“You’re some kind of special idiot, aren’t you? I get on that and all you’re going to do is terrify me, and you know a terrified me is problematical to live with.”
“Look, this is Aprilia’s new touring bike. I need to see if the Italians are lying about this, and to do that you and I need to go for a ride.”
“That’s a Tuono, isn’t it?”
“It is indeed.”
“The last time you had a Tuono you were shaking and twitching like a red-eyed wildebeest running from lions. You and your dickhead mates would sit around and lie to each other about how fast the bastard was, and I’m convinced you weren’t lying all that much.”
“How could you tell?”
“When you lie, you all tend to yell. When you’re not lying, you mutter and whisper and then you shut-up and look guilty when I appear.”
“I promise I will not terrify you. Cross my heart.”
“I have no idea why you even wave your hands around in front of your chest when you say that. It’s not remotely convincing.”
But I convinced her anyway, and a few days after New Year’s Day, we set off on a short jaunt from Singleton to Kulnura and back again, with promises of lunch and good behaviour.
Lynette was very skeptical of the new Tuono in terms of what it offered for pillions.
“That seat doesn’t look very comfortable. And as if I can use those stupid grabrails. They are under my thighs. I can barely reach them and my thighs are not big. The foot-pegs also look to be too high. Lunch better be a wine-lashed extravaganza, bastard.”
The run from Broke to Wollombi via the two bridges is great until it runs into a narrow, broken-bitumened dick of a road. But it’s a great place to see if your suspension works.
The Tuono V4 is fitted with fully adjustable Sachs suspenders, which are, quite honestly, superb. The Tuono Factory comes with the Ohlins, but the Sachs gear on the V4 is no slouch at all.
I mention the suspension because it is one of the crucial factors in terms of pillion comfort.
I asked Lynette her thoughts as we cruised into Broke and before the road got really bumpy.
“It fooled me,” she said. “It’s quite comfortable and while I don’t have the same feeling of security I get on those big bikes (she means the ones with top-boxes and luxo pillion seats), it’s better than it looks. I just have to work out where to hang onto. You’ve put on some weight, so it’s hard to get my fingers under the bottom of your jacket and you’re not wearing your vest…”
“I can do without the fat-shaming.”
“Get less fat, see less shame,” she shrugged. “But I like that I’m not peering over your head like I was on the Beemer (the XR). It’s a bit of a climb on and off, but the footpegs are actually well-placed.”
They were for her, but not so much for me. Interestingly, my feet sit inboard of hers on the rider’s pegs. Not an issue if I am riding on the arch of my foot. If I get on the balls of my feet when the scratching starts, then her feet interfere with mine a bit.
I adjusted my expectations and feet accordingly, and we rode on. I upped the pace a touch and waited for her to start brutalising my kidneys with her sharp little fists.
It did not happen. I felt her tense, which is normal. She is not a relaxed pillion. She pays attention all the time and is an integral part of what I’m doing.
We got to Wollombi and I let her off.
“That was terrifying,” she grinned. Which is the RIGHT terrifying where my wife is concerned. Marriage is all about nuances, people.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
She gave me a meaningful look. “You are not. I just have to work out how to hang on. But it’s smooth. I’m not flying off the seat, which is what really terrifies me.”
“So it’s not the speed then?”
“No, stupid. I love the speed. That terrifies me in a good way. I love that roller-coaster feeling in my stomach. Why are you grabbing my boobs?”
“I’m checking your pulse.”
We belted on to Jerry’s at Kulnura.
“Is there vodka here?” she asked when she got off on slightly wobbly legs.
“No. Just coffee.”
“He should sell shots of vodka for pillions. Keep us calm. No, do not touch my boobs again.”
As it turned out, there was no coffee, either. Jerry was closed, clearly on a much-deserved break over the New Year period.
We rode back down the hill to Laguna, and encountered lines of people queuing for sandwiches and coffee – all from Sydney and all clearly discomfited with so many bikes around. I’m sure I’d passed some of these idiots on the way to Jerry’s, all doing 20km/h under the posted limit, then beeping their horns and flashing their lights when I went around them.
“Stop death-staring these idiots,” Lynette whispered. “They’ll call the cops.”
“You want me to line up for sangas?” I asked. “The cops will come for sure then.”
“No,” Lynette said, putting her jacket on. “It’s hot out here, these people all look miserable and some of them smell bad, and you should take me to that pub in Singo that sells that lovely salmon. You can drink beer, I can drink wine, and then we can go home the back way.”
Over lunch, I picked her brains some more. The ride back was a little more spirited in places and I wondered what had changed.
“I found a way to hang on,” she explained. “I put one hand under the bottom of your jacket, and the other hand behind me on the grabrail.”
The grabrail curves around the pillion-seat, and while the pillion may not be able to hang onto the sides, they can hang onto the back – which is the preferred bracing for hard braking and acceleration.
“So you’re OK with it? It’s a touring bike, right?”
“It’s not the kind of bike where I can talk to you when you’re riding – and I gave up hoping you’d buy an intercom thing years ago – because you’re not really cruising. We’re getting along a bit, aren’t we?”
“You can’t see the speedo, can you?”
She shook her head in the negative.
“Look, I don’t think I could spend all day on it, especially droning up a freeway. But the suspension is great. It’s so smooth in corners…what do you mean that’s you?”
“That is me. I’m being smooth in corners.”
“Bullshit. I’ve been on the back with you when it’s been like hanging onto an epileptic. You’re much smoother on this. That’s the bike. Not you.”
“Fine. What else?”
“I love it in the corners. Really. The seat is pretty good, so looks are deceiving. It’s a lot of fun, actually. And no, I do not need you to check my pulse again. Maybe later.”
Yeah, it’s a touring bike. A very, very, very fast one.
A more comprehensive review will be up soon on BikeMe!
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Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.