Initially, the disparity between the V4’s soft low end and fierce top end was annoying, but once we grew accustomed to it the engine’s split personality was an appreciated characteristic. Slow your pace, relax your death-grip on the bars, toggle down to “S” for Sport power mode and the Tuono feels like a mild-mannered sport-tourer, with the ergonomics to match. Then, when you’re ready for a thrill, that 7000-rpm threshold is just a twist of the throttle away—and even more immediate throttle response is available at the push of a button. Meanwhile, the Ducati’s aggressive ergos, hair-trigger throttle, stiff gearbox and stiffer suspension make it impossible to forget you’re on a superbike.
Bigger 330mm rotors and Brembo Monobloc calipers give the ’Fighter seriously strong brakes
The Ducati's tiny digital dash keeps the cockpit simple and clean, but navigating the vari
Both of these naked bikes are truly badass, with inspired designs and inspiring performance. The Ducati has the looks and an engine that can turn there into here with a blip of the throttle, but it retains too much of its forbear’s uncompromising ergonomics. Our testbike also developed a nasty habit of dropping out of second gear into neutral during deceleration. The Tuono’s only faults are a thirst for high-test and limited legroom. The Aprilia is also $4000 less expensive, yet offers a more useful and comprehensive electronics package and slipper clutch. And the intoxicating power of that V4 can’t be overstated—you’ll have dreams about it! The Tuono is a more docile and accommodating streetbike around town and a more engaging and exciting sportbike on twisty roads. Did we mention it costs $4000 less? And unlike the Streetfighter, the Tuono has a respectable passenger seat so you can actually put the alluring power of this Italian exotic to use. MC
Off The Record
Zack Courts, Guest Tester
Age: 28 | Height: 6’2”
Weight: 185 lbs. | Inseam: 34 in.
Both of these bikes are tremendous. The Ducati looks the part, with a proper fork-mounted headlight and no body fat, but the Tuono stole the show. It’s equipped with a better electronics package, not to mention a quick-shifter and a slipper clutch. In addition, better ergonomics allow the Aprilia to show good manners while cruising around town or sailing through canyons. But it’s when you ask it to be bad that you really fall in love. It’s difficult to overstate just how savage the acceleration is and how addictive it becomes. That V4 sound is absolutely fantastic, and the chassis remains tight despite the vicious power. As if that wasn’t enough, it undercuts the Ducati’s price by $4000. I’m sold.
Off The Record
Ari Henning, Road Test Editor
Age: 27 | Height: 5’10”
Weight: 177 lbs. | Inseam: 33 in.
If it were all about looks, the Ducati would win, instantly. I’m a big fan of its compact and clean appearance; as much a thing of beauty as a thing of power and performance. Riding the Streetfighter S is undeniably thrilling, but best enjoyed in short stints separated by long rests. Having spent a lot of time on an RSV4R, I was impressed by how well Aprilia dialed-in the Tuono for the street. The changes make a big difference, and the end result is one of the most exciting and versatile naked bikes I’ve ever ridden. My only issue is that it’s not really a naked bike: The Tuono needs to stop being bashful and take off the rest of its clothes!