First Ride: Aprilia Tuono 1000R

WITH 70 MILLION euros in the kitty from new owner Piaggio, Aprilia has some big plans for the future, starting with the new Tuono 1000R. This update to the hugely successful Tuono is just the first of 12 new models that the small manufacturer from Noale, just outside Venice, has planned for release within the next three years. Others, according to Aprilia, will cover nearly every section of the market, including off-road.

Exciting and, indeed, busy times.

But not so busy that someone in Aprilia’s marketing department hasn’t had time to go to the cinema, because the buzzwords floating around the firm’s new streetfighter are ‘too fast, too furious.’ Er, wasn’t that the crappy sequel to a boy-racer film?

Movie trivia aside, the new 1000R follows much the same lines as the old Tuono. In other words, get yourself an RSV-R and rip the fairing off.

But I reckon that, unlike the previous model, a lot more thought and attention to detail has gone into this new Tuono. At first glance the new nose cowling has a much nicer aerodynamic shape and I particularly like the mini screen protecting the dash. Also, the exposed engine doesn’t give the impression that this is some damaged-repairable RSV that has been dragged from Universal Salvage.

Everything now looks like it fits onto and has been designed for the bike; its lines flow. Aprilia also claims to have spent time in a wind tunnel perfecting the shape, something I don’t doubt.

The engine is the same as the new-style RSV-R’s and is 8bhp up on the old model. It may look similar but is in fact a completely different motor to the old Tuono’s lump.

While the updated engine is smoother, as with the old bike I found the new Tuono snatchy off the bottom of the rev range. This was most noticeable while riding out of tricky hairpins, to the point that I almost started slipping the clutch as if I was on a trials bike. Some of this is due to first gear being quite tall, not helped by it inheriting the RSV’s close ratio gearbox, but once you get going the lion really comes to life.

The mid-range torque is certainly the engine’s best characteristic and, combined with the streetfighter riding position, it just says ‘wheelie me all day long.’ Well it would be rude to refuse, wouldn’t it?

But once the wheelies are over, the Tuono turns onto a full-on sportsbike. High, rear-set pegs complete the effect, it works really well in the turns, and a neatly concealed steering damper calms down the handling at speed.

But there is a rule with the Tuono: you need to be committed. Our test route was a zigzag road over mountain passes – which were enjoyable enough – but the Tuono needed to be ridden hard to get the most from it. It didn’t want to potter along like a big trailie since the tyres and suspension need to be worked hard and get up to temperature to give their best.

Cruising along, the suspension feels too stiff and the tyres skit around. You need to be braking hard, accelerating hard and muscling it about. It almost needs to be ridden harder than a sportsbike and the rider has to work it continually, using body weight to get things done.

Aprilia Tuono 1000R
Aprilia Tuono 1000R

Compared with Triumph’s Speed Triple and KTM’s Superduke, perhaps the Tuono’s closest rivals, it’s a much more demanding tool. The Triple’s smooth engine and softer suspension means a relaxed ride is also possible. Not so on the Tuono – it’s all about aggression.

The Triumph really pushes it close but the Aprilia has a few tricker components than the Triple, though it’s certainly harder work to ride. The KTM feels slightly weaker engine-wise and isn’t quite as practical because of its small tank range and lack of comfort.

Aprilia claims the Tuono is aimed at expert riders, which I wouldn’t doubt, but I reckon ‘young and capable’ would be a better description.

As with the RSV-R, the Tuono comes with radial brakes, which are powerful to the point of fierceness, fully adjustable suspension, as well as Aprilia’s take on a slipper clutch. Which isn’t bad spec at all, considering the price tag of £7648 – if you snap one up before January 1. After that date the price rises to £7995.

Is it worth it? If you’re a Tuono type of rider, then yes. It’s a proper motorbike that does do everything. You just need to keep your wits about you when you ride it.


Not for the faint hearted, the Tuono R is a stripped-down, full-on sportsbike. Committed riders only need apply.

Aprilia Tuono 1000R
Aprilia Tuono 1000R
Aprilia Tuono 1000R
Aprilia Tuono 1000R
Aprilia Tuono 1000R

  • FS/FT: 2003 Aprilia Caponord WA – Expedition Portal
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