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Aprilia tuono v-twin

Tuono Traumas

Part 1, Jan 2021

Aprilia – Italian for ‘bastard of a bike’. Or not. A V-twin basket case is transformed into a track day demon (or so we hope)

Aprilia tuono v-twin

By track day tragic Chris Beattie (a lifelong sixty-something rider with delusions of adequacy)

“If you don’t buy it, I will.”

My Aprilia guru mate (and motorcycle mechanic, I might add) Terry was emphatic. At Au$5000, it was a “steal”, he reckoned. (Actually, Terry’s currently on the lookout for a moderately sized harbour bridge, preferably sight-unseen, so feel free to contact me and I’ll forward you his personal contacts – all of them).

The ad promised so much. Yet what was finally off-loaded from the truck delivered so much more, as we would come to discover.

The ad suggested this particular Aprilia Tuono V1000R was bargain priced due to the young owner’s expanding family. Yes, it did do double-duty as a track bike, and no, it wasn’t exactly in pristine condition, but it did have a bunch of spare parts. It was a 2007 model, with 78K on the clock and had had “a bit of work done”, revealed the seller as we chatted over the phone.

It turned out the “work” included an 1160cc Evolution big-bore kit (“we got 149bhp out of it on the dyno mate!”), a Power Commander tuner, Akropovic race cans, an Ohlins rear unit and rebuilt and tuned front suspension, among other bits and bobs. There was actually a fair bit of other work not referred to in the ad – and that we would discover later, to my cost. But since I was entertaining the idea of a track bike, it seemed to tick all the boxes.

It was early in Victoria’s Covid lock-down and given that the bike was on the Gold Coast, I could only inspect it from afar. I was a little hesitant at first, although Terry was insistent.

“You can’t go wrong mate,” were his exact prophetic words as we finished interrogating the seller. “You could sell it for the parts alone, and make an earn off it.”

“Ok, crunch time mate, what’s your best price?” I squeezed.

“Four grand! And I’ll deliver it free anywhere within a hundred kays,” said seller bloke, with Tazer-like urgency.

I had it delivered to a mate’s garage on the Gold Coast and thence trucked to my Melbourne home. Pleasingly, it fired first time as we unloaded it and I rode it into the garage. That was the last time it would run on two cylinders for quite some time.

It was another week or so before we inspected my new acquisition closely. Terry had dropped by and we thought we’d go for a quick squirt to get a feel for the new steed.

Which would have been fine if the engine had fired, which it now stubbornly refused to do. With the battery finally exhausted, we closed up shop for the day.

“It’ll be something simple for sure,” reassured Terry, somewhat prematurely as it turned out. “Put the battery on the charger and we’ll have another go tomorrow.”

This was the beginning of a journey that would ultimately test my reserves of patience, reason and cash. Over the coming months, I would entertain thoughts of murderous intent, shed tears of frustration, scrape knuckles and plumb the depraved depths of my vocabulary as the Aprilia slowly and reluctantly revealed its dark and hidden secrets.

While Terry’s encouragement had much to do with my initial purchase (in other words, it was entirely his fault and he now owes me a debt that cannot be repaid in one lifetime alone), without his dogged determination to investigate and solve all of the problems that we would eventually discover, it’s highly likely the Aprilia would have ended up back on bikesales.com.au without having fired a shot in anger.

Aprilia tuono v-twin

But over a few trying months, we have converted a veritable basket case into a track hack of quite impressive credentials. We’ve overhauled, dismantled and reassembled pretty much everything short of an engine rebuild, and learned a lot about the darker side of bush mechanics as practised by some imbeciles in the bike’s early history.

We’ve discovered bastardry, butchery and buggery on a criminal scale, including a car ignition coil cable-tied to the chassis, strands of wiring that led nowhere in particular, a foam air-cleaner element that had been all-but consumed by the injector bodies, an Ohlins rear shock that has turned out to be a real shocker, and fork caps that were loctited in place so comprehensively that nothing short of an IED was going to shift them. Actually, here again Terry came to the rescue by applying volcanic heat to the fork tubes while applying the mechanical violence of a mining-spec rattle gun.

Aprilia tuono v-twin

Interestingly, and curiously, the Aprilia came with a supposedly valid Queensland Motorbike Safety Certificate, alleging that it had been thoroughly inspected and was entirely safe to be road-ridden. I can only assume that the Qld Department of Transport’s equal opportunity employment program has been expanded to include the intellectually feeble as well as the clinically blind and deaf.

As I write this, we have completed one track day at the Island, with mixed results. While Black Mamba, as it’s been affectionately dubbed, behaved itself and occasionally even excelled with power monos coming out of the slower corners – there are still handling ‘issues’ of one sort or another. Severe shuddering under brakes is one we’re investigating at the moment and already, apart from undertaking a front end overhaul (and yes, we’ve already dial-gauged the discs and established minimal runout), we’ve discovered the steering head bearings are no longer bearing up, as it were.

So onward we trudge, using up reserves of cash and patience in equal measure, but actually having a bit of fun along the way.

Join us as we probe deeper and reveal more details of our journey of discovery and disappointment. Our aim is to transform Black Mamba from Cinderella to Godzilla, and convince ourselves that our lap times are moderately respectable for ‘blokes of a certain age’.

Aprilia tuono v-twin

(Ed's note: Chris Beattie is, among other things, a former Editor of Australian Motorcycle News and founder of Heavy Duty magazine. That was some decades ago, and he's almost better now. Watch this space for more adventures...)

See our Aprilia Tuono V-twins series profile here


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