Skip to content

AUSSIE LAUNCH APRILIA RSV4 RR & TUONO V4 1100 | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

Aprilia has unleashed updated versions of its two greatest weapons. Steve Martin swings them around the track to see if they’ll make the difference in the ongoing quest for motorcycle domination

With 54 world titles and over 300 race wins to its credit, Aprilia is a manufacturer whose competitive pedigree cannot be disputed. And since the inception of its 65º V4 alloy-framed RSV back in 2009, things couldn’t have been rosier. Seven WSBK titles (rider and manufacturer included) are testament to its ability on the track, and as a roadbike it’s been improving year after year like a good red wine.

In 2011, the RSV4 gained a sister when the Tuono 1000 was redesigned around the V4 engine, but at that early stage of development it was simply a stripped-down racebike. It wasn’t until 2015 that Aprilia got serious with the Tuono, giving it a capacity boost from 998.9cc up to 1077cc and taking the hard edge off the racer to make it the most comfortable grunt monster money could buy.

Both bikes have been around for a while and have been very successful in their own fields. Last year’s models were excellent and won many accolades – including, in the case of the Tuono Factory, AMCN’s coveted Motorcycle of The Year gong. But in some areas they perhaps still fell a little short of the competition.

With the 2017 bikes now hitting showroom floors, has Aprilia been able to push its exotic animals ahead of the pack? We flew across to New Zealand, and rode copious amounts of laps of the beautiful Hampton Downs race circuit just south of Auckland to find out.

Rain, rain go away

It’s never a good sign waking up to the sound of a cloudburst when you’ve travelled to another country to test a bike, and that was the case when we arrived at the circuit at 7am. But the morning got a bit brighter when I arrived in pit lane and saw the beautiful RSV4 RR and next to it a stunning Tuono V4 1100 Factory, kindly supplied by the NZ importer.

As we waited for the track to dry, the forced downtime gave me an opportunity to really go over the two bikes and peruse the changes on the 2017 machines. There’s quite a lot new when you get into it, but probably the first big tick is that both bikes are now Euro 4 compliant. It’s not just a matter of putting in some restrictors to meet the tough regulations, either – both bikes have had modifications to improve emission and yet retain performance.

Internally the new Euro 4 bits do a good job by not softening that throaty growl that makes you want to start these bikes up in the garage every night, even without going for a spin.

The Tuono has had a new 64MHz ECU fitted with different software to manage an engine that revs 500rpm higher last year. The wrist pins have been coated and the rod end eyes honed to improve the durability too. On a bike that already boasts the most power in its class, the only other thing needed was a newly designed pipe to make the package come together. The Tuono now produces 130kW and 125Nm, so there’s a lot of fun waiting to be had.

The RSV4, on the other hand, has a very serious job to do: win races. As a result, it’s had more modification than its naked sister to keep it near the top of the heap in the superbike class. It gets new lighter pistons (-30g) that house new rings to reduce oil blow-by. There are fixed-length intake funnels with a reduced weight (-550g), and the same new ECU as the Tuono with an extra 300rpm added to last year’s redline. There’s also different valve timing for better reliability and the same honing of the rods that the Tuono received, all in the name of making a better track/racebike……

Read the full story in the current issue of AMCN on sale now!