In the world of muscle-bound streetfighters, the Aprilia Tuono has a serious reputation. Debuting in 2002, it was an RSV Mille shorn of bodywork, using the same 60-degree 998cc V-twin, frame, suspension and brakes, but with an upright handlebar and a steering damper. It was, by all accounts, an exciting, wheelie-prone, hair-on-fire motorcycle. When Aprilia launched its RSV4 superbike, it was only a matter of time before its raucous 999.6cc V-4 and diminutive size—which helped Max Biaggi win the 2010 World Superbike Championship—would be the basis for a new Tuono.
When I fired up our Sunlit Yellow Tuono V4 R APRC for the first time, I got nervous. It barked to life, then settled into an angry, fast idle. Compared to the RSV4, the Tuono has more midrange, a heavier flywheel, lower ratios for gears 1-3 and a lower center of gravity. It comes with Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC), which includes 8-level traction control, 3-level wheelie control, 3-level launch control, three power modes (Track/Sport/Road) and a quick shifter. TC can be adjusted on the fly with buttons on the left handgrip, but a frustrating LCD menu must be navigated to adjust everything else.
Thin between the knees and weighing a feathery 466 pounds wet, the new Tuono is small, but it packs a helluva wallop: 145-150 horsepower at the rear wheel, according to most reports. The V-4 spins up smoothly, and when it hits 9,000 rpm you feel like you’re being launched by one of those Punkin’ Chunkin’ catapults. Fully adjustable Sachs suspension, stout Brembo brakes, sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tires—the Tuono has everything you need to go from zero to hero. And in true sporting fashion, the pegs are high, the seat is hard and the 4.5-gallon tank is good for just over 120 miles.
2012 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC
Base Price: $14,999
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 65-degree V-4, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 x 52.3mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slipper clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 56.9 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.2 in.
Seat Height: 32.9 in.
Wet Weight: 466 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals.
MPG: 91 PON min. (avg) 27.1
(This Ridden and Rated Special was published in the October 2012 issue of Rider magazine.)