Sensory overload: Aprilia’s naked sports bike is a more practical version of the RSV4 superbike that has lost none of the insanity. Picture: HARRY FISHER
Sensory overload: Aprilia’s naked sports bike is a more practical version of the RSV4 superbike that has lost none of the insanity.  Picture: HARRY FISHER

Some motorcycles are totally focused on being brilliant at one thing, while others fulfill a more diverse role. Then there are the motorcycles that take an uncompromising concept and round off the edges slightly, giving them a broader appeal. The best of these do this without losing any of the essence of the original concept and the results are often startling.

The most obvious example of this last category is the naked sports bike. While some of these come off the drawing board and into production as naked — or unfaired — machines and stay that way, some come into being as derivations of superbikes, which are really race replicas for the road and about as uncompromising as you could wish to get.

The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR is the naked version of the Aprilia RSV4 superbike which in itself is a recommendation but, in reality, the Tuono needs no justification to exist other than being what it is; a more practical version of the RSV4 that has lost none of that bike’s insanity. 

So, what is it? Well, it’s a 130kW, V4-engined, technology-laden rocket ship that will stretch every sinew and nerve in your body with its unrelenting performance and razor-sharp dynamics.

OF COURSE, THE REAL ABILITY OF SUCH A MACHINE IS ONLY ACCESSIBLE ON THE OPEN ROAD OR, PREFERABLY, AT THE RACETRACK

Normally, such a bike loses the extreme riding position of its superbike donor in favour of a more relaxed experience. The Tuono bucks this trend by remaining very "racy" in terms of the handlebar position, putting a lot of weight on the wrists as you grasp the 'bars. The foot peg positioning has been relaxed somewhat so there is a compromise that many more riders will find tolerable.

The performance is shattering; make no mistake, this is a bike for the expert rider, particularly if the best is to be got out of it. Speed builds so quickly and relentlessly and, while the chassis has the poise and composure to handle it — and the electronics to reign it all in — the rider needs to be at the top of his or her game to cope with the consequences.

Having said all that, the thing about the Tuono is that it is so usable, so practical, in a way that the RSV4 could never be. But it adds those qualities without losing much of the RSV4’s available performance or sheer devilment and makes it accessible to more people, more of the time.

Accompanying all this is an exhaust note that howls and barks and snaps and crackles at you through the optional Akrapovič silencer. Admittedly, the bike was tested in the confines of the city and some might say that to waste a machine such as this in the urban grind is a sin.

ISN’T IT ONE OF THE PLEASURES OF MOTORCYCLING TO SLOUGH OFF THE YEARS AND MAKE US FEEL YOUNG AGAIN?

However, using it like this affords you the opportunity to accelerate furiously up through the gears and down again — so easy with the quick shifter and auto-blipper gear change  — just so you can hear the cacophony bouncing off buildings and traffic. Childish maybe, but it is utterly addictive and intoxicating; isn’t it one of the pleasures of motorcycling to slough off the years and make us feel young again?

Of course, the real ability of such a machine is only accessible on the open road or, preferably, at the race track, where its true abilities can be exploited to their fullest extent; there can be no doubt that the rewards will justify the effort. However, the fact that the Tuono V4 1100RR can provide entertainment in the real world where most of us do our riding is testament to the ease-of-use that has somehow been built into such a finely-tuned and utterly mind-blowing motorcycle.

The 1100RR version, as tested, will cost you R258,900, while you can spend R288,900 on the 1100 Factory version, which adds semi-active electronic suspension and a raft of carbon-fibre details. What you can’t put a price on, however, is the sensory overload that comes with such a motorcycle.

Aprilia is marketed in SA by Italian Motorcycle Importers, located at Maserati Johannesburg’s showrooms on William Nicol Drive.

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