How the Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC spins

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Chris Harris has been spilling some beans on Ferrari’s treatment of the cars it supplies – or refuses – to journalists for reviews, and it makes my mild reservations about the Aprilia Tuono V4R we were given to ride around the Valencia MotoGP circuit look desperately over-sensitive. Test cars with blatantly tuned engines, different set-up cars supplied depending on the tests being done, Ferrari technicians visiting circuits days in advance to make sure the cars are set up perfectly. So how did Aprilia modify the Tuono for the European press launch? And, more importantly, why?

Most of what Aprilia did an owner would do anyway, especially as they willingly supplied the information, if not exactly volunteering it. Yokes 4mm down the forks, a selection of preload and damping changes (I have all the details on my site if you want them). Then it gets a little grey, with an accessory steering damper bolted on and fuzzier again to see a 200/55 Pirelli Super Corsa gluing the back rim to the track. This is a homologated fitment, but it’s not the 190/55 Diablo II that comes in the crate. But you could do it yourself, and might if you’re into serious track days.

Would you though, for the sake of 5mm rear ride height, replace the rear shock on your new Tuono V4R with a shock from an RSV4R? They’re the same, says Aprilia, aside from the superbike’s ride height adjustment facility, and it helps the bike turn more sharply on the track.
A small step too far I think, but happily far, far short of what Ferrari is up to. Not counter-productive on the same scale either, but it does make you wonder why Aprilia felt all this was necessary. The bike is spectacular on the track (as it ought to be after this), but surely not so much better than a stock one that it’s worth rousing suspicions? It does indeed fall fast and crisply into turns, but the party trick traction control, which lets the most ordinary riders paint black parabolas on the asphalt, is unchanged and genius.

The motor is the RSV4’s with revised inlet cam timing and minor intake and exhaust changes which have ramped up the mid-range to shirt-ripping levels, and you only lose 13bhp. You retain a panoply of snarls, wails, whistles and bubbling purrs that send shivers up your spine, even as you wonder how the Italians get away with so much sheer volume – heard a Ducati Diavel yet? You soon will…

They do equipment levels in southern Europe too, the Tuono coming with quickshift, launch control and wheelie control, but the one to raise an eyebrow is the onboard computer’s fuel consumption reading. This is one thirsty motorcycle which will drink to the tune of 23mpg (US gallons) if you use the throttle as it should be. Even considered riding begets little reward, with 30mpg a struggle.

Oh but it’s a pleasure to be fleeced at the fuel pumps. On the roads the Tuono is muscular, stable but sharp, sonorous and seductive, even if it does look like a crashed R1. The riding position is far more spacious than the RSV4’s, thanks to an extended frame and high and wide bars, and even your legs aren’t cramped unduly.

The Tuono V4R is hewn from raw performance and marinated in soul, and if it wasn’t for its profligacy with gasoline, only the Diavel himself would vie for honours as top naked bike, and these two only overlap lightly anyway.

As a track bike, it’s great. Probably.

You can read more about the new Tuono at Ash on Bikes.

  • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

    23mpg? With a 4.5 gallon tank that doesn’t get you very far…

    I know it’s not a touring bike, but I do like me some back roads, and having to constantly fill up sucks.

    • Barry

      If you’re running full track pace on it on some back roads, then you’re not going to survive long enough to need to refill. My CBR1000RR does that trick too. At Texas World at full chat, it’ll show 23-24mpg avg, but on hill country trips it would see closer to 35mpg. 120ish miles isn’t touring bike distance, but I don’t see a lot of bags and Touratech accessories on Tuono’s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

    Cynic – Consider that the fuel light comes on well before that 4.5 as well. I thought my Z was rough at a 4 gallon tank, but at least the efficiency isn’t that bad. Kind of a wash – either bike is filling up around 100 miles, but it’s tough to be okay with a bike having worse fuel efficiency than my car.

    Kevin – Read the review on your site earlier today. Excellent write up and kudos to you for highlighting the non-standard setup items. They may not be the end of the world, but they’re absolutely noteworthy.

  • Matthew

    Am I the only one who thinks the front of the Tuono V4R looks like Roberto from Futurama?

    http://capitalistliontamer.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/roberto_jpg_595x325_crop_upscale_q85.jpg

    • http://ridingthereverend.blogspot.com reverend_rider

      Cannot unsee!

  • John
  • douglas

    23 mpg what is that a v4 2 stroke in that thing

  • Ducky

    I think the rear shock may have been a bit much. Tires and such are understandable- if they are disclosed to the press that they are non-OEM. But to swap shocks seems to be taking it a bit farther than it needed.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    Not nearly naked enough…

    • smoke4ndmears

      seriously. the best spinning aprilia could do for this thing is knock that ugly off of it before they let people ride it.

  • Ceolwulf

    Mecha faces belong on mecha.

  • BMW11GS

    Yeah, I know the argument, “well my (Insert thirst liter bike motorcycle) gets the same fuel economy as your M3 but the excitement and reward of my bike is far superior to that aluminum and glass coffin,” but seriously…have motorcycles lost their way as being efficient, yet fun modes of transportation? I love my bike as much as anyone, but when many cars consistently get about the same mileage (40 mpg) and can hold 5 people+stuff, you have to start wondering if bikes will be (even) less attractive soon just because one of their last rational benefits is lessened. And I know we don’t ride because its rational… i’ve just always been attracted to bikes because its about doing more with less, but now it doesn’t seem like were doing much more any longer. I’m chagrined.

    • Mr.Paynter

      Agreed, I still have my little SR 250 and when people poke fun at it and my little Korean import 125cc before her I always point out that I double their mileage (at least)and that my petrol bill weekly is a fifth or so fo theirs!

      It really is one less point we have to argue with cagers with.

  • Dan

    It’ll be interesting to see whether reviews of the Tuono in other magazines point out the use of non-stock parts at all. Of course, Kevin’s (excellent) review spoils the experiment somewhat – both by potentially pointing out the changes to any reviewer who didnt notice, and by blowing the whistle for any reviewer who might have otherwise glossed over the issue to stay in Ape’s good graces.

    Personally, I think the use of non-stock parts on test bikes is fine, as long as it’s disclosed to readers along with a price tag for the parts and a sense of how difficult the installation job is. I think that would be far preferable to the current state of affairs, where the other motorcycle rags test stock-only bikes and whine about trifles like non-adjustable levers. Stock-bike shootouts serve to answer only the (somewhat-unhelpful) question of “if you happened to work for a motorcycle magazine and got (stock) bikes for free, which would you prefer to take home tonight.” The rest of us keep bikes for years at a time, make changes along the way, and don’t consider the need for different fork springs or a gel seat to be a deal-killer on an otherwise nice bike.

  • smoke4ndmears

    another superb ash bike review.

  • Brad

    Do my eyes deceive me? The first pics you posted had no pillion, nor passenger pegs. Right? *EDIT*: Never mind. I see it’s just the on-track shots that are sans pegs. Carry on!

  • Tony

    Can help but think about the earlier article regarding Honda and blowjobs. I am actually glad they did what they and applaud it. No bike comes absolutely perfect from the dealer floor for ‘spirited’ riding, especially track riding. As the article points out, it’s all things an owner could easily do.

    For once something didn’t go wrong and then the lame excuse of “we call Aprilia and the production model will have….(insert shitty stock party here).

    TS

  • alang

    Pretty interested in this bike, even though the front end looks bad. I wish my 600lb VFR1200 weighed 400lbs like this Tuono.
    What’s the US MSRP? $16,500 or so?