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2006 Aprilia Tuono 1000 R – New Italian Thunder

As the first new model to be released by Aprilia since their purchase by Piaggio last year, the 2006 Tuono 1000R has a significant bearing on the Italian company’s future under its new ownership. The latest generation of Aprilia’s ever-popular musclebike is again derived from the RSV1000R Mille, and is arguably closer to it’s race-bred brother than any other sportbike-based naked.

Aside from the newly-designed bodywork (or lack thereof) and wheels, there are few differences between the Tuono and the Mille. Both bikes feature an updated version of Aprilia’s 60-degree V-Twin, with displacement of 998cc coming by way of a 97mm bore and 67.5mm stroke. Aprilia concentrated most of the updates to the new Tuono/Mille motor in the cylinder head, redesigning the ports along with the camshafts and valvetrain. The engine is now fed by two massive 57mm throttle bodies (up from 51mm last year), and exhales through a 2-1-2 exhaust system which features a catalytic converter and wideband air-fuel sensors to help the bike meet strict new Euro 3 emissions standards.

While many companies “detune” the sportbike-derived motors in their naked bikes to the tune of 20 or so horsepower, the Tuono produces only 6 fewer ponies than the (not yet released) new Mille R. Aprilia traded these six peak horsepower for more midrange power and torque, by means of longer velocity stacks on the 57mm throttle bodies. The result is a still-respectable 133 horsepower at the crank (claimed), 8 more than last year’s Tuono.

What is it like to ride? To answer that question, we turned to our European road tester Tor Sagen, who had a chance to ride the new Tuono R late last month. Here’s what he had to say:

Upon first hearing the brand-new, RSV-derived 2006 Aprilia Tuono 1000R on idle, I thought that it might sound slightly better than the ’05 Tuono I rode last year. But I was probably thunder-stricken by the sexy new rear end and double high-mount pipes. I was eager to get aboard and see how it rode.

“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC came to mind after the first open stretch of tarmac on the new Tuono 1000R. I thundered through the country side and onto the motorway, stretching the legs of the Tuono’s 1000cc V-Twin.

Acceleration is massive, but the feel of the motor reminds me of my first ride on my old TL1000R in 1999. Instant fuel injection response makes the 2006 Tuono progress smoothly, first with massive torque authority followed by hard, powerful V-twin performance. Oh yes, this baby is more powerful than my own TL-powered Raptor, but the motor feels rougher due to the 60 degree V-Twin configuration (as opposed to the 90 degree TL mill). Aprilia has detuned the RSV-R engine slightly, for more torque and a punchier midrange, but the tall first gear is a reminder of its race-bike roots.

As I head out onto the freeway, I already know that the Tuono will have more than enough power to satisfy even the most dedicated speed freaks. It definitely has the power to play on the freeway, but it’s not the most comfortable of bikes above 80mph. To be honest, if someone has told you that this bike has better wind protection than last year’s model, they are dead wrong. If anything, last year’s bike had better wind-protection. The wind blast is always there (if you were too concerned about it, you wouldn’t be riding a naked), and if you want to avoid the worst blast you have to point your helmet as far forward as you can, with your elbows pointing outwards MX style. There is only one aspect in which the new bike is better as far as wind protection compared to last year’s model – the lower seat height that makes it easier to tuck down.

Everything about this bike speaks “fast” – the quick-revving engine, that RSV-R rear end, double ram-air scoops, and the radial-mount Brembo stoppers. The RSV-R’s twin-headlights have on the new Tuono been transformed to narrow, wasp-like insect eyes. With all that top-speed capability, the Tuono R definitely needs good lights, and these do the job.

We head into town only to discover that the Tuono is not as ideal for this as you would have thought. It transpires that the only benefit in town, compared to the full-on RSV sports bike, is the high and wide handlebars. There’s nothing else, seriously, that makes you want to use it in urban areas. First gear is tall, and when the power arrives it comes on too fast for good low-speed control. There’s not much steering lock available and the steering damper is too restrictive, hampering maneuverability. Finally, the suspension is better tuned for high speed mayhem on the back roads, making it rather too stiff for low-speed messing about in town. I suspect, without having ridden them back-to-back, that an air-cooled Ducati Monster is better suited for around-town riding than the high-speed Tuono R. So I speed out of town and head for the nearest A and B-roads.

The Tuono 1000 R really excels on medium to fast country roads. It rides like a sportbike because it IS a sportbike (the RSV-R), only cooler. The Tuono R is so true to its roots as a naked sportbike that it might actually be too close to its brother and donor, the RSV-R. The only difference is, it’s cheaper and has got a rougher image. It scares away those sheep along the country roads better than any sheepdog.

Despite the power of the highly tuned V-twin engine, the Tuono grips like super glue out of hair-bend corners – even on wet, rugged roads grip is phenomenal. The excellent Dunlop D208RR tyres help, but most of the credit should go to the fully adjustable suspension and beautiful banana-shaped swing-arm. It has not only got superbike performance, but also superbike handling. The new Tuono R also comes standard with a steering damper (as last year), and this takes care of excessive front end movement on uneven B-roads.

On our last day of riding the Tuono R, just after the last photo session, disaster struck. A washer near the oil drain plug cracked and the Tuono started leaking oil badly. This was not as true to the RSV legacy – Aprilia’s big sportbikes are known for being reliable machines. Our bike came straight from the Italy world launch and you all know how those ham-fisted journalists are. Nevertheless, we will keep a close eye on the Tuono R – let’s hope it was a one off on this bike (one of the first to leave the Noale factory).

Conclusion
This is the third generation of Tuono that I have tested, and the best yet. Discussing the looks of this Tuono is unnecessary – looking at it sitting in my driveway was almost as satisfying as riding it. That’s what this bike is all about. The Tuono R is true to its legacy, and the new fly-fairing is exactly the kind sports bike owners used to replace their broken full fairings with, back when naked bikes were still mostly one-off pieces homebuilt from crashed sportbikes. This bike needs to be ugly in a brutal, good-looking way, and it is.

There is more than enough power on tap – the Tuono R feels proper fast. It is no slug even with bikes such as BMW’s K1200R fresh in my mind. Handling is ace, but not as good in town as we had hoped. That oil-leak didn’t impress us much either, but in isolation, the riding experience is just as good as or even better than a highly tuned sports bike. Anyone buying a Tuono R would end the first ride with no regrets.

Technical details 2006 Tuono 1000 R


Engine

V60 Magnesium. Longitudinal 60° V twin, four stroke. Liquid cooling with three-way pressurised circuit. Double overhead cams, mixed gear/chain timing drive, four valves per cylinder. Patented AVDC anti-vibration double countershaft.

Bore and stroke

97 x 67.5 mm.

Displacement

997.62 cc.

Compression ratio

11.8:1.

Maximum power at the crank

98 kW (133 HP) at 9,500 rpm.

Maximum torque at the crank

10.4 kgm (102 Nm) at 8,750 rpm.

Fuel system

Integrated electronic engine management system. Indirect multi-point electronic injection. 57 mm diameter throttle bodies.

Exhaust system

Two silencers with three way catalytic converter and lambda oxygen sensor (Euro 3).

Lubrication

Dry sump with separate oil reservoir.
Double trochoidal pump with oil cooler.

Steel oil reservoir.

Gearbox

6 speed.

Clutch

Multiple disc in oil bath with patented PPC power-assisted hydraulic control.
Metal braid clutch line.
Radial master cylinder with 15 mm piston.

Final drive

Chain.

Frame

Box section sloping twin-spar frame in aluminium alloy.

Front suspension

Showa 43 mm upside-down fork with adjustment for spring preload, compression and rebound damping. 120 mm wheel travel.

Rear suspension

Aluminium alloy double banana swingarm. APS (Aprilia Progressive System) rising rate linkages.
Sachs hydraulic monoshock with adjustment for spring preload and rebound damping.
Wheel travel 133 mm.

Brakes

Front: Brembo double floating disk in stainless steel, Ø 320 mm. Brembo triple bridge caliper with four 34 mm pistons and four sintered pads.
Metal braided brake line.

Rear: Brembo stainless steel disk, Ø 220 mm. Twin piston calliper, 32 mm diameter pistons, sintered pads. Metal braided brake line.

Tyres

Dunlop D208 RR
Front: 120/70 ZR 17.
Rear: 190/50 ZR 17 (alternative: 180/55 ZR 17 and 190/55).

Dimensions

Seat height: 810 mm
Wheelbase: 1,410 mm
Trail: 103.7 mm
Steering angle: 25°

Dry weight (without battery)

185 kg

Tank

Capacity 18 litres, 4 litre reserve.

Colours

Silver, Black, Fluo Red.