Home > Motorcycles/Road Tests > Brand > Aprilia Reviews > Rider Comparo: 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, 2015 BMW S 1000 R, 2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Rider Comparo: 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, 2015 BMW S 1000 R, 2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Greg DrevenstedtJuly 14, 2015
When the radical, Hayabusa-based Suzuki B-King debuted for 2008, it was the very definition of excess, a naked sportbike that made 145 rear-wheel horsepower and weighed 572 pounds wet. These three from Europe clock in at more than 150 horsepower with curb weights well below 500 pounds, knocking the B-King off its throne. But they aren’t bucking broncos, they’re civilized steeds with state-of-the-art electronics that manage power delivery, chassis dynamics, braking control and more.

When the radical, Hayabusa-based Suzuki B-King debuted for 2008, it was the very definition of excess, a naked sportbike that made 145 rear-wheel horsepower and weighed 572 pounds wet. These three from Europe clock in at more than 150 horsepower with curb weights well below 500 pounds, knocking the B-King off its throne. But they aren’t bucking broncos, they’re civilized steeds with state-of-the-art electronics that manage power delivery, chassis dynamics, braking control and more. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

Ten years ago, before joining the Rider staff, I signed up for a few demo rides at a rally in Tennessee. The bike I really wanted to ride was the Aprilia Tuono, a raucous streetfighter that all of the magazines raved about. But its dance card was full, so I saddled up on a Moto Guzzi V11 Sport instead.

During the pre-ride safety briefing, the ride leader issued a stern warning: “Those of you on the Tuonos, DO NOT—I REPEAT—DO NOT WHACK OPEN THE THROTTLE! If you do, the handlebar will smack you in the chinbar and your day will go from good to bad in a hurry!”

My desire melted into a puddle of fear and I breathed a sigh of relief to be on the Guzzi.

Our rotating crew of five test riders logged nearly 3,000 miles and burned almost 90 gallons of premium unleaded testing this trio of high-powered bikes, and every bike was a favorite for one reason or another. Alas, we cannot make a Frankenbike out of our favorite features of each bike and ultimately must choose one, the bike that requires the fewest compromises.

Our rotating crew of five test riders logged nearly 3,000 miles and burned almost 90 gallons of premium unleaded testing this trio of high-powered bikes, and every bike was a favorite for one reason or another. Alas, we cannot make a Frankenbike out of our favorite features of each bike and ultimately must choose one, the bike that requires the fewest compromises.

That was back in the analog days, when the Tuono made “only” 110 rear-wheel horsepower and a mix of prudence and skill were required to keep its front wheel on the ground. Now we’re in the digital age, an era of higher power as well as advanced systems to control it. All of the sit-up sportbikes in this comparison—Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, BMW S 1000 R and KTM 1290 Super Duke R—send more than 150 horses galloping to the rear wheel, and they’re equipped with comprehensive electronics that manage engine output, throttle response, rear-wheel spin and more. Powerful bikes like these still demand respect, but momentary lapses of sensibility will not necessarily result in
sky-high wheelies.

Don’t let the big dyno numbers, edgy bodywork and scowling headlights fool you; these are three bikes you can actually live with. That’s exactly what we did for weeks, logging thousands of miles around town, on expressways and along our favorite back roads. This trio of naked sportbikes may look mean, but we found them to be quite civilized, with upright bars, reasonable comfort and good manners, revealing their fearsome side only when provoked. As the miles piled up, strengths and weaknesses emerged and, ultimately, one bike came out on top.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R was delivered to us with factory accessory saddlebags and heated grips, and a tankbag and tailbag are also available—which makes sense because the KTM is by far the most comfortable bike in this comparo. BMW offers a tankbag and a tailbag for the S 1000 R, and Aprilia makes a tankbag for the Tuono. Given the speeds these bikes are capable of—in an instant, with a flick of the wrist—we recommend bolting on a windscreen to provide some wind protection. We tried an aftermarket screen on the BMW and it made a big difference.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R was delivered to us with factory accessory saddlebags and heated grips, and a tankbag and tailbag are also available—which makes sense because the KTM is by far the most comfortable bike in this comparo. BMW offers a tankbag and a tailbag for the S 1000 R, and Aprilia makes a tankbag for the Tuono. Given the speeds these bikes are capable of—in an instant, with a flick of the wrist—we recommend bolting on a windscreen to provide some wind protection. We tried an aftermarket screen on the BMW and it made a big difference.

Three different engine configurations give these bikes distinct personalities. Starting with a loud bark, the Aprilia’s 1,000cc V-4 sounds menacing and exotic, like something you’d hear in a MotoGP paddock. The BMW’s 999cc in-line four is all business, revving with purpose and precision but little character. And the KTM’s 1,301cc V-twin booms to life and rumbles with meaty authority. Configuration and displacement may vary, but peak horsepower measured on Jett Tuning’s dyno (see charts on page 60) falls within a narrow range, from 152.2 on the KTM to 156.1 on the BMW. But the KTM makes more power where it counts. From 4,000 to 9,000 rpm, the Super Duke outguns the Tuono by 18-34 horsepower and the S 1000 R by 12-27 horsepower. And KTM should stand for “King Torque Machine” because it reigns supreme, topping out at 92.9 lb-ft vs. 80.5 lb-ft on the BMW and 76.1 lb-ft on the Aprilia. Between 4,000 and 9,000 rpm, the KTM makes 14-25 lb-ft more than the Aprilia and 9-19 lb-ft more than the BMW. As the saying goes, there’s no replacement for displacement.

Multiple engine or riding modes—four on the BMW, three on the Aprilia and KTM—alter engine output, throttle response and, in some cases, traction control, suspension and ABS settings, and modes can be changed on the fly. Since our testing was done on the street in dry conditions, we preferred the “happy medium” mode (Sport on Aprilia, Road on BMW, Street on KTM) that delivers full power with throttle response that’s neither too abrupt nor too relaxed. Thanks to its midrange punch, the KTM leaps out of corners with more urgency and requires less shifting than the Aprilia and BMW, though none could be accused of being weak and they all deliver a top-end rush that must be experienced to be believed. With four-cylinder engines that rev smoothly with minimal vibration, the Aprilia and BMW also have impeccable throttle response—smooth, direct and forgiving of minor throttle corrections and chassis gyrations. The KTM’s big V-twin, on the other hand, felt buzzy at times and its combination of heavy engine braking and throttle sensitivity made it more difficult to ride smoothly at speed, especially on bumpy roads.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Suspension behavior also allowed us to ride faster with more confidence on the Aprilia and BMW than on the KTM. Although the standard settings on the Aprilia’s fully adjustable Sachs suspension are stiff, we left them alone because the Tuono felt glued to the road and absolutely unflappable. The trade-off was a jarring ride on less-than-perfect pavement. The BMW’s optional Dynamic Damping Control, a semi-active system that electronically alters damping based on riding conditions, delivered a magic-carpet ride, sometimes soft, sometimes firm, but always just right. DDC’s preset damping rates change with each riding mode or they can be changed while riding with the touch of a button. Rear preload must be manually adjusted on all three bikes and requires tools. The KTM’s fully adjustable WP suspension is a premium setup that offered good compliance and road quality most of the time, but when the pace heated up we struggled to find settings that delivered as much confidence and control as the other two.

All three bikes have sharp, agile handling thanks to short wheelbases, sporty geometry, wide handlebars and sticky sportbike rubber, and steering dampers keep the front ends under control. Wide, 190mm rear tires resist initial turn-in, but once set on a course they all hold a line tenaciously. And when it comes time to scrub off speed, all are equipped with cutting-edge hardware: pairs of massive 320mm front rotors squeezed by Brembo radial-mount 4-piston calipers, smaller rear disc brakes and multi-mode ABS. These superbike-caliber brakes are extremely powerful, though with just-right initial bite and the most precise feel, the BMW’s brakes were a unanimous favorite. We also fell in love with the quick shifters on the Aprilia (standard) and BMW (optional) that deliver smooth, clutchless upshifts, and wished KTM offered one.

2015 BMW S 1000 R

2015 BMW S 1000 R

Ergonomic differences underscore the fact that the Super Duke was designed as a street bike and the Tuono and S 1000 R were derived from track-focused superbikes. All have tall, nonadjustable seat heights (32 inches on the BMW, 32.9 inches on the Aprilia and KTM), but the KTM offers the most comfortable riding position, with the lowest pegs, best seat and shortest reach to the highest handlebar. Narrowness between the knees and pegs also gives the KTM a very compact feel. We’d think nothing of loading up the Super Duke’s accessory saddlebags and hitting the road for days. At the other end of the spectrum is the Aprilia, which can be pretty unforgiving with the highest pegs, hardest seat and lowest handlebar. The BMW occupies the middle ground—not as comfortable as the KTM but not as committed as the Aprilia, though its seating position still puts a fair amount of weight on the wrists.

The more we rode these three bikes, the more they seemed to fall on a continuum, with the comfortable, torquey Super Duke on one end, the hard-edged, no-compromise Tuono on the other end and the S 1000 R in the middle. The KTM is the bike we’d ride to our favorite twisty road and the Aprilia is the bike we’d ride once we get there. Or we’d just ride the BMW.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS

Hands-down, the Super Duke is the easiest to live with on a daily basis and our first choice for a multi-day sport tour. Its massive V-twin makes a boatload of torque and delivers a rush of acceleration that is nothing short of amazing. But overall the KTM feels less refined than the Aprilia and BMW, and its $17,399 base price, which is $2,900-$4,100 higher than the others, seems hard to justify. The Aprilia is a highly tuned instrument of speed, a bike that responds telepathically to rider inputs and makes us all feel like champions. Every test rider felt an almost supernatural level of confidence on the Tuono, and none could resist the siren song of its V-4. The Aprilia offers top-shelf performance at a reasonable price ($14,499), but extra-firm suspension, a rock-hard seat, high footpegs and minimal steering lock limit its everyday appeal.

BMW’s S 1000 R is the complete package, giving up little to the KTM in terms of comfort, offering performance on par with the Aprilia and delivering the best value. Fully kitted out with the Sport and Dynamic packages, our test bike’s $15,060 as-tested price is just $561 more than the Tuono but $2,339 less than the Super Duke, and it includes cruise control and semi-active suspension that aren’t available on the others. When it comes to civilized performance, the BMW S 1000 R is as good as it gets.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS

Base Price: $14,499
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Website: apriliausa.com
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 65-degree V-4
Displacement: 999.6cc
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 x 52.3mm
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 12,400 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ 48mm throttle bodies x 4
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 4.2-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Electrical
Ignition: Digital electronic
Charging Output: 420 watts max.
Battery: 12V 9.5AH
Chassis
Frame: Cast aluminum twin-spar & cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 56.9 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.2 in.
Seat Height: 32.9 in.
Suspension, Front: 43mm USD fork, fully adj. w/ 4.7-in. travel
Rear: Single linked shock, fully adj. w/ 5.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm discs w/ opposed 4-piston monoblock radial calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 220mm disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 6.00 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 190/55-ZR17
Wet Weight: 478 lbs.
Load Capacity: 406 lbs.
GVWR: 884 lbs.
Performance
Fuel Capacity: 4.9 gals., last 1.05 gals. warning light on
MPG: 91 PON min. (high/avg/low) 34.5/30.2/27.6
Estimated Range: 148 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 4,000

2015 BMW S 1000 R

2015 BMW S 1000 R

2015 BMW S 1000 R

Base Price: $13,260
Price as Tested: $15,060 (Sport and Dynamic packages)
Warranty: 3 yrs., 36,000 miles
Website: bmwmotorcycles.com
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line four
Displacement: 999cc
Bore x Stroke: 80.0 x 50.0mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 18,600 miles
Fuel Delivery: BMS-X EFI
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 4.1-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Electrical
Ignition: Digital electronic
Charging Output: 350 watts max.
Battery: 12V 9AH
Chassis
Frame: Aluminum bridge-type w/ engine as stressed member & cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 56.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.6 degrees/3.9 in.
Seat Height: 32.0 in.
Suspension, Front: 46mm USD fork w/ Dynamic Damping Control (as tested) & 4.7-in. travel
Rear: Single shock w/ Dynamic Damping Control (as tested) & 4.7-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ opposed 4-piston radial calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 220mm disc w/ 1-piston pin-slide caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 6.00 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 190/55-ZR17
Wet Weight: 456 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 441 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 897 lbs.
Performance
Fuel Capacity: 4.6 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 PON min. (high/avg/low) 41.6/35.9/31.8
Estimated Range: 165 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 4,250

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Base Price: $17,399
Price as Tested: $18,159 (saddlebags, heated grips)
Warranty: 2 yrs., 24,000 miles
Website: ktmusa.com
Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 75-degree V-twin
Displacement: 1,301cc
Bore x Stroke: 108.0 x 71.0mm
Compression Ratio: 13.2:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 18,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: Keihin EFI w/ 56mm throttle bodies x 2
Lubrication System: Dry sump, 3.8-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet slipper clutch
Final Drive: X-ring chain
Electrical
Ignition: Digital electronic
Charging Output: 450 watts max.
Battery: 12V 12AH
Chassis
Frame: Chrome-moly steel trellis & cast aluminum single-sided swingarm
Wheelbase: 58.3 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.9 degrees/4.2 in.
Seat Height: 32.9 in.
Suspension, Front: 48mm USD fork, fully adj. w/ 4.9-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, fully adj. w/ 6.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm discs w/ opposed 4-piston radial monoblock calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: 6.00 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 190/55-ZR17
Wet Weight: 479 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 416 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 895 lbs.
Performance
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gals., last 0.9 gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 PON min. (high/avg/low) 41.6/35.7/31.8
Estimated Range: 178 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,250

web-dyno1 web-dyno2

Follow the links below to learn more about the individual motorcycles:

* 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS
* 2015 BMW S 1000 R
* 2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

One comment

  1. I have read tons of articles on these bikes, and watched just as many videos. This article sums up the bikes and explains there differences the best for me! Thank you for that.

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