Put quite simply this is the best bike I’ve ever ridden by a country mile…and I’m still grinning now. I make no apologies if this review comes across as a gushing love letter to this bike…the V4 1100 Factory has moved me and got under my skin like no other bike has to date. But what makes this £14,635 sublime blend of beauty and the beast just so good?
Well, for starters there’s the way this mixes state-of-the-art technology derived from Aprilia’s participation in WSBK with blistering performance in a package that never fails to entertain.
This bike costs £1500 more than the standard RR version, but for that you get a fully-adjustable Öhlins rear shock, forks and steering damper and the simply stunning ‘Superpole’ paint scheme, which really suits the bike and is exquisitely finished in the metal.
Swing a leg over this narrow bundle of fun, turn the key, thumb the starter and the new 2015 V4 1077cc engine barks into life with a deep, throaty roar. The soundtrack delivered by the standard exhaust is ear bleedingly loud and each blip of the throttle is greeted with an aggressive snarl. It feels comfortable too – the riding position feels low and the reach to the flat, tapered bars is spot on, as are the pegs, and they easily accommodate my long limbs.
A quick glance towards the bike’s clock show a dash dominated by a sleek and easy-to-read rev counter that goes all the way to 15,000rpm. There’s no TFT display here, instead you get Aprilia’s traditional square unit showing speed, gear position, traction control setting and range.
On the move and the V4 1100 factory makes light work of town work. The engine feels civilised, with the ride-by-wire throttle meting out power predictably and smoothly with no discernible snatch, although you’re always aware of the sheer brute force available on tap with a twist of your right hand. The steering feels light, and while the steering lock isn’t great, it’s not so bad as to be restrictive.
Heading out of town and the first thing that becomes noticeable is just how effective the new nose fairing and cowl is at cosseting the rider from the wind. It’s really efficient and provides much more more protection than a naked bike has any right to offer.
As speed and revs rise, the second thing that grabs your attention is the new engine. Aprilia has added 3mm to the bores and given the 1077cc V4 an additional five bhp peak power, and these changes allow the Factory to explode into life with every twist of the throttle. It’s savage, and as the revs rise the surge is so ferocious that the front wheel will be pawing the air with every gear change. And get the engine howling above 9000rpm and the bike changes from a beauty into a beast as all that power propels the bike forward with a time warping urgency. The acceleration is savage, the quick-revving engine delivering huge amounts of rapid grunt, giving the bike superbike levels of performance with every touch of the quickshifter. And that quickshifter is good, really good, seamlessly building speed and adding a satisfying pop to the V4’s booming feral soundtrack with every upshift.
This is a bike that’s mind numbingly fast, but it’s agile too and is just as happy on its ear. It turns in predictably and accurately with the lightest of touches, and the Swedish suspension offers loads of feedback, taking the Tuono’s cornering brilliance to another level, inspiring huge levels of confidence and urging you to brake later and get on the throttle earlier in every corner.
But all this performance is easy to control, thanks to that throttle and the sophisticated WSBK-derived APRC electronics package which includes on-the-move traction control, launch control, wheelie control and Race ABS. There are also three riding modes – Track, Sport and Road – and although the power output always remains the same, the throttle response and delivery is adjusted depending on the mode.
And should things ever threaten to get out of control – which they won’t – the Brembo M432 monoblocs rapidly and effortlessly scrub speed with retina bleeding efficiency.
The only weakness in the Factory’s impressive armoury is the price – there’s no getting away from the fact that £14,635 is a huge price tag. But for me personally, it’s worth every penny. I’ve tested some 300 bikes and covered some 250,000 miles over the years and no bike has moved me like this. It’s by far the best road-going performance bike I’ve ever tested and the blend of WSBK-derived rider aids, the V4’s performance and the distinctive soundtrack delivered by that phenomenal engine mean I’m still grinning now, a week after I rode it. Everyone should ride one at least once in their lives…