It was a glorious morning in Pasadena, California, and the huge windows overlooking historic Colorado Boulevard bathed Aprilia’s Advanced Design Center office in natural light. Miguel Galluzzi, whom many credit with saving Ducati when he designed the groundbreaking and immensely popular Monster, sat impassively as the room filled with journalists. Galluzzi is also the designer responsible for Aprilia’s RSV4 and Tuono V4 models, which take full advantage of the extremely compact and powerful 1,077cc V4 engine.
Galluzzi explained that the Advanced Design Center allows his team to sit at the heart of the North American market, where proximity to a diverse group of riders and their viewpoints can be fed directly into their design process, fresh and unfiltered. The latest CAD technology and 3D printing allow design ideas inspired by feedback, coupled with cutting-edge advances trickling down from Aprilia’s factory racing team, to be prototyped and tested more efficiently than ever.
The result, we are told, are the most advanced Tuono models yet, a combination of incremental updates designed to improve handling and accommodate a broad spectrum of riders’ needs. The V4 engine is now Euro 5 compliant, and with some tweaking Aprilia has managed to match the outgoing model’s performance. Claimed peak horsepower is 175 at 11,350 rpm and maximum torque is 89 lb-ft at 9,000 rpm.
Influences from the racetrack include a redesigned fairing with integrated winglets and enhanced geometry to improve handling at the limits, as well as a new inverted swingarm designed to improve traction at the rear wheel. The updated seat is wider, longer, and surprisingly comfortable. A new sculpted fuel tank looks gorgeous and maintains the same 4.9-gallon capacity. The Tuono V4 gets an improved 5-inch TFT dash and new switchgear. The headlight array features the triple LED headlight and a DRL configuration common to the rest of the Tuono line, with the addition of cornering lights.
Despite being nearly identical on paper, the new Tuono V4 models are quite different in terms of experience. Track rats will be happy to hear that the V4 Factory model is still an out-and-out naked maniac, and is the more expensive, track-focused of the two. The street-focused Tuono V4 represents a new direction, designed to go places carrying more than just a rider and a bare minimum of gear.
The Factory version is now fitted with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension and a new Magneti Marelli ECU, controlling fueling and a full suite of electronics. Four times faster than the previous ECU and fully integrated via ride-by-wire throttle and a six-axis IMU, the new setup promises more precise and programable handling for road and track. There are three preset and three track-oriented, user-programmable riding modes, and a host of adjustable rider aids, including traction control, wheelie control, launch control, engine mapping, engine braking, cornering ABS, cruise control, and an up/down quickshifter.
Siting astride the Factory, it feels much more compact than might be expected from a liter bike. The body position is definitely sporty, but the wide bars and seat feel roomy, even for my 6-foot 2-inch stature. Setting off in Tour mode, within the first few miles the V4 Factory somehow feels familiar. Even on the highway leading us to the twisty mountain roads, it is impossible to completely open the throttle for more than a moment before running out of road, and any true test of the Factory model would require a racetrack.
Throttle response is immediate but initial ham-fistedness is miraculously smoothed out before I can get myself into trouble and I throw the Tuono into the turns with some confidence. Steering is light yet purposeful and exact, the front wheel holding its line despite less-than-perfect surface conditions. A single pop on the downshift raises a smile, and ballistic acceleration on corner exits, accompanied by one of the most fantastic, raspy exhaust notes ever to erupt from a stock can, leaves me grinning like an idiot.
Both models are fitted with Brembo M50 monoblock front calipers, which offer progressive feel and no want of braking capability. With my knees firmly pocketed in the Factory’s sculpted tank I can keep my weight off the bars, gripping the bike with less effort, and lean into corners with a connected conviction. Comfort and ergonomics compare quite well to rivals like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R and Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS, yet its sportbike credentials remain intact.
The standard Tuono V4 feels similar. Slightly raised handlebars make for a less aggressive stance. Despite lower pillion pegs, the rider’s footpegs are identically placed on both models, providing plenty of clearance but also a potential source of fatigue over long distances. A slightly larger fly screen and upper fairing, a practical pillion seat, grab handles, and optional luggage all make for a hyper-naked sport-tourer, with a heavy emphasis on sport.
Performance is identical to the Factory model, and the standard model will make a capable track-day machine if required. Its taller top gear makes for comfortable, economical highway cruising, as you make your way to the next winding backroad. The standard comes equipped with fully adjustable Sachs suspension, front and rear, but on the road, its handling is fairly close to that of the Factory.
The new Tuono V4 and Tuono V4 Factory are intoxicating motorcycles. They offer astounding power in a compact, lightweight chassis that is exhilarating. And yet, thanks to its suite of adjustable electronics, they are both rewarding and manageable. And one can never forget – or grow tired of – the machine-gun salute connected to your right wrist. While the Factory will keep the Tuono faithful satisfied, the standard model will open up the Tuono range to a host of new riders, who, like me, actually want to go places and bring more than just our wallet and smartphone.
2021 Tuono V4 / Tuono V4 Factory Specs
Base Price: $15,999 / $19,499
Engine Type: Liquid cooled, transverse 65-degree V-4, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 x 52.3mm
Horsepower: 175 @ 11,000 rpm (claimed, at crank)
Torque: 89 lb-ft @ 9,000 rpm (claimed, at crank)
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch
Final Drive: X-ring chain
Wheelbase: 57.1 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.8 degrees/3.9 in.
Seat Height: 32.5 in.
Wet Weight: 461 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.9 gals.