2011 Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC Review
Brutal street/track-fighting fun!
It’s a sunny morning in Valencia, and I’m at the Ricardo Tormo circuit sipping a coffee whilst listening to 20 roaring V4-powered Tuonos being warmed up in the pit lane. One of them is mine, all mine, for the day with a dedicated mechanic – I’m being treated like a MotoGP star.
I start my first session with the traction control set at level six and then reduce by one for each lap until I’m down at level one. The Aprilia 2011 Tuono V4R is a bit of a shock to the system as it just pulls like an angry bull everywhere and stops as if a freight train suddenly started pulling it in reverse. When I’ve finished my second 20-minute session I’m experiencing arm pump and a threatening cramp in my left leg each time I brake hard. My mechanic made some rear-suspension adjustments which changed the bike a lot and made my hard riding much easier.
The V4 engine, taken directly from the RSV4 R superbike, suits the Tuono perfect with an absolute abundance of power. Aprilia has only de-tuned it slightly, down only 13 horsepower short of the RSV4 R. The Tuono is hard physical work when it hits the higher revs as I really have to push myself forward to avoid hanging after the bike by the handlebar. The Tuono munches up all the short straights at the Ricardo Tormo circuit like nothing else, and quickly it seems the whole circuit is a succession of corners with one long start/finish straight.
With the APRC traction control I can accelerate early from great lean in safety, and even on level one it feels safe despite some nice sliding action out of most corners. The only place on the Valencia circuit where there’s some room for relaxation is down the straight, but even here the enormous power and the wind pushes you back until it’s time for hard braking whilst shifting down the box.
Later in the day I preferred to short-shift up the quick shifter more to save my arms from the strain, and it hardly felt like I was going any slower. The three lower gears on the Tuono are lower than on the RSV4 R and it can be felt! Due to that great quick shifter I also made my way all the way up to sixth several times down the straight. The slipper clutch is equally good when shifting hard down to second ahead of the fast left-hander at the end of the straight. Then it’s all full throttle and sliding and a little wheelie all over again.
The Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC we ride at the circuit has been fitted with the 200/55-ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa rear tyre and aftermarket clutch and brake levers, which makes it even better than the standard I’m later riding on the road. The 200-section rear tire just offers so much grip, but still the brutal Tuono makes mincemeat of that too given half a chance.
Lean angles are absolutely of superbike standard, and there’s not much about this bike apart from the wide handlebars and the lack of a fairing that resembles a streetfighter. The one and only bike I can imagine being able to compete morally is the Ducati Streetfighter, and that has 17 horsepower less. The MV Agusta Brutale is too soft compared to this.
Despite going as fast as I could or dared, the Tuono just stays composed and is incredibly safe on the circuit. I can’t imagine ever making bad mistakes on this bike, as it forgives a rider with pity and just spits back “can’t you ride me any faster than that?” The Tuono is for those of us who like to ride fast on both the road and the track, and nobody will ever find this bike boring. It’s testosterone on two wheels.
I have never ridden any naked that feels as stable or as suited to a race track as the Tuono V4R APRC. As soon as the revs climb towards 10K rpm there’s a high-tech, roaring MotoGP-style mighty V4 sound exiting the exhaust. The rev limiter has been set to 12.300 rpm which allows for 800rpm of overrev if needed. You’ll be surprised by how mighty the Tuono midrange is from around 7,000 rpm. The lower gearing in the three lower gears just amplifies the arm-wrenching acceleration. The Tuono’s tall and wide handlebar allows for a relaxing ride on the road, but on the circuit, the V4 engine makes sure you get your arm exercise.
The Tuono V4 R APRC has everything the RSV4 Factory APRC SE has got, so that includes wheelie control allowing smooth landings. Out on the road, it’s not the easiest bike to wheelie due to the ride-by-wire and sudden explosion of power. I had some fun on the motorway by pulling it up by pure power in second gear at anything between 60 and 75 mph, and just continued as far as I wanted or the revs would allow. The Tuono is definitely a big wheelie bike. Traction control must be off or you’ll be disappointed as the system quickly brings you back to earth. The traction control works by pushing the + or – button on the left side of the handlebar whilst on the move.
Whilst I stayed in Track mode for all my laps around the circuit, on the road ride I found myself on a standard Tuono V4R APRC with the 190/55 rear tire, standard levers and the traction control set to a higher level and the riding mode set to Sport, which reduces the torque in lower gears. I played around with the traction control and found level three to be really good for our riding in the mountains. It adds a safe level of traction control. Later I changed to setting one for some wheelie fun and also off. Riding hard in the corners with traction control set to level one might not be sufficient to save a situation involving gravel and oil, so I needed more traction control for a relatively safe ride.
The one and only thing the APRC suite doesn’t cater for yet are ABS brakes. Reliable sources tell us Aprilia will launch something very good to the racing ABS segment soon. I had a couple of moments on the brakes because we never reached fast enough speeds to make brakes and tires work as well on the road as on the circuit. The Tuono V4R is a bit of a handful on the road, so I recommend people to use the traction control wisely.
The seat is hard and not very comfortable, so it didn’t take too many miles before I felt a bit wooden in my seat muscles. The Tuono is that type of compromise, but it is miles more comfortable than the RSV4 R superbike. The Tuono V4R is the roadbike for the rider that would otherwise ride a supersport but with a more upright riding position. Because I tell you the power and the handling is there.
The 2011 Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC is possibly the most extreme streetfighter-type streetbike ever made. Aprilia have upped the ante by a large measure. The V4 engine with its 167 horsepower is one of the best in the business, and its handling is exemplary. Oh, yes, the Tuono V4R is that good.
|What is APRC|
The APRC suite equipping the Tuono V4 R includes:
* ATC (Aprilia Traction Control) with eight different settings for controlling sliding when powering out of curves in relation to bank angle and throttle aperture. The system has been tweaked to make the more conservative settings even more suitable for road use, while leaving the racing spirit of the less restrictive levels intact;
* AWC (Aprilia Wheelie Control) which helps the rider maintain control in extreme wheelie conditions by gradually bringing the front wheel back to the ground, has been appropriately adapted for the different weight distribution of the Tuono V4;
* AQS (Aprilia Quick Shift), which allows instantaneous upshifts without closing the throttle or using the clutch.
* ALC (Aprilia Launch Control): Simultaneously pressing both buttons on the joystick on the left-hand handlebar arms the system, as confirmed by the specific message on the display. From this moment on, all 167 horsepower of the beast from Noale are ready to slingshot the Tuono V4 R like a missile as soon as the rider releases the clutch.
With the APRC’s Calibrating function, it is the only system of its kind on the market capable of self-adapting to tyre size and drive ratio.