Of the world’s finest naked sportbikes, the KTM Super Duke R and Aprila Tuono 1100 Factory stand above the rest of the streetfighters on offer from major manufacturers. This might be an overly bold statement had we not already published four comprehensive shootouts and almost 45 minutes of video in this category during the last two years.
It all began with the five latest streetfighters of 2014 when we took BMW’s versatile S1000R, Ducati’s liquid-cooled Monster 1200S, Kawasaki’s latest Z1000, KTM’s super Super Duke R and MV Agusta’s exotic Brutale 1090RR to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway for a Super Streetfighter Smackdown. After leaving the track, we racked up miles on streets, canyons and freeways to determine which was the preferable streetbike in our Super Naked Street Brawl.
In both comparisons, two bikes stood above the rest for their ability to make us question if sporting riders ever need to submit to crotch-rocket ergonomics to go really fast. The S1000R scored major points for its automatically adaptable electronic suspension and its wicked motor. Meanwhile, the KTM’s monster 1301cc mill and broadband appeal to even large riders made several of us revise our lists of the three bikes we’d really like to park permanently in our garages.
And so those shootouts set up a threeway with Aprilia’s ravishing Tuono V4R, the reigning class champion from our 2012 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout that wasn’t available in time for our earlier shootouts. Riding this trio in our Ultimate Streetfighter Finale was a giggle, but ranking them was fraught with mild subjectivity elbowing in with the intense closeness of our objective scoring. The Tuono was loved for its soulful and stirring engine and its race-bred chassis, but it came up short to its Euro counterparts in power, comfort and features. The BMW did well on our scorecard because of a price tag $2,000 less than the KTM, but we ended up with the consensus the Super Duke R was the best package available in the class and one of our favorite motorcycles of all time.
The Super(b) Duke impressed us so much we voted it as our Motorcycle of the Year in 2014. And, never refusing a chance to ride the awesome Austrian pumpkin, we also put it head to head with EBR’s 1190SX in our Brutish V-Twin Streetfighter Comparo before EBR went out of business, at least temporarily. To the surprise of no one not named Erik, the KTM again took top honors.
This little history lesson is the setup for the latest comparison of high-end naked sportbikes. We considered including Ducati’s newish R version of its Monster 1200, but the boys in Bologna say their bike doesn’t belong in this category. C’est la vie, or whatever it is they say in Italian.
And so we’re here to find out if Aprilia’s enlarged and uprated new Tuono V4 1100 can knock the seemingly undefeatable Super Duke R off its well-earned mantle. The latest Tuono gets a 77cc boost of displacement that dramatically fattens up its midrange power, and it also offers sharper steering geometry and improved comfort and wind protection. For price parity, we selected the new Factory version of the 1100, which adds Öhlins suspension to the Tuono package and retails for $16,999.
Meanwhile, with little fanfare, KTM has added Bosch’s Cornering ABS – a highly desirable feature – to the Super Duke package for 2016. All other SDR specs remain as tested in 2014, and its MSRP is unchanged from 2015, just $400 ritzier than its Italian rival.
So, you’re probably wondering which bike is best? Well, I’m not going to spoil the surprise we’ll reveal later this week, but let’s just say the results are closer than conjoined twins. Yet, as tight as the scores are, there are a smattering of differences that make them distinct from each other beyond the type of engines and countries of origin. Consider the below a tease for the shootout and video you’ll be able to enjoy by this weekend.
What the KTM has that the Aprilia doesn’t:
- Cornering ABS
- Single-sided swingarm
- Fuel gauge
- Adjustable clutch lever
- Tactile click when cancelling turnsignals
- Two info screens
- Forged-steel sidestand
- Fork-top compression and rebound damping adjustments
- High-speed compression damping adjuster in shock
- Reasonably comfy passenger seat (The RR Tuono has a much bigger pillion pad than the Factory)
What the Aprilia has that the KTM doesn’t:
- Wheelie control independent of traction control
- Traction control settings that remain as set after ignition is switched off
- Manually adjustable levels of TC
- TC able to be adjusted while riding
- Preload-adjustable fork
- Fork stanchions with slippery titanium-nitride coating
- Eccentrically adjustable toe nubs on shifter/brake
- Mini fairing/windscreen
- Solo seat cowl (with passenger seat included)
What we wish both would have, at least as options:
- Bigger info screens
- Color info screens
- Forged wheels
- Auto-blipping downshifters
- Semi-active suspension
- Cruise control