Aprilia Tuono

Aprilia Tuono (2003)

I love this bike. It had been almost a decade since my last new bike (a 1994 Ducati M900 Monster). Things advanced a lot since then. I loved my old Monster, but every single aspect of the Tuono was better: the chassis, the handling, the power, everything. OK, except 1 thing: the Monster sounded better. A 90 degree V-twin is one of the best sounding engines ever made. The Aprilia is a 60 degree twin which allows the engine to get packed closer to the front wheel, but it sounds "raspier' than the Monster.

I used to think that if I had to sell all the bikes except one, I would keep the Yamaha SRX-6. Now, I figure it would be this one.

Update in 2021: I still own the Tuono, it is still great. Nowadays, I am sure that if I ever go back to one bike, it would be the SRX-6. The reason? The older I get, the less I need the completely bonkers riding experience of the Tuono.

As everyone who owns a bike knows, they don't stay stock for very long. This one is pretty close though, especially if you compare it to what other people do theirs. The short list of modifications so far would be, well, short:

  • Ohlins rear shock

  • Ohlins front fork internals kit

And that's it.

The one thing that bugs me is that it only gets about 32 MPG, which means that its range is only about 130 miles. According to the Aprilia Forum discussion groups, I should check the fuel pressure. The members there claim that low gas mileage usually means high fuel pressure. ...Or maybe just a heavy throttle hand.

So for now, the bike is great. I will mess with it though. It's just the nature of bike ownership.

Problems so far:

  • The stock rear shock leaked oil since day 1, hence the replacement with the Ohlins unit. For a variety of reasons, the dealer was unable to procure a replacement shock, so they credited me the price towards an Ohlins shock.

  • When the bike was uncrated at the dealer, the rear tire was flat. Seems that the factory-worker who crated it up had inadvertently secured the rear tire to the bottom of the crate with their nail gun.

  • The alternator's stator winding connector cooked itself where it connects into the main wiring harness. Unfortunately, this is a common problem. Replacing the connector would be an expensive, time-consuming option, and the new connector would suffer the same issue anyway. I made the decision to cut the old connector ends off both the stator and the wiring harness and soldered the stator wiring directly into the wiring harness. It was kind of brute force, but the repair has lasted more than 15 times longer than the original pair of connectors and shows no sign of overheating to this day.

  • 2021 update: The clutch slave cylinder seal failed. This is another common issue with the Brembo clutch slave cylinder used on the bike. The repair was $8 for a new seal, followed by a really easy replacement job. The original seal lasted over 18 years, so even if it is considered a common problem, I'm not complaining.

The biggest problem with the Tuono is that the bike eats tires. Here is what remains of a Metzler M1 Sportec after about 2000 miles of commuting to work up and down Black Road in the mountains of Los Gatos, CA:

It would seem that I spent more time turning left than turning right or going straight. If you have to live in the Silicon Valley, it sure was an entertaining commute!

The Tuono was also responsible for setting off one of the biggest, longest projects I ever did: hacking its fuel injection computer. I really went down the rabbit hole on that one...