2011 Aprilia Tuono V4R

Rolling Thunder

Aprilia has released the first derivative of its World Superbike Championship-winning RSV4 superbike-an all-new update of its venerable Tuono streetfighter, now powered by a retuned version of the superbike's ferocious V4 engine. Aprilia claims 162 horsepower and 81 lb.-ft. of torque-down 4 lb.-ft. compared to the superbike, but the torque peak arrives 1000 rpm sooner and the engine is much stronger at the low end for improved rideability on the street.

The bodywork shares a familial resemblance to the RSV4, with a similar triple-lens headlight array and visually identical (though physically larger) tailsection. The new Tuono (which means "thunder" in Italian) wears much more fairing than before, however, with an unusual shroud/air-splitter running the full length of the radiator and culminating in a chin fairing. There appear to be some visual illusions at work: The bike looks almost fully faired in frontal and 3/4 views, yet decidedly naked in profile, with daylight showing beneath the headlight support and also the side-mounted ram-air ducts. Styling is head-scratching, to say the least.

A high-mounted tubular handlebar shifts rider weight upward and rearward, presumably to enhance the wheelie-happy character that makes a big, torquey streetfighter so much fun to ride. This makes the inclusion of Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC), complete with traction control, programmable launch control and-blasphemy!-wheelie control, seem a touch misplaced. Luckily, these electronic overrides are all completely adjustable, so you can presumably dial in just enough chaos to give you a thrill without planting you on your head.

Aprilia's new Tuono isn't the prettiest motorcycle, but high bars and a rorty V4 promise big, naked fun. The radial-mount Brembo front brakes and 43mm Showa fork are shared with the RSV4 superbike.