2012 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout - Video

Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC vs MV Agusta Brutale R 1090 vs Triumph Speed Triple R

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On The Street

Urban mischief, canyon strafing, bar hopping, profiling and the occasional passenger are foremost on a streetfighter’s itinerary. Off the track (where it’s only illegal if you get caught) is the element of the naked two-wheeler, and it’s where we had the most fun with these bikes.

More so than at the track, streetfighters rule the tight ribbons of asphalt wending through canyons and around mountain tops. Tons o’ leverage from wide handlebars increase flickability beyond that of the common repli-racer. This portion of the shootout entails much more to consider than simply which bike sets the fastest lap time.

Triumph Speed Triple R Aprilia Tuono V4 R MV Agusta Brutale R 1090

#1 Triumph Speed Triple R

2012 Triumph Speed Triple R Right Side

The Speed Triple R regains some of its former glory by earning top honors in the street portion of our test. The STR is attractive, comfortable, user-friendly and easy to ride fast on bumpy, unfamiliar two-laners.

Says Duke, “The stiffer springs in the Ohlins suspension results in less pitching while braking and remains higher in their strokes over street bumps. It feels planted, more so than the regular Speed Triple.”

As much as the Tuono’s APRC helps it to quickly navigate a track and is still usable on the street, we feel the Speed Triple’s ABS is a more practical technology when navigating the hazards of freeways and surface streets, especially when it works as seamlessly as this. The STR also has the roomiest ergonomics, cushiest seat material and most usable mirrors of the group.

It should be noted that choosing the Triumph best in this category wasn’t unanimous. In a two-to-one vote Troy and I agreed the Speed Three was the most covetous whereas Duke had his reservations.

Speed Triple R PVM Wheel

“I could make a good case for the Triple-R to be judged the best streetbike of this group, but I’d balk at paying $4K more for it than the non-R version,” says Duke. “For my weight, I could live with the standard suspension, so the only really covetous part of the S3R to me is the R’s lightweight wheels.”

But even Duke agreed the Triumph is the more user-friendly bike of the three. “The Triumph,” adds Troy, “feels the most familiar and is the easiest bike for me to get up to speed on.”

This is where subjectivity enters the contest. All three testers agreed the Triumph was a better-styled bike than the Tuono. The white on black with red highlights color scheme and distinctive styling of the Triple strikes a better profile while in motion or parked in front of your favorite cafe. When it came to forming a mental picture of riding one or the other, we also agreed the sexy Speed Triple will pick up more chicks than the Aprilia.

2012 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout Torque Dyno

#2 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC

2012 Aprilia Tuono V4 R Right Side

If Duke had his way the Tuono would have won this segment of the shootout. Whereas the Aprilia’s APRC package isn’t as useful on the street as it is at the track, it remains a welcome assortment of technologies. For performance junkies, having these goodies on the bike may outweigh the overall well-rounded package of the Triumph. Then, of course, there’s the 154 rear-wheel horsepower on tap.

But even Duke conceded that “fueling below 3000 rpm feels a little soft, especially when cold, likely from a lean mixture to pass emissions standards,” he says. “I’m told throttle response can be significantly improved by fitting an Akropovic slip-on muffler ($1,544.95) from Aprilia’s accessory catalog, which includes access to the ECU’s ‘off-road-only’ race map.”

2012 Aprilia Tuono V4 R Seat

Duke also noted that the Tuono’s “transmission clunks loudly when engaging first gear from neutral, feeling a little crude for such a sophisticated powerplant. Otherwise, it’s a very slick gearbox.”

Of the three (and no surprise from our previous outings with the RSV4), the Tuono V4 R is a gas hog. A recorded 35 mpg was our best result, but it averaged consistently worse than that, as little as 27 mpg. Aprilia also claims a 4.5-gallon capacity, which doesn’t seem to coincide with having 17 miles on the low fuel light and only managing to fit 3.5-gallons into the tank.

A benefit of the Tuono V4 R is the bike’s stock exhaust and the beautiful noise emanating from it. The growl is intoxicating and counts for an included bonus the other two bikes are lacking.

#3 MV Agusta Brutale R 1090

2012 MV Agusta R 1090 Right Side

The MV Agusta Brutale R 1090 may actually embody streetfigher precepts better than the other models. The bike’s combination of short wheelbase and mid-range torque keeps the Brutale’s front wheel in the air, aided by the shortest overall ratios in the first two gears. “It leaps off the line like a hot poker was stuck up its gorgeous pipes,” raves Duke.

During impromptu roll-on testing the Brutale simply left both the Triumph and Aprilia as if they were 750cc bikes. The S3R is hurt by the tallest overall ratio in sixth gear, while the Tuono’s peakier mill can’t match the grunt of its rivals.

The Brutale is also the looker of the three; its tight tolerances and sculptured design are well above average for a production motorcycle. It’s with the bike’s mechanical and electronic elements where the Brutale falls short.

MV Agusta Brutale R 1090 Exhaust

“Its EFI seems a generation behind the latest systems,” says Duke, which Troy corroborates: “Harsh on/off throttle application, especially at slow speeds.” The dyno run at Mickey Cohen Motorsports also confirmed the Brutale’s imperfect fuel mapping.

The inline Four-cylinder emits high-frequency vibrations felt at all engine speeds, but — possibly more important in the company of a V-4 and inline-Triple — the MV’s engine lacks character. “Not that the MV isn't exciting,” says Troy, “but for me it was the least exciting of the three. Maybe I'm so used to inline-Fours that this one kinda exhibits that same ‘Japanese inline-Four’ feel.”

“Resetting the tripmeter takes a bewildering combination of button pushes,” whines Duke. The two LCD panels display lots of info including water temp and gear selection in a small panel below the analog tach, while the larger, rectangular panel on the right contains a digital speedo, odometer, tripmeter, TC and mode settings. The problem is, there isn’t enough contrast built in to easily read the information.

And, lastly, its mirrors are next to worthless.

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