2016 Ultimate Streetfighter Shootout
Irresistible Forces: Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory v KTM 1290 Super Duke R
I didn’t pay to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice because I’m failing to see the struggle. College Humor best surmises my disposition of the movie. Besides, why go the make-believe DC Comics route when we have a real-world shield and spear paradox between two super-powered nemeses right here before us: Aprilia’s Tuono V4 1100 Factory and KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R.
These two bikes are so equally matched E-i-C Kevin Duke and I nearly resorted to jello wrasslin’ in an effort to determine a winner. Even then we didn’t do such a good job, nitpicking over a few subjective personal preferences is what it came down to in the end. The microbial pubic hair of difference in the ScoreCard is nary worth mentioning, and probably begs a rematch with different editors aboard to see if there’s a change in outcome. But if you’re curious as to how this fight went, here’s the blow-by-blow account.
In an effort to put money where our mouths are, Duke and I decided to ride these two streetfighters to and from a Let’s Ride track day at Buttonwillow Raceway Park about 150 miles from our homes. The coolish temps and brief rain en route to our destination the night before proved trifling compared to running out of gas (Duke’s fault), and flat tire (my fault, but still Duke’s fault) on our ride home. Otherwise, the Tuono and SDR proved to be exactly what we’ve said on previous occasions; that both bikes are comfortably capable of riding to, participating in, and riding home from a track day.
These bikes are so closely matched even the degree of comfort each bike offers is debatable. While the SDR rider enjoys a slightly more upright seating position and ample legroom, the Tuono pilot has the benefit of a nicely supportive seat and some wind protection from the bikini fairing. The Tuono’s eccentrically adjustable shifter and rear brake peg are a nice touch, but it doesn’t have the adjustable clutch lever of the KTM, nor is its adjustable front brake lever as precise as the high-quality item on the SDR. We’re of the opinion that comfort really comes down to the size of the rider. Taller/larger riders will likely prefer the KTM’s roomier accommodations, while shorter/smaller riders won’t mind the tighter confines of the Tuono, and will appreciate its nearly half-inch shorter seat height.
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.
“For ripping up a racetrack, the more compact Tuono has an edge over the gangly SDR,” says Duke. We also both experienced some footpeg dragging on the SDR where the Tuono had no such clearance issues.
The revvy V-4 powering the Tuono howls with ferocity around Buttonwillow Raceway, surprisingly pulling away on the Super Duke R down the front straight. Could be the quick-shifter providing the Aprilia the small advantage, but we also found the Tuono to be the six-gear roll-on winner, easily defeating the SDR from a 75-mph rolling start.
“Incredibly, the Tuono beat the monstrously powerful SDR in a top-gear roll-on contest!” exclaims Duke, continuing with, “its glorious V-4 engine feels and sounds exotic, while the KTM’s V-Twin sounds more pedestrian.”
Just because KTM isn’t greasing the palm of some government official to get decibel-busting exhaust systems on its stock motorcycles doesn’t mean it sounds pedestrian, Kevin. Some nice aftermarket cans will have the KTM booming enough to rattle windows and scare little children if one were so inclined. (But a Twin will never sound like it just came off a MotoGP circuit… —KD) The real point of interest here, however, isn’t sound but power production, which the KTM has in spades. The dyno chart above leaves nothing to the imagination; the SDR wallops the Tuono rpm for rpm.
“You have a choice of two gears for every corner,” says Duke, and that statement applies to street riding as well as on the track. “Its bulging torque curve and smoother throttle responses make it easier to carry a long wheelie than the high-strung Tuono,” adds the wheelie photo model.
Helping us attain handling nirvana on both bikes was Buddhahood chassis specialist, Dave Moss ( FeeltheTrack.com), a trackside suspension guru with a deep well of knowledge of how to properly set up bikes for different riders. With his guidance we were able to get both machines to perform at their peak on, as well as off, the track. “The KTM steered so much better after Moss’ tuning (adding rear preload and fork damping), providing much greater confidence, and finishing off corners without running wide,” says Duke. “Moss’ setup advice made a huge difference in each bike’s performance.”
The handling advantage the Tuono possessed at Buttonwillow wasn’t as apparent in the speed-restricted environs outside the closed course, until a specifically tight stretch of twisties presented itself, playing to the Tuono’s advantage. The KTM may be a little slower to transition through the tight stuff, but the weaponized torque machine can always catch up between bends by goosing the throttle.
On the freeway, where the Aprilia V-4 is butter smooth, the KTM’s “big motor is spinning at 4500 rpm while cruising around 85 mph, which makes the V-Twin chug a bit with large-amplitude vibrations that blur the mirrors,” says Duke. “A downshift to fifth gear bumps revs to 5200 rpm and clears the mirrors.”
In the electronics department, the Aprilia holds an advantage in terms of adjustability, and maintaining a rider’s settings when the bike is switched off. The Tuono’s TC is not only nicely divorced from the chosen ride mode, but is also adjustable on-the-fly via left-side mounted thumb and index finger buttons. The KTM allows you to switch off ABS and TC, but the two technologies are unadjustable, changing as the ride modes are selected. KTM sells an electronic dongle ($110) that allows settings for TC and ABS to be saved independently.
Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory
- V-4 sound & fury
- Precision handling
- Brembo M50s would be a nice upgrade
- Dated instrumentation
- Shouldn’t Aprilia Factory models have forged wheels?
This electronic customization the Aprilia offers is mostly beneficial on the track, further leading us to proclaim the KTM the more streetable of the two. The SDR has available heated handgrips ($135), not a quickshifter. For 2016, it should be noted that the Super Duke is now outfitted with Cornering-ABS and was not financially penalized for the upgrade, carrying the same retail price as the 2015 model. Kudos to KTM because the company is swallowing the cost of adding an IMU to 2016 SDRs to make C-ABS function.
Now that KTM has introduced the travel-worthy Super Duke GT, with cruise control and saddlebags (not to mention a quickshifter) it’ll be interesting to see the direction Austrian engineers take with the R model. Will its performance sharpen with future model updates? Our next shootout may find us saying that the Super Duke R is now more track worthy than the Tuono Factory. Another shootout with these bikes? Can’t wait!
KTM 1290 Super Duke R
- Torque monster
- Ample amounts of legroom
- Cornering ABS
- Add cruise control and you’ve the perfect road bike
- A little vibey at freeway cruising speed
- TC switches itself back on whenever the bike is switched off
As mentioned earlier, the ScoreCard – the ultimate shootout decision maker – is almost superfluous in this instance. Yes, the Super Duke R won by a margin of 0.1%, but this is as close to a tie as we’re ever gonna get. Between the two of us, Duke, being the shorter/smaller rider, chose the Aprilia, whereas I, the taller/bigger rider, chose the KTM… go figure. Ask either of us and we’ll gladly wax poetic about either bike – they’re both just that damn good.
2016 Ultimate Streetfighter Shootout Scorecard
|Category||Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory||KTM 1290 Super Duke R|
|Total Objective Scores||97.7%||98.4%|
|Quality, Fit & Finish||92.5%||92.5%|
|Tom’s Subjective Scores||93.1%||94.4%|
|Kevin’s Subjective Scores||94.0%||92.7%|
Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory
KTM 1290 Super Duke R
|Horsepower||156.5 hp @ 11,300 rpm||153.7 hp @ 9,000 rpm|
|Torque||82.1 lb.-ft. @ 9,300 rpm||95.7 lb.-ft. @ 8,100 rpm|
|Engine Type||65° liquid-cooled DOHC V4||75° liquid-cooled, DOHC V-Twin|
|Bore x Stroke||81.0mm x 52.3mm||108 mm / 71 mm|
|Fuel System||Weber-Marelli EFI with 48mm throttle bodies||Keihin EFI with 56mm throttle bodies|
|Transmission||6-speed cassette type gearbox||6-speed|
|Clutch||Multi-plate wet clutch with mechanical slipper system & quick-shifter||Multi-plate PASC slipper clutch|
|Frame||Aluminum dual beam||Chromium-Molybdenum-Steel trellis|
|Front Suspension||Fully adjustable inverted 43mm Öhlins fork||48mm WP fork with compression and rebound damping|
|Rear Suspension||Fully adjustable Öhlins piggyback monoshock||Fully adjustable WP monoshock|
|Front Brakes||Brembo M432 monoblock radial calipers with 320mm discs, ABS||Brembo M50 calipers with 320mm discs, ABS/C-ABS|
|Rear Brakes||Single Brembo caliper with 220mm disc, ABS||Single Brembo caliper with 240mm disc, ABS/C-ABS|
|Seat Height||32.5 inches||32.9 inches|
|Wheelbase||57.0 inches||58.4 inches|
|Rake/Trail||24.7º/ 3.9 inches||24.9° / 4.2 inches|
|Curb Weight (fully fueled)||465 pounds||470 pounds|
|Fuel Capacity||4.9 gal.||5.1 gal.|
|MPG||35.4 mpg||38.4 mpg|
|Electronics||Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) by Bosch||Bosch 9M+ ride mode technology and multi-stage, lean angle sensitive traction control|
|Warranty||2-year unlimited miles, 1 year of roadside assistance||2-year unlimited miles|
More by Tom Roderick