2012 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout - Video
Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC vs MV Agusta Brutale R 1090 vs Triumph Speed Triple R
At The Track
Putting an outside pass on a supersport — piloted by a wannabe racer with visions of grandeur — with a streetfighter lacking fairings, and handlebars instead of clip-ons, is admittedly fun. And that’s why, if you purchase or already own one of these models, we implore you to take your bike to a track day.
We signed up with the friendly folks who operate Motoyard Track Days for a day out at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. CVR is a fairly recent addition to the SoCal landscape and a perfect testing ground for our streetfighters because it lacks any long straightaways.
Greg Nulman, an expert-level racer, runs Motoyard as a way to get speed junkies onto the safe confines of a racetrack. He runs a fun ship with an emphasis on track time – no lunch breaks here, just lots of riding with amiable, like-minded riders. We also like how Motoyard offers free snacks, fruit and drinks for its riders, as well as its relatively cheap prices on a variety of tracks in Southern California, starting at just $125.
Never been to a track day? Motoyard offers a free track session to its new riders, with instructors to lead you around for a bit before you finish the session on your own. If you want more of that exciting racetrack goodness, just sign up to continue riding.
Motoyard’s track days also include optional tire and suspension services, the latter delivered by Ed Sorbo of Lindeman Engineering. Sorbo, a former 250cc Grand Prix racer, ably helped dial in the suspensions of our bikes for track work.
The naked bikes here are equipped differently, but each produces more than adequate horsepower and torque figures and is outfitted with chassis, suspension and braking components that make easy work of lesser riders aboard more capable machines.
#1 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC
Its resume of competition-based technologies hinted to the Tuono as the best track weapon among this congregation, and our track day confirmed everything to which the Tuono’s spec sheet alludes. While the Tuono gives up some bottom-end power to its rivals, the 65-degree, 999cc V-4 engine leaves the other two inhaling exhaust fumes as it screams up to its 154 rear-wheel horsepower at 11,700 rpm.
“Engine, and lots of it,” extols racerboy editor, Troy Siahaan. “Definitely the best engine in the group, by far, and it sounds awesome to boot.”
Engine dynamics are determined by Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC), offering three settings (Road, Sport, Track), eight levels of traction control, wheelie control and a quick shifter. “Electronics are superbly customizable, with traction and wheelie control available in multiple settings or simply switched off,” notes kingpin editor, Kevin Duke.
The Tuono didn’t project immediate rider confidence and required a longer adjustment period than the MV or the immediately familiar feeling Speed Triple R. We received the Tuono with a rear tire noticeably worn in its center, and this caused it to require an unnerving amount of inside bar pressure to keep it leaned over in corners during our early testing. However, when fitted with fresh rubber, the Aprilia steered smoothly and naturally.
We weren’t pleased with the Tuono’s seat. While roomy, the material is slippery against leather, and there’s nothing preventing a Tuono pilot from sliding fore and aft under hard acceleration and braking forces. The yellow seat material, while it may look cool in brochure photos, was soiled by the end of one day’s ride.
The Tuono’s incredibly light clutch pull requires recognition as do its wide bars, widest of this group by 0.5 inch. “The nature of the handlebars doesn't put you in the best posture for track riding, but it's a great overall position if you were to have only one motorcycle,” says Troy.
When it comes to setting fast lap times the Tuono can’t be beat, and that’s what matters during track testing. So, our apologies if it comes as no surprise, but the Tuono has no streetfighter equal on a racetrack. We don’t even see how the $4,000-more-expensive Ducati Streetfighter S or MV Agusta Brutale RR 1090 could best the Tuono on a closed circuit.
#2 Triumph Speed Triple R
Producing the least amount of horsepower (122.3) and the second most amount of torque (76.3 ft-lb), the Speed Triple was, in terms of engine performance, slightly disappointing for an R model. This didn’t stop the S3R from hanging with the faster Tuono at a flowing track like Chuckwalla that doesn’t emphasize the superior qualities of the Triumph’s brakes and suspension.
“It feels like its torque curve is a long plateau, providing effortless thrust until its top end that trails off far earlier than the others” comments Duke. “It hits its rev limiter at 9,500 rpm while the others have 2000-plus revs to go.”
To which Troy adds, “On a tight course, the S3 can hang with the Tuono because of its wide torque. Once the Tuono is allowed to scream, it takes off.”
Equipped with ABS, instead of TCS like the other two streetfighters, the S3R’s Brembo monoblocs are strong, with a linear feel throughout lever stroke. “The best compliment I can give the Speed Triples’ brakes,” says Duke, “is that I regularly forgot they had an anti-lock system.”
Indisputably the best bike in terms of suspension and brakes (with the heaviest clutch pull of the three), but even with increased engine performance, the S3R would still have fallen behind the Tuono V4 R and its arsenal of go-fast electronics.
#3 MV Agusta Brutale R 1090
Does it matter that we’re ranking the MV Agusta Brutale R 1090 last in the track comparison when you look this good going slow? And slow certainly isn’t the right word as the Brutale capably circled Chuckwalla in lockstep with the other two streetfighters.
Endowed with adjustable traction control the Brutale is better equipped for the track, technologically speaking, than the ABS-equipped Triumph, but its close, upright seating and narrow bars don’t lend to easy transitioning.
“Narrow handlebars are a little strange, though the chassis has a very neutral feel,” remarks Troy. “Turn-in isn't as light as Triumph, but easier than Tuono.”
Duke says of the MV’s brakes, “Although not of the monobloc variety, the radial-mount Brembo front binders have great loads of power and an aggressive bite.” He didn’t favor the Brutale’s slippery footpegs or the notchiest gearbox of the group.
The slash-cut exhaust, while good looking, “dramatically cuts into room for a rider’s right foot, especially when carrying weight on the balls of your feet,” says Duke.
The Brutale produced a few more horsepower and a few less ft-lbs of torque than the Triumph for a close match-up. But while its inline-Four exhibits excellent mid-range thrust, the motor begins wheezing past 10,000 rpm when compared to the super-stout Tuono.
And then there’s the omission of compression damping adjustment on the Sachs shock. Sixteen-five for a sportbike with no compression adjustment?!? Come on, MV, really?