginning with the release of the wonderfully fun MT-09. That was followed by the MT-07 and then the all new R1 which has certainly raised the bar for other brands. There’s just one thing missing that we’d really, really like – a new super naked.

There’s no doubt the Yamaha R1 is a killer machine but it’s sole flaw in many people’s eyes is that it’s a superbike. It’s designed for the track which means it isn’t the most comfortable machine around, especially for those taller in stature. Such an issue is easily rectified with a more casually arranged naked motorcycle.

Some might argue that the MT-09 fits that bill and while it’s a great bike, it is made to a price whereas a headlining super naked would come with all the best components the R1 offers, just in a more upright riding position. The MT-09’s engine is great, but there’s no disputing that the R1’s engine with its cross plane crankshaft has a special place in the motorcycle world..

The current FZ1 model was launched back in 2006 and has had only very minor modifications since then. Its biggest failing is that it still uses the pre-big-bang engine that makes the current generation R1’s so unique among current literbikes. No doubt Yamaha has saved big amounts of money in not updating the bike, but that goes hand in hand with mediocre sales, too. Given the upcoming Euro IV emissions, Yamaha’s hand will likely be forced regardless – either by discontinuing the model or giving it the upgrade it deserves.

Given how popular and hard fought the super naked category has become, it’s highly likely that Yamaha will give the FZ1 some love in the near future. The foundations are there in the new R1 – all that’s needed is some tweaks to the geometry, a retune of the engine to be more focused for street riding and some minimal fairing design and no doubt Yamaha would have a hit on their hands.

Pretty please, Yamaha?

The current FZ1 hasn't had a major update since 2006 and is looking very dated.

The current FZ1 hasn’t had a major update since 2006 and is looking very dated.