2014 Ultimate Streetfighter Finale + Video

Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC ABS vs BMW S1000R vs KTM 1290 Super Duke R

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Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC ABS

Aprilia Tuono Beauty Shot

As if the lusty V-Four exhaust note wasn’t enough, the Tuono is a looker, too.

Ah, the Tuono. One of the most exciting motorcycles money can buy, it’s a thrill machine that won our 2012 Streetfighter Shootout based largely on its intoxicating V-Four engine that makes its riders think they’re riding a MotoGP racer with headlights.

Read our 2012 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout

For 2014, Aprilia has addressed many of our concerns with the previous version, giving it a 0.4 larger fuel tank (now up to a purported 4.9 gallons) and a more comfortable seat. Also new for 2014 is a Sachs fork that includes compression and rebound damping circuits divided into different fork legs, augmenting the returning, fully adjustable Sachs shock. ABS now comes standard, the system using new Brembo M432 calipers.

Read our review of the 2014 Tuono.

This shootout backed up the impressions from our single-bike-review, with the updated Tuono earning praises for its sure-footed, superbike-inspired handling and its raucously thrilling engine. Especially its engine. The 65-degree V-4 feels alive, maybe even a little bit insane. Spikey, non-linear throttle response is objectively a flaw, but in the SF genre, it’s forgivable, even almost desirable. And when the V-4 belts out its delicious, MotoGP-like exhaust note, it’s impossible to not be seduced. Revving an engine for no reason is indubitably juvenile, but the Tuono’s enticing and angry bark makes me do it anyway.

Aprilia Tuono wheelies

Aprilia’s Tuono V4R punches our whoo-hoo! buttons!

Exiting Auto Club Speedway’s infield section on a pinned throttle will deepen a gearhead’s love for the Tuono’s motor. It’s singing operatically in its upper range, then changes notes instantly after a prod of the quickest quickshifter/tranny combo in this test – or maybe anywhere. The BMW’s QS isn’t as swift, and the KTM’s lack of one is a glaring omission when riding at a racetrack and mildly inconvenient on the street. The only flaw from the Tuono’s gearbox is a moderate reluctance to access neutral when at a stop.

The ’Priller is also tops in terms of high-speed stability – it’s the only one in this group that didn’t exhibit a slight weave at 140-plus mph on Auto Club’s banking which is quite a compliment for a naked sportbike at ultra-high speeds.

Aprilia Tuono on track

The Tuono boasts the best high-speed stability of this group. Best engine note and quickest-shifting transmission, too.

The Aprilia Performance Ride Control suite of rider aids operates at a level higher than its rivals, with parameters for traction control, ABS settings and wheelie control able to be operated independently of ride modes, unlike the others. I went out with the TC set to 5 (of a max of 8) and was frustrated by how early it intervened and softened drives off Fontucky’s corners. However, even while running racetrack speeds, I was able to jab twice at the TC paddles to knock down TC to level 3 and enjoy more significantly more latitude for wheelspin, an operation that can’t be done while in action on the other bikes in this test.

“If you’re a trackday enthusiast,” Roderick notes, “the Aprilia’s launch control, wheelie control, ABS and TC customization make this one of the best electronic packages out there. BMW’s electronic suspension, cruise control and heated grips are more useful for street riders.”

As per usual, Aprilia’s V-Four machines feel incredibly mass-centralized. The Tuono weighs more than the others here, yet its extra poundage is well hidden. A handlebar wider than the S1000R’s provides additional leverage that helps overcome its weight.

Aprilia Tuono on track

The Tuono displays excellent balance in the corners, with the greatest amount of cornering clearance.

“The mass centralization of the Tuono makes this naked a favorite of mine on and off the track,” T-Rod notes. “The BMW may be slightly more agile, but it’s such a negligible difference that I’ll choose to ride the Tuono simply because its noises are more soul stirring.”

The Tuono feels as fleet as the KTM and BMW on track, but it’s actually working with a half-dozen less horses at its peak: 148 hp at 11,600 rpm.

“The Tuono’s V-Four has awesome character, and its sound is amazing,” Trizzle comments. “But its engine is directly in the middle of the bunch. The KTM has more bottom-end power, while the BMW has more up top.”

Aprilia Tuono on the street

The Aprilia’s riding position is more committed than its rivals, with higher pegs and a longer reach to the handlebar.

And while we’re picking motor nits, the Tuono has an annoying off-idle throttle lag that surfaces between a gentle launch and a spirited one, the fault of a fuel-saving strategy first seen on the 2013 RSV4. Regardless, the V-Four still lives up to its thirsty reputation. It was typical to get mileage in the low-30-mpg range, dipping occasionally into the high 20s. Also, the Tuono throws more heat onto its rider than the Beemer and Katoom, which can feel oppressive in hot weather during stop-and-go traffic.

So, while the Tuono is our first choice for a trackday, its scores suffered on the street. It has the least amount of legroom, and its seat – despite its additional padding and a flatter profile – was the least comfortable in this trio. And short-legged riders beware: more padding has boosted seat height to a lofty 32.9 inches, tying the adventure-touring-ish KTM for the tallest saddle in this comparison, but its layout results in the longest reach to the ground.

While we appreciate the adjustability of the APRC electronics suite, we were less enamored with the blocky LCD display and navigating its menus and readouts. The V-4 tends to run hot.

While we appreciate the adjustability of the APRC electronics suite, we were less enamored with the blocky LCD display and navigating its menus and readouts. The V-4 tends to run hot.

There are a few other shortcomings to note. The V4R’s instrumentation looks a little dated, is difficult to navigate and doesn’t include a fuel gauge. Also, its brakes, while quite good, were tied for last with the snatchy BMW’s binders, requiring a heftier squeeze to access its considerable speed-retardation reserves. The suspension is a similar story. Its Sachs equipment works well, requiring only minor damping tweaks to adjust from a relatively compliant street setup to a tighter-controlled track setting. However, it lost points
for the difficulty of accessing its adjusters.

“I wish the clickers were more accessible,” Siahaan laments. “The handlebar placement makes it difficult to adjust the front clickers, and the exhaust does the same for rear rebound.”

Aprilia Tuono engine

Here’s the star of the Tuono show, one of the sweetest engines ever bolted between two wheels. Too bad about the ugly evaporative canister necessary to meet California emissions standards.

Overall, it’s a slight lack of refinement that penalizes the Tuono against its newer rivals, which are both exceptionally well-engineered. Its instrumentation is frustrating to navigate, its seat padding yields least, and its barbed throttle response – especially in Track mode – challenges a rider to be smooth.

On the plus side, the Tuono is our top pick – if you intend to do trackdays on a streetfighter. It’s also the least expensive bike of this trio, retailing for a significant $2,500 less than the wickedly wonderful KTM. Also, you’d be forgiven if its lustful and scintillating V-Four engine makes you fall hopelessly in love.

–Kevin Duke

Aprilia Tuono on track

With the throttle pinned and an open road ahead, the Tuono bellows out a delectable V-Four symphony that’s easily worth the price of admission.

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  • JMDonald

    Of all the available motorcycles these bikes will always be on the top of my personal list. When I think about riding I think of these machines. It is a great time to be alive.

    • Will

      Considered all 3 and wound up buying a leftover 2013 Tuono V4 which offered a $1,500 rebate. OTD including taxes, etc. was $12,900 so I think I got a helluva lot of bike for less than 13k. That V-4 engine is motorcycle Viagra and I was still excited four hours after the ride home from the dealership (do I need to call a doctor?).

      • Kevin Duke

        No doctor required! Sounds like you got a great deal!

        • Will

          That’s good to know. I’m sure my condition is not covered by insurance.
          I also test rode the S1000R and Z1000. I was kinda disappointed in the Kawasaki (too buzzy, short-geared & frenetic feeling) but I thought the BMW was outstanding overall. I didn’t find its engine as buzzy as some have reported and the suspension offered a near magic carpet ride-like experience. Only thing I didn’t like was a clutch that engaged late in the lever travel (but an easy fix w/ quick twist of adjustment screw).
          Here’s a quick take on S1000R vs. my Tuono V4R:
          BMW has more linear powerband that pulls smartly from the bottom / Aprilia powerband feels more layered & really starts to stonk as it enters the lower midrange.
          Navigating the S1000R’s display is much easier / Tuono’s is not very intuitive or user friendly.
          Aprilia wins hands-down in engine character although the BMW is surprisingly raucous for an I-4 – it features a nasty intake snarl and spits on overrun.
          Summary: you only live once and I rolled the dice on the Aprilia over the BMW (saving over $2k made the decision easier). I have a gut feeling that if I had rode the Super Duke R I would have lusted after it but still settled for the much cheaper Tuono.
          P.S. – the actual MSRP of the fully-loaded S1000R is $15,445 including the $495 Destination charge. Dealer fees (Handling, Documentation) could easily add $500 or more so it helps to be a savvy negotiator and try to get the dealer to eat the fees and work off the price of just the bike itself. I was able to get the dealer down to $14,700 + tax/tags on the S1000R before I chose to go w/ the Touno.

  • Old MOron

    Since these bikes are all awesome, and since they’re all better than I am, I guess I’d buy the one that is least expensive or easiest to maintain.
    Perhaps you gentlemen (ahem) can add scheduled maintenance to your score card. The bike with the least frequent maintenance would score highest.
    Anyway, I enjoyed the comparo. Keep up the good work.

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    Gas mileage isn’t a huge concern probably but the range on the Tuono seems pretty minuscule at 20mpg. That would be really annoying having to stop every 5 minutes. I have a VFR and the v-4 sounds awesome buts a lot of heat on you and drinks gas. maybe that’s just the engine format?

    I tried out the Super Duke after your last video and was pretty shocked how comfy it is. I was expecting the bike to rip my head off but it’s so controlled plus it looks like it could take a pothole without cratering. It’s a bit pricey but it looks amazing to me.

    The BMW is a bit weird looking but the cruise and heated grips would be seriously handy around where I live.

    I was going to replace my bike with a ninja 1000 or the new VFR 800 but both of these super nakeds are uber tempting.

  • Old MOron

    Okay, previously I had only read the narrative, as I was at work. But I just watched the video on my lunch break. Well done, guys. Very, very well done.

    Having said that, I gotta do some MOronic taunting.
    The haircuts, what’s up with the haircuts?
    T-Rod, you lightened your locks. What’s next, Blondie, a boob job?
    Duke, I’m sure that haircut was real cool when you were in high school, but that was a while ago, wasn’t it?

    • Kevin Duke

      I guess we’re doing okay if the biggest knock on our production is our haircuts!

  • Shlomi

    Ok so I’m debating between two bikes the Duke and the BMW.
    I ride B roads which are narrow, and bumpy, speed range is 40-80 MPH. I get that BMW has the better suspension as I can switch from sport to comfort when the road gets too bumpy, I get that the BMW is more nimble, lighter, and agile. I get that the Duke will be able to ride on the torque wave which means less gear changes, riding position on the Duke seems more comfortable as well.
    What’s the better bike for me? I currently ride Multistrada 2nd generation which performs well on the roads I ride. However, the Multistrada is a bit heavy, soft, and slow to steer when the pace become brisk.

    • Ser Samsquamsh

      I noticed that the wind blast on the KTM was very manageable. There was basically no buffeting or neck strain under 80mph.

      • Price Action Guru

        Did they ever release the fly screen the pictured it with?

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      For the last few years when asked the question, “what bike would I buy for myself,” my answer has been Multistrada. The answer to that question now is Super Duke R. Does that help?

      • Price Action Guru

        Since you have previously liked the Multistrada as the bike that you would buy for yourself, I am interested hearing your thoughts on comparing and contrasting the Multistrada 1200 vs the Super Duke R.

        One may say they are not the same bike, but you appear to have liked them both very much, so hearing your thoughts may be enlightening.

        And like Shlomi, I too have a Multistrada 1200, and I have been shopping for a nake/super naked.

        • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

          The Multi has been, and still is, one of the best motorcycles for combining performance, comfort, and long-distance capability. The Super Duke R gives up a lot of long-distance capability (no hard luggage, cruise control or fairing protection), but what it lacks in long-distance capability it makes up for in the performance category. Comfort is a wash between the two. Admittedly, I’m a big fan of liter-size V-Twins and I just can’t get enough of KTM’s 1290 powering the SDR. Also, for me, I’ve been loving the Multi for years now, and it’s time for a change and the SDR is that change. If, however, you’re desiring travel and touring over track day performance, the Multi remains the better bike.

          • Price Action Guru

            Thanks for the feedback.

          • Shlomi

            Tom thank you very much! When I bought the Multistrada I had dreams for cross states trip….reality happens and day rides of 200-300 miles is all I can do now. How is the KTM build quality? Does it fit $20 OTD price tag?

          • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

            There were no negative comments among the editors in regards to quality. I’d go as far as to say it’s equal to anything on two wheels from Germany, Japan or Italy. I still think the $17k MSRP is kinda steep (especially compared to the S1000R) but I’d be willing to bite the bullet and pony up. Or, be patient and wait for that repo unit or the divorce-forces-sale used example with 600 miles on the clock.

          • Shlomi

            Tom this is great feedback. I get your passion about the KTM. I owned the Duke 690 prior to the Multistrda, and still miss that character. What I don’t miss is the roughness and all or nothing attitude. I couldn’t ride it less than 100% all the time. I hope the SDR is as hard core, but also allows slower pace when I’m not in the 100% mood. Thanks again, this been very helpful.

  • enzomedici

    I would pick the BMW S1000R because Aprilia and KTM dealer support are pretty much non-existent. Plus, the gas mileage on the Aprilia is horrendous. You would lose any race because you would be gassing up while everyone else rode by.

  • Mr. J

    what road is that guys??

    • Kevin Duke

      The’re in the hills around Malibu.

  • Auphliam

    I have to say, this shootout series has been one of the most interesting/captivating I’ve seen on MO. Well done, boys.

  • Price Action Guru

    MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR or Corsa should have been in the final comparison.
    In my opinion, like the Aprilia Tuono V4R, the Brutale is a race bike with handlebars.

    Perhaps written a follow-up article on how the Brutale stacks up against the final three??

  • John B.

    Really great work guys! When I attended the Dallas Motorcycle Show last Fall, I spoke at length with a high level BMW executive who was responsible for setting the S1000R’s U.S. msrp. He spoke enthusiastically about the S1000R and provided very interesting information related to the S1000R’s development. Near the end of our conversation he stated that he believed the S1000R is the best bike in this class (no surprise there). He added, however, that he thought the KTM SD was the only other super naked in the S1000R’s class; especially with respect to manufacturing quality. He said I should buy the KTM if I decided not to buy the BMW because it (the KTM) is an outstanding motorcycle. In fact, he praised the KTM so much that I wondered whether a BMW-KTM merger were feasible. He felt the Z1000 was a good choice for people who wanted to spend less money, but felt the Aprilia lacked manufacturing consistency….. As a 6’3″ rider with chronic back pain, I would choose the KTM because comfort is the critical factor for me. PS – I did not notice the presenters’ hair. I imagine being a public figure is not all it’s cracked up to be….

  • Craig Hoffman

    KTM is on a complete tear in the off road market for quite a while now. It seems they are making real inroads in the pavement market as well. If this keeps up, everybody is going to be riding orange.

    KTM and the Euro companies in general are alive. I wonder a little about the Japanese. Some interesting bikes from Japan here and there, but it is like they really lost something during the great recession.

    All useless theorizing about corporate psychology aside, make my hooligan bike a KTM please. :)

    • Piglet2010

      There are several KTM models that interest me (Freeride E, 450 SMR, 690 SMC R, 390 Duke, 690 Duke R, and RC390), but guess what – not one of them is imported to the US. So I will look elsewhere.

      As for the Japanese, they could almost care less about US and even Europe – South Asia is where the sales volume is. The US is probably the worst per capita motorcycle market in the developed world, and in most of the country you will mostly find people who buy huge cruisers as Lifestyle Accessories™.

  • Steve Cole

    I still prefer the Tuono. But that’s because I love the motor and the take-no-prisoners way the bike works.

  • Holy Kaw!

    Great article. I’ve been trying to figure out my favorite here as well, I agree, not easy.

    For me it’s between the KTM and the BMW because I don’t like “peaky” High Performance engines on a Motorcycle if I’m trying to go fast around corners… (the “old” Tuono would’ve given the KTM a good run… as far as Fun goes at least)

    The BMW was one of those “What would be cooler than a naked based the S1000RR?” thoughts I had that became reality, I was excited! Cruise control and integral heated grips did nothing to reduce my drooling (the other gizmo’s are fine but wouldn’t be selling points for me unless “free” which to their credit BMW effectively did). It’s performance is Far beyond my capabilities, I thought it looked great in Red. The BMW is a Fine Motorcycle.

    The KTM showed me that an “older” 6’2″ Guy can be – comfortable – on a High Performance Motorcycle. The KTM makes me want to go ride it, it’s FUN (I know, all Motorcycles can be Fun but I think some are “Funner” than others). Torque is a Beautiful thing. I have some questions about the KTM’s reliability, without basis. I guess the KTM will take the flag but it’s as close as one of the recent Moto 3 races.

    The KTM (in Red) with a modest fly screen/quarter fairing, cruise control and heated grips would qualify as a “Perfect” Motorcycle IMO.

    PS “What would be cooler than a naked based the S1000RR?” A 2015/2016 ZRX1400 with a top shelf chassis, heated grips, cruise control, in Red ;-)

    It’s nice to see that the bikes carry enough fuel for a decent range.

  • Steve Cole

    I don’t know why people think the V4 puts out a lot of heat. It puts out less heat than my track GSXR does and also less heat than my V60 Tuono did. And it’s a LOT cooler than my old 1050 Sprint ST. I have a RSV4, mind.

    I’d still buy the V4. It’s always entertaining.

  • http://www.fleetavenue.com.au Andre Villalba

    The BMW S1000R reminds me so much of the BMW 2 series. Such a magnificent experience to hear their engines and see them make their turns…

  • bj

    Great review.
    KTM is the bike to own but the BMW is a good bike and good value. Doesn’t quite do anything as well as the KTM, or look as good but it is feature packed, cheaper, a good bike and deserves scoring to showcase that.

  • Jaybo

    Your poor yanks. Aprilia don’t seem to trust you squids with the full output engine. My Australian version is putting out 167 at the rear…..
    Reading the article, and comparing the scores don’t add up… The V4 was everybody’s favourite engine, but got the lowest score….? Was this manipulated to give the newer bikes leg up? It’s definitely the reason I bought mine. And the electronics package. Being able to dial in my slides at track days, like a GP star is worth the price of admission right there…

    • Kevin Duke

      The Aprilia’s engine is sweet, no doubt. But take a look at the dyno chart and try to find any point at which it outperforms the others. And the fuel-saving electronics strategy is a PITA when riding around town.

  • DH

    Good job on the shootout boys. Bought a ’14 Tuono and can’t stop giggling inside of my helmet. If you think the V4 is intoxicating with its stock exhaust, try it with an aftermarket pipe. Highly recommend the SC-Project CRT. Sounds like the spawn of a Shelby AC Cobra and a P51 Mustang WWII fighter. Besides, which of your cul-de-sac neighbors deep down inside, in places they don’t like to talk about, really don’t want to hear the sounds of MotoGP? It’s clearly better than Pavarotti.

  • Avery Buda

    For a shorter (5’9″) rider who would be doing very little track time if any at all, what would be the better bike out of these three? I understand the KTM is fitting for larger riders but how does it fit a smaller rider. Also which bike has better ergonomics between the s1000r and superduke?Thanks to anyone who can clear up any of these questions for me

    • TroySiahaan

      Avery,
      I’m an inch shorter than you and fit both the BMW and KTM well. The KTM is very comfortable, IMO, for an everyday street bike. What makes it comfy for tall folks (upright bars, lots of legroom) doesn’t deter it in any way for shorter folks like us. I’d stop short of calling it a sport-tourer, but it’s pretty darn close.

      • Avery Buda

        Thanks a lot for the help you answered all of my questions.

    • Kevin Duke

      If a lower seat height is a major consideration, the BMW’s is the closest to the ground and is by a considerable margin easiest to manage by short legs. And if you might never get on a racetrack, also consider the Z1000 and Monster.Try them on for size at a dealer to find out how they fit you specifically.

      • Avery Buda

        Thanks for the help! I’m not in love with the looks of the z1000 but I will be sure to check out the monster.