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  • April 25, 2012
  • Gabe Ets-Hokin and Alan Lapp
  • Bob Stokstad
  • 59 Comments

MD Double-Tested: 2012 Aprilia Tuono V4R

Gabe: No Negatives Naked

It was appropriate that we tested the new Aprilia Tuono V4R with the complaints typically leveled at japanese nakeds (often inheriting severely detuned superbike motors in overweight chassis suspended by budget forks and shocks) firmly in mind…so as to appreciate the new Tuono all the more:

1.Top-spec naked sportbike.

Check!

2.167-horsepower V-Four engine.

Check!

3.Comfortable, upright handlebar.

Check!

4.Priced it under $15,000.

Check!

5.Quick-shifter, electronically controlled slipper clutch, wheelie control for racetrack starts and adjustable traction control at no extra charge.

Check!

6.Re-tuned powerplant for more midrange while actually adding power to the top of the rev range compared to last year’s model.

Check!

You get the picture—this is a kick-ass, highly entertaining machine. In fact, it may represent the high-water mark of the gasoline-powered motorcycle.

It’s based—heavily—on Aprilia’s World Superbike-winning RSV4R. We rode that bike not too long ago (“Viffer Swiffer?”, January, 2010), and though we liked it—a lot—it had limited utility as a street ride. The seating position is race-oriented, gearing is tall, and the powerband is weighted toward very illegal speeds, even in first gear.

What to do? As we have already pointed out, a Japanese manufacturer might take the motor, castrate it to about 110 hp and stick it in a cheaper, heavier chassis with low-spec suspension and brakes and slice an ‘R’ or two off the name. That’s not how Aprilia rolls, though: to create the Tuono V4R APRC, Aprilia designer Miguel Galluzzi (who also penned the original Ducati Monster, if the name sounds familiar) left the frame, suspension and brakes alone, but street-o-rized the 65-degree liquid-cooled, four-valve, dohc V-Four by extending the inlet tracts, changing valve timing, increasing flywheel inertia and shortening gear ratios in the first three gears. He lopped about 12 hp off the top end compared to the (also retuned for 2012) RSV4R motor, but  also moved power and torque peaks 1000 rpm down from the 12,500-rpm redline.

There are other changes from the RSV4R. Chassis geometry is more relaxed than the sportbike’s: steering-head angle is a half degree more, to 25, the wheelbase is 20mm longer, yielding 2.5mm more trail. The bodywork is unique, but has an interesting continuity with the RSV4R’s aggressive shapes. There’s a tiny passenger seat and shrunken windscreen, and the minimal bodywork lets you eye-hump all the sexy details—that compact V-Four, the vast aluminum radiator, giant, braced swingarm, deep, angled oil sump. Plenty of internet-forum haters unimaginatively typed “fugly!” when they first saw photos, but in person—especially with the glittery gold-painted example we had—the bike triggers desire.

Nobody will use “fugly” to describe the riding experience. Actually, there aren’t a lot of words to describe it—it’s that good. The motor is unbelievable: smooth, packed with torque, and strong-like-bull in any gear. In fact, the Aprilia “In Any Gear” is what they should have called this bike, as the brilliant ride-by-wire throttle makes it so smooth and tractable that trolling around town in first gear is very practical. Second or third is fine for tight, twisty roads, and in smooth, high-speed sweepers, fourth or fifth is fine—just roll on and off the gas to go as fast as you want. Just be careful—it goes really fast, and it’s so smooth and refined it doesn’t feel like 160 hp is getting fed into that fat 190 behind you. The electronic wheelie thing does its job keeping things under control, but this bike is still a wheelie machine. No surprises there.

Handling, brakes and suspension are as you’d expect: good. The chassis is balanced, and I’m sure the frame is as rigid as you need, if Max Biaggi can win SBK races on it, and he can. As delivered, the springs and damping felt stiff but they’re fully adjustable, and what setup is perfect out of the box? A cheap fix if it isn’t. The high, wide bars help the bike steer as quick as any standard (though Al’s DR-Z supermoto felt like a bicycle after the Tuono), but Galuzzi’s tweaking of the chassis numbers keep things feeling natural and stable—no mean feat in a streetfighter. The brakes are plenty strong, but they’re not the Brembo Racing monoblocs we know and love so much around here—but hey, Aprilia has to do something to make the inevitable high-spec Factory version worth buying, right?

The electronics package is also remarkable. Bang multiple up and downshifts like a superbike racer without damaging anything all morning and you’ll want a quickshifter and slipper clutch for your everyday ride, too. The traction control and wheelie control are also nice to have, and easy to adjust as well—kudos for Aprilia for not being too Italian about user-friendliness. I’ve heard Lifetime Network has signed up for five seasons of a new series based on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 owner’s manual, starring Téa Leoni and David Duchovny, but you won’t need basic cable to adjust the eight-level traction control on the Aprilia—just thumb the paddle by your left handgrip.

Before I took this screaming yellow zonker out, Scuderia’s Don Lemelin said something that stuck in my mind: bikes are getting so good it’s almost as if the factories are forced to engineer in character, as the electronics—traction control, ride-by-wire, digital fuel injection, selectable fuel-mapping modes—make the riding experience so seamless. If that’s so, has the gasoline-engined bike reached its developmental zenith? How much better can things get? If they don’t get any better, that’s okay—this bike is far better than I will ever be as a rider.

Okay, now the not-so-good things about the new Tuono. First: No ABS? WTF? This is nonsensical. The electronics and wheel-spin sensors are all there—isn’t ABS sort of traction control in reverse? We get it that it’s fun to not have it, but sometimes you really wish you did—just give us an off switch. There’s also that awful seat-shaped thing behind the gas tank which, combined with the very high footpegs, makes the bike not-so-great for longer rides. The bike is also pretty heavy—Cycle World’s scales registered 480 pounds for its test bike. That’s not such a problem, as the bike is so balanced and easy to steer that it doesn’t feel big, but you don’t doubt that you’re on a big bike, though it feels small physically.

Maybe the biggest fly in the Italian ointment is the horrendous fuel economy. A full tank—about 3.5 gallons without reserve—got us just over 87 miles before the ‘low-fuel’ odometer kicked on. Seriously? I’m guessing you could ride like an old lady—maybe even an old Italian lady—and coax 35 mpg out of a tank, but 25 mpg? You will get better economy with a ’97 Cadillac Fleetwood, and I’m not even kidding. We have tested this.

Still, most of those negatives can be fixed—or willingly lived with as the price of riding such a sex machine. This bike isn’t for some drudge seeking maximum value and economy so he can commute for pennies a day. It’s for an expert rider who wants uncompromised ability and performance with some measure of riding comfort. If those are your criteria, this new Tuono V4R meets it, with a dollar change from your $15,000.

Check!

Alan Lapp: The paper shredder you can’t buy at Costco.

The Tuono is less a motorcycle than it is a piece of office equipment, a paper shredder, in fact.  Specifically, a driving privilege shredder.  Just feed it your driving license, which will promptly be sliced, diced and spat out the exhaust pipe. If you buy this bike, while you’re getting title and tags at DMV, you might as well just hand over your license to save a trip later.

Yes, it’s that much fun. Stupid giggling, gasping, eye-popping, OHMYGAWD-shouting-inside-your-helmet fun. That’s with the electronics-package features set to mid ranges. Lower the values just two clicks, and you’d better be on your A-game.

The unmistakable first impression is that this bike makes incredible power and torque.  The amount of low- and mid-range torque is just amazing and lovely to ride. I am told that the Tuono has been detuned for more mid-range and less top-end from the sport version, the RSV4, which surely must require genetic testing for super-human riding skill prior to ownership. Not that the Tuono is slow on the top end. Everything in life is relative, right? Right.

In fact, it reminds me of my first ride on the legendary CR500 in the mid ’80s. Then, as now, I expected it to be fast. The Tuono will wheelie more or less anywhere, anytime, in any gear. There is so much thrust available that clutch-dropping is a thing of the past, it’s roll-on wheelies from here on out.

Gabe suggested not dwelling too much on the technology, but it’s impossible to separate it completely from the riding experience. The mere mortal rider, such as myself, positively needs the assistance of the electronics because without them, like Siegfried and Roy’s tiger, it would be a sexy, exotic beast that would surely savage its rider in a moment of inattention. The electronics render the bike useful to a much wider audience than would otherwise be possible.

And, I must say, those electronics interfere skillfully. My daily driver car, a 10-year-old GM sports car, has traction control that is as subtle as a red rubber kickball to the face… it chops the throttle abruptly and holds it closed for a fraction of a second.  Aprilia’s TC is so smooth and unobtrusive that you think it was your idea. The same with the quick shifter – I have ridden for 35 years, and can’t shift as quickly and smoothly as it does. The TC, quick shifter and launch control modulate the throttle and clutch to execute their respective tasks flawlessly.

The only thing the electronics can’t fix is bad judgment—for example, whacking the throttle open mid-corner to explore the lean-angle-sensor-equipped traction control, while your boss is slowing down to pick out photo locations. Good thing the brakes are excellent, with crisp, linear feel.

I consider the Tuono V4R a good value, especially considering how much technology there is and how well it is integrated. However, it’s only for a small pool of riders. Clearly, it’s not a beginner bike. Heck, it’s not even suitable for average riders, though they could ride it safely. Despite the hard, slippery seat, the ergonomics are comfortable, and the chassis and suspension are extraordinarily competent. Even with the stock exhaust, the V-Four makes a luscious soundtrack, icing on the cake. It’s the equivalent of a Giorgio Armani suit: it’s Italian, it’s stylish, it makes you feel like a million bucks, but you just don’t wear it to Costco. I see it as an indulgence for experienced track-day junkies or former road racers. I could see one in my garage. Yellow please. Now, if I could just get my license back . . .

Editor’s note: yes, we know Roy’s tiger (Mantecore) was trying to “protect” Roy by biting his head and dragging him offstage. We were just making a point.

59 Comments

  1. proheli says:

    Helloooo…
    Its not naked!
    Its 1/3 faired.
    Not only that is the most important 1/3rd. THE FRONT .

    Excellent bike though, and a nicely done review!

  2. jennifer moore says:

    This bike was on my short list but after close inspection its too ugly and cheaply made probably as bad as my Shiver was.Looks like the whole bike was made in Tiawan. I will keep my 08 Tuono Factory (forever)! After looking at the new 1199 that may be the ticket.

  3. brinskee says:

    This is a sexy bike… but I may actually like the design elements of the old bike better…

    • Gary says:

      I like the concept but I prefer more of a bikini fairing, more legroom and a bigger fuel cell. Three and a half gallons … that’s Sportster territory.

  4. clasqm says:

    It has a fairing. The fairing even has a little screen. The headlights are inside the fairing.

    This must be a new definition of “naked” with which I am unfamiliar.

    • blackcayman says:

      funny…the styling is a complete loss for me too. The performance sounds awesome – way more than I need. Would I love to ride it for the day at the track HELL YES – I’d even pay a rental fee for the privledge…if someone was insane enough to rent one!!!

      AS far as the leaning way off the bike around town…always thought that was for posers. Last year at 47 yrs old I did my first track day and the coach said you can olny ride so fast in the normal position. My SV1000 N started dragging pegs at every apex so I picked up a sweet, lightly used 08 GSX R750 for this year. I’m going to half to work on “body position” if I want to continue to go go faster.

      For the street I’ll stick to NOT riding like a racer – but good to know what to do if a decreasing radius turn sneaks up.

      Cheers

      P.S. Keep up the great work – riding motorcycles and giving us your feedback. Never mind the Bullocks

      • PeteN95 says:

        I ride in the fast group and am an instructor at track days on my SV1000N, which has MX bars on it, and the only drawback is wind resistance at the end of the straight. I pass plenty of sport bkes. I also heard Jason Disalvo rode the Tuono VR 4 and said he wished he could race it, it was so good!?!

        • blackcayman says:

          you must be using body english to reduce lean angle – I need to start working on that. Ditto on the wind blast. Do you have full header on your SV??? the stock duals are the reason for the long feelers on the pegs. I have Yosh slipons and didnt want to touch them down.

          BTW – I kept the SV for my do-everything bike, just not the track any more. I love that bike!

  5. Gary says:

    So, uhhh … le’me get this straight. There is a contingent on this board who thinks if you kneepuck is not skimming the pavement, you are not really riding? Wow. Just, wow.

    If your kneepuck is skimming the pavement on public streets, there is a well-known term for you, it rhymes with “skid,” and it is related to a deep-sea creature that poops ink.

    If you choose NOT to throw your knee into the breeze … so what? I tried to stick my knee out a few times and it just feels stupid. So I don’t do it. I enjoy the hell out of riding my way. If you ride differently … more powuh toya.

    Still scratching my head when I see all the hate. Gotta wonder if those people would say the stuff they are writing on this board to someone’s face. Doubt it. Seems the internet is the last refuge of gangsta wannabes.

    • DaveA says:

      I think you missed the point of the comments you’re referring to…

      • Gary says:

        No … don’t think I did.

        • DaveA says:

          I guess I’m not seeing the posts you’re referring to then. I thought you were pointing your comments at me, but what I said was that hanging off on the street is squid-tastic in general, and also looks silly when combined with tiny lean angles. I went on to write in some detail about why I personally think hanging off is bad street riding technique.

          I don’t see anyone talking about knee pucks skimming pavement being a desired result of street riding.

  6. Bill says:

    BMW K1200R, best naked bike evar!

  7. Buzz says:

    Great article Gabezilla.

    Don’t let the milk crate brigade get you down.

    Thank the lord you didn’t post a wheelie photo. The dorks would have needed a giant sponge to wipe the foam off their keyboards.

  8. mickey says:

    Stunning bike, however it’s Italian with undoubtedly some quirks yet undiscovered, just like my sons Ducati Monster and my friends Aprilia Tuono, plus there are no dealers near me.

    One of my bikes is one of those detuned steel framed, dumbed down racers ….a Gen 1 FZ1 with a measly 125 horsepower, almost a 6 gallon gas tank good for over 200 miles, awesome brakes and all day comfortable ergos that handles better than I can ride it. The only bike I would Even consider as a replacement is the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ( even though it doesn’t have a center stand) ….. Unless ….. Yamaha would bring out a cross plane engined Gen 1 style replacement for the Current FZ. If so I’d be at the Yammie store waiting for them to open, cash in hand.

  9. PeteM says:

    I test rode one and within a block and a half knew that I was buying it. In my 30 years of riding this is the best motorcycle I’ve ever ridden, and I’ve ridden many very good motorcycles.

    You Doubting Thomas’ need to go test ride one. It is simply stunning.

  10. Reinhart says:

    100 horsepower is enough for me on the street. Good thing there is a variety of naked motorcycles that make at least a hundred horsepower and handle great to boot! I could afford the $15,000 Aprila is asking for this bike, but I don’t like to spend money on something that I will never use to it’s potential. So, my Bandit 1200S will have to do for a few more years and that’s perfectly alright with me.

  11. wigster says:

    Guys, so many of you have missed the point with this bike. I have an 06 v2 tuono and an 07 fz1 naked. While the fz is undoubtedly a good bike, every time I use the tuono it makes the fz feel like a soggy, low grade piece of cr@p. Sorry if that offends, but until you’ve tried both, you just wont understand.
    I would happily sell my left boll**k to be able to afford one of these babies.

  12. vfr999999 says:

    The 2007 and up v-2 generation Tuono is the best for many reasons a resonable price,lower weight,better fuel economy and much less costly to run and 145 miles to a tank

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The 2007 and up v-2 generation Tuono is the best for many reasons a resonable price,lower weight,better fuel economy and much less costly to run and 145 miles to a tank”

      guess what…? i can be even MORE reasonable. i say sell your bike and all your kit and just stick with driving automobiles. i hear/tell some get near 40 mpg and 350 miles to a tank…! you’ll never beat the cost of ownership on a used toyota.

  13. PeteN95 says:

    “I see it as an indulgence for experienced track-day junkies or former road racers.”

    That’s me on both counts, sign me up! I don’t care about the MPG either, since I don’t like riding long distance and it will get me to work and back. I’ll just bring another can of gas to the track! Now I just need to find $15k!?

  14. Rooster says:

    Oh, yes, forgot to add, my B-King usually averages about 36 mpg.

  15. Rooster says:

    “Japanese manufacturer might take the motor, castrate it to about 110 hp and stick it in a cheaper, heavier chassis with low-spec suspension and brakes and slice an ‘R’ or two off the name.”

    I would like to point out that not ALL Japanese nakeds conform to this. My 2008 B-King was purchased new for 10,900 including TTL, has decent spec suspension and braking components, and was certainly not “castrated” in its transformation from its parent ‘Busa.

    I realize the styling of the B-King apparently causes some folks to become violently ill upon sight, but after I took mine out for its first ride, I promptly forgot about the funky styling because it is without question the most smile inducing bike I have ever owned.

    Even with the mostly untouched Busa mill and quality braking and suspension components, Suzuki could not give these bikes away. I purchased mine at a huge discount after it sat on the local dealers floor for 9 months without anyone so much as kicking the tires. I wonder what kind of luck Aprilia will have? Being a naked bike fan(clearly in the minority), I would pimp one of these in a heartbeat if i had the spare $$$ laying around, but I dont see them flying off the shelves, not in the states anyways.

  16. DarylL says:

    I guess my Yamaha FZ1 qualifies as “a Japanese manufacturer might take the motor, castrate it to about 110 hp and stick it in a cheaper, heavier chassis with low-spec suspension and brakes and slice an ‘R’ or two off the name.”

    However $6500 less paid and I have only fed it gas, oil and never a repacement part. If I had to pay $15K for a bike then I wouldn’t have one. Reality: CHECK!

  17. TimC says:

    Agreed that it would be nice if the Japanese took a different approach (better suspension and maybe less-detuned engine), but “Priced it under $15,000. – Check!” – well, my FZ6 does most of what I need it to do, and I got it for under $8000 (07 bought after 08s out).

  18. ibAdam says:

    That MPG is horrendous! Are you kidding us Aprilia? 40MPG should be a minimum goal. This is the best you can do this day and age? We need better MPG more than we do that much HP. 120 BHP would be plenty.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “That MPG is horrendous! Are you kidding us Aprilia? 40MPG should be a minimum goal. This is the best you can do this day and age? We need better MPG more than we do that much HP. 120 BHP would be plenty.”

      he already addressed your comment in advance with the comment below…

      “This bike isn’t for some drudge seeking maximum value and economy so he can commute for pennies a day. It’s for an expert rider who wants uncompromised ability and performance with some measure of riding comfort.”

  19. Joe says:

    Nice motorcycle and great review. Did you guys get your riding gear from Tijuana? HeHe

  20. Vrooom says:

    I’d love to see them put this into a sport touring package, with a 6 gal tank and detuned enough to get 40 mpg. But perhaps then it would be like every other bike out there.

  21. Jamo says:

    Okay, but where do you buy – and service – one? Not anywhere around me. And doesn’t Triumph have something three cylindered like that, only lighter and less expensive, with longer range and, maybe, more comfortable?

    • Vrooom says:

      Yup, Triumph does have that, but not with that kind of power. I think the S3 would be down 30-40 rwhp on this thing. Not that rwhp is all you need, but if you do, I’m guessing this would be a better fit.

  22. falcodoug says:

    Both head lights need to run. Other than that perfect.

  23. Steve says:

    You know what’s great about those neutered, Japanese naked bikes? They’re comfortable, get 40-50 mpg, and reliable. There is no practical difference between 100 and 160 horsepower, you’re always going to have more power than you need and more speed than is legal.

    This Aprilia seems like an excellent bike to ride, but would it be excellent to own for 5-10 years? The Italians still have not convinced me they make reliable machines.

    • Brian says:

      Dude i have had my Aprilia Falco for 5 years and its an 01 with close to 40K on it with no major work ever done.. aside from clutch and wear items i expect that O and i have never had to adjust my valves.

    • eehhe says:

      The rear shock on my budget Japanese naked wore out in about 6000 miles and would seriously overheat before that. And since the shock wasn’t serviceable, it was a very expensive wear item! Most its brethren are like that, while European marques usually see the added value of decent suspension for the end customer. The engine was fine, despite its reputation for eating cam chain tensioner. FWIW, I have had better luck with European than Japanese bikes, but none of them have ever left me stranded.

    • Bill says:

      5-10 years, who cares????

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “5-10 years, who cares????”

        LOL…!!!

        yes, it’s funny when people try to cite the most irrelevant things as though they were relevant.

  24. mpolans says:

    Sounds great; I like everything about it but it’s looks. I’ll say it. Even in person, it’s fugly.

  25. Andrew says:

    25 mpg? Are you serious? With a 3.5 gallon tank? That is plain disgraceful. The only place you could ride that bike is to a coffee shop and back. As long as it’s in the same suburb.

  26. harry says:

    bumblebee

  27. DaveA says:

    Hey wait a minute…this article has been up for HOURS, and yet not one post about how it’s $13,750 too expensive, and how it doesn’t do anything meaningful that a 1978 CB400T doesn’t do, or that it’s not as comfortable as a Lincoln Town Car? You guys are slipping!

    :)

    • 1GP46 says:

      OK Dave, this blurb for you:
      Does a single bulb up front really help you see better at night? Fla to Grand Canyon and all good twisties (dragon time) in between, my FZ-1 with Givi bags does it @ 45mpg and all day comfort. Plenty of power, torque, and a center stand, all for well under $10K. 80,000 miles and not a single issue….oh, there was one, burned a bulb…at NIGHT!! Carry a spare, 1 bulb up front sucks.

  28. Gutterslob says:

    It’s been out in my part of the world (or maybe just the country I live in) for a few months now. Got a short test ride through the help of an acquaintance (dealer) a few weeks ago. Was just a short spin, but it was pretty darn good. Not cheap, but still a pretty good deal compared to how Italians were priced in the past. Not quite a fan of the way it looks, but spec and handling wise, it’s a riot!! Won’t be getting one since I’ve already decided to change my car this year instead. Family and work commitments demanded it, sadly.

    Oh, regarding your “for expert riders seeking uncompromised ability and performance” comment, I’m far from what I’d call and “expert” but found it pretty easy to ride as a whole, but then again I say that as a Speed Triple owner. Should be no problem in traffic, unless you wanna be cheeky.

  29. Dale says:

    Sounds like a continuation of the Tuono branch of the Aprillia family. Totally Fun, almost practical enough to own, gonna end badly (one way or another). Bikes like this Make you do things…

    Yet another Bike that I’ll never own but the thought of riding it makes me smile.

  30. Buzz says:

    Just test rode one yesterday here in SoCal. It is flat out awesome.

    I’ve owned a lot of high-end bikes and figured with this the outcome was: dead or in jail.

    I can’t own this. I want to own this but I can’t.

  31. Norm G. says:

    re: “This bike isn’t for some drudge seeking maximum value and economy so he can commute for pennies a day. It’s for an expert rider who wants uncompromised ability and performance with some measure of riding comfort.”

    like the wisemen say… “we’re not doing it because it’s cheap, we’re doing it because it’s FUN!”

  32. stratkat says:

    ive riden one of these and its everything that you described, fantastic bike! but there is a reason so many people think its ugly… because it is! from the front its just hideous!!

  33. Gabe says:

    Yes it does! Send in your photos of you dragging knee on the street on a $15,000, 150 hp borrowed motorcycle in a cambered turn so I can judge you too…

    • DaveA says:

      How about I send you some photos of riding while _sitting in the seat_ on a $15,000 150hp borrowed motorcycle in a cambered turn? I wasn’t judging you before; it was a good-natured ribbing. But since you wanted to get all snippy about it, I’ll rephrase my previous post.

      You look like a tool every time you include one of those hanging-off-while-leaning-9-degrees-off-center pics (I was being generous at 12, and this isn’t the first time). Quit squidding it up and ride like an adult…it will make for better pics and a better example to follow.

      Better?

      • Gabe says:

        There are other pics with more lean, but this is how I ride, yes, on the street–it’s safer for one, as hanging off drops the CoG of the bike and allows more cornering speed with less lean angle. It also gets me in the habit, which means I move my body with less mental effort and more smoothly–that means less movement fed into the bars and chassis. I don’t care if it looks squiddly to you! It’s how I ride, and if my knee doesn’t touch down on the street, well, that’s just how it goes.

        • Dirck Edge says:

          Disagree. Freddie Spencer told me he sits straight up-and-down on a bike on the street, and I have always ridden this way (even before receiving this advice from one of the all-time greats). Gabe and I have had this discussion before. Leaving aside whether it looks silly or not, getting this far off the side of the bike on the street is unnecessary and, for most riders, less safe, because it is distracting and an inefficient use of the body. At press intros, I usually ride with the faster group on the street. The pace can get very high in the twisties with these guys (and girls, occasionally), who are extremely experienced, fast and smooth riders. None of them ride the way Gabe suggests, although shifting your weight can be helpful, and I teach riders to ride on the balls of their feet at a higher pace. Does MSF teach this? If you need this exaggerated body position (really need it), it means your pace is much too high for the street. Trust me, you can go plenty fast (even faster than is safe, sometimes) while following Freddie’s advice.

          • TimC says:

            Disagree. I do this “Gabe style” too. I find my bike turns easier this way even at shallow lean angles, and at low speeds.

          • HalfBaked says:

            Well put Mr Edge probably some of the most valuable advice I’ve read from a moto-journalist possibly ever. I would go a bit further and say that most competitors on the race track would benefit from your advice as well. I feel that there are literally only a handful of racers in the world that can benefit from putting their knee down. And even fewer that need to put their knee and elbow down as I see the fastest MotoGP riders are doing.

        • DaveA says:

          Hanging off is a solution to a problem. That problem is insufficient ground clearance. If you are riding any sort of modern, properly set-up sporty bike and you can’t keep it off the deck by altering your lines and strategy (slower in/later, sharper apex/faster out works wonders) such that hanging off is required, I think you’re going too fast for public roads.

          This isn’t the case with what you’re saying…I’m just commenting on hanging off as a tool to ride better. In general, it is a bad idea on the street in my opinion because while it can do many of the things you mention, it also commits you much more completely to the line you’re on. If all else is equal, and a direction-changing emergency comes about, Chief Sittting Gabe will be significantly better equipped to take action. He will also have better sight lines across his whole horizon than SpiderMan Gabe will, because Chief’s head is maybe a foot higher, or more.

          On top of that, to the untrained eye you _look_ much faster and more aggressive when you’re hanging off. Is that what you want the fat bald guy in the white Buick to think about when he sees you? How about the cop?

          Maybe we’ll have to agree to disagree on this. I think there are many reasons not to hang off on the street, and I hope that young people who read this and other articles will not use pics like the ones in question as examples of how to ride. I didn’t intend to have a little peeing contest over it, I really was just kiddin’ you. Maybe you could just take a step back and think about it with an open mind? I do apologize for my in-kind mean spririted comments. Maybe we can both forget all about that part on both sides eh?

          Now…all of that said, maybe we’ll run into each other at a track somewhere and we can have an elbow-dragging contest! Actually you’d win there…if my elbows are dragging it’s because I’m crashing. I’m all about wearing out a couple of sets of sliders in a day though…just as long as it’s a track day.

          • Dale says:

            I think that Motojournalists, in general, try to help a Motorcycle look it’s best in pictures while revealing all. Unless it’s a Racer Racing, (or a hot Chick) I just look at the bike. It is handy if I know the general size of the tester in the picture to understand how the “fit” would work for me.

            There could be an attempt to help a Sport bike look “sporty” here, I wouldn’t know.

            I do know that Gabe is Far from “not fast” himself regardless of picture purposes/interpretations (I’ve seen him effortlessly disappear from me anyway’s :-) ). I’d wager he is faster than the average reader here, by a bunch.

          • DaveA says:

            I didn’t comment on how fast he is; he’s street riding, therefore it doesn’t matter how “fast” he is. When I’m looking for a rider to sponsor for some racing, I’ll worry about how fast someone is. I posited that hanging off in such a manner (or really pretty much ever, on the street) is squid-tastic, and not the kind of example I expect from MD.C Obviously the sentiment is not unanimous, but I see that Dirck mostly agrees :)

          • ibAdam says:

            “…commits you much more completely to the line you’re on. If all else is equal, and a direction-changing emergency comes about, Chief Sittting Gabe will be significantly better equipped to take action.”

            Dave A nailed my thoughts. I get what Gabe is saying about the advantages of hanging off with the COG and also where it places the tire’s traction patch. But these ‘advantages’ which are miniscule at street speeds come with a larger disadvantage by limiting the rider’s agility and ability to maneuver mid corner. So all points are valid, however in the street world Dave’s riding style is more correct.

    • stratkat says:

      well put SteveA! i have a buddy who always hangs off, i do not. he is a better rider than i and on a much better bike for taking no prisoners (he rides a 600RR, i a Superduke). that said when on a fast ride, if i do hang right on his rear wheel, i find while i am traveling the same speed, and following his lines, on a bike with less ground clearance, ive yet to touch down or felt my bike remotely at its limit. i generally do not ride at his pace and feel uncomfortable on the street, too many variables for my comfort level. his point is that he is feeling the bike and unloading the suspension, feeling for traction, blah, blah… well im doing the same and obviously do not need to hang off to stay with him. one may feel comfortable but that doesnt mean your style is benefiting you unless you are in fact at race track speeds which is just stupid to do on the street!

  34. DaveA says:

    Nice article on an ultra-fun bike. I will refrain from commenting on the hanging off/12 degrees of lean combination.

    Wait…does that count as refraining? :)