Aprilia Tuono 1000

Visual Impressions
The Aprilia Tuono 1000 was launched in 2003 and what a bike it is. It is an upright version of the RSV Mille, a superbike which share many parts with this. The motorbike world welcomes bikes of this genre, like the Ducati Monster, or MV Brutale. Those bikes are attractive, but this bike is a tricky one visually. I like it, but there is a view from some that the headlight makes it look like a shocked robot. It is certainly imposing despite this, and has real presence, earning respect from fellow bikers when parked. As expected, the Tuono 1000 looks just like an RSV Mille, which is no bad thing.

On Board
There are three main differences between this and the super-bike it’s based on: less fairing, steering damper and upright bars. The upright bars make a big difference to the comfort and this bike is reasonably good to sit on. The seat isn’t too high, any unlucky pillion at least has plenty of surface area for their behind. Foot-pegs are not too high, but still allow for sufficient lean. Both clutch and brake levers are adjustable, and can suit hands of all sizes. The controls are not too unusual although there is a lever for adjusting the fuel injection. This is a bit like the choke on an old carburettor bike, which is odd because the Aprilia Tuono 1000 is fuel injected. A bit of quirkiness is to be expected, and honestly add to the occasion.

This was the first 1000cc bike I bought. It has 130bhp from it’s V-twin, which is very low by today’s standards. But it’s not about peak power. It’s about how much can actually be used. And it can use an awful lot of its power, so I had no trouble keeping up with my mates on their R1s and Fireblades. This particular Tuono ‘cheats’ slightly by having shorter gearing than standard but that just makes overtaking more instant.

The flip-side? Good luck keeping the front wheel on the ground. There were a few time where I did wheelies purely by accident. So if you let the clutch out too quickly and/or get greedy with you right hand, then things could get interesting. If you can, 0-60 takes around 3 seconds. If you have as much strength in your arms as the engine does, you might see 160 out of this thing. Which will do very nicely. Luckily, Aprilia have not forgotten the importance of braking. The Brembos on this bike do a great job of bringing this thing to a halt consistently. They are not radially mounted, but that doesn’t matter. They feel solid, have power and they inspire confidence. To my mind, that’s job done.

Driving Experience
I exchanged an SV650 for this bike. I noticed that the clutch was slightly heavier, but no less progressive and no harder to find the biting point. The brakes are pleasingly sharp, and no one will ever need more stopping power than this on the road. The bike handles very well on twisty roads, and is very happy at full lean. The front end inspires confidence, probably helped by the Power RS tyres on mine. The throttle response is fairly immediate though, so caution is recommended when at full tilt. The steering damper doesn’t seem to do a huge amount but this doesn’t detract.

I took this bike on a road trip to France a few years ago. I had the RS tyres fitted for the trip, which initially was a concern when I found out the weather forecast. The combination of pseudo track tyres, shorter gearing and sharp throttle is not normally a friendly one! However, the bike dealt really well with everything I asked of it. It stood out against everyone else on their Suzukis and Yamahas. This only added to the riding experience.

The wide amount of suspension adjustment means it should be possible for anyone to (eventually) feel comfortable riding this machine at speed. This was the first 1000 I bought, and the first big bike on which I got my knee down. This isn’t strictly relevant for saving money but nice to know the bike can cope if we have to change our line mid-corner. A bike’s ability to cope with that manoeuvre could save us having an accident. And that saves money, every time.

Running Costs
I paid £2600 for mine 3 years ago. I was expecting lots of problems, but most spend was routine maintenance. In the 9000 miles I had the bike, I had it serviced twice for around £200, and also had the head bearings replaced for around £250. As with most bikes, invest in some decent chain lube, and anti corrosion spray to keep the rust away. It only did 28 mpg or so when I first bought it, which was worrying. The moving parts loosened up eventually (helped by with a 1000 mile trip to France) and the mpg approached 40. The bike did not break down once in the time I had it. The days of Italian bikes constantly being found at the side of the road appear to be well and truly over.

Who’s it for?
It’s for people who love bikes and appreciate rarity. There are not many of these on the road, but they are full of character, and are more reliable than many give credit for. I had this bike for a while and never found it wanting in any situation. It has power and it has character. It’s also proven reliable, so running costs are not as ridiculous as one would have thought.

MotorKwirks Value Rating: 80%
Considering the price I paid for this, the performance, the rarity and the Italian nature, this is great value. Compare it to an equivalent Ducati. This bike has a lot to offer, and can do nearly everything except going off road. If you’re interested, get one while it’s still relatively cheap, as prices are rising on the Aprilia Tuono 1000, and rightly so.