Aprilia Tuono: the models, the rivals and the verdict
The Aprilia Tuono was first unveiled back in 2002 and was pitched as a more comfortable alternative to Aprilia’s range-topping superbike, the RSV1000 Mille, with flat bars and a more comfortable peg position.
- Latest news: Aprilia Tuono 1100 Factory gets updates for 2020
The Tuono was billed as a version of the RSV1000 Mille that didn’t hurt your wrists and back. It was aimed squarely at an aging superbike generation who still wanted top-end performance but were starting to struggle with race-spec riding positions.
Naked bikes and streetfighters were created by superbike riders who crashed their bikes and couldn’t afford to replace the expensive clip-ons and plastics. But manufacturers soon started producing their own versions, like the Tuono.
As superbike power has increased over the years, so has supernaked power and it’s not uncommon for these bike to generate over 150bhp now, and the latest Tuono, the V4 1100 Factory, puts out a staggering 173bhp.
The Tuono R was first unveiled in 2002 as a limited run special with carbon fibre body work and Öhlins suspension but by the time the standard production version hit the market in 2003, the forks had been swapped for a Showa unit, the rear shock for Sachs and the carbon had become plastic.
You still got the 126bhp 60-degree V-Twin engine from the RSV superbike, giving genuine sportsbike performance, and incredible stopping power from top-of-the-range Brembos. The gearing was also tweaked to favour acceleration rather than top speed.
Then, in 2003, Aprilia followed up the standard Tuono with the Tuono Racing, a version that used higher spec components including carbon body work, lightweight OZ wheels and Öhlins suspension. You also got a steering damper to help settle the front end.
Following the launch of an updated RSV1000 in 2005, the Tuono was also updated and based on this new superbike. The Racing model was replaced by the Tuono Factory as the top spec version with all the top drawer components of the superbike.
Both versions of the Tuono were revised again in 2006 before the bike was replaced by a new V4-based version in 2011.
Aprilia Tuono 1000 rivals
Some of the big players in today’s super naked market didn’t exist back in the early noughties, but that doesn’t mean the original Tuono was without rivals. The main contenders were the Triumph Speed Triple, Ducati Monster S4, Yamaha Fazer 1000 and the Kawasaki Z1000.
First seen in 2011, the Tuono V4R was modelled on the newly released Aprilia RSV4. Alongside the standard bike, Aprilia launched an APRC version adding their Aprilia Performance Ride Control electronics package found on the superbike. This comprised eight-stage traction control, three-stage wheelie control and three-stage launch control.
Using the new V4 engine meant a considerable bump in power, and the new Tuono made an impressive 162bhp, meaning APRC was a welcome addition, especially for those who wanted to keep the front wheel on the deck.
Both the APRC and standard versions of the Tuono V4R came with three power maps; Sport, Track and Road.
Aprilia Tuono V4R rivals
In the years since the original Tuono was launched, the super naked market had become more crowded. The V4 had to contend with competition from the Ducati Streetfighter, Honda CB1000R, KTM 990 Super Duke and a new and improved Triumph Speed Triple.
The Aprilia made more power than the competition and the APRC version’s electronics put it in a class of its own.
Having spent its life chasing the coattails of its superbike big brother, the Tuono began to forge its own path in 2015 with the launch of the bored-out 1100 V4 version. It would be another three years before this engine would find its way into the RSV4 superbike chassis.
The new power unit kicked out 175bhp with a claimed 20bhp increase to the mid-range. This made it the most powerful Tuono to date, and laid down a marker to super naked challengers like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
The Tuono V4 1100 Factory would follow in 2017 with the addition of lean sensitive cornering ABS working in conjunction with 330mm discs and four-piston radial calipers. You also got a pit lane limiter alongside the familiar rider modes and cruise control.
The Factory version of the bike was updated again in 2019 with the addition of semi-active suspension. Ride quality is improved at low speeds, and handling is improved close to the limit. The electronics on the latest Tuono are more than a safety feature, they are true MotoGP-inspired rider aids.
There is a non-factory version of the 2019 bike available that gives you everything but the suspension components, which are replaced with lower-spec Sachs units.
Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 rivals
The Tuono V4 1100 has to compete with the best super nakeds the world has to offer with most major manufacturers now bringing a model to the market. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R, BMW S1000R and Yamaha MT-10 are the most obvious rivals, and Suzuki have their GSX-S1000 and Katana.
At the opposite end of the biking spectrum, the Tuono 125 offers an upright alternative to the race-replica styling of the brand’s RS125 model. The Tuono 125 was originally based on the two-stroke version of the RS from 2003 to 2005, and then the four-stroke version that was launched in 2017.
The RS125 in the early to mid noughties was the ultimate teenage headbanger, with bags of derestricting potential and incredibly capable handling. The addition of flat bars only served to make the bike feel even more chuckable than before.
The four-stroke version that was launched in 2017 may not have had the performance of its blue-smoking predecessor, but it is a beautifully finished and grown up machine with big bike styling. It is also still great fun to ride, and more reliable than the old stroker.
Aprilia Tuono 125 rivals
There’s no shortage of rivals in the naked 125 market, but the Tuono 125 is aimed squarely at the KTM 125 Duke and the Yamaha MT-125. It’s more expensive than the competition, but the build quality and level of spec is worth it.