What do you get when you rip the fairings off a 1,0-litre, thoroughbred superbike and fit high handlebars? One of the craziest, scariest and most capable street fighter bikes money can buy – Aprilia named it Tuono, meaning thunder! As such, the following riding impression below is aimed squarely at the braver, more experienced rider...

Street Fighter

Usually a street fighter version bike comprises either a combinations of older technology and components fashioned from the contents of a motorcyle manufacturer's parts bin or a detuned, soft version of a highly competent superbike. Although Aprilia taken the latter approach, the word "soft" does not apply when your starting point is the 132 kW, fire-breathing monster that is the RSV4. The engine in the Tuono “only” produces 120 kW in a motorcycle weighing just 179 kg and the gearing has been shortened. Do not be fooled by the high handle bars, underneath is a full-on race bike: rock-hard suspension, vicious brakes, and a slipper clutch.

Electronic Aids

The bike even includes the same A-PRC electronic trickery as found on the RSV4. This includes a pair of gyros and accelerometers that feed information to the engine control unit (ECU). The rider has the option of choosing between a number of traction control settings, three wheelie control modes and three launch control strategies! Let’s just say that you will not run out of options when tackling your favourite piece of mountain road or race track.

Riding

So how does the Tuono ride? Firstly, this is not a bike with which you can simply swing your leg over and go. Attempting a test ride on public roads might be a problem, as a mere hour on the Tuono will not allow you to delve into any more than 50 per cent of its capability. Beneath its skin, the Tuono exhibits a genuine race-bike feel, being nervous at slow speeds, even jerky. The throttle response is aggressive and the wheelbase feels too short given the amount of power on tap. Riding the Tuono daily can be likened to driving a supercar in traffic or a race horse in a suburban park– they feel out of their elements in such constrained environments. Then there is the sound – the angry V4 motor spits mechanical war cries through the four-into-one exhaust – can this be legal?

Performance Testing

In order to describe the power this bike possesses we decided to slap on our telemetry equipment and head out to the test strip. Even with all the electronic settings in their least aggressive settings the bike is still seriously quick. It was only after a couple of runs that I had built enough faith in the electronics to be able to open the throttle to the stop on pull-away and allow the nannies to keep the front wheel down and rear wheel from spinning. Clutch control is tricky on a powerful bike capable of breaching the national speed limit in first gear. The acceleration seemed to increase when hooking second by a tap on the quick-shift gear lever. Third, fourth, fifth and six are selected in quick succession to avoid hitting the limiter at around 13 000 r/min. The best run was achieved with more aggressive settings dialled in and yielded an impressive 0-100 km/h time of 3,54 seconds. See the table of acceleration performance below to get an idea of just how rapid the Tuono is.

Summary

As a bike for the real world it has its shortcomings. The suspension is hard to the point of being uncomfortable, the gearing is tall, fuel consumption horrendous when the throttle is used as intended and the wind blast facing the rider is intolerable at anything over the national speed limit (the bike will comfortably do double the limit and then some). Therefore touring is not really an option. But, if you want a bike to awaken the senses and offer race-inspired performance in street fighter clothing, you will not go wrong with the Tuono. Go and scare yourself today…

Acceleration Performance:

km/h seconds
0-60 2,19
0-80 2,88
0-100 3,54
0-120 4,78
0-140 5,65
0-160 6,84
0-180 8,22
0-200 10,33
0-220 13,23

Fast Facts

 

Engine type:

longitudinal 65-degree, V-4 cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooling system, double overhead camshafts (DOHC), four valves per cylinder

 

Bore and stroke (mm): 78 x 52,3
Total engine capacity (cm3): 999.6
Compression ratio: 13:1
Maximum power (kW/r/min): 119/11 000
Maximum torque (Nm/r/min): 110/9 000
Fuel system: airbox with front dynamic air intakes, four Weber-Marelli 48 mm throttle bodies with four injectors, ride-by-wire engine management, choice of three different engine maps selectable by the rider: T (Track), S (Sport), R (Road)
Exhaust system 4-into-2-into-1 layout, single oxygen sensor, lateral single silencer with engine management system controlled butterfly valve
Gearbox: 6-speed cassette type gearbox, gear lever with Aprilia quick shift electronic system (AQS)
Traction management: APRC (Aprilia performance ride control) system, which includes traction control (ATC), wheelie control (AWC), launch control (ALC), all of which can be configured and deactivated independently
Frame aluminium dual beam chassis with pressed and cast sheet elements, Sachs steering damper
Front suspension: Sachs upside down front fork with Æ 43 mm stanchions, adjustable spring preload and hydraulic compression and rebound damping, wheel travel: 120 mm

Rear suspension

double braced aluminium swing-arm, Sachs piggy back mono shock, completely adjustable: spring preload and hydraulic compression and rebound damping, wheel travel: 130 mm

Brakes:

front: dual 320 mm floating stainless steel discs with lightweight stainless steel rotor with six studs, Brembo radial callipers with four Æ horizontally opposed 32 mm pistons

rear: 220 mm diameter disc; Brembo floating calliper with two Æ 32 mm isolated pistons

Tyres: front: 120/70 ZR 17

rear: 190/55 ZR 17

Kerb weight:

179 kg without battery and fluids
Tank: 17 litres (4-litre reserve included)
Warranty and service: 2-years/10 000 km
Price: R145 995

Special thanks to Aprilia South (also a Suzuki and Kawasaki dealer) for the loan of the test bike.