One of the most powerful “race-fighters” has now become a little bit more streetfighter. Without losing any of its racing pedigree, the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4R ABS is now more civilized for road usage with the addition of ABS. But don’t mistake the new Tuono for being a softy — the 999cc V4 still features some serious thunder, even getting a 3 hp increase, raising max power to 170 horses. More on that later.
As much as I prefer riding in the dry, wet conditions make great testing grounds for ABS, and Aprilia took us to the fairly new San Martino del Lago circuit in Italy to try the new Tuono under extreme conditions. It had rained the previous night and into morning, so we were given Pirelli racing rain tires for our test sessions which enabled the usage of traction control settings very similar to what I’d choose for a dry day with road tires.
I started out with a high level of TC intrusion but with the extra grip of the rain tires I found this to be working against me as I instinctively hold back a fair bit on the wet anyway. I went down from the highest level of eight to two, making the ride realistic for me. The three-level ABS was set to Track as the sticky rain tires negated the need to use the rain setting you’d probably want to use in these conditions on road tires. It took me a whole 20-minute session to get used to the rain tires but then I was ready to go for it and I had plenty of grip on a slowly drying circuit.
PREVIOUSLY: 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4R ABS – First Impressions
Despite having a half-mile straight, the hardest braking occurs on the short start/finish section, and on this wet day the ABS really could be tested to its full potential. The 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4R ABS features new Brembo brake calipers and Bosch 9MP ABS with the ability to control rear wheel lift to different degrees depending on which of three ABS settings you choose. This setup gave me so much confidence I even managed to outbrake myself once, ending up in the gravel trap. There was no drama and I stayed upright but to get out of the gravel trap I had to turn traction control from level two to off. The brakes are very powerful and the ABS never intervened in a negative way so the algorithms in the Bosch 9MP set-up work really well. These ABS brakes will be of great benefit to road riders.
Some very good things have happened to the Tuono version of the V4 engine, too. Both power and torque is up but even better it all happens at lower rpm than before. The engine now produces 170 hp at 10,500 rpm and 82.2 ft.-lbs. at 9,500 rpm, which is very good news on the road biased Tuono V4R ABS. Compared to the 2012 Tuono we tested, which made 153 hp at 11,600 rpm and 76.5 ft.-lbs. at 9250 rpm, the 2014 version really should make a better street companion.
Even on track the difference was noticeable. The top-end feels richer and there’s more oomph earlier in the midrange. For street riders, this translates into a more satisfying everyday ride with less twisting of the throttle. The previous Tuono V4R had a much more similar set-up to the RSV4 making it more hardcore than necessary, and with the 2014 Aprilia have addressed this issue making all that V-Four deliciousness more accessible from earlier in the powerband. A more refined Tuono experience you could say. And wheelie addicts rejoice; when I did a session turning the wheelie control off I found a fringe benefit in being able to hoist wheelies more controllably than before. In the road scenario I much prefer this version of the V-Four engine and as such it’s the best one yet.
Since this is supposed to be a more road-friendly Tuono, the old plank of a seat was replaced for one with better padding for additional comfort. Coupled with the tall and wide handlebar the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4R ABS is now a lot more comfortable than before. At a wet trackday in northern Italy I found this extra comfort reassuring. The new Tuono also features a larger 5.0-gallon fuel tank (4.5-gallon previously) with better grip for your knees while cornering.
In terms of handling in the corners the Tuono V4R ABS is superb as it inherits the RSV4 chassis but with tall and wide handlebars which really puts the rider in control. Simply put, The Tuono is a very entertaining motorcycle on circuit and it has no problems at all keeping up with superbikes if the riders are of the same caliber. Straights are a different matter though as I wasn’t completely pleased with the high-speed stability compared to the RSV4 Factory. The Tuono has a Sachs steering damper but at very high speeds I wasn’t about to put my full trust in it being able to save a full on tank-slapper on this day.
Tuono vs. RSV4
First of all, there is no doubt that the Aprilia RSV4 Factory ABS with its 184 hp will always be the faster motorcycle. The RSV4 Factory is also better at high-speed stability with a higher top speed. All is not lost for the Tuono V4R ABS though as it scores very high on the pure fun element and that’s why most people do track days isn’t it? The Tuono V4R ABS is one of the very best nakeds to do a track day on and then ride home in relative comfort after the event. For some people nothing can beat a full on superbike such as the RSV4 Factory ABS and it will never disappoint because it’s one of the fastest and best handling superbikes you can buy.
The Tuono V4R ABS benefits from the same APRC electronics package which can only be a good thing as it increases safety to the highest level and it’s easy to change the handling characteristics just using buttons. The lack of a fairing, different tune of the V-Four engine, more comfort and softer standard suspension set-up are the differences really.
The re-tuned V-Four engine with a smoother, more powerful mid-range is the standout new feature for me. The feel through the throttle is better than before with or without traction control. The softer standard suspension set-up with a more comfortable seat ensure a better experience doing many miles on the road and the larger fuel tank takes you further. High speed stability wasn’t the best on rain tyres but it’s a naked after all so you probably won’t spend as much time in the three figures as on a RSV4 anyway. New state of the art racing ABS is a great feature for the road and also for track days such as the wet one I attended. The Tuono is more rock ’n roll and works better in the everyday scenario, whereas the RSV4 Factory ABS is clearly aimed at the track. For that reason, I’d chose a Tuono.