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Aprilia Tuono

MarksFriggin Review of an Aprilia Tuono 1000 R Motorcycle - 6/7/2004

You must be asking yourself ''What the hell is Aprilia and what the hell is a Tuono?'' Well, if you're into motorcycles you've probably heard the name Aprilia and perhaps the Tuono name. If you're not into bikes then maybe you don't want to read this because it may just bore you.

First a little history on Mark and his Friggin motorcycles. I've been riding street bikes (aka sport bikes, crotch rockets, superbikes) since the age of 17. Back then everyone told me I was going to kill myself ''on one of those things.'' Well, 19 years later I'm still riding on the street and I'm not dead... yet. I'm lucky enough to live in an area (Hunterdon County, NJ) where there are some decent roads to ride on without too much traffic. I love riding and won't give it up until I'm unable to turn the throttle with my right hand.

Late last year a new Aprilia motorcycle shop, by the name of Rollin' Fast Motorcycles, opened up about a mile from my house in Lebanon, New Jersey. Aprilia is fairly new to the U.S. market but they make some pretty great motorcycles and scooters that have gotten them a lot of press in the motorcycle mags. Anyway, on Saturday, June 5, 2004 they held an open house and test drive day at the store. This is something that doesn't go on very often at a motorcycle store. They rarely let people take new motorcycles out and ride them around. It's not like a car dealer where you can test drive whatever they have. So, instead of letting people take out their stock motorcycles, Aprilia has a big rig filled with motorcycles that they bring to various locations around the country. Luckily, they showed up to Rollin' Fast on this day.

Saturday was a mess. There was a light rain falling most of the morning and scattered showers all day. Wet roads and motorcycles don't mix so me and my friend Clif decided to wait until the roads were dry to head over to the store. It was pointless because the rain never went away. I had my eye on this Tuono because all of the press I've read about the thing just made it sound like it would be a lot of fun.

We eventually went over to the dealer even though the weather was still crap. There were quite a few people there though. We went over to sign up for some rides and most of them were already taken. They had about a dozen bikes they'd take out every 45 minutes or so. Anyway, I managed to get myself on one of the Tuono's on the next to last ride of the day. Clif took out one of the Moto Guzzi's (Owned by Aprilia) that they had there on an earlier ride that I wasn't able to go on.

I finally got to go out around 5pm on a red Tuono. The roads were semi-dry but there were a few drops of rain falling here and there. The loop the guys took us on was probably about 15 miles or so, plenty to get a feel for this bike. I noticed immediately that the friggin thing was pumping out a bit more power than my 2001 Honda Super Hawk. I took it easy at first just to get used to it. We hit one of my favorite twisty back roads that was a bit damper than I expected it to be. I had to take it easy because the guy in front of me freaked out and slowed down to about 20 MPH. He pulled off to the side and I opened the Tuono up. Danm! That thing pulled hard!

The leaders of the ride knew these roads well so they didn't hesitate to haul ass even on the damp roads. They vanished once we hit an open stretch of road. I was about 3 guys behind the leader so I lost sight of them within seconds. Luckily they hit a little bit of traffic and slowed down a bit so the rest of us could catch up. The guy ahead of me went into one corner a little too fast and locked up his brakes trying to slow down. He almost kissed the guardrail but saved it at the last second... it was time for me to get away from that guy.

We turned down a side road and went over a small bridge. I wanted to catch a little air (wheelie) where the bridge dropped off so I gassed it. I got that air and spun the rear tire coming off the drop. NICE! Then over little crests in the road I'd gas it a little and the front end would come up effortlessly. My Super Hawk needs a little more coaxing to do those tricks. I was eventually able to sneak up past the guy who almost crashed when we came to a stop sign. I pulled up next to my buddy Clif who was on another Moto Guzzi with a huge grin on my face. This friggin bike was a lot of fun. My bike is fun too but this Tuono just has a little more personality... an evil-in-a-good-way personality.

I guess I shouldn't complain about the suspension on the Tuono because it wasn't really set up specifically for me... but the front end was kind of vague feeling and it had me wallowing through the big sweepers we went through. If I'd been able to play with the settings I'm sure the thing would have handled like it should have. That was my only complaint though. I'm 6'1'' tall and the bike fit me very well. It has a very comfortable seating position and the power the thing makes is just awesome. I did a little more research and found that the Tuono puts out about 114 horsepower at the rear wheel while my Super Hawk is about 100. Fifteen horsepower doesn't seem like much but it's obviously a very big difference on a motorcycle.

A little bit of a reference for those of you who don't know much about motorcycles... My friggin Super Hawk puts out about 100 horsepower but only weighs about 460 pounds with fuel in it. In magazine tests it can do 0-60 MPH in under 3 seconds. A typical Toyota Camry or similar sedan can do a 0-60 run in about 7-9 seconds with a V6 in it. A really fast Corvette Z-06 can only muster a 4.6 second 0-60 time... and you can get something like the Super Hawk for under $8,000. Best bang for your buck for sure. That's what got me interested when I was 17. A 1985 Honda Interceptor 500... 0-60 in 3.2 seconds and it was only about $2,700. I saw it on the cover of the August 1985 issue of Cycle magazine and owned one about 3 months later. I've been riding ever since.

I was very impressed with the performance of the Tuono. I'm not so impressed with the looks of the thing. It's actually kind of odd looking and the red isn't the prettiest red in my opinion. Aprilia also has some very, ah, shall we say, unique graphics on their bikes. My friend Clif ended up pulling some of the stickers off of his Aprilia Falco because they just didn't look right.

I wish we had gotten to the test ride earlier in the day. I wanted to take one of Aprilia's latest RSV 1000R models out for a spin as well but there weren't any available.

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