Aprilia Tuono V4 APRC – Track Day Bike Prep

After a full season owning a 2011 Suzuki GSXR750 track day bike, I decided to take a different route and grabbed a 2013 Aprilia Tuono V4 APRC.

Check out the article I wrote about some things I discovered about the Tuono.

The bike was setup as a street bike, but with a lot of little goodies already installed by the previous owner. Many are items I don’t typically spend money on, like an aftermarket exhaust and sexy cosmetic changes. But, they are cool!

Below, I describe the modifications I did to make the bike more track worthy and also list the stuff the previous owner installed.


The first thing I do with any bike I plan on taking to the track is to bolt on engine and frame protection. Twisted Throttle is a sponsor of this website and sell R&G and SW-Motech accessories that work really well and are reasonably priced. Click here or on the Twisted Throttle logos on this page to buy accessories and help support the site.

Frame Sliders

There is a debate about whether frame sliders are a good thing or is they actually cause more damage. Sliders are great for minor drops, but can also catch a curbing or edge of the track and cause the bike to flip. This happened to a ZX636 I once owned. I decided to take the chance and install some R&G Aero Frame Sliders.

R&G Aero Frame Sliders

These sliders are high quality, with a robust two-location mounting block. The pucks are the usual Delron nylon units. To reduce the chances that the slider will catch when sliding, I cut the pucks down by about 1-1/4 inches. So far, I haven’t put them to the test.


Engine Case Covers

Protecting expensive engine cases is of primary importance. I have used Woodcraft products, but like the full coverage of the R&G covers. These British Superbike approved race-spec covers are made of tough plastic and include replaceable sliders. I bought the complete kit which includes both left and right covers. Buy the case covers here.

The racing version includes replaceable sliders
Installing the covers is quite easy.

Installation is easy. All you have to do is remove a few of the case bolts, locate the cases and replace with the supplied bolts and spacers. One small issue was that the opening around the oil fill cap wasn’t quite big enough, so I trimmed it with a file.

A little trimming was necessary to clear the oil fill cap.

Exhaust and Protector

The Arrow exhaust is a work of art. And it sounds awesome, especially without the db insert. However, one of the racetracks we frequent has a decibel limit and I am not willing to take the risk of getting dinged.

Besides, the exhaust still sounds great even with the insert…like a hot rod.

The R&G exhaust protector is a nice piece that straps onto the exhaust can using a hose clamp. There is a rubber protector strip to keep the clamp from marring the exhaust.
Buy one for the stock exhaust here.


Front Axle Sliders

R&G also makes axle sliders to help keep the forks and brakes away from the ground. The only thing is that you have to take them off to get the axle out to remove the wheel to change the tire. Not bad, but it adds time. Buy axle sliders HERE.

You can also note in the photo below the zip tie around the fork tube. This slides down to indicate how much fork travel is being used. Also note the torque spec is written in Sharpie for easy reference.

Regarding the brakes, they could use improvement with some higher performance brake pads. They are very good, but I’m used to more sensitive brakes; these are just a bit less powerful and slightly numb.


Levers

One accessory I think is worthwhile are aftermarket levers. Not only do they hold up better in a crash, but they give better feel and they look trick. I’ve had cheap Chinese knockoff that work okay, but these adjustable ASV levers are much nicer. They are pricey though.


Gas Cap Mod

The Aprilias are known for leaking fuel around the gas cap when full, especially when braking hard. I would find a fuel stain along the top of the tank, that is disconcerting to say the least. I can imagine fuel dumping in a crash and setting the bike on fire.

The problem is that the gas cap gasket doesn’t sit tight against the fill opening. The fix is to place an O-ring between the gasket and the fuel cap. Measure the gasket and buy a few different size o-rings to see which one fits and allows the gap to lock. I got mine at a hardware store.


Turn Signal Removal

Removing the turn signals is easy enough. All you need to do is unscrew the lens from the housing, unplug the two wires and pull the wires out from the stalk. Then tuck the wires securely under the side fairing.


RSV4 tail conversion

This is a popular mod among Tuonoistas. The stock Tuono tail looks just fine and as a bonus, has a passenger seat. Because the RSV4 tail has no accommodations for a pillion, the passenger pegs were removed and the exhaust hanger connects to the right peg mount.

You can see in the photo that I put some electrical tape on the pointy parts to prevent the tail from getting scratched as I swing my leg over the bike when mounting.


MRA Windscreen

The bike came with a taller MRA windscreen, which certainly makes riding long miles more comfortable, but it also helps with neck fatigue when ripping down a straightaway at 140mph. And the smoke version looks great.

MRA windscreen photo: otmpix.com

Tires

My track day organization, Tony’s Track Days, has a regular Pirelli dealer which makes using that brand a no brainer. Even so, I totally love the feel of the Pirellis, whether the Supercorsa or the race slick. Since I had some 180/60/17 SC1 rear slicks hanging around, I mounted them up and they are working great. I’ll be putting on the spec 200 tires when I’ve used up the 180s.

Regarding wear, I am getting an impressive 6-7 days at a combination of intermediate (when instructing) and expert pace. That’s not what I expected when I first got the bike. I get even more from the fronts, of course.

Pirelli SC1 race slicks are the bomb.

That’s it for now. I’ll update this post as I make more modifications.

Check out the Street Triple modification and Street Triple Track day prep articles.



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Getting You and Your Motorcycle Ready for Spring

As predicted, Spring has begun to awaken as it has every year. This means that it’s time to dust off the bike and head back out onto the road. But, before you strap on your helmet and thumb the starter, there are a few things you must first take care of.

Hopefully, you put your motorcycle away so it takes minimal effort to bring it to life after its long winter nap. If not, you may be in for some frustrating downtime.

Performing Maintenance

With the help of a motorcycle owner’s manual, someone with moderately competent mechanical skill can perform most of the tasks we are about to discuss. For tasks that are not covered in your owner’s manual, please consult your dealer’s service center.

Fuel System

One of the most common pre-season mechanical problems involve the fuel system. This is caused by riders parking their bikes without adding fuel stabilizer to the gasoline. The problem is that old fuel turns into a gooey varnish that can clog the small passageways in the fuel system. This is a significant problem on motorcycles with carburetors, but even fuel-injected bikes can be affected. The use of Ethanol makes the problem even more likely.

If you neglected this task you may be looking at the time and expense of a thorough fuel system cleaning. If the gas in your tank is old it’s best to resist starting your motorcycle. Instead, drain the old fuel from the tank (and drain the carburetors if applicable). This can prevent stale gas from circulating through the system. If your bike runs poorly even after draining the gas, consult a mechanic and store your bike properly next time.

Air Filter

Check your air filter, as rodents seem to be particularly attracted to building nests in air boxes, which is cozy place with nest building filter material handy. Remove any debris and replace the filter if it’s been chewed or looks particularly dirty.

Tires

Tread wear indicators can be found in the bottom of the tread.

Tire pressure will drop significantly over the winter and nothing affects handling and wear more than very low tire pressures, so be sure to put a gauge on those stems before the motorcycle rolls out of the garage. If the tread is worn near the tread-wear indicators or if the tires show any signs of rot, now’s a good time to replace the old tires with new rubber.

And check the date code found in an oval stamp with 4 number indicating the week and year the tire was manufactured. 5 years is a good guideline to follow even if the tires look okay.

Drive Train

Pull the chain away from the sprocket to check for wear.

While you’re down there, check drive train wear. Sprockets should show no significant signs of hooking and the chain should not pull very far away from the back of the sprocket. Replace the chain and sprockets as a set if necessary. If all looks good, then check the adjustment and give the chain a good lube. Hopefully you lubricated the chain before storage, which means no rust should be present. If this duty was neglected, give the chain a cleaning and lubricate it before the first ride, then perform a more thorough lubrication after the chain is warm.

Engine Fluids

Check your oil level, or better yet, change the oil and filter if you didn’t do it before tucking your bike away last fall. Old engine oil contains acids that are best removed. If your bike is liquid cooled, check coolant levels, including the fluid in your overflow tank (see your owner’s manual).

Brakes

Change brake fluid if it looks darker than apple juice or hasn’t been changed in a couple of years.

Brakes are obviously an important system to maintain. Squeeze the front brake lever and press on the rear brake pedal to feel for a firm application. Look in the sight glass or at the brake master cylinders to see that brake fluid levels are good and plan to replace the fluid if it is the color of apple juice or darker.

Grab a flashlight and take a close look at your front and rear brake pads to see how much material there is remaining. Most brake pads have a notch cut into the pad as a wear indicator. If in doubt, have the pads replaced. It’s cheap insurance.

Brake pad wear indicators

Battery

Weak or dead batteries are another common mechanical issue that can stand in the way of reviving a motorcycle after a long period of dormancy. Hopefully, you kept your battery charged. I use a Battery Tender Junior. If not, then you will likely have to charge the battery before it will start the engine. If it will not hold a charge, then a new battery is in your future.

Lights, Cables & Fasteners

Once your battery is good to go, be sure to check that all of your lights are operational. Check that both front and rear brake light switches illuminate the brake light. Check turn signals, tail light and headlights (high and low beam) to make sure they work.

Confirm that the throttle, clutch and brake cables (if applicable) operate smoothly before heading out. Finally, go around the whole bike with a wrench and screwdriver, tightening any loose fasteners.

Awakening the Rider

Cornering practice

Now that you’ve taken care of the motorcycle you can think about your first ride. But, before you press the starter button, keep in mind that your likely a bit rusty, too. Spending many months in a car can cause you to become oblivious to motorcycle issues like visibility or road surface hazards.

Some riders begin your season by taking a refresher course with their local motorcycle-training program or from an experienced instructor who offers on-street or track day training (like me).

It’s also smart to take some time on their own to brush up on your emergency skills in a parking lot. Whether you choose to attend a formal rider course or go it alone, we recommend that every rider practice the critical skills by performing some cornering and braking drills.

Spring Roads and Inattentive Drivers

There’s a lot to look for on the street.

Even if you and your bike are fully ready for the new season, remember that the roads may not yet be motorcycle-friendly. Traction-robbing road salt and sand are used extensively in snowy regions to keep roadways ice-free. Keep your eyes peeled for these surface hazards. In many towns and counties, the road sweepers will eventually take care of the majority of the excess sand.

Roadways take a lot of abuse from snowplows scraping the surface and from the effects of repeated freezing and thawing. Expect surface hazards during the early spring until the earth thaws and the road crews can repair the scars.

And remember that drivers aren’t used to seeing motorcycles on the road, so be extra vigilant when riding in traffic.

Your owner’s manual can help you perform these routine tasks so you are prepared for the upcoming season. Taking the time to prepare for the upcoming season can ensure that it is a safe and enjoyable one.


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Review: Pirelli Supercorsa TD Track day tire

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At the beginning of 2019, Pirelli introduced a new track tire designated the “TD”, presumably an acronym for “Track Day”. The TD was developed with assistance of former AMA Superbike and AMA Formula Xtreme racer Jake Zemke.

The TD is exclusive to North America as a DOT legal, high performance track day tire. Think of the TD as a hybrid that sits between the Diablo Supercorsa race DOT and the Pirelli Rosso Corsa hypersport street tires.

From Pirelli:

  • This tire does not require tire warmers
  • D.O.T. street legal tread pattern
  • Pirelli performance in a D.O.T. street legal tire.
  • The ultimate evolution of our most successful Racing Super sport tire.
  • New generation profile designed to maximize the width and length of the contact area.
  • Optimized carcass to improve stability on braking and increase precision and speed negotiating bends.
  • Wider slick area on the shoulders to improve traction and stability.
  • Available in all common sizes

Street Use?

The TD looks exactly like a DOT Supercorsa race tire, but with a different compound (and softer carcass, I suspect).

The TD is DOT approved, making it appropriate for street use. However, keep in mind that the sparse numbers of water-channeling sipes (grooves) will likely make it a sketchy tire in wet conditions. On dry roads, I’m sure the tire will perform well.

Warm up time

One reason the TD can be used on the street is that it warms to its usable (if not optimal) operating temperature relatively quickly. Street riding puts little stress into a tire to bring a full race tire anywhere near its prime operating temperature, which is why using race tires on the street isn’t a great idea.

A street-oriented tire is designed to work at a cooler and wider range of temperatures, allowing you to jump on your bike in 30F degree temps, all the way to 120+F. A race tire wants to be within a narrow heat range that can only be achieved under heavy loads found at racetrack cornering and braking levels.

This is an area where I was able to confirm the quick warm up. The first day I rode on the TD was at Thompson Motor Speedway in Connecticut where the temps were in the mid 40sF. Freakin’ chilly, but perfect for testing.

I always take a couple laps to get some heat in the tires. I could actually feel the tires coming into their operating temperatures during the beginning of the second lap. Wow.

After the requisite two laps of progressively faster cornering and harder braking, I got to business. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get my knee down on the third lap. Pushing on, I never had a slip, slide or pucker moment at the fast, but not blistering pace.

No Tire Warmers

The great thing about these tires is they don’t need tire warmers for the track. Frankly, I never use warmers at track days. A couple of careful laps does the trick just fine, although I understand why folks want the piece of mind that warmers give.

After 3 full track days

Wear

The TD promises to be more durable, providing improved longevity compared with the full race tire. I’ve had the TD on my 2011 GSXR750 for three full track days and the rear is just now showing enough wear to allow a guess at its lifespan.

Since the GSXR is a new bike to me and has about 25 more horsepower than my old Street Triple track bike, wear is a bit harder to judge. But, my rough calculations are that the TD will provide the same 5-6 track days for a rear and 7 or so for the front…but on a much more powerful bike! That’s damn good.

Keep in mind that this includes not only 4 expert level sessions, but also another 6 or so sessions per day at an intermediate pace while coaching. The intermediate pace is actually a bit rougher on rear tires since you tend to slow more so you accelerate more, which tears the tire.

Grip

Traction levels cannot be better. I rode as hard as I do on SC race tires and never once had a moment. The only thing that kept me from feeling as comfortable as on the race rubber is the lack of feel (see below).

Feel

One drawback I found is that compared with a true race tire, the TD doesn’t give the level of feel in the front. It’s not bad at all. And as a matter of reality, you’d only notice the slight numbness at expert lap times.

Also, I get a sort of “shudder” in the chassis over some surfaces that the race tire seems to ignore. Peter Kates from Computrack Boston thinks it may be becasue the carcass is a bit softer than the SC race tires. That makes sense as the softer carcass could transfer a frequency into the suspension. It makes sense that the TD has a softer carcass to help the tire warm up faster as it flexes more.

Sizes

Most of the common sport bike sizes are available:

110/70 x 17
120/70 x 17
140/70 x 17
160/60 x 17
180/55 x 17
180/60 x 17
200/55 x 17

Pricing

Great news here. The TD is significantly cheaper than the full-on SC0, 1 or 2 DOT race tire. You’ll save a cool $41.00 off a 120/70-17 front and $48.00 off a 180/60-17 rear. That’s $90 greenbacks that can go toward more track days. Sweet!

Buy your Pirelli Supercorsa TD tires from Motorcycle Gear and Tires (MTAG), one of this website’s strongest supporters.

The TD is a perfect choice for the track day rider who wants max performance on the track but still rides their motorcycle on the road from time to time and doesn’t want to spend the extra dough on race rubber that they won’t utilize at a typical track day pace. Sign me up.


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Product Review: Mitas TerraForce 90/10 Dual Sport/ADV Tires

The Tiger on track with Mitas TerraForce tires. otmpix.com

My 2016 Triumph Tiger 800 XRx has been a reliable machine both on the street and off-road. The Tiger came with Metzeler Tourance Next (90% road/10% off-road) tires which I promptly swapped for a set of Mitas E-07 Dakar Dual Sport/Adventure bike 50/50 tires to explore more adventurous terrain. But then I had a summer of mostly pavement riding ahead of me, so I decided to try the TerraForce tires.

Mitas (pronounced Me-tass, think “Meet us”) has been around for a while as a maker of agricultural tires and is now becoming popular for Adventure (ADV) bikes.

Note: Since I have not tried the most well-known players on the ADV/DS tire spectrum, I cannot make a direct comparison. So, the review is of my impressions of this tire and how it compares to the Metzeler.

OEM Tires

The Metzeler Tourance Next tires allowed peg feeler grinding.

The OEM Metzeler Tourance Next (90% road/10% off-road) tires were fine on the street, but felt numb. This became even more apparent during a track day where the Tourance tires could not communicate well enough to instill much confidence. Grip was good though; I managed to corner hard enough to mangle both of the Tiger’s footpeg feelers.

One thing that was a big negative was the crazy handling these tires gave after about 3,000 miles. The flat spot on the rear wasn’t terrible to look at, but this caused the bike to fall in terribly when initiating lean. And I had to put pressure on the upper handlebar to keep the bike from continuing to fall into the turn (oversteer) more than I wanted. I don’t recall the Tourances dong this when new.

I rarely toss a set of tires that still have life in them, but away they went. I’ve read that lots of people like the Tourance Next, but this sucked.

From www.mitas-moto.com

Enter TerraForce

The first impression I had of the TerraForce was the increase in vibration. It seems that the very open sipes create as much or more vibration as the 50/50 E-07s.

The tires handled fine. Considering how poor the worn Metzelers handled, it was no surprise the bike felt worlds better. The bike felt neutral, unlike the oversteering the worn Metzelers produced.

Tire “feel” is a big contributor to rider confidence and the TerraForce delivers reasonably well at street speeds. However, push hard and the tires go numb. I don’t get a good sense that the tires are hooking up the way a 100% street tire does, and nothing like a supersport tire.

But, that’s no surprise since the intended job of the TerraForce is to endure sharp gravel and the occasional impact with a log or rock. This requires a measure of carcass stiffness as well as a harder compound for both pavement and gravel endurance.

See the complete list of Riding in the Zone articles here.

Warm and Dry

I took the Tiger to the racetrack for three days. The first two days were dry and sunny. I was instructing in the novice group so I was more or less rolling around, not getting much heat into the tires. And little heat kept the tires numb and made me apprehensive about pushing harder. Bummer.

The second day was also warm and dry. One of my other instructors needed to borrow a bike to work with his assigned group at the Non-Sportbike Track training Day, so I lent him the Tiger. At lunch I asked Pete what he thought of the bike. He said it did well as a street bike and was better tn he expected for a tall ADV machine. Cool.

Pete, poised to put the TerraForce to the test.

But, he added that he had gotten his knee down in several corners! Whaaaa? Here I was thinking the TerraForce tires were a significant limiting factor for going quick and Pete goes and drags his knees …on my bike! For perspective, Pete is one fast expert racer who regularly challenges for the win on his SV650 at Loudon. But, I couldn’t let that stand, so I reclaimed the Tiger and headed out to see how the heck he did this.

Sure enough, the tires had decent feel. This obviously came from the heat Pete put into the carcass. Knowing that Pete pushed to knee-dragging lean angles gave me confidence to push harder and harder until I too got a knee down in a few corners. I had to hang off like a carnival monkey on the tall Tiger, but I did it.

Even more important was the fun factor. The tires gripped tenaciously, making this the most fun session I had all weekend.

What I learned is that if you get the tires nice and hot, they transform into a decent sporty tire. Caveat…you will not likely get the tires (or any tires) this hot at sane street speeds. But, as a street tire, the TerraForce gives plenty of grip, even if they don’t give great feel when cornering.

Zipping around in the rain on a wet racetrack.

Wet and Cool

The third track day was wet and cooler. The forecast was for rain on this day, so I brought the Tiger as my rain bike, leaving my Street Triple track bike for the dry sessions. I know that street tires are a better choice than supersport race tires because they warm up faster and the rubber compound has more silica for better wet grip.

And yes, I felt confident riding in the rain to a point where I was able to ride at a very entertaining pace. It took a few laps to get some confidence, but once some heat was generated, I was good to go. See the video below.

Off-Road

The TerraForce isn’t great in the mud.

After replacing the 50/50 E-07s with the 90/10 Terraforce, I wasn’t  sure whether off-road performance would hold me back. It turns out that the 90/10s handle the rocky terrain just fine. As a matter of fact, they gave me zero problems when climbing a somewhat steep hill with some large ledge rocks.

Mud is another matter. I was with a student in the unmaintained forest roads where I conduct the Adventure/Dual-Sport bike courses when I ended up in a decent mud hole. With some momentum, I was able to get through the muck, but the tires couldn’t gain any traction and spun mud all over.

If your riding includes the occasional off-road adventure, then I wouldn’t hesitate with the Terraforce. Just know the limits.

Wear

Mitas TerraForce Rear at about 5,000 miles. Notice the “cooling ribs” and zero chicken strips.

My first set of TerraForce tires had about 5,000 miles on them before I had a puncture in the rear tire. I could have plugged the hole, but decided instead to get a new set because I was heading on a long trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and didn’t want any trouble. In my estimation, the tires had about 4,000 miles left in them. Do the math and I bet you can get a solid 10k out of the rear and perhaps 10k from the front. Your results may vary.

The front tire at about 5,000 miles. The tread blocks wear a bit unevenly.

However, the large blocks seem to wear unevenly in the front. Not bad, but still this could be the determining factor in replacing the tires and not tread depth. See photos.

Wide, Open Sipes

As I mentioned earlier, these grooves tend to cause vibration and some noise and that the big blocks tend to wear unevenly.

One unique feature of the TerraForce (and the Mitas SportForce) is the little cooling ribs at the base of the open grooves.

The plugged puncture in the thin part of the carcass. Wide grooves make the tire vulnerable.

The one thing to consider is having such open grooves makes the tire vulnerable to punctures. I had a rear flat while with street students, becasue a sharp stone penetrated the thinner part of the carcass inside the groove where the rubber is thinner. The rock was the size of a pea…small enough to get inside the groove, but big enough to puncture. Keep this in mind if you ride a lot on gravel roads with small stones.

www.mitas-moto.com

Sizes

See the chart for available sizes.

Go For It

The TerraForce are a great  90/10 tire that will likely suit your needs just fine for pavement and some off-road. Click this if you want to visit the Mitas website.

If you plan to buy the TerraForce or any other product, check with Twisted Throttle. Please click the link or the image then type “mitas” in the search field. This will send you to the twisted Website and any purchases you make help support this blog. BIG Thanks.
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Twisted Throttle helps support this blog. They also have quality luggage & racks, riding gear, electronics, auxiliary lighting, bike protection, and much more. Happy shopping!

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