A nip here, a tuck there, and a new Euro 5 sticker is all Aprilia needed to do to bring the stupendous Tuono V4 into a new decade.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking the 2021 Aprilia Tuono V4 is an all-new motorcycle.
New LED front and rear lights and sculptured inward side winglets; a new, 48 percent stiffer swingarm taken directly off the RSV4; and a split down the middle to further differentiate the base model from the Tuono V4 Factory. These are all signs of a brand-new bike, right? Well, not entirely.
Normally, when someone writes a sentence like that, it will lead to some disappointing ramble about the new bike not being the latest and greatest, the fastest, or the most techy.
But not here.
That’s because the Aprilia Tuono V4 is still one of the very finest motorcycles created in the last 20 years, and, as such, Aprilia didn’t need to reinvent the wheel with the new model. They just gave the wheel a spit and polish.
Perhaps the most significant detail of the new Tuono V4 is that splitting of the model. Previously, the base model was just a watered-down version of the all-balls Factory edition, but now Aprilia has finally gone the way of BMW with their S 1000 R/S 1000 XR and KTM with the 1290 Super Duke R and Super Duke GT and created a sport-touring version for the $15,999 MSRP Tuono V4.
It’s not all that different to the Factory: 20 mm higher-set handlebars, a new subframe with a wider passenger seat and lower footpegs, optimized luggage options like side and tank bags, and a taller windscreen. Oh, and blander colors than the red and black the Tuono Factory gets. Still fitted to the touring model is the conventionally-adjusted, fully-adjustable Sachs suspension, while rubber is the Pirelli Rosso Corsa III tire.
The $19,499 MSRP Tuono V4 Factory, meanwhile, gets the semi-active Ohlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension, a short tinted windscreen, the RSV4 tail section and passenger footpeg set-up, racier colors, a polished frame, and track-specific Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP rubber.
The rest of the specs are basically identical between the two models. That buxom 1077 cc, 175 hp V4 remains largely unchanged except it now comes with Euro 5 compliance. There are new settings for the quick shifter and the electronics have been reworked via the bigger five-inch TFT display.
Now you’ve got six riding modes (three for the road, three for the track), cruise control, three-stage engine brake, ABS, launch control and power modes, eight-stage traction control, six-stage wheelie control and turn-by-turn navigation accessed by a new mission control switch block on the left handlebar. About the only thing the electronics can’t do is make you a cappuccino.
The master of this electronic smorgasbord is the new Marelli ECU 11MP, which has a four-times faster clock frequency and four times the amount of memory than last year. In laymen’s terms, the ECU can now calculate everything happening much faster and more accurately, like when hammering the brakes and engaging cornering ABS while simultaneously monitoring traction control and engine brake level. The electronics could do all this stuff before, it’s just that now it does it better.
From the hot seat, the Tuono V4 Factory feels almost identical to before. The Ohlins Smart EC 2.0 system is a gem and handles the kind of shit roads we ride on in SoCal with robotic ease. Switch the system to Sport and you’ve got a taught, firm ride for the canyons, perfect for loading up the front tire and hammering into long, sweeping bends. Switch it to Road mode and you’ve got a Tuono that’s plush and easy to ride in traffic. It’s the best of both worlds.
The Tuono V4 Factory is god’s gift to corner apexes. It’s a machine that exudes confidence, allowing the rider to trust what’s happening underneath them, safe in the knowledge that the bike isn’t going to do anything stupid. This is a precise, corner-slashing tool.
The new Euro 5 motor has a touch of a flat spot between 4-6000 rpm, but it’s not as bad as something like the BMW S 1000RR or Honda CBR1000RR-R SP, which damn near fall on their faces through that engine speed.
Aprilia’s more powerful RSV4 simply bulldozes its way past the emissions block but the Tuono labors a little, but it’s a small price to pay for having a Euro 5-compliant V4 beneath you.
I only got an hour on the now-touring specific Tuono, and although the bones are similar, the ride is indeed quite different. You’re sitting at a straighter angle thanks to the higher handlebars, and the taller screen knocks a large portion of the wind from the rider’s helmet. You ride more sedately as you can’t quite load up the front tire like on the Factory, but the main point of this model is to make your very brave passenger a bit more comfortable, which it will no doubt do.
The Aprilia Tuono V4 and V4 Factory are absolutely near the top of the naked bike tree, even though at heart, they are not that different than before. The Factory, in particular, is so hard to fault. It talks to you, guiding you through corners and meeting you with the most beautiful of motors for the exit. Riding a Tuono is a love experience. It makes you glad you got your license.