Street Bikes

After an outstanding 5 years of time with my 2018 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS as a road bike (with occasional track duty), it’s off to new ownership and I’ve filled its place with a 2022 Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory. I’ve said many times my STRS had been my favorite bike ever–it’s so light, nimble, predictable, and has a nice feature-set and (around here), great dealer support.

Last ride on the 2018 Street Triple 765 RS, on the way to be traded in

Part of me just wanted to try something new, and part of me wanted to try out a proper liter bike again. I also have a BMW R1250 GS but it’s a different creature and its acceleration is more akin to the Street Triple.

I only have a couple of hour-long rides on the Tuono so far and I still have a lot of studying to do of the manual to get the electronics where I want them and I need to order up some accessories (tank bag adapter, protection bits, etc.). It’s an amazing bike and since it’s been a while since I’ve had a properly fast street bike, it’ll take me a while to calibrate my perception of acceleration and speed. Since it’s been ~15 years since I’ve had a sporty liter bike, I’d forgotten how easy overtaking is. Assuming you can keep the rest of your riding under control, it may actual add a certain degree of safety having that much power to squirt away from slower moving or hazardous traffic.

Tuono on the way home from the dealership

There were really 3-4 bikes in the running for me, with the intention being 80% road bike (back roads, day-long rides, etc.); 20% track riding with it. The recently announced BMW was somewhat a consideration but not a probable choice. The contenders, in no particular order:

  • Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory
  • Ducati Streetfighter V4s
  • Triumph Speed Triple RR
  • BMW M1000R (announced but not yet released)

I wanted something properly quick so that ruled out quite a few bikes. I wanted something that had character and fit me. I really wanted to like the Ducati but the fact that the ergonomics were so far off lowered its appeal, not to mention the price differential. I had ridden the Panigale V4s recently at the track and it was amazing, although it felt a little like the bike was doing too much for me–it was just so easy to ride fast. Granted, the electronics on all of these bikes *can* do a lot for you, but I don’t want to feel as though I’m becoming depedent on the electronics and I could see that happening fairly quickly on the Ducati. On the other hand, riding with electronics for me is a way to explore limits a bit, review data, and use that to work on my track bike riding. My goal is to get a sense of where the electronics are just starting to kick in and build familiarity riding to that, which should transfer over to my [more] ‘analog’ Daytona.

I also had the opportunity to ride the Triumph Speed Triple RR on track at a decent pace this year and it felt very much like my 765 Triumphs, just more of it. There was positively nothing I didn’t like about it, but it didn’t feel terribly ‘special’ in riding it. For many people, that’s perfect, but being that I wanted to get something special, that lowered its score for me. I’ve always loved a nice sounding V4 with character. In years past, I had a couple of Honda V4s with exhausts and the sound was glorious. Firing up the Tuono alone and it started to move up on the list. Ergonomics played a really big part in my decision too and honestly I’ve never sat on a bike that fit me as nicely as the Tuono. The bar height and rake, the tank cutouts, the footpeg positioning, etc. Everything fell to hand on the loaner 2019 Tuono that’s been visiting my garage for a couple of weeks which nudged me closer to a new Tuono. Data acquisition capabilities also plays a big role for me. With that, the AiM ECU profile for the 2017-2020 Tuono is pretty comprehensive. As it turns out though, that profile only works with a few channels on the 2021+ models. That’s a work in progress that I hope to have sorted out before too long but that’s worthy of a separate post.

Since this will be a road bike first and foremost, wind protection and other ameneties were fairly high on my list of priorities. This is where the Ducati lost some points, namely wind protection, lack of cruise control and a fuel gauge, along with the ergonomics that were a little more casual than I was after. The one thing here where the Aprilia lost some points was the lack of factory optional heated grips. I haven’t yet found a good solution there so I may give battery-powered heated gloves a try.

The BMW, by the numbers, sounds amazing (over 200bhp) and they have, hands-down, the best dash but the usual BMW-fare that I would expect leaves me a little cold. In my experience, the BMW bikes are excellent tools for the task at hand but they lack a degree of involvement. I want to feel some passion and character with the bike. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my GS but it’s a completely different creature. The 4 cylinder sports bikes are exercises in engineering excellence but they don’t feel very passionate. That and the looks don’t do much for me and the lack of wind protection dropped it out of the running.

In sum, the Aprilia won out because:

  • Winner of loads of best open superbike awards, both for road and track riding
  • Wind protection and options for taller windscreens
  • That V4 engine–pulls like a train and sounds so good, even with the stock exhaust.
  • Ergonomics fit as though it had been tailored for me.
  • Looks pretty damned good, not quite the same presence as the Streetfighter but you know what it is at a glance.
  • Dealership support–in the North Bay area (greater San Francisco Bay) we have several dealers, a couple I really like. The one I bought from, Scuderia West, was awesome to work with.
  • AF1 Racing–aftermarket support for parts and accessories, I haven’t seen another online retailer who is as comprehensive for any other brand of motorcycle
  • AiM data access to loads of channels from the ECU, although the reality of this has yet to be realized since the profile doesn’t work for all channels with the 2021+ models, I expect to get this sorted before long though.
  • Electronic suspension–all my top contenders have the same Ohlins electronic suspension so this wasn’t a differentiator but it was a requirement. The back roads I ride vary in surface condition considerably so being able to tweak the suspension with a couple of button pushes is extremely attractive. My GS has it and I use it all the time.

All said and done, the 2022 Aprilia Tuono now graces my garage and I just need to get the first 600 miles on for the first service before I can get going on it. I have noticed in the first couple of tanks of fuel that it’s quite a bit thirstier than the Street Triple but most of the players in this space are the same. The dealership was oustanding in working with me and made the whole process easy and quick. I was there maybe 1.5 hours in-person and there were no surprises. It’s kind of nice to have an Italian bike in the garage again. The last one was my Multistrada 1200 and that was over 3 years ago. I now represent England, Japan, Germany, and Italy manufacturers.