The Tuono is comfortable for a 125, with plenty of room for larger riders, and the upright position is a relaxed alternative to the more committed RS125, though the steering isn't as sharp. The brakes, with single-channel Bosch ABS, are superb – anti-lock on the front wheel only with an anti-stoppie feature (which you may or may not think is a good thing).
The aluminium beam frame (the only naked 125 so equipped) underlines the family resemblance to bigger Aprilias. The Bosch anti-lock system is single-channel, working on the front wheel only, while quick-shift is available on the six speed box – the Tuono and RS are the only 125s with this option.
Aprilia likes to stress the 'sport DNA' of its 125s (with the #bearacer sticker on the steering head) and underlined the point by launching the Tuono and RS125s at a circuit instead of on the road – fortunately, with 15bhp in mind, this majored on corners rather than outright speed.
Climb on board the Tuono and the differences from the RS are immediately obvious. It's got wider, higher bars, a slightly lower seat with more space for riding two-up, and the rider footrests with rubber inserts are mounted lower and further forwards. Apart from that, it's all identical to its sports bike cousin.
It certainly looks the part too, though the 125cc motor (actually made in China, though the complete bike is assembled in Italy) gives the game away with a polite put-put idle that won't impress many 18-year-olds. Underway it's a different story.
The higher bars and more upright position give the Tuono less sharp steering than the RS, and the Mitas tyres felt at the edge of their grip a couple of times, but it still handles well. The USD forks and rear shock are non-adjustable (quite an omission on such an overtly sporty 125) but supple enough, if a bit soft.
The Bosch front disc is very powerful, especially for a bike this light, and the lack of rear ABS shouldn't be a problem – what might upset some is that the system intervenes if it detects any signs of a stoppie!
This being a high-revving 125, there is very little torque below 5000rpm, but keep it at 7-8000rpm and above and the lightweight Tuono goes well, revving happily around the analogue rev counter to an ignition cut-out at 11,000rpm. On the track's short straight, it zipped up to an indicated 110km/h (68mph) with the rider crouching and a bit more to come.
You'd expect decent quality at this price and the Aprilia is very well finished – perfect welds on the aluminium frame and steel swing arm, with quality paint and plastics. The RS125 has proved more reliable than its two-stroke predecessor.
As a 125, the Tuono won't cost an arm and a leg to run, but it loses a star due to the high price.
At £4599, it costs a few hundred quid more than a Yamaha MT-125 or KTM Duke 125, but that association with the full-size Tuono could tip the scales for some.
A mixed bag – the Bosch ABS (with radial front caliper), braided hoses and optional quick-shift are all impressive on a 125, plus you get a 14.5-litre tank, some underseat space and a USB charger. But the USD forks and rear shock are non-adjustable and the Mitas tyres aren't the grippiest.