Aprilia Tuono V4 Touring 2021 review: a sports-focused journey
The first thought that crosses my brain as the 2021 Aprilia Tuono V4 accelerates and decelerates with amazing ferocity is that that must be what Formula 1 drivers feel. Immediately after that first thought, I knew that I was not worthy!
Motorcycle love affairs are delicate matters. One minute you’re in love and the next a newer, sexier model pops up and you quickly move on. Seven years ago I wandered into a motorcycle dealership and was stopped dead by an Aprilia Tuono. It was absolutely beautiful and I was immediately won over. Contrary to my typical motorcycle crushes, it has not weakened and I have wanted to ride one ever since.
My first bike was a Kawasaki Ninja 600 which I bought when I graduated from college. I know, it’s not the best choice for a first bike! So I have a weakness for sports motorcycles. In my 50s now, with arthritis from a life of contact sports and bad decisions, so my body can’t do superbike positions. When naked sports bikes with user-friendly vertical ergonomics came into vogue, I was excited. While the Tuono is arguably the performance leader in this category with a strong emphasis on sport, sitting on the previous versions, I found the ergonomics too aggressive for me. That said, I was dying to get on the famous Tuono.
For the first time, Aprilia differentiated its standard model from the factory model by adding a more oriented orientation to the motorcycle. Aprilia’s tour idea includes slightly raised bars, a slightly larger windshield soft baggage, and a Touring ride mode (for full technical details on the base V4 and higher-performance Factory model, check out the Nic de Sena’s excellent review of both). After waiting seven years, I was finally able to swing a leg on a Tuono V4 and start one. The wait was worth it.
The engine – This smooth and gentle Italian engine
Much has been written about the Tuono V4 engine, but nothing can properly prepare you for the real experience. When starting the engine, it looks like other four-cylinder sports motorcycles with more liters. The 1,077cc 65-degree V4 develops 175 horsepower and 89 lb-ft of torque. It all seems somewhat manageable on paper. When you start below 3000 RPM, you feel like a cranky, complaining old person. Still a lot of power, but you can tell it’s just not that happy.
Step on the accelerator and everything changes dramatically. After 5,000 rpm, you hit the bike’s nirvana. The grumpy old man turns into a glorious opera diva. All the bass vibes fade away, replaced by the sexy sound of Italian perfection and power that seemingly has no limits. I’m not sure I’ve experienced such a powerful, smooth and effortlessly smooth motorcycle engine before.
Driving the first day on a variety of roads, a thought began to creep into my brain. As great as this engine is, is that too much of a good thing? Having ridden for a very long time, doing tens of thousands of miles on big, powerful motorcycles every year, I consider myself to be an experienced rider. However, it became clear very quickly that the capabilities of this bike were way ahead of my skills. I’m rarely nervous on motorcycles, but the Tuono was fast and scary.
Riding the Aprilia Tuono V4 2021 on one of my favorite twisty roads, Mulholland Drive overlooking Los Angeles, I struggled to get the bike out of 1st gear. Reaching that ideal engine point between 5,000 and 10,000 rpm meant driving in 1st gear in the 70 to 80 mph range!
Fortunately, the Tuono has two preset driving modes which are easily customizable. The TFT screen is small but very clear and easy to read. Switching through the menus is intuitive. I did not read the manual as usual, but had no problems.
Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) controls everything including throttle response, pitch-up control (thank God!) And engine braking. The performance of the V4 can very easily be adjusted on the fly. While I spent most of the time in Tour mode, the Tuono can be tweaked to your liking. Even with all the settings, I was still wondering where, other than on a track, could anyone explore the performance limits of this machine?
Brakes – She stops on a dime with 9 cents left in change!
As blazingly fast as the engine was, it wasn’t even the scariest part of the bike. On one of my first light speed hypersauts, I grabbed a front brake handle as I approached my first stop sign. The Tuono’s brakes applied with an astonishing immediacy that stopped any forward momentum except mine. I almost got into orbit over the front of the bike. Granted, I had just spent several days riding big cruising bikes that stop with the immediacy of an oil tanker, but still!
The Tuono sports Brembo M50 calipers and 330mm rotors up front, with a single Brembo 2-piston floating caliper and 220mm rotor at the rear, both with steel braided lines. All of this translates into absolutely incredible stopping power, stopping this Italian rocket with stunning immediacy. Similar to the engine, in the hands of mere mortals, the brakes are almost too sharp.
Six-speed transmission, Quickshifter and suspension
Although I have owned and driven several motorcycles with quickshifters, I generally don’t use them a lot. I usually only use quickshifters for quick acceleration and downshifting during aggressive riding, where the auto-blip keeps the rear wheel more planted. I much prefer the control and feel of using a clutch. I find my shifting to be smoother than the awkward shifts you can get from a quickshifter (unless you time them correctly). That’s not the case with the Tuono, which has an almost perfect up and down shifter. Aprilia updated its quickshift software this year which improved an already very impressive system. Other than starts and stops, my left hand was unemployed during my trips.
The fully adjustable Sachs suspension holds its place in the slalom course that is LA traffic. For those looking for more, the Tuono V4 Factory switches to Öhlins suspension units.
As you might expect, the 2021 Aprilia Tuono V4 has a firm suspension. Still, it handled most of the road imperfections well on city roads and highways around LA and Palm Springs. The only time the chassis felt less picked up was over bigger bumps or when driving more aggressively on rough roads. I didn’t play around with the suspension settings, which allow for compression and rebound settings.
Usually, I’m not much of a lane divider. However, as traffic slows down on LA’s freeways, the Tuono becomes an incredible slalom machine. I look forward to the slowdowns! The combination of a firm suspension, incredible brakes and a super-fast engine makes it possible to handle traffic in LA quickly.
Soft cases on the Tuono V4
When I first rode the Tuono, I immediately worried that I would not be very comfortable driving it over short distances. Compared to my adventure bikes, the riding position is quite compressed. My ankles are high and my legs are bent. He bends me over the bars with pressure on my hands and wrists. The windshield doesn’t seem to deflect a lot of wind and the seat is quite firm. The Aprilia Tuono V4 Touring 2021 is basically the opposite of my typical touring adventure bike.
Even though it took a little getting used to, the tour on the Tuono is much better than I expected! The firm seat is comfortable, the wind, while still hitting my shoulders and head, has no shaking and the slightly raised handlebars release some of the pressure on the wrists.
Having cruise control helps, allowing me to sit down a bit and periodically release pressure on the throttle hand. The speed regulator apparatus, mounted on the left side by the handle, its adjustment requires a slightly awkward sliding of a button. I would have preferred a simpler setup that uses a “+ or -” toggle to set and another button to resume. Fortunately, it works well with easy ascent and descent speed adjustments.
The nearly five gallon tank is only enough for about 125 miles between gas stops, at least the way I ride. At this point, my legs and shoulders need a break anyway.
For the first time, Aprilia is offering OEM soft luggage to make riding easier. To suit the design of the Tuono V4, especially its muffler placement, the setup is unusually unappealing for Aprilia. A larger saddlebag mounts on the left side, while the right side requires a smaller saddlebag to accommodate the muffler. I understand why the saddlebags were designed this way, but it still seems odd. In addition, the Tuono V4 Touring includes a large sculpted tank bag. The luggage is weatherproof and functional, providing enough storage for a long weekend, but not much more.
Aprilia Tuono V4 Touring 2021 verdict
So, am I leaving my current relationship for this sexy Italian beauty? As incredible as the Tuono V4 is, it is not for me. While I loved his performance, his style and his more accessible form, his talents would be wasted on me. I’m not a track guy, so driving the Tuono V4 in its ideal “zone” means driving on public roads at speeds that are not safe for me. Daily walks around town are just not the place for the Tuono. If you are a trail enthusiast and would like a bike you can take for a weekend, tear up canyons, embarrass some superbike riders, all with reasonable comfort and superb ability then I can’t. think of a better bike for you than the Aprilia Tuono V4 Touring 2021.
Photograph by Don Williams
- Helmet: Arai Defiant-X
- Communication: Sena 50R
- Jacket: Alpinestars Atem V3
- Back protector: Alpinestars Nucleon
- Gloves: Alpinestars GP Plus R V2
- Jeans: Alpinestars Copper 2
- Boots: The Executive by Cortech
2021 Aprilia Tuono V4 Touring photo gallery