The Experience: Peter Marshall’s 2003 Aprilia Tuono-R

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Following the success of the Aprilia RSV Mille, Aprilia released their first sport naked bike, the Tuono. The first generation Tuono was different than most sport naked models; it had an aggressive edge and offered the same power as its fairing swaddled counterpart.  Its sound audaciously erupted upon start up. The Austrian built Rotax v-twin 997cc power plant made sure there is no shortage of low-end RPM thrust. The Öhlins front forks and rear shock equipment enhanced the ride.  The bike sent a fierce message of what was to come from Aprilia.

Few people saw the need for more power. The Tuono is far from mild mannered and riding on the streets was already a handful. Fortunately for me Peter Marshall was one of those few. In 2007, his quest landed him at a niche motorcycle shop carved into the downtown landscape of New Braunfels, Texas. A car dealership turned motorcycle hooligan hangout complete with a showroom, parts, service department and an eddy current dyno. The bike received a 1060 big bore kit, custom made adjustable cam gears, Arrow high mount exhaust and a list of supporting mods.

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Throwing a leg over the bike reveals the analog side of motorcycling, years before the digital age took control. There is no TFT dash, no driver aids and nothing to tame the throttle except your own wrist. A mechanical fast idle circuit helps bring life into the cold V-twin as I start the beast. The V-twin pulses similar to a heartbeat as a loud crackle departs from the Arrow high mounts. Shifting into first further reveals just how mechanical the bike is with a clunk. The bike breathes heavy as if it were an aggressive dog chasing a cat. It begins to lurch as my left hand tries to restrain it via clutch control. I enter the freeway corridor and begin to twist the throttle. My hands death grip the Aprilia logo’d grips as my right foot hovers cautiously above the brake lever. I immediately feel the sensation of power from the dominating torque monster. At 3000 RPM with the Öhlins front forks unloaded the tire begins to rise up off the ground and set back down just in time to repeat itself in the following gear. The Aprilia forged wheels lower the reciprocating mass and allow it to be effortlessly propelled forward. I quickly speed through the gears before decelerating into upcoming traffic.

 

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Removing myself from the mundane straight line speedway places me in the prime of Texas hill country. I journey to my favorite series of bituminous filled winding roads. The pavement is coarse and far from perfect, but the upright handle bar position relieves my wrist as I bump over tar strips and small rock debris. Entering into the first corner I tap the clutch pedal down and watch as the tachometer needle jumps up 1200 RPMS. The back tire kicks right with each downshift in a moment of breaking loose despite its pneumatic clutch from the factory. The chassis corrects itself quickly before dipping into the apex. I mentally fight myself from man-handling the bars instead of issuing proper lean angle. Throttling up shows where the bike really shines as the corner exit speed is quickly met. As the front tire lifts the Öhlins damper works overtime to keep the front end stable. Each corner provides me the same feedback as the previous. My humble Texas roads are no match for a bike that was raised on the Futa Pass in Italy.

 

The Tuono is more than just a bike with soul or character. It is an experience that is just a wrist flick away from taking you through the mind of Ivano Beggio. It will keep pace if you are a proficient rider and embolden you if you are not.  It’s was designed during the height of Beggio’s career. It was also one of the last projects to come to fruition under his management.  The bike could not have been a better farewell statement if it tried.

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Build sheet

2003 Aprilia Tuono R (Yellow Carbon)

AF1 1060 big bore

Acculign machined stock cam sprockets for adjustability 106/109 lobe centers

PCIII USB

Factory Pro 1413 EPROM

Arrow true-dual full system

54mm short Evoluzione velocity stacks

Stock Filter

Öhlins suspension and damper

 

Literature and Photography: James Elkins

Special Thanks: Power Commander, Factory Pro, Arrow Exhaust, Öhlins , AF1 Racing

Thunder Struck: Nick Carter’s Tuono 1100

The Italian word for ‘Thunder’ is ‘Tuono’; it is also what Aprilia decided to name their naked sportbike. The second the fuel combusted in the cylinders and the engine note left the exhaust, it was nothing short of a thunderstorm rolling through the hills. Formerly powered by a Rotax V990 v-twin motor, the current Tuono is now powered by Aprilia’s production-built 65 degree V4 configuration motor. The storm is no longer approaching upon start up.  You are standing next to the storm front waiting to be struck down by the gods.

Nick Carter has been an Aprilia fan since purchasing a 2016 Tuono to fuel his demand for an upright-position motorcycle that would provide more fun on the lower end of the torque curve. The bike slowly morphed from a stock Donnington Blue into a carbon-adorned work of art. The bike was nearing completion. Then the 2017 was released. The new TFT dash and auto blip shift down shifting convinced Nick to make the switch over along with all his components and bodywork:  a Race ECU, Akrapovic slip-on, forged wheels and an abundance of blue Rizoma pieces.

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Nick offered to let me take his Tuono for a ride to feel the latest upgrades. The carbon barded Tuono fires up ready to charge like an equine marching into war. The throttle is crisp and precise with any wrist motion causing a deviation in RPM thanks to the ride by wire throttle. As I pull onto the frontage road, the bike effortlessly accelerates deceivingly quickly as my judge for speed deteriorates with sheer joy.  I have to remind myself three times that this is not my bike as I clutchless downshift twice before a tight left hand corner via the auto blip. A grin erupts as the Akropovic full system exhaust barks with each progressive downward motion of the shift lever. The auto blip performs flawlessly allowing me to avoid overloading or locking up the rear Pirelli Supercorsa. The tires stay glued to the pavement as the Tuono cuts through the corner like an obsidian scalpel. Exiting the corner, the low rpm torque makes up for any neophyte riding styles I may have.  The BST carbon wheels, 520 chain conversion and quick shifter all shine through on the acceleration. The traction and wheelie control tries its best to meddle in my love affair while under hard acceleration in third gear. The bike rocket ships through the rpm range towards its peak power rpm of 11,500. A few more spirited blurts of power and I have to caution myself that it’s neither my bike, nor my gas and begin to head back.

Aprilia got it right, Nick perfected it. The Tuono is a thunderstorm, but not just of sound. It also rains down homage to early generations of race bikes. It reminds me of Aprilia’s story of a bicycle factory that started making 2-stroke mopeds that would blaze the narrow Italian roads as I do on the backroads of Texas. Somewhere in the heavens Aprilia’s founder Cavaliere Beggio and son Ivano Beggio are smiling from above waiting to hear the noise of thunder again.

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Literature : James Elkins

Photography : Micah Shoemaker

 

Build Sheet

2017 Aprilia Tuono V4

Akrapovic EVO II Full System

OFTTablet Race ECU

AF1 Racing Stage III Airbox Kit

Black Stone Tek (BST) Carbon blue weaves wheelset

Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V3

Samco hose kit

CRG carbon levers

Rizoma bar ends, brake master cylinder, spools

Clearwater Darla flood lights

Ilmberger bellypan and rear hugger

AMC-Carbon  Frame and swing arm protection

Motocomposites  stator and clutch cover, fuel tank cover, front hugger

Puig windscreen

Austin Paint Works tail section

Gtechniq Ceramic Paint Protection