Aprilia has created a sporting legacy that really hasn’t been given the kudos it deserves by the modern motorcycling public. Looking back at Aprilia’s superbike and naked-bike history, which is both spiritually and mechanically linked, it’s a struggle to find a disappointing model—Aprilia just doesn’t make a subpar machine.
The Tuono is a case in point. Originating as the stripped version of the twin-cylinder RSV 1000 Mille superbike that first appeared in 1998, it morphed into the fire-breathing V4 beast known and loved a year after the RSV4 superbike debuted in 2010. It’s remained a platform for continuous advancement ever since, but the 2021 iteration sees the first major split in the model since its inception two decades ago.
Traditionally, the Tuono V4 was always a watered-down version of the higher-spec Tuono V4 Factory. Now, Aprilia has joined rivals KTM and BMW by making a sport touring machine out of its naked bike. For Aprilia, the result is the base Tuono V4, while the manufacturer keeps the Tuono V4 Factory as the big sporting variant of the line.
The base-model Tuono V4, priced at $15,999, now comes with touring-specific mounted handlebars that are 20 mm higher than before, a taller windscreen, a different subframe housing, a larger passenger seat and lower passenger footpegs. There are also customized luggage options like bags for the tanks and sides. And while the bike’s suspension is still the fully adjustable, non-electronic Sachs fork and shock, the standard Tuono V4 rides on longer-lasting Pirelli Diablo Rosso III rubber.
The $19,499 Tuono V4 Factory, on the other hand, gets the shiny gold Öhlins fully adjustable fork and shock, regulated by the Swedish company’s Smart EC 2.0 software for dynamic (on the fly) adjustment. The rider is also able to turn the electronics off and go to manual adjustment, if so desired.
The Tuono V4 Factory is aimed more at the sporting set and thus gains Pirelli’s Supercorsa SP tires, as well as the same seat unit from the RSV4 we tested back in April; plus it’s available in the more traditional black colorway of Aprilia Racing.
There’s been some fundamental changes across the board for both Tuonos. The stiffer swingarm, first fitted to the 2021 RSV4, has been incorporated; there are new settings for the Aprilia Performance Ride Control suite of rider assists; and a new 5-inch TFT dash now sits atop the triple-clamp. Aprilia has also taken a few lessons from its MotoGP program and fitted the same inboard winglets to the side bodywork, which serve more to direct engine heat away from the rider than increase downforce.
At the heart of the V4 and V4 Factory sits the same 1,077 cc V-4 motor, which Aprilia claims is good for 175 hp at 13,350 rpm, with a peak torque of 89 ft lbs coming a little lower in the rev range at 9,000 rpm. Now Euro 5 compliant, the power plant still packs the punch we’ve come to expect from Aprilia but there’s a touch of flat spot between 4,000 to 6000 rpm, which is a tradeoff for the Euro 5 sticker. However, the drop in performance at the twist grip is nowhere near as apparent as in the likes of, say, the BMW S 1000 RR superbike, which really suffers due to Euro 5 regulations.
The ride on both Tuono offerings is nothing short of splendid. The sporting prowess of the V4 Factory is immense—this is a comfortable, upright motorcycle that will keep up with almost anything on the road. And most riders will never unleash its full performance.
Coupled with the amazing motor, the chassis retains stunning mechanical communication with the rider, granting the ability to dial in more performance at any road speed. At that point, though, it’s really best to take the Tuono V4 Factory to the track.
A test on the touring-oriented base V4 revealed a more relaxed ride, with the softer Sachs suspension and higher-set handlebars enticing the rider to take it a bit easier than on the V4 Factory. Comfort is noticeably increased, and although the ride is more sedate by nature, the same 175 hp V-4 sits between the legs, ready to be let loose. In our view, Aprilia’s Tuono range is now complete and, although not heavily modified from last year, is still at the top of the naked-bike tree.