As far as we here at MO are concerned, 2016 will be remembered as a particularly exceptional vintage for Aprilia. The RSV4 arrived with newfound power and claimed our 2016 Sportbike of the Year award, while the Tuono’s bump in displacement from 999cc to 1077cc was enough to usurp KTM’s Super Duke R, earning the Tuono 1100 the 2016 Streetfighter/Hooligan Win as well as Honorable Mention for Bike of the Year for 2016. Congratulations, Aprilia!
Yet there’s no rest for the wicked-fast among us, and for 2017 the Tuono 1100 RR and Factory return outfitted with the same electronic upgrades the RSV4 RR and RF received this year. We detailed the upgrades last October in our 2017 Aprilia RSV4 And Tuono V4 1100 Previews, but here are the highlights:
In all our streetfighter shootouts that have, in recent years, been dominated by KTM’s Super Duke R and Aprilia’s Tuono, the MO staff can agree on at least one thing between them; the relatively compact, sharp-handling nature of the Tuono gives it an advantage at the race track.
From our 2016 Ultimate Streetfighter Shootout : Ridden in a vacuum, either bike will have you convinced of it being the hooligan king of motorcycledom. It’s only when they occupy the same space that nuances come to light, such as the Tuono being the better track bike. We love, love, the RSV4’s chassis and handling characteristics, and the Tuono shares these attributes by virtue of having the same chassis. A rider can put the Tuono exactly where he wants on the racetrack, and might have a slight advantage to its racier counterpart by way of the leverage provided by its superbike handlebars. The KTM, with its 1.4-inch longer wheelbase, is a half step behind the Tuono on the track. Both Duke and I struggled keeping time with the Aprilia when aboard the KTM.
There’s a direct connection between the RSV4 and the Tuono, but when ridden back-to-back the differences between the sportbike and the streetfighter become apparent. The most notable difference is going to be handlebars vs. clip-ons, where the handlebars – in most instances barring high-speed straights – can be viewed as advantageous. Gobs of leverage makes quick transitions even quicker, the drawback being a reduced amount of front-end feel.
Moving past the obvious, engine differences were soon apparent as the rev-limiter kept reminding me how much quicker I was reaching the Tuono’s lower redline, thus affecting gear selection around the long, 20-turn COTA circuit (mostly it was a simple matter of riding a gear higher compared to the RSV). Neither of these are complaints, just observations that aren’t readily apparent unless riding the two models consecutively. The Tuono’s stronger low-end power and lower gearing are actually benefits in street environments.
If the Tuono was considered an excellent streetfighter-cum-trackday bike before, its upgraded electronics for 2017 – especially the up-and-down quickshifter – blur the lines even more. Around COTA the quickshifter worked flawlessly, rowing the gearbox in either direction at my command, allowing me to focus on the rapidly approaching next corner. Quickshifters sometimes only perform well at full song, and we won’t know for sure how Aprilia’s functions at street speeds until we sample it on the road.
When it comes to braking, Aprilia seemingly threw up its collective hands, said screw it, and installed Brembo M50 calipers all around (as well as larger 330mm front discs). Still the best binders going, and having them available on the $15k Tuono RR is a nice performance upgrade over last year’s Brembo M432 calipers.
Like the RSV4, ATC and AWC can be deactivated for hooligan mode, and, like I did with the RSV at COTA, I left the settings at level 1 to allow for some front wheel lift and sliding out of corners, which makes 156 horsepower seem easily manageable. Because, when switched off, the front end simply doesn’t want to stay down… ever. Cornering ABS is a new technology for the Tuono, and something you’ll be glad is working in the background if you ever realize that it is working. We tested the C-ABS last year on a bike with outriggers, and came away thoroughly impressed with the technology. Also of note in the electronics department is the ability to set AWC separately from ATC (for the riders like EiC Kevin Duke, who live to ride on one wheel).
Unlike the RSV4 RR and RF models, the differences between the RR and Factory Tuonos are fewer, but so is the price difference a much tighter spread: $14,999 for the Tuono RR vs. $17,499 for the Factory. What that $2,500 buys you is an Öhlins NIX fork in place of the Sachs unit on the RR, and an Öhlins steering damper replacing the Sachs damper. A definite value, but when compared to the Super Duke R at $17,999 – not including the Track and Performance Packages that bring more electronic adjustability and an up-and-down quickshifter – either Tuono begins looking like a huge bargain.
I said it in the RSV4 review, and it also applies here: were I shopping for a Tuono, I’d be inclined to purchase the RR model, then take the $2,500 saved and apply it to a set of forged aluminum wheels. Both Tuonos are fitted with cast aluminum wheels, while the RSV4 RF wears forged wheels and the difference in agility when transitioning the RF compared to the RR is night and day. The same performance advantage would be felt on a Tuono with lighter wheels, and if you’re a performance junkie, you’ll appreciate what forged wheels bring to the table.
Considering that the Tuono RR comes with most of the best the Factory edition does (APRC, up-and-down quickshifter, M50 calipers, frame, engine), it can be hard to make a case for the Factory model. Or, the other way of looking at is that for only $2,500 more you’re getting a Tuono with an Öhlins front end which, by our own admission, is some of the best front suspension money can buy. The choice is yours, but if you’re desiring the best track-going hooligan out there, look no further than either Tuono.