An Owner's Perspective: Aprilia Tuono Upgrades - Pt 3

Thai Long Ly
by Thai Long Ly

[Frequent MO readers will know that our friend, Thai Long Ly, is not a man of few words. Consequently, we should’ve known what we were getting into when he offered to write up his experience with Tuono modifications. Still, we never expected an 8,400-word opus. So, we decided to break the story into easier to digest pieces. Here is Part 3 for your reading enjoyment. If you missed it, catch up on the part one and part two. –Ed.]

MRA X-Creen Sport ($107)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐/ Aesthetics ⭐

MRA X-Creen. Not completely ugly, but I still prefer “Candy”.

The stock screen actually does a fine job of slicing through the wind with no discernible buffeting, despite its tiny footprint. Only when pushing well beyond the legal speed limits (well, like double) do I find the wind blast a bit oppressive. I needed a simple solution to this tiny problem. So I clipped this diminutive deflector from MRA to the existing screen via the supplied mounts (can be permanently drilled or temporarily installed) and off I went. And lo and behold… it actually works! I’ll never mistake my Tuono for an FJR, mind you, but this innocuous piece of plastic does an admirable job of calming the wind as I Biaggi my balls down the road. I’d say another 22.19% improvement or so. Perhaps 24.22% if you slathered it in butter (champion’s tip #1 – apply organic low sodium vegan butter to your leathers and helmet on race day to cheat the wind). The notched swivel mounts render it fully adjustable so you can dial in the sweet spot and the locking mechanism wards off unwanted speed flop. It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever put on my bike (she said her name was “Candy”) but it’s decidedly effective and therefore a keeper. (champion’s tip #2 – if you actually contemplated the butter thing, you’re an idiot). MRA X-Creen.

Ebay Levers (Chinese) ($49)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐ / Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ebay levers. Go ahead… touch ’em. You know you want to.

Yep. I bought cheap ass Chinese levers for my expensive Italian bike and put the money I saved into grippy American tires. And by the way, not everything made in Asia is flimsy and weak. My grandpa was tough AF and he lived to be 98. Granted, these levers don’t know from martial arts but they still kick solid ass with admirable fit and finish in addition to providing smooth, accurate action. They may be cheap in price, but they’re certainly not cheap in feel. There is a tiny bit of slop in the lever (on the vertical plane inside the perch) compared to the OEM units, but I don’t care. They haven’t slowed me down one bit and they feel plenty good to these ruggedly handsome yet romantically sensitive musician hands. I’ve racked up nearly 100k miles over the past few years using similar levers on all my bikes and I’ve had zero issues so far. The anodizing is holding up well (the bottom of the barrell el-cheapo Ebay levers usually fade with time so steer clear) despite the high mileage and non-stop use. With that said, choose wisely.

Ebay Levers

Slipscreens Limited Headlight Protectors ($26)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐ / Aesthetics ⭐

Slipscreens Ltd Headlight covers. A great way to protect those factory lamps from sharks. And rocks.

I ride all year round and spend the majority of my biking life in the canyons, where the enticingly curvy roads are often littered with rocks and debris – especially during the dirty winter months. If you’ve ever followed another rider and had a 200/55 mega sticky tire spit a warp speed pebble aimed at your delicate parts and plastics you’ll know why I care. And if you’re like me and have cracked an expensive headlight as a result, you’re the perfect candidate for these ridiculously simple covers. These rigid plastic protectors are available in a variety of colors (13 to be exact) and attach with industrial strength hook and loop closures. They’re not a perfectly sculpted fit, but are close enough for jazz and after several thousand miles of use, they’re quite knackered and pitted. And that’s exactly why I have them – better these than my overpriced factory lights. Buy a set in solid black for your next track day and breeze through tech without ever touching that painter’s tape. Like a sweaty meter maid with swollen ankles, they’re not terribly sexy but are quietly effective at what they do.

Slipscreens Protectors

HT-Moto Tank Pads ($20/sheet)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐ / Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐

HT Moto tank pads will grab your thighs quicker than Harvey Weinstein at the Playboy mansion.

These diamond cut two-toned sheets of Hydro Turf are a kinder, gentler alternative to all the other tank pads currently available on the market. I like ’em because they’re comfortable, grippy and waterproof. And they won’t abrade your kevlar denim jeans or chafe your Orlando tanned thighs like other highly abrasive products do. Race bikes often substitute them in lieu of an actual padded seat as well. They’re long lasting (49k miles and 40k miles on previous bikes) and are available in multiple color options, so you’ll easily find something to coordinate with your manly fanny pack. And the fact that you cut them out yourself (they come in square sheets; you’ll need scissors and a steady hand) means you can completely customize their shape and placement. Go crazy with it; stick ’em to your lover’s face, ass or hips – anywhere you might need some extra grip (for professional use only). Plus, when it’s time to peel them off, the otherwise sticky adhesive comes right up without destroying your precious top coat. Good stuff.

HT-Moto Tank/Seat Pads

SW Motech Micro Tank Bag ($177 w/ring)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐⭐ / Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐

SW-Motech Micro bag holds all you need for a fun night out. Check your moobs for clearance.

Tank bags. I love ’em. Like I love burritos. And this rugged little bag is a great way to bring along hand held meats and cheeses that you would not otherwise be able to carry on a sportbike. My phone, wallet, cigars, tire gauge, spare ear plugs, a spare cat and a camera are also swallowed with ease in this diminutive structured bag. There’s an expandable zip out section that makes it possible to bring that Grande Soy Double Wank Single Dripping Triple Fingered Latte home, too. Seeing as the Tuono’s tank is plastic, magnetic bags aren’t welcome here. So, the Motech’s ingenious tank ring mounting system is a perfect solution for all of us with limited magnetism. After nearly 10k miles of use, the base plate’s release mechanism started acting the fool and a quick note to the company produced an easy solution. Apparently these maintenance-free items require some “light maintenance” every so often as dirt and dust can render them resistant to releasing. In other words, squirt some graphite/teflon lube in there and have at it. I did, and all is well. The only drawback I’ve encountered with this thing is that during aggressive riding, my supple moobs ram the bag when leaning into a fast turn, thus hindering proper body position. But then again, I’m short (5’ 5” with low barometric pressure) with tyrannosauric arms, so taller riders may not suffer this malady. The struggle is real, but the bag is good.

SW Motech Micro

Kreiga US-30 Tail Pack System (in link below also) ($169)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ / Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐

Kreiga US-30 Tail bag. It swallows your junk with ease.

Wanna take a long trip? With more than just the clothes on your back? You’ll need one of these. This 100% waterproof bag has proven its merit time and time again. I’ve ridden all over the Sierras, Rockies, Cascades, including around the Grand Canyon and into British Columbia with this trusty sack. Through torrential downpours one minute and blistering 112 degree chakra sucking heat the next. Through it all, nary a drop of moisture has ever reached my precious contents. Of which there are many, as you can stuff this satchel to the gills with whatever you need for your next two wheeled travel adventure. Essentially being an extra rugged 30 liter duffel bag, with soft sides and no dividers means you’ll want the smaller one for daily use as smaller items will knock around inside. But, if you’re looking to point your bike in a direction away from home and don’t plan on coming back until you run out of time or money, this is your bag. I pack it to the max every single time and never use half of what I bring with me. Live and learn. Easy on, easy off and built to last (70 dog year warranty). If only everything in my life were this dependable.

Kreiga US-30

Ogio Stealth Tail Bag ($89)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐ / Aesthetics ⭐⭐

Ogio Stealth bag holds a surprising amount of crap. If it doesn’t fit, you probably don’t need it.

Small tank bag for small items. Check. Large tail bag for large items. Check. Medium tail bag for many small or none large items. Check. This modest 20.8L tail bag from Ogio fits the bill nicely when looking for something that can hold just about anything you need for your daily commute. I use it to haul camera gear and spare lenses, amongst other things. It even fits my 13” MacBook Pro – though barely. There’s very little structure to the bag, so my heavy DSLR tends to slide around inside the single main compartment with little regard for its own safety. It’s sorta annoying, but not the end of the world. There are useful side pockets and a nice grab handle on the front, as well as a top organizer pocket for thinner, flatter items such as pizza slices. There’s also a pull out rain cover neatly tucked into the front that I’ve yet to utilize. Overall a useful design and the outer shell material seems highly abrasion resistant. As a result of being my daily use bag, the thinner inside lining is starting to rub through from friction as items slide around haphazardly and it’s exhibiting some heavy color fading from the sun. I sadly can’t predict it’ll go the distance like the more upscale Kreiga or SW Motech bags should and for the price, I cannot expect it to. What it lacks in outright ruggedness, it makes up for in usefulness and convenience. I’ve grown quite fond of it and will be fair to partly sullen when it finally gives up the ghost.

Ogio Stealth

Titanium Front Brake Caliper Bolts ($17 set of 4)

Performance ⭐⭐1/2 / Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐

Titanium bolts. Use novocaine lotion instead of threadlock.

Motorcyclists love titanium – almost as much as we love carbon fiber. And what’s not to love? I saw these trick uber-lightweight titanium bolts poking around online one night and knew I had to have ’em. Why? Because I was bored. Add to cart. Enter. Ugh. And then they arrived. Pulling them out of the padded envelope, they weighed half as much as the stock bolts and felt great in hand. I immediately torqued them up to spec (remember to use anti-seize and lay off the torque figure 20% or thereabouts) and took off into the world in search of fame and fortune. Yoking up a fat 45 as I left my driveway, I heard a sexy female voice in the Italian convertible next to me shout “niceh boltsa… I betta they screweda inna niceh and easy, no…?!” And she was right… they had slid right in with nary a shudder. And if this steamy little scenario had been true, the reality is that I felt nothing. Nada. Zilch. Not a single thing. Like a lap dance from your grandma, you should feel nothing, too. But, ever the optimist, I’ll never dismiss the quest for losing weight anywhere and any way we can. In the end, this is another hard to rate item. 5 stars for being titanium light and titanium strong. Zero stars because I couldn’t feel a damn bit of difference. So 2.5 stars to split the difference?! All in all, do this mod last if you even bother doing it at all. I won’t say it doesn’t matter… every ounce of weight loss adds up to increased performance. Same for your bike.

Titanium bolts

Driven Block Off Plates ($95)

Performance ⭐ / Aesthetics N/A

Driven block-off plates. If you can see them, you need to lay off the drugs.

California bikes are equipped with a Secondary Air System (SAS) that essentially injects fresh intake air into the exhaust to help combat AIDS, ISIS, and higher emissions. All in the name of the EPA. For those ok with higher emissions, there are block off plates available that allows one to bypass and toss this mandated nonsense. Why would we do this? Because boredom. I didn’t feel anything different performance-wise (grandma…? ) and heard some lessened gurgling and deceleration pop (backfiring) when rolling off the throttle. Which is the entire point, I suppose. That and a minor amount of weight reduction (1-2 lbs) from ditching the associated plumbing. Some claim they feel an uptick in performance with this mod, but that’s usually when paired with alcohol, cocaine or amphetamine use. Oh, and while you’re at it, rip out that hideous charcoal canister that’s dangling off the right side of your bike. Plug up one of the lines and remove the check valve under the tank if you really wanna be a rebel. Then immediately plant a tree to offset the carbon you’re creating.

Driven Block Off Plates

Throttle Boss Throttle Lock ($2.15)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐ / Aesthetics ⭐

Universal throttle lock rubber thingy. Ingenious design and easy to install/remove.

I’ve used all variations of the hard plastic throttle assists and palm rests, and conclude that this simple rubber “band” is my favorite. Strap it on for prolonged riding enjoyment and you can motor on well into the night without suffering “rippers grip”. Place it anywhere you want as the rubber texture and thin “perch” won’t feel bulky under your hand. All palm assist cruise controls take a minute to get used to, but once you do, it’s hard to go back. I like them because I can relax my hand, yet still stay on gas with steady throttle. Which is the entire point. Plus, the minute amount of weight you’re releasing from the bar allows for finer control of the bike overall. Especially useful on a beastly machine like the Tuono, where simply traveling along a choppy interstate takes an extra steady throttle to keep the bike running smoothly. And when carving up a twisty mountain road, taking all unnecessary weight off the bars, even the throttle, allows me to concentrate on staying steady between the lines. It’s not for everybody, but try it… you might like it.

Throttle Boss

RAM GoPro Rail Mount ($38)

Performance ⭐⭐⭐ / Aesthetics ⭐

RAM Rail Mount. Tough AF.

Of all the available ways to mount your GoPro to your bike none feels more safe and sound than using this rock solid fully adjustable mount from RAM. Utilizing a well designed ball and joint swivel system, there are endless positional possibilities that could satisfy even the most punctilious Hollywood DP. All RAM products are built to last a lifetime and they offer numerous accessories for attaching anything and everything to your bike. They’re not exactly what I’d call “attractive”, but like the bowl-cut mustached country boy that came to fix your lawn mower, you know that it’ll do its job right. I’m willing to bet that if you somehow crashed your bike, this would be one item that wouldn’t get damaged. And speaking of which, I highly recommend that you don’t mount your phone to your bike using anything at all from any manufacturer. Reason is if you get detached from your bike during a crash (highly likely) and are immobilized due to injury, you won’t be able to call for help if you can’t reach your phone. It’s best to always have it on your body when riding. Ask me how I know.

RAM GoPro Mount

Filler Neck Mod ($0)

Performance ⭐⭐ / Aesthetics N/A

What the hell is the filler neck mod? Let me explain. Putting fuel in one’s bike should be as follows… nozzle in. Squeeze handle. Nozzle out. Ride off. However, with a Tuono, it’s more like… nozzle in. Squeeze handle. Soak your tank and crotch. Yell expletive. Try again because WTF?! More gas crotch. Look around in embarrassed disbelief.

So, what in the hell? Aprilia doesn’t want you to dispense diesel in your tank, so they’ve limited the diameter of the filler neck to only accept the smaller standardized unleaded nozzle. This safety feature, combined with the shape of the tank’s interior, means that gasoline is guaranteed to regurgitate out whenever you try to pour it in. Aside from slowly and painstakingly filling your tank (who’s got time for that?), there is a simple solution. You bore out a larger hole in the plastic filler neck using a Dremel or similar device. And voila. You can now fuel up like a normal human without the risk of the dreaded fireballs (or flamecooch). Oh, and pointing the nozzle towards yourself, regardless of this mod or not, will help as well. It’s a 20 minute mod with the right tools and quite a bit mo’ betta’.

Here’s 1 mo’.

And there she am, folks. These are just a few of the more common mods and upgrades you’ll see most riders performing to their bikes, regardless of make or model. Don’t mistakenly think these are exclusively Tuono mods, though some obviously are. The single biggest takeaway for me after all this effort (and expense) is that my bike now weighs exactly 441lbs. fully fueled. That’s over 25 fun sucking pounds dropped from the factory delivered weight. This bike just rips ass in a whole new manner as a result. Every single mod, however big or small, adds up to a more engaging, more responsive and more exhilarating motorcycling experience. Isn’t that why we passionately buy these devilish things in the first place? And when it comes to riding for life, mo’ is definitely mo’ betta’!

Here’s 2 mo’.
Here’s 5 mo’.
Thai Long Ly
Thai Long Ly

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2 of 9 comments
  • Bob Dragich Bob Dragich on Aug 09, 2018

    These are all great upgrades. Here's a few more for both the Tuono and the RSV4:

  • Tanker Man Tanker Man on Aug 09, 2018

    This guy is hysterical. He should do stand up. But an important safety note; don't Dremel anything on the gas tank unless you've removed it from the gas tank or have removed the gas tank, emptied the gas tank and thoroughly rinsed the gas tank out with water. There will be an explosion with life altering results otherwise. I'm not Tanker Man for no reason.