I guess every biker has their eye on the next motorcycle they would like to own.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that is certainly the case for the 2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory Motorcycle.
When I entered the showroom (May 2017) and saw the bike for the first time, it was instant eye candy. I liked its powerful looks and build and I could not wait to get my rear on its seat. A few reviewers have stated, that they don't like the front light assembly, but for me the symmetry was perfect. The colour scheme was instantly pleasing and although the bike weighs in at 209kg wet it looked a lot heavier and chunkier.
When I sat on the bike, my 6' foot frame and 33" inside leg, fitted it perfectly with my feet flat on the ground and yet with enough purchase to duck walk the bike forward and backward with ease whilst seated. I felt instantly at home and although the handlebars were further forward than my own bike, the seating position was very pleasing. I turned on the ignition and the beautiful TFT colour screen burst into life with an array of options that would make a computer expert blanch.
As I was going to test ride the bike on urban/street, country roads and motorway environments, I left it to the salesman to set up the Aprilia's menu. He set the ABS control to Level 1 and the ride mode to SPORT.
I had no intention of messing about with the bike settings and for good reason; the previous rider of the demonstrator had messed about with the menu and even put in his own security code. I had to wait an hour for the workshop to reset the menu to default and remove the security code. The switchgear positions on the bike were as expected, although the mass of switches on the left side gave me concerns about pressing the wrong button whilst on the test ride. The pit limiter was the first clue that the Aprilia Tuono Factory is not a 'true' naked street motorcycle.
I turned on the ignition, waited for the security code screen to disappear (no security code) pressed the starter button and with a gentle twist of the throttle, the exhaust barked a very pleasing loud sound. I would keep the stock exhaust as it's sound was very pleasant and subdued on the motorway at 70mph in 6th gear at steady revs and yet whilst in the higher rev band, up and down the gears, it was loud and aggressive.
I have read and watched many reviews on the 2017 Aprilia and the reviewers all extol the virtues of the power and handling of the bike. I can confirm that once you have test ridden an Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory you will never forget the fantastic experience. The Aprilia is a bike that demands to be ridden hard; it is a full on sports bike with upright handlebars and a decent comfortable seat. It has the most awesome acceleration through the gears with torque that just never stops and handling that defies logic. However, I found that in SPORT mode, I could pull away from 50mph in 6th gear but it lacked the full on torque and by dropping a gear it made all the difference.
There is no fuel gauge and only a warning light on the dash that appears when there is around 20 miles of road left. I was informed by the salesman to expect around 30 miles to the gallon when the exhaust is continually barking.
The mirrors seemed fine to me with a decent view behind and requiring only a short lifesaver glance over my right shoulder to cover the small blind spot before pulling out to overtake. The vibration shake was minimal and cruising at 70mph on the motorway in 6th gear was quiet with no mirror shake.
The brakes are so good that the slightest pull on the front will bring down the speed without any nasty snatch. The rear brake is excellent for slow filtering and slow maneuvers, in combination with the clutch and throttle. I disliked the indicator switch because unlike my own bike, I never felt I had switched it - I often had to glance down at the instrument panel to make sure it was on but perhaps not a bad thing?
It was an exceptionally hot sunny day for my test ride and although the Aprilia engine was relatively cool on the open road, it sure was hot between my legs in urban traffic. I test rode the Aprilia on all types of roads and it was extremely comfortable, so much so, that I finished the ride with no aches or pains.
Bike Shudder in 1st Gear at Low Revs
I could go on and also extol the virtues of the Aprilia BUT the salesman set it to SPORT mode for street use which produces the heaviest engine braking (I found this out later) and that did raise some concerns for me. Unlike my own Suzuki GSX-1250FA and other bikes I have ridden, including the 2016 BMW S1000R, I found the Aprilia throttle control in 1st gear at slow speeds to be a problem but only after I shut off the throttle and allowed the engine to brake. When I reapplied the throttle the bike would shudder as if in a high gear. To prevent shuddering on reapplying the throttle, I did have to use the clutch and apply more throttle. I did not have a problem when stopping at the side of the road and then slowly setting off in traffic, it seemed to be only after I allowed the engine to brake. In the reviews (to date) none mention the throttle control issue at low revs, although Lamb Chops in the 4th video at 5.35 (bottom set of 8) mentions its a little bit of on/off in the smoothness which feels like transmission lash or a loose chain. So it may be only a SPORT ride mode setting problem or an issue with my demonstrator, especially as the previous rider had fiddled about with the menu settings and even locked the bike with his own security code.
I did leave a comment on Lamb Chops Video Review regarding the less than smooth throttle at low revs in SPORT mode and received a reply - "Yeah it has a slight lash but it doesn't bother you after awhile. I certainly wouldn't let it put me off buying one". He seems to confirm that there is indeed a problem with low rev control but when I rode the demonstrator it was more than a slight lash. I found that in SPORT mode and coming down the gears to 1st gear from the dual carriageway using the engine to brake and then at around 10mph as I entered the roundabout to pull away after traffic, the bike chugged like it was in 3rd gear with the only recourse to pull in the clutch lever, apply a little throttle and the bike then smoothed out. It seems the Factory takes a bit of getting used to in low revs, requiring more throttle with a little bit of clutch control to keep it smooth? I still maintain that it is an engine braking problem which remains on even when the throttle is re-applied. Pulling in the clutch lever, releases it and I am guessing that the bikes software requires an engine mapping algorithm solution. In urban traffic smooth throttle control is essential as acceleration from low revs in 1st gear, without stuttering is often just as important as braking, especially when lane splitting and entering roundabouts.
The 2017 Aprilia Tuono is also discussed on the Aprilia Forum where a few owners have complained that the engine cuts out when changing down from 2nd to 1st gear. From some of the replies, it might be the Bosch system which is also fitted to the BMW S1000R with reports of a similar problem.
Here is an example of the rough throttle/engine at low revs -
I also discovered that when using the quickshifter to go up and down the gears in various stages of slow and harsh acceleration, it did create a slight pause before it selected the next gear cog. I have watched and read a lot of reviews on the 2017 Aprilia but only one mentions the quickshifter delay (2nd video below and he was also in SPORT mode).
As I have already mentioned in this mini review, the Aprilia V4 1100 Factory is probably the best sports motorcycle I have ever ridden and the experience will stick with me for a very long time. However, whilst thrashing around the countryside is great fun and a comfortable ride in 6th gear on the motorway at 70mph is relaxing, smooth throttle control in 1st gear at low revs in urban traffic is just as important. If Aprilia does indeed have a problem with a fuelling problem causing a stuttering in low revs and/or the engine cutting out (a serious safety problem) that cannot be resolved by engine mapping, then I fear their sales (in relation to this 2017 build of the Factory) might well go to the Yamaha MT10 SP.
In fairness to Aprilia, the 1100 Factory is a proper sports bike with upright handlebars and high gearing, so riding it in 1st gear in urban traffic whilst applying more throttle/clutch/rear brake control to maintain smoothness and avoid stalling, might be a price worth paying for the exhilaration factor on the country roads, the motorway and especially the track. Garey Cooper in the following video at 3:20 confirms my own findings -
I remain unsure if it is worth travelling a 100+ miles to a dealership in England to try out a different demonstrator in an urban environment, especially the TRACK and RACE modes which offer less engine braking and different throttle responses. However, I like the 2017 Aprilia V4 1100 Factory so much, that I will hold off purchasing a naked street bike until I see what develops in the Aprilia forum and in the new reviews that are emerging.
I have now decided to put off purchasing a naked sports bike until early next year and whilst the Aprilia 1100 Factory still remains the favourite, the BMW S1000R is my close second. However, entering the fray in 2018 is a new Honda CB1000R which will merit consideration.
The controls and menu settings are a work in progress -
Don't take it as gospel, but from the reviews, these following controls and settings seem consistent -
TFT SCREEN - FULL MENU ACCESS
You would normally setup the menu with the ignition switched on but with the engine not running.
Press MODE button on left switchgear to display TFT menu
Use left/right movement on MODE button to navigate menu to display TFT menu main setting choice.
Use +/- buttons under the left switch gear to toggle to your choice of setting.
Pressing/holding the - button for a few seconds will deactivate the electronic aid and a slight press of the + button will reactivate it.
ENGINE MAPPING MODES - SPORT - TRACK - RACE
Sport – Direct throttle response with more engine braking
Track - Softer throttle response at lower throttle position with less engine braking
Race – Softer throttle response at lower throttle position and even more reduced engine braking.
These can be changed/selected 5 seconds after engine start at zero throttle by pressing the start button (right handlebar) again.
ATC - TRACTION CONTROL
Unlike other systems the ATC offers a choice of 8 levels, each with a minimum and maximum area of engagement to balance the rear wheel spin to the front. This allows the rider to slide the rear if required (track use) in the selected (Level) slide engagement area. Level 1 provides the least traction control with the maximum engagement area whilst level 8 delivers the highest level of traction control with the least engagement area and typically is set for very wet roads. The 8 levels are toggled by using the +/- paddle joystick under the left switch gear and this can be operated whilst the bike is in motion. Pressing/holding the - button for a few seconds will deactivate the traction control/anti-wheelie and a slight press of the + button will reactivate it.
ABS - ANTI-LOCK BRAKING SYSTEM
The ABS System has 3 levels of control but cornering ABS and Rear Wheel Lift-up Mitigation (RLM) also come into the setting equation.
AWC - ANTI-WHEELIE
The AWC setting has 3 levels of settings selected by using the MODE button on left switch gear (see MODE BUTTON SECTION). Each setting providing a different time limit for the front wheel lift during acceleration. The AWC senses when the front wheel lifts off the ground but instead of the traction control kicking in to balance the speed of the wheels, the Aprilia system temporarily switches off the traction control and modulates the throttle and ignition advance to bring the front wheel back down onto the ground in a controlled response without any abrupt loss of power. You can deactivate AWC which then engages full 'conventional' traction control. When in RACE mode, you can access AWC directly in the menu by pressing the MODE button.
ALC - LAUNCH CONTROL
This has 3 settings and is designed for track use when accelerating away from the start line to provide optimum power to the rear wheels.
Some review videos -