Relatively speaking, exotic motorcycles are far more attainable than exotic cars. Even expensive European bikes that make impressive power and feature all kinds of racing technology cost less than an average new family car. One of the best examples of this is Aprilia’s Tuono V4. It offerspaired with a brilliant chassis, and does so for less than $20,000.
The Tuono’s power delivery borders on violent, and without the bike’s excellent suite of rider aids, it’d be kind of terrifying. A 1,077-cc V4 produces 175 horsepower at 11,350 rpm and 89 pound-feet of torque at 9,000 rpm. These numbers aren’t class-leading — themakes 208 hp — but that doesn’t matter. The way this bike delivers power makes everything else feel like it’s on melatonin. The Tuono will do 0 to 60 mph in around 2.8 seconds, which is McLaren Senna territory, only you’re sitting on top of the Tuono, trying to hold on.
The accelerative force coupled with the maniacal yowl of that V4 engine has to be experienced to be truly understood. Think half of a naturally aspirated Ferrari V8 for the sound and you’re in the ballpark.
This engine is paired with an excellent six-speed transmission that offers precise, low-effort shifts and a neutral gear that’s easy to find. The Tuono comes standard with a quickshifter that works up and down the gears, allowing you to shift without using the clutch lever. When you do, however, the clutch is easy to modulate and the pull at the lever isn’t excessively heavy. The Tuono also seems happier than ever to trundle along at city speeds; the older version hated me for trying to do 35 mph in first gear. All around, the 2022 Tuono is an.
In the years since its launch, the Tuono has received several upgrades, arguably the most substantial of which is the addition of semiactive electronic Ohlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension. It takes the already competent and comfy Ohlins suspension I experienced on the 2018 Tuono and gives it a brain. This means that you can adjust settings on the fly using the bike’s easy-to-navigate menu system, and the results are excellent. The Tuono is plenty compliant for street use, even over broken pavement, and it stiffens up beautifully for higher-speed canyon work.
The Tuono’s chassis got a few tweaks for 2021, which carry over for 2022, and chief among them is the new rear swingarm. The new design basically flips the previous design over, which allows for a stiffer and lighter arm that requires less welding to manufacture. It’s not a night-and-day difference in terms of the bike’s overall responsiveness, though I can feel an improvement. There’s also a new, sturdier rear subframe on the base V4 that’s better set up for passenger-carrying duty.
When you’re on a bike capable of go-to-jail-speeds at the drop of a hat, the brakes are vitally important and, unsurprisingly, the Tuono’s dual Brembo monobloc front calipers and their gigantic 330-millimeter rotors are more than up to repeated hard stops. The rear gets a single, dual-piston caliper with a 220-millimeter rotor. The braking hardware is augmented by smart, lean-sensitive ABS and traction control. The brakes are so good that around town I rarely find myself using more than a single finger at the front lever to slow and stop, whereas on almost any other bike I’ll use two or more.
Overall, the suspension and chassis changes make for a balanced riding experience that is comfy when you need it and scalpel-sharp when you want it with almost no compromises. It’s not an uncomfortable bike, even for me at 6 feet, 4 inches tall, but it’s not something I’d want to spend a whole day on. The uplevel Tuono V4 Factory model, in particular, has higher rider footpegs that are great for ground clearance when leaned over but cause my legs to cramp a little sooner than on the more relaxed base model. The base model also gets a taller windscreen and lacks the Ohlins Smart EC suspension.
While the Tuono isn’t a gigantic, towering motorcycle, it’s still not something I’d call friendly for shorter riders. It’s got a 32.5-inch seat height, and because it’s got a big 4.9-gallon fuel tank, it wears its weight (471 pounds, including fuel) up high, which can make things a little tippy at stops. Even outside of its utterly bananas performance potential, the ergonomics of the V4 are such that I’d say it’s for experienced riders only. That said, if you’re taller or comfortable with just getting a single foot down, the Tuono makes an excellent tool for slicing through traffic and splitting lanes.
A brand-new Aprilia Tuono V4 won’t set you back any more than a new Honda Civic, but it’s still not a cheap bike. A base Tuono V4 starts at $15,999 while the more aggressive Factory model will run you $19,499. But unlike so many things in this world, the Tuono delivers a singular experience. If you’ve got motorcycling in your soul, the Tuono is worthy of its place as a holy grail bike.