V4 Vendetta: Aprilia Tuono V4
Words : Dipayan Dutta
Photography: Gaurav S Thombre
The intensity is mind numbing. Spinal reflex is making my right fingers twitch. I should’ve slammed the throttle shut 50 metres ago. The little LCD information unit is calling out numbers that we shouldn’t really print but I will give you a sense of perspective – keeping the throttle open for those 50 metres added an extra 40kmph to the speedo. That’s the difference between 190 and 230. Take a look at those numbers again. Brake. Hard. Shift weight and hang off. Clip the apex with outreached knee. Whack it open. Observe sky. Shift up. Keep observing sky. Shift up. Wow, it is a bright, sunny day. Notice next corner. Brake, shift weight and repeat. The sheer violence of the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory is overwhelming, yet symphonic. It tempts you, it makes you want to go further, deeper into the racing line, a little faster. It goads you into braking a little later, till your butt is clenched so hard that it physically hurts. Then some electronic wizardry kicks in and suddenly you are exactly where you need to be, looking like a pro.
Even though, in reality, you’re just a ham-handed ape. Before we get into all the things that make the Aprilia Tuono a miraculously dynamic motorcycle, let’s talk about the way it looks for a second. Honestly, the Aprilia is the most hideous but still the most strangely gorgeous motorcycle I have ever seen. Each styling cue is so far from the norm; that odd bikini fairing, the bland silver and black paint job, that gaudy and unnecessarily large Aprilia lettering along the sides. The result should look like Quasimodo post a bad accident with a lawn mower. In reality it is breathtakingly beautiful. I believe the right word would be exotic.
To shed some perspective on how mental this machine really is, here’s what has been done to that motor. The 1077cc liquid-cooled twin-cam 65-degree V4 started life as a modest 999cc motor for their WSBK (World Super Bike) race machine. But then somebody decided this would not be enough and with WSBK restrictions no longer applicable, why the hell not? A three millimeter over-bore brings about an added 78 cubic centimetres. The result is an engine that produces 121Nm of torque at 8000rpm and transfers a mind-numbing 172bhp on to the black top. Add in the sophisticated race-derived electronics and the result is a motorcycle that’s convinced it’s a unicycle, yet won’t spit you off! It’s petrifying and addictive at the same time.
Twist the throttle, and you can almost hear the tsunami surging towards you as the one-of-a-kind V4 engine rushes to 6000 rpm with astonishing ferocity. And then on there’s no time to think about anything and the motor goes all mental; your insect brain flickers on and apparently the only option is flight as the world around you turns to a blur of tarmac and sky.
That’s the thing about the Tuono though; it makes you feel like a pro. No matter how ham-handed you are or how much you’ve overestimated your own capabilities, the bike will take care of you, courtesy a host of electronic doodadery that Aprilia like to call the APRC. The software suite is a slightly upgraded version of the original Tuono V4 with Rain mode being replaced by Road, while Sport and Track modes get tweaks making them closer to a WSBK machine than a road-going one. Though fair warnings where they are due, Track and Sport mode are best left to slightly more experienced hands. Novice riders and litre-class inductees might find it a tad overwhelming. Speaking of WSBK wizardry, the Tuono gets an electronic quick-shift for the gearbox, 8-way adjustable traction control, wheelie control and launch control. The electronic quick-shift means once on the roll, you can actually stop using the clutch or for that matter even rolling off the throttle for up or down shifts. Traction control works to save your backside even when you’ve run out of road on the exit and thwacked the throttle open without realising you’re already on some loose stuff. And wheelie control makes you look like Rossi as the front smoothly lands on tarmac – and doesn’t loop you around. That is, assuming you trust the electronics and don’t roll off the moment the front starts aiming for the moon. Do that and the Aprilia comes crashing down, the head shaking alarmingly and your faith in the bike shattered.
The Tuono benefits from the RSV4’s aluminum dual beam frame, but it also gets a slightly lengthier swing-arm making it 6mm longer than its faired cousin. The new Tuono gets a bit of bend and narrow on the handles, which we are told is what makes the V4 Factory that much lighter on its feet, as opposed to the standard 999cc Tuono. Damping comes from fully adjustable race-fit Öhlins suspension that is set up more for spirited rides than the city runabout Sachs on the RR. Dampers that work together with racing ABS co-developed with Bosch allow the Tuono to carve corners like a stainless steel katana. It’s ethereal really, how deep and how late one can brake before the ABS kicks in, and when it does how quickly it resolves the issue. On the topic of the Race ABS system, it can be set to three different levels, all of which are adjustable and independent of power delivery. It even decides how much your rear wheel lifts when you’ve over reached the capabilities of the V4. Spend a little time in the saddle and you’ll figure out how easy it is to reach that point. Obviously someone at Aprilia missed the memo about the Tuono being designed for road use.
The `21 lakh price tag puts the Tuono looking straight into territory owned by the KTM SuperDuke 1290 and the formidable S1000R, both of which are best not taken lightly. Luckily for us, Aprilia have done no such thing. In fact, we think it’s high time the Tuono Factory gets in the ring with the two. We suspect they might have their work cut out for them. Other than that, if you’ve been wondering where to invest those spare 21 lakh you had lying around, this is the place to put it. Ear to ear grins come complimentary.