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Old 08-05-2015, 08:30 PM   #1
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2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR Review

From the August/September 2015 issue of Sport Rider magazine

Aprilia found itself in unfamiliar territory last year, its Tuono V4 R falling behind the KTM Super Duke R and BMW S 1000 R after having dominated the big bore naked-bike category almost since its inception. Hungry for redemption, Aprilia has gone back to the drawing board and returned with a bigger, better version of its Tuono, this one retaining Aprilia’s superbike lineage but also using a larger cylinder bore to bump displacement from 1,000cc to 1,077cc. Nothing like a little extra power to get you back to where you came from…

It would be wrong, of course, to insinuate that Aprilia simply threw some power the way of the Tuono and called it a day. In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the truth, as the Italian manufacturer’s objective was actually not to make the new Tuono more powerful but rather a more well-rounded streetbike with improved comfort, better brakes, an actual midrange, plus the electronics and chassis to help you manage the slight bump in power.

Essentially, Aprilia has addressed all of the shortcomings brought to light in last year’s comparison test between the V4 R, Super Duke R, and S 1000 R and returned with a bike that we couldn't wait to throw our legs over. Which we eventually did, on the same day we'd also get to test the 2016 RSV4 RF. Life is good...

Superbike Tech for the Naked-Bike Fan

The V4 1100’s 65-degree V-4 engine was updated alongside the 2016 RSV4, but since Aprilia did not need to abide by any race regulations this time around, engineers had more freedom to play with engine specification. A 3mm bore increase (from 78mm to 81mm) is responsible for the 77cc engine displacement boost, with the new pistons sitting on Pankl connecting rods that are a total of 400 grams lighter. The upper engine case halves are now formed using a shell fusion process, which makes them stronger and lighter. Aprilia has also redesigned the ventilation window system for reduced pumping losses and reduced rod journal diameter to 36mm, as they are on the RSV4. The result is still more horsepower (175 hp at 11,000 rpm versus 170 hp at 11,500 rpm) but also an increase in torque from 82 foot-pounds to 88.5 foot-pounds at 9,000 rpm. There are more advantages just below peak revs too, with Aprilia saying the new engine makes almost 20 hp more than the previous engine at around 8,000 rpm. Seriously, 20 hp, right smack-dap in the middle of the tach.
Video: Onboard the 2016 Aprilia RSV4 RF at Misano

Aprilia has befitted the V4 1100 with a longer swingarm and lowered the center of gravity, changes that are intended to keep the front wheel down under hard acceleration. No worries getting slowed down on the other end of those passes where you do, Aprilia says, as it also replaced the admittedly lackluster brake pads on last year’s Tuono with Brembo components that are claimed to provide better feel.

In order to offset the lower CG and longer wheelbase, which would otherwise slow the steering, rake was steepened from 25.1 degrees to 24.7 degrees and fork offset was advanced from 30mm to 35mm. Consequently, trail was shortened from 107.4mm to 99.7mm.Additional tweaks are intended to improve overall rideability and include a 2016 RSV4-culled front fairing that provides better wind protection, plus re-tweaked suspension for improved riding comfort. The 2x4 plank that Aprilia previously referred to as a seat was jettisoned for a generously padded cushion, plus the seat height has been lowered by 15mm, a benefit for height-deprived riders in stoplight-to-stoplight riding situations. Lastly, the one-piece bar was swapped for a narrower handlebar, for a better riding position, Aprilia says.

The Tuono’s aPRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) electronic rider aid system continues to include the exact same aids as the RSV4. This includes an eight-setting traction control system, three-setting wheelie control system, launch control, quickshifter, and separate riding modes. Comprehensive? Yes. Overkill? Perhaps. Regardless, you won’t hear us complaining about having access to launch control though, even if it is on a naked bike and we'll never really use it. Settings for the traction control system have been tweaked this year, plus Aprilia has reduced the engine-braking and smoothed the off/on throttle transition for each of the Tuono’s three riding modes to go along with changes made to the RSV4’s aPRC system, which were done based on feedback from Aprilia’s Racing Department.

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

That doesn’t necessarily make the 2016 Tuono V4 1100 a World Superbike sans fairings, but if it doesn’t make it close to one. And if you don’t feel like you’ve just thrown a leg over one of Aprilia’s World Superbikes after having thumbed the starter on the 1100, its V-4 engine coming to life and singing sweet nothings to your two-wheel-loving insides. Settle in and you’ll notice that there’s almost no comparison between the old seat and the new one, the latter providing much more cushion and not feeling like it’ll wear on your backside a mere 5 miles into a ride.

A restyled fairing is intended to (and actually does) provide better wind protection than the previous fairing. It also houses an LED position light and weighs almost 3.3 pounds less than the outgoing fairing.

The second thing you’ll notice is just how much stronger the engine is at practically all revs. The V-4 no longer shutters when you let the revs drop to as low as 2,000 rpm in around-town situations, and it pulls hard from there to around 6,500, at which point the old engine felt like it just barely started to come alive during our back-to-back comparison tests. The gap in performance narrows from that point on, with both engines still wanting to stretch your arms by at least a few inches at a time, but the new engine still pulling a bit harder all the way up to five-figure rpm. With the tall, one-piece handlebar and the V-4’s increase in torque/horsepower, it’s actually work to keep the 1100’s front tire on the ground. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Aprilia’s adjustable wheelie control and traction control systems are more than happy to lend a hand if, for whatever reason, you do feel like keeping the fun in check. Intervention felt rather gruff even with the traction control system tuned to settings 3 through 1 and wheelie control to level 1, though, and we were surprised by just how often the systems intervened, even keeping the less-than-ideal road conditions in mind. Maybe other (cough, R1, cough) systems have made us biased? Or maybe we’re just tough critics, as at the end of the day the electronics did their job and kept us on two wheels. Job: done, just not entirely smoothly.

Happily, you can actually put some miles on the Tuono and not come home feeling like you just spent the day on a wood plank. A new, more cushioned seat is one of our favorite updates for the V4 1100.

Brakes are a huge improvement, Aprilia having swapped the pads and ultimately increased feel at the lever, especially in the initial part of the pull. And that’s not us simply re-reading Aprilia’s press material either: We actually missed the tech presentation for the V4 1100 and weren’t aware of any change in brake pad material until we sat down to review the presentation days later, having already noticed a difference right after pulling away on the 1100. Probably because last year’s brakes were one of our least favorite aspects of the bike, allowing the new setup to stand out.

Steering still feels neutral, though the Tuono’s narrower handlebar may provide a little less leverage in the tight stuff. Regardless, changes to the steering geometry mean the bike remains one of the lighter-handling motorcycles in the category. More importantly, it’s one of those motorcycles that won’t have your legs and shoulders feeling taxed after a day of riding.

Back on the straight stuff, the V4 1100 continues to impress with better wind protection than its predecessor and a level of comfort the old seat could only dream of shelling out. We made a few 70-mph passes down the road and noted that everything was pretty calm, with only a little turbulence at the upper part of our helmet and no aggressive windblasts to our shoulders or chest. And that with a 6-foot-3 test rider. The same could usually not be said after a ride on previous Tuono models, regardless of rider height.

The V4 1100's Brembo M432 monoblock calipers have been updated with pads using an improved friction coefficient. The result is more feel at the lever, especially in the first part of the pull.

Bigger is Better

In the end, it’s these small differences that make the Tuono V4 1100 a better motorcycle than the V4 R that lost out in last year’s naked-bike comparison tests. The bike is entertaining as it ever was (we never discredited last year’s V4 R for that), but it’s now a better all-round motorcycle, with enough low-to-mid power to get you off corners and around town, a more body-pleasing rider interface, and better brakes. These are all things we knocked the V4 R for but probably won’t be able to knock the V4 1100 for.

With a retail price for $14,599 and the option to upgrade to the V4 1100 Factory, which adds Öhlins suspension, an Öhlins steering damper, and Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires to an already good package, maybe it's now worth the trouble to go in and find an Aprilia dealer you get to within at least a tank or two of gas.

Speaking of the V4 1100 Factory, we've got more photos of it below. Check 'em out if you want to see what a Tuono looks like in superbike graphics (trust us, you do).

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