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.

Primo sporting streetbikes as good as the world has ever seen.

Primo sporting streetbikes as good as the world has ever seen.

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.

A fine blend of high performance and rounded versatility: ride to the track, cut up number-plated sportbikes, then ride home.

A fine blend of high performance and rounded versatility: ride to the track, cut up number-plated sportbikes, then ride home.

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)
Photo by CaliPhotography.

Photo by CaliPhotography.

What the Aprilia has that the KTM doesn’t:

  • Quickshifter
  • 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)
Photo by CaliPhotography.

Photo by CaliPhotography.

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
Stay tuned to see how these naked sportbike titans stacked up against each other!

Stay tuned to see how these naked sportbike titans stacked up against each other!

  • Born to Ride

    It makes me sad that Ducati didn’t wanna play. I recently test rode the 1200r at their annual Demo Day and came away breathless at the power and poise that bike had. Forged wheels and updated fueling(and more power) really woke that bike up and gave it some real sport riding appeal. No more stupid passenger pegs getting in the way of footing and the seat is narrower for easier transitioning in the saddle. I guess the higher ups didn’t want to risk another last place showing. Amazing bike though, I was hoping to see what you guys thought of it. Maybe next time.

    • John B.

      That’s a really sharp looking bike no matter what category Ducati assigns to it!

      • Born to Ride

        Yeah, as far as aesthetics go, I think its the best looking bike in this class. The Tuono has too much racer graphics going on and the KTM has always had a funny face to my eye.

        • Tinwoods

          And some of us would say the Ducati is too curvy, too girlish (looking anyway). The Ducati, as beautiful as it is, still reminds me of the overly-curvy Corvette Stingrays of the 70s. But in the end, ALL of these rides are awesome.

          • Born to Ride

            They wanted to make it at least look like a monster, which were all quite bulbous and rounded. It doesn’t ride like one, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on where you stand on the whole “Heritage” thing.

  • Ian Parkes

    Which one is best at wheelies, and deflecting pepper spray?

    • Kevin Duke

      Wheelies? KTM. Pepper spray? A Gold Wing, but that bike isn’t nearly as fun on a racetrack…

      • …or any other road, aside from an Interstate.

        • Kevin Duke

          I once rode a Gold Wing on the Dragon and smiled the whole way!

          • Whoop-Dee-Doo! Unless making one smile is all it takes to be “nearly as much fun” as a Tuono or SD-R on The Dragon.

  • Old MOron

    Ooh, so the writeup for this shootout is due “later this week”?
    Heh, since it’s already Thursday evening, we won’t have to wait long.

    • Kevin Duke

      Weeks don’t end until Saturday night… 🙂

      • Old MOron

        Well, as long as your taking extra time, you have opportunity to throw the big Brutale in there. Maybe get your hands on the FZ-10, too!
        (Just use your Canuck connections to get a northern model.)

  • john phyyt

    Drool can’t wait !!
    These are the bikes which I am tossing up on .. If I can finance it.
    I belive your ” Six-Pack Superbike Shootout shoot-out” was the best moto-journalism article anywhere . Please bring your best game to this one.

  • John B.

    I visited several motorcycle shops this week, and the two most visually stirring motorcycles I saw were the Tunono Factory and the XDiavel-S. (Unfortunately, the Tuono is too small for me.) Awesome category. I look forward to the article.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    We need more gold ;-(

  • spiff

    I wanted a Tuono, then sat on it. I just don’t fit. Then a couple of years later I sat on a Duke, which I had no interest in owning. Then I had a real freakin big urge to own one. If I can pull a second bike, or maybe sell mine it will be a Superduke or Superduke GT. The only other possibility would be an FZ-10. You guys get one of them yet? I’m holding you to Saturday.

  • randy the great

    So much yes! Panties are sufficiently bunched until this comparison is posted. I hope it’s adequately thorough, these two bike are volleying for the open stall in my garage and I’m having a helluva time deciding!

    • Dougalicious

      I’ve never ridden the Duke, but the Tuono is without a doubt my favorite bike I’ve ever ridden. No period of adjustment necessary, coming in to the first turn I felt like a damned superhero. It handled just about as well as my CBR600, revved up even quicker, and I had every ounce of faith that the bike would deal with whatever terrible line with poor traction and excessive throttle I could throw at it. If the Tuono was Roger Clemens, I was a ten year old at the plate – sure, it’ll let me have a little fun, but it had the potential to make me crap my pants without even trying. And the sound, good God the sound! I always have music or a podcast or an audiobook or something going in my ears, but I shut all that crap off and reveled in the sound that came out of the stock exhaust. With a pipe? Whoooo son bring a spare change of undies things might be getting sticky. If you’ve got a dealer anywhere in the area I promise you, you won’t regret going with the Ape.

  • JMDonald

    These bikes are like beautiful women. They inspire guys of all ages.