The V4 engine configuration is my all-time favourite as it has the refinement of a four-cylinder without feeling busy like an in-line four and has a distinctive torque and power delivery. This, however, is a far from the ideal place to put a 175 PS super-naked missile through its paces, but the Tuono V4 1100 is doing a pretty good job all the same.
We are in Valentino Rossi's area of north-eastern Italy, heading from the Misano circuit towards the famous village of Tavullia via back roads that are mostly narrow, twisty and slippery. Even the local residents' favourite son might struggle to get the best out of Aprilia's stripped-down superbike on these bumpy lanes (where the young Rossi once raced Ape three-wheelers with his friends).
For a bike as powerful as it is, the Tuono V4 1100 is surprisingly easy to ride. Pics/Courtesy Aprilia
Every few hundred metres, I'm hauling on the fierce brakes for yet another hairpin round, slightly wary of the shiny tarmac surface, then winding back the throttle to send the Tuono accelerating. The wide handlebar twitches slightly as the front wheel goes light, the traction control occasionally kicks in to keep the fat rear Pirelli in line, and the Aprilia heads for the next turn with a suitably thunderous sound.
In creating the Tuono V4 1100, Aprilia has attempted to make its famously fast and furious stripped-down sports bike not just faster and more exciting, but more rider-friendly too. That was not always their goal. When the Italian firm decided to upgrade the naked V4 road-burner for 2015, the development team's initial aim was to bolt in the engine from the previous RSV4.
But then they had second thoughts, and decided that a more refined and rider-friendly update was required. So, as well as tweaking the chassis, revising the riding position, updating the electronics and sharpening the styling, they enlarged the capacity of the V4 engine from 999 to 1,077 cc.
The resultant Tuono V4 1100 has a maximum power of 175 PS at 11,000 rpm. More importantly, low-rev response has been made smoother. As I crack open the Tuono's throttle on the exit of a typically tight bend, the big motor revs with fierce yet deliciously controllable force, the bike leaping forward with an unmistakable V4 growl.
The 999 cc liquid cooled 65-degree V4 puts out 175 PS
The flawless throttle response and cutting-edge electronics combine to help keep it between the hedges as I short-shift through the box, the quick-shifter notching gears seamlessly… but I'm barely into fourth when it's time to haul on the fiercely powerful Brembos for another tight turn, and begin the process all over again.
The chassis is the same one used by the RSV4. However in the Tuono, the swing arm is longer by 4 mm and the steering geometry is sharper. The standard Tuono V4 1100 RR gets Sachs suspension and steering damper; the Factory model sports Öhlins. For such a powerful bike the Tuono was impressively easy to ride, and with its upright riding position and reasonably low seat — at 825 mm — it would make a good town bike.
The twin 320-mm discs and Brembo Monobloc callipers up front gave ferocious stopping. Although I was surprised that the Bosch ABS cut in quite regularly before I switched it from the road-based setting to the less intrusive track setting.
As we rode back through the Misano circuit gate, I was disappointed that we were ending the test, rather than continuing it on the track where we'd also have had a chance to get near its top speed of around 280 km/h. Though not without some neck-ache, because the re-designed half-fairing, which holds new lights, doesn't give much wind protection. Even so, there's still, surely, no super-naked that is better suited to serious speed.
Aprilia Tuono V4 1100
Engine type: Liquid-cooled, 999 cc, 65-degree V4, DOHC, 16-valves
Maximum power: 143 PS, 320 Nm
Maximum torque: 1,420 kg
Transmission: 1,420 kg