APRILIA has revealed a brand new contender in the naked bike market for 2002 – the Tuono – as well as a close-to-production prototype for a hybrid multipurpose machine, called the Mana.
The Tuono, named after the Italian for thunder, is heavily based around the RSV Mille R superbike, featuring not just the same frame and engine, but with the 60-degree V-twin in the same 130bhp full-power trim.
The only difference to the chassis is its gold-painted finish. Suspension is the same Ohlins inverted 43mm forks and shock.
It also features ultra-light OZ Racing forged aluminium alloy wheels.
Carbon fibre is very predominant in the look of the Tuono. The seat unit is made of it as are the mudguards and the mini fairing. A small belly pan is fitted and Kevlar side fairings give an individual look.
The front fairing retains the stacked two-above-one headlight pattern of the RSV, while the small but sharply angled screen is heavily tinted to keep the dark look of the bike.
In keeping with naked bike styling the handlebars are flat single piece items and not clip-ons. The lack of full fairing and extensive use of carbon fibre has made the Tuono one of the lightest naked bikes around. It weighs just 181kg (398lb) - 4kg (8lb) lighter than the RSV-R and 14kg (30lb) lighter than the new Honda 900 Hornet.
The bike will only be available in black. It is not yet certain when the bike will come to the UK, and at what price. Although as the specification is similar to the RSV-R, which retails at £10,775, expect it to be a significantly pricier than rivals like the Fazer 1000 or Hornet 900.
Aprilia has also revealed its response to the Ducati Multistrada – and could beat it into production. The ETV1000 Mana – Maori for " power " or " energy " – is intended to combine the practicality and ease of use of a big trailie with the handling and performance of a sports bike.
At the moment, Aprilia bosses are undecided about the bike’s future – so they’ve only revealed it as a prototype for now to gauge public reaction.
At a glance, the Mana doesn’t look like anything else in the firm’s range, but study it more carefully and virtually every part is already rolling off Aprilia’s current production lines – so any decision to sell the bike could have near-immediate effect. The Multistrada is currrently planned as a 2003 model.
As with all Aprilia’s big bikes, the Mana’s motor is a derivative of the RSV’s 60-degree, 998cc V-twin. In the prototype, it’s the 100bhp version from the Capo Nord big trailie – but any version right up to the full-on 130bhp RSV-spec engine would slot straight in.
The frame is also taken from the Capo Nord, giving big-trailie-style geometry and riding position.
But the Capo Nord’s bodywork has been ditched in favour of a new nose fairing – incorporating a tiny pair of projector headlights – and a unique seat unit. The fuel tank is carried over from the trailie.
At the back end there’s the single-sided swingarm from the Futura sports-tourer, while the front gains a pair of Marzocchi 50mm right-way-up forks. The result should offer much sportier handling than the Capo Nord.
Like the swingarm, the wheels come from the Futura. By adding the sports-tourer’s front wheel, the Mana gets bigger 320mm brake discs – gripped by Brembo Gold Series calipers – in place of the Capo Nord’s smaller versions.
But more importantly, both wheels are 17 inches in diameter and, with a 180-section rear and 120-section front, they are the right size to take all the latest superbike tyres.
Aprilia has even raided its current parts bin for the exhaust pipe – which comes straight off the RSV Mille.
Don’t be fooled by the short pillion seat and apparent lack of hand-holds – in fact Aprilia has thought carefully about passenger comfort. The seat only looks small because there is no plastic behind it, and the bike has pillion grab-rails fitted to the fuel tank – just like BMW’s new F650CS. In theory, this set-up gives the pillion a more natural riding position than normal grab-rails – making it feel more like they are riding the bike.
Aprilia is looking for customer reaction to the bike – so if you want to let them know what you think, have your say on MCN’s News discussion board by following the link in the panel below the pics, right. Aprilia bosses will be watching…
Aprilia has also confirmed more details of its plans to put the Blue Marlin concept prototype into production.
The company will sell just 500 of the naked retro-look bike from its web-site, priced at £13,000. But before you start typing " www. aprilia.com " in your browser window, note that it won’t be possible to place an order for at least six months.
" The production bike will have no significant changes from the prototype, " Aprilia boss Evano Beggio told MCN. That means it will retain the full power, 130bhp V-twin RSV Mille motor, as well as Ohlins front forks, OZ Racing wheels and Brembo brakes and calipers.
What is less clear is who is going to build the bikes. French firm Boxer designed and built the prototype and it is thought that they may also make the limited run that will go sale, however this is still to be confirmed.