Buell XB12S :: MV Agusta Brutale S :: Apilia Tuono 1000 R
Get the Flash Player to see this player.2nd Place: Aprilia Tuono 1000 R
Martin on the Aprilia Tuono 1000R: Unbelievable. The Tuono, for all intents and purposes, is the same muscular, rev-happy 120 hp 60° 997cc V-twin propelled rocket we tested back in March, sans some bodywork and plus racer esque clip-ons. Since it is naked from the waist down, you get more of an opportunity to ogle the luscious liquid cooled, double overhead cam, dual spark plug, funky gear/chain cam drive equipped, four valve per cylinder engine up close and personal. Just to make up for having to run around au naturel below the waist, the Tuono is sourced with lots of carbon fiber bits scattered about and a trick handlebar and mount that looks to have been boosted from a wayward CR500. Add a small upper fairing and some minor engine management tweaks to boost midrange torque, and you've got your basic mostly naked monster.
There is simply nothing about the Tuono that doesn't exude power, sophistication and illegal antics. To put things even further over the top, this Tuono R came equipped with the factory racing muffler. The cacophony that erupts from the single silencer at full-tilt boogie, is what I always imagined you'd get from bolting a pipe on a warp-drive engine. When Sean started the Tuono in the MO garage, I remember glancing outside at the Brutale and Lightning and thinking someone ought to let those poor schmucks know that Godzilla was coming.
The initial impression when approaching the Tuono for the first time is of a large bike, almost like a big traille, but with none of the puppy-dog friendliness that a DL-1000 or TDM posses. Nope, this is a Stihl 056 chainsaw in a knife fight. As you prepare to throw a leg over the Tuono's tall seat, you can almost hear the gallery snickering, "Ya got to be able to saddle your bronc before you can ride it, son." Once underway, the focus shifts immediately to shifting - it's darned near impossible to find neutral in the tranny (a very slight tap down from second was what worked for all of us), then on the earth-sky, earth-sky cycle that accompanies the first few throttle tweaks, much like a large thumper on steroids.
The Tuono is by far the most powerful bike in this trio, with lots of power and torque everywhere between 4k and the 11K rev limiter. As much as the triple clamp on the RSV Mille R wants to smack you in the face at the slightest provocation, the Tuono is even more prone to lofting its front wheel. Grab a handful of throttle anywhere above 4,000RPM, and you're instantly rewarded with an uncluttered view of the clear blue sky.
The Tuono's handling is a little less razor sharp than the Mille R, but that is certainly more due to the diluted feedback afforded by the wide bars and the lack of connection to the front end than from the inverted 43 mm Showa forks. Although Buzz and Sean complained of a wonky rear tire/suspension, the Tuono felt as good to me as any stock setup ever feels, i.e., Other than a very slight bob and weave when pushed hard on sketchy pavement, I noticed nothing really untoward except for the long-distance feedback on an iffy connection from the front end. Unless of course, I got a little overeager with the throttle on a corner exit, in which case direction change became the providence of whatever camber thrust could be supplied by the rear Michelin.
We commented on how good the Mille R's brakes were back in the spring, and the same four-piston front Brembos put an authoritative squeeze on the Tuono's twin 320mm rotors, with great sensitivity. Modulation is crisp and the standard braided stainless steel lines enhance feel. I'm sure that the rear Brembo probably works great too, if you ever have cause to use it for anything besides lighting up the rear tire.
My only complaint about the Tuono's handling is that it was the hardest of the three on which to perform a righteous stoppie, due to the tautly sprung forks and rear weight bias. Gotta work on that. Clutch pull is stiff, but it isn't a distraction other than in traffic jams. The instrument cluster is a little hard to read compared to the Brutale or XB-12, but nothing to worry about. The mirrors work well and the seat is quite plush for an ICBM.
I like the Tuono. It has attitude, sound, handling, sophistication and statuesque Gina Lollobrigida good looks. It's so fast that I half expected it to lift off the ground each time I whacked the throttle open. It's definitely its own bike -like a shot of KY bourbon at a wine tasting-. In similar fashion, it will flat out blow the doors off most of its competition. May I have mine in Ohlins spec "Factory R" trim please? -Martin
Buzz on the Aprilia Tuono 1000 R: This thing is just ridiculous. It's ear rattling loud and just makes power everywhere. You have this stupid grin on your face every time the throttle is twisted. Sean warned me when I climbed aboard for the first time, "It's faster than anything you ride." He wasn't kidding.
The Tuono ain't much to look at, unless "just crashed" is your cup of tea. It does have a menacing appearance though, attitude seeps from every angle. Perhaps one could paint a couple of teardrops just under one headlight to give it a "just got out of prison" look.
I'm willing to give the Tuono an incomplete because I believe something was really wrong with the suspension. It was as if there was no rebound damping in the rear or front. It bounded like a pogo stick in the faster corners and I had to back off because the rear end started sliding around. This Italian Stallion needs some better legs (Turns out our test unit had a carcass defect in the rear tire. -Sean).
It will wheelie whether you want to or not. You just need to be mindful that this thing makes big power and a fun wheelie turns into an "OH SHIT!" wheelie in a hurry. The MV and the Buell definitely have to be a 2nd bike, because they're not practical enough for every day use. However, you can actually commute or sport tour on the Tuono.... IF you stay out of jail long enough. -Buzz
George on the Aprilia Tuono 1000 R: Stepping into the MO garage, the Tuono caught my eye right away. It has a really bad ass look about it when dressed in black as this one was. It's got that "just crashed the fairing panels off" look that simply oozes "streetfighter". Some bikes can talk the talk, but fall short when the ignition key is turned. When it comes to the naked streetfighter game, the Tuono can walk the walk. This one came with the factory "off road only" muffler attached, so it was a bit of a cheater compared to the others. But what a cheat it was! Fantastic sound from this thing. It made Sean blip the throttle mindlessly enough to reminded me of a (GASP!) "Harley Guy"! Truthfully, we all did it. You just can't help twisting your right hand to hear it bellow. This thing made the others sound positively anemic. It had that big bore 4-Stroke dirt bike sound that was really cool. It was a sound you could FEEL as well as hear. Sit on the bike and it feels much larger than the other two. Its upright bar and flat seat reminded me of a big dirt bike.
The best part of this bike is snicking into gear and nailing the throttle. WOW! Power right off the bottom, the front end gets light and things go fast-forward in a hurry. This boy has a powerful punch. It felt like the most powerful bike here, and it probably was. Suspension is taut, without being harsh and it's not a bad place to spend lots of time. Around town, the bike is responsive, fast and stable. Just the ticket for being nasty in the city. The only fly in the ointment, was a stiff gearbox, and the hunt to find neutral at every stop. I imagine that with more miles, the tranny will loosen up a bit. Brakes were perfect, with a decent initial bite, and a progressive feel to them.
When the road turns curvy, the Tuono doesn't disappoint. The bike turns in easy with that big bar and holds a line well with its solid suspension. However, with the thrust that is available with a simple twist of the wrist, a bit of restraint is needed to keep things sane. Trouble is, that incredible exhaust note just keeps prodding you to twist the throttle harder and faster. No real need to make too many trips through the gearbox when the road gets tight. Just twist and go. The broad power band will pull like a freight train all the way from the bottom of the rev band. I did detect some instability with the bike when pushing it hard in the tighter stuff, and I thought it might be caused by my inputs. Buzz noticed the same thing on his ride, and we suspected all might not be right with the rear shock. Still, on every other area of the ride, including fast sweepers and full throttle blasts, the Tuono showed nothing but complete stability.
This bike is the one that does what you want, when you want it. It's light, responsive, and powerful. It's also pretty comfy, especially for a big rider such as myself. Compared to the other bikes, this one is a luxo-tourer. I rode the Tuono on our freeway blast back to L.A., and that's where I was introduced to the art of lane splitting. The Tuono was comfortable when going fast. It has a flat, supportive seat, with plenty of room to move around. That small fairing up front deflects more wind that it should, and helped to keep the windblast down at higher speeds. Even with the fairing, the Tuono's sheer acceleration makes you feel like you are being blown off the bike. The suspension is tight, but never harsh. It's a wonderful lane splitter too. Narrow with lots of torque on the bottom. Cars in the way a bit? Just blip that throttle a few times and you WILL get attention. Who needs a horn? Loud pipes saving lives again? Doubt it, but it sure sounds good. So, the Tuono is the one for me. If I was going to the racetrack, I would choose this one, and if I was going on a long freeway haul, I would also choose this one. This bike sounds so good and has the versatility that the other bikes just can't match. The Aprilia Tuono is the real deal, it's got bad boy looks, and a monster motor with the chassis to back it up. -George
Sean on the Aprilia Tuono 1000 R: First, let me start by saying that the Aprilia Tuono is well known as "Sean's all time favorite streetbike". Therefore, its second place finish came as a shock to me. I've tested five different Tuonos on three separate occasions and never experienced the issues that cropped up with this particular test unit. I sincerely expected the Tuono to dominate this test. However, four issues raised their ugly heads often enough to relegate the Tuono to a 2nd place ranking.
Fortunately, two out of my four complaints are easily explained and easily rectified. One: Our test unit was fitted with the Aprilia Accessory "Race" muffler. This made the bike sound awesomely strong, but created a flat-spot and stumble just off-idle and a torque dip between 4,500 - 5,500RPM. This caused a jerky throttle response at low-mid RPMs and required 3,500+ RPM for a smooth (yet noisy) getaway. I suspect a simple re-programming of the ECU will rectify this issue. Two: It seems that there was a carcass defect in the Michelin Pilot Sport on the rear of our Tuono. This defect manifested itself as a hitch or wobble in medium to high speed left corners. Sometimes the problem was so acute as to make you think the tire was sliding. A few days after the test, the tire was swapped-out and our mysterious left-turn handling gremlin disappeared.
Unfortunately, my third and fourth complaints run a little deeper and would take considerable time and money to rectify. They are: Three: This "standard" (non-Ohlins) version of the Tuono seems to suffer from an overall lack of suspension damping, which we were unable to adjust out. This meant that uneven pavement caused the bike to pogo more than it should and sloppy wheelie landings often resulted in a rebound-bounce into an unintended second wheelie. Overall, the suspension just felt un-sorted, and I'm hoping it was a problem with this unit and not indicative of a change in tuning for all base model Tuonos. Four: The gearbox was quite notchy and finding neutral was difficult, without rocking the bike and hunting for it. A delicate tap-down from second gear worked most of the time, but other times, it was so difficult that I just sat holding the somewhat heavy clutch against the bar.
After reading those last two paragraphs, I wouldn't blame you for thinking that the Tuono wasn't worth all the hype it's received from the press. However, you need to ride a Tuono to truly appreciate just how "Good" these bikes really are. I've ridden a lot of motorcycles, and believe me nothing comes close to the Tuono's level of rider giggles and satisfaction. This thing turns your mundane commute into a three-ring circus and your weekend canyon blasting into Nirvana. It also possesses the uncanny ability to transform normally polite and responsible riders into first class window rattling @-holes. Bobby the Intern, Fonzie and I were lined up at a red light, as a couple of teenaged school kids walked past in the crosswalk. Something about the girl's look made me think she had an "attitude" and the little red devil on my shoulder named "Tuono" whispered in my ear that it would be funny to rip the throttle open and bellow some "For Race Use Only" V-Twin thunder at her. All three of us laughed like @-holes, as she jumped half way out of her skin and ran for the opposite curb. Honestly, I'm not normally that kind of guy, I try to be a good ambassador for the sport whenever I can.... Honestly.
Apart from the Tuono's un-paralleled Streetfighter "Bad Assedness", there are many other things that make it one of the most desirable two wheeled creations to ever wear a license plate. Namely, it sacrifices nothing in its transformation from racing superbike to street friendly "standard". It still has the chassis, brakes and engine of a racer, but blends-in the comfort and practicality of a "standard". Though not the absolute fastest "standard" (the Yamaha FZ-1 is probably slightly faster in a straight line,) the Tuono feels like the fastest bike on the planet, and if you're riding for fun, isn't "feeling" what it's really all about? Sure, there are better commuters, better track day bikes, better sport tourers, better mopeds and better econo bikes, but nothing delivers the fun you can have in almost any riding situation like the Tuono. The only reason I don't own one, is that my license would be Toast! -Sean