2006 Aprilia Tuono

Italians are renown for their enviousness in romantic issues.

Well, seems like Ride height adjustmentthe tradition extends to bikes matters too. Envious of BMW's K1200R ESA system for suspension regulation on the fly, Aprilia just had to come up with a system of their own. It's only that in the Tuono R's case the system doesn't rely on pushbutton electronics gadgetry. By twisting a black rubber grip at the handlebar's right end you can regulate front-end height in a range of zero to about 3-4 feet in the first three gears. A shiny lever connected to a hydraulic piston receding just ahead of that rubber grip regulates rear end height by about the same amount regardless of the gear you're in. This smart system might not be as sophisticated as the K1200R's but it sure works, I can tell you that much?

Do I sound nerdy? Had to find a calmer way to start this review. Opening a road test with a bang-in-your face claim about how mind boggling this new Tuono R could cause MOridians to suspect I've Better than Prozac.taken something funny. Well I haven't but this Tuono thing is such a kick. An ear-to-ear grin, shout in your helmet, giggle under your visor factory, it will bring to light your hooligan animal even if you never suspected you had one. A Prozac concentrate that will have you smiling like an idiot even if you just lost 100K dollars on Wall Street and that's not only because of the way this thing lofts both wheels at will. A good four years after the original Tuono's launch, other nakeds had come and gone and there might be new cocky kids in town but the Tuono still remains the weapon of choice for urban cowboys who like to shoot from the hip.

As before, this thing is "just" an RSV1000 that's been stripped naked but when you think about it, it's the only scoot that is remains faithful to the streetfighter philosophy. Only the unobtainable Benelli TNT (the factory isn't really functional right now) and the horrendously expensive MV Brutale come close to the Tuono in their brash morphing of a supersporting base tool into a high-bars street berm blaster. All the rest, Japanese nakeds that is, pale next to the Tuono R, extremely diluted interpretations of the streetfighter theme. The 919, Z1000, Fazer 1000? C'mmon, don't make the Tuono laugh, these are very blunt blades compared to this extra sharp razor.

Just like with the previous model, Aprilia took the base RSV1000, ripped off all bodywork and in order to cover up exposed non flattering areas, new smallish and technical looking panels been created. The bigger ones cover the coolant overflow reservoir and the external oil tank. The radiator received some covers too and these extend upwards to form little air deflectors. According to Aprilia, these stabilize the airflow around the bike and improve high-speed stability as well as looks. The old Tuono was characterized by a D-cup sized bikini fairing, a size imposed by the use of the old Mille light unit. By using the 2003 RSV's tiny headlamp cluster the hard mounted front shield can be much smaller and indeed, it has much better proportions than the old one.

This is your view of Yossef's arms being pulled out of their sockets.system is used on the Tuono, and just like in the RSV (and some Kawis), it routes pressurized air through two passages in the frame flanking the steering stem. Nice touch, a first on a naked. The fact that a Ram-Air system starts to deliver it's boost only above 120 mph, a speed at which your arms are being pulled out of their sockets, is of course another issue?

Aprilia's 60 degree V-Twin underwent major improvements in 2003 and if my memories of the Mugello launch serve me right (ouch!)it's really up there with that other, rather excellent twin, i.e. the 999. The "Magnesium" engine (as per the valve and side covers material) delivers a claimed 133 hp, bang on as in the RSV which means no detuning and compromises for a naked bike application, oh no. No bull about improved mid-range torque and other cover-your-bum stories by manufacturers that are afraid of letting us tame a real beast. A high handlebar racer, period. Nevertheless, some changes were required on the exhaust system and according to Aprilia, they actually improve the mid-range and power delivery without hurting top-end. Shorter than before gearing promises plenty of drive and as it would turns out, the Tuono does deliver it in spades.

This is Frankensteinian charm?I came across this very frame two years ago in Mugello. The main difference cycle wise is in the full set of Ohlins boinkers that were installed on the RSV "Factory" version I've tested back then. The new Tuono on the other hand wears a USD Showa fork and a Sachs shock in the back. As de-rigor in any self-respecting streetfighter, manual interface is entrusted to a golden double taper job sitting on beautiful risers. And this is just one of the many sexy details on this bike. The deeply sculpted frame is a feast to the eyes and the tank and gas units, kosher RSV 1000 parts are living lessons in giving form. The shapes designed two years ago by Scotsman Martin Longmore were so ahead of their time that these two components still look like a million dollars. But with all due respect to the parts carried over from the RSV, the final results leaves something to be desired. The small covers over the technical parts still look a bit crude and not up to the rest of the bike while the way the air deflectors are attached to the radiator is not something you'd write home about. Some will say that the Tuono's beauty is in fact in that light technical "ugliness", that twisted and subversive streetfighter Frankensteinian charm. Might be, but I still think that the Tuono's front end could be better solved. That said, the aggressive Ram-Air intake under the fairing is a sinister gem.

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