2012 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout - Video - Motorcycle.com

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

Last year’s edition of our annual literbike streetfigher shootout pitted three competent, albeit plebeian, naked bikes to battle for supremacy — Honda CB1000R, Kawasaki Z1000 and Triumph Speed Triple. This year we’ve assembled the aristocrats of the class — Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC, MV Agusta Brutale R 1090 and Triumph Speed Triple R — to determine the hierarchy of the naked elite.

A double-R version of the Brutale exists, but its $19,000 MSRP is $2,500 more than the most expensive bike here, pushing it out of retail pricing contention. At $16,500 the Brutale R remains the priciest of this group ($15K Tuono and $16K S3R). We did invite the $19K Ducati Streetfighter S to join the fray, however the unavailability of a 2012 model kept it from competing, though, like the Brutale RR, its lofty price would only have hindered its ranking among the assembled bikes. Perhaps later we’ll pit the expensive Duc against the equally exorbitant MV in a platinum cage match.

Our 2012 naked bike ménage à trois includes three exotic and very sexy streetfighters.

The R designation of last year’s winning Speed Triple brings with it significant upgrades over the standard model including an Öhlins NIX30 43mm fork and TTX36 rear shock. Brembo monoblocs replace the two-piece units, and ABS is standard. The S3R rolls on forged, five-spoke PVM wheels, reducing unsprung weight by 3.75 lbs. Also improved is the Speed Triple’s transmission by way of new internal shafts and shift drum, and an increase in shift dogs from four to five.

Oozing top-shelf components but powered by the same inline-Triple of the standard model, the Spreed 3 R arrives to this year’s naked bike party sweating its streetfighter title.

What Triumph didn’t massage is the Speed Triple’s powerplant, leaving it producing the same horsepower and torque figures of its R-less counterpart. While the S3R generated enough acceleration to best its Japanese competition in 2011, its Italian combatants are outfitted with more potent munitions.

Boasting go-fast hardware including traction control, a slipper clutch and a quick-shift transmission, Aprilia’s Tuono V4 R APRC is the most technologically advanced of these three streetfighters. Aprilia also saw fit to pluck the engine from its World Superbike-contending RSV4 and insert it, practically unchanged, into the new Tuono V4 R.

Potency in the from of 154 rear-wheel horsepower and an arsenal of electronic gadgetry, the new Aprilia Bumblebee Transformer... er, Tuono is a naked bike like no other.

Aprilia touts the Tuono V4 R as a bike for “the rider who, given the chance, would use a race bike just to go for a coffee,” and this proclamation isn’t far from the truth. An undeniable fact is, at $15K, the Tuono is the most affordable bike of this threesome by a margin of at least $1,000.

Like the Aprilia, MV Agusta’s Brutale R 1090 also is a new model for 2012. This da Vinci-esque masterpiece of Italian motorcycle design is a rolling testament to tight tolerances. It’s 1078cc inline-Four is the most capacious engine in MV history, while its included traction control keeps it current with modern sportbike technology.

What would you rather stare at, a picture of the Brutale R 1090 or the Mona Lisa? Is that even a contest?

Power delivery from the radial-valve engine is, for lack of a better term, brutal. It has so much grunt that keeping the front end on the ground in the first two gears is practically impossible. Because of this, it can be said the MV epitomizes the hooligan attitude, and you’ll get no argument from us.

In recent weeks we took this streetfighter trio to Chuckwalla Raceway so each motorcycle could stretch its proverbial legs and showcase the limits of its performance capabilities. We also visited our favorite twisty canyon haunts and commuted, attempting to recreate the real-world treatment to which these bikes will most likely be subjected.

You can’t go wrong with any of these motorcycles, but when it comes to 15 large (or more), spec sheets aren’t enough. That’s where we come in.

There’s a convincing argument for purchasing each bike in this group, but not many enthusiasts possess the resources for such extravagances. So let’s examine where each model excels and why, then conclude reasons for owning one over the other.

Next Page...At The Track

Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

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