MV AGUSTA BRUTALE 800 | Bike Tests | Latest Tests | Top Sellers in Australia
The looks have been sharpened, the performance refined, but the Brutale’s ferocious soul remains unchanged
There’s no arguing the new Brutale 800 is stunning. It’s still the jaw-dropping poster bike the original model was 15 years ago. This is the first machine to come from MV Agusta to meet the tight new Euro 4 legislation, but while there’s been a fair bit of mechanical jiggery-pokery, thankfully there haven’t been many cosmetic sacrifices.
The attention to detail is lovely, from tasty touches like the stitching on the seat right down to the beautifully sculpted single-sided swingarm. The all-new trellis frame stands out as bold but simultaneously delicate and intricate. The triple-exit exhausts sound as good as they look, and help the new Brutale deliver the wow factor – you’re going to smile every time you open the garage door and gaze upon this beast lurking within. And who doesn’t want that?
But all this design and passion comes at a price, £10,499 to be precise ($18,165). In comparison, the Brutale’s closest rival, Ducati’s Monster 821, costs a somewhat less salty £9150 ($15,831). Strip away the Italian chic and Yamaha’s MT-09 delivers similar performance for a mere £7349 ($12,715). In my eyes the MV easily wins the beauty contest, although you have to dig deep to pay for it – but you wouldn’t expect to take a stunning Italian socialite to your local chippy for dinner.
Thankfully you can see where your hard-earned cash has gone with the new Brutale, and it’s not just the pretty bits. Four rider modes come as standard, as does eight-stage traction control, switchable engine braking, ABS, Brembo brakes, a fully adjustable 43mm Marzocchi fork and fully adjustable Sachs shock – it’s an impressive package straight out of the crate. MV has also changed the clocks and mode buttons to make it more user-friendly, which addresses a serious gripe with the previous model. For some the price is justified simply by the logo on the sculpted fuel tank; owning an MV puts you in an exclusive club.
Although it may look pretty similar to the old model, MV has actually made considerable changes, and left no part untouched. Body highlights include a longer chassis, 20mm extra length on the single-sided swingarm, and more relaxed steering geometry. This has been done to improve the stability, calm down the handling and make it more user-friendly.
The LED lights are new, as are the mode buttons and clocks, but sadly they are not the same as the very clever clocks on the more expensive Turismo Veloce. The rider modes remain, as does the eight-stage traction control, but they’ve obviously been recalibrated to work with the new motor and chassis. There’s a clever quickshifter/autoblipper as standard, which can be switched off if you prefer changing gears conventionally with the clutch.
MV’s engineers have also worked their magic on the lovely 800 triple. Power is down 6.7kW to 86.5kW, but the pay-off is more torque over a wider part of the rev range. The engine now makes 90 per cent of its torque at only 3800rpm and the curve is much smoother through to 8000rpm, again aimed at making the Brutale easier to ride on the road.
There’s really no need to scream the triple to the red line, unless you want to listen to the addictively charismatic exhaust tone and pop between clutchless gear changes via the quickshifter. Nor do you need to jump up and down the gearbox incessantly, as there’s so much torque. The low-down fuelling roughness, which was the Achilles heel of the old bike, has all but vanished with the new 800. The fuelling is on par with anything from Japan, in fact I’d go so far as to say that it’s better than some. It’s a little aggressive in sports mode, but nearly perfect in the normal riding mode, while the rain mode restricts power to 60kW. The modes can be changed on the move and are far easier to navigate than before via the clocks and mode buttons.
For the first 60km of switchback roads, all bathed in glorious Spanish sunshine, I rode the new Brutale like a racebike. I was up and down the gearbox, enjoying the thrills of the peak performance and playing with the clutchless gear changes like a child with a new toy. Yes, you can ride the new 800 on the limit, the exhaust sounds intoxicating, but you soon realise there’s really no need. Short-shifting is far more rewarding than it ever was, using the massive spread of torque between 4000-8000rpm. Alternatively, just stay in fifth gear and surf the torque, carrying as much corner speed as you dare, having fun without scaring yourself, and knowing in the back of your mind that you have a wealth of rider aids to help you.
The traction control can be easily changed on the move, or even de-activated with the throttle open. Even on the most intrusive level (eight) it allows you to wheelie at will, and is subtle and refined when it does kick in. It’s even more impressive when you consider that it’s not monitoring lean angle or pitch like some of the latest IMU-equipped sportsbikes.
Like the traction control, the ABS can also be de-activated, but it’s so impressive I’m unsure why you’d ever want to, with the possible exception of track riding. It’s not too intrusive, gives you that extra security and backs up the really strong Brembo stoppers. There’s also a slipper clutch as standard, and adjustable engine braking.
The lovely suspension and chassis allow the Brutale to have a split personality – it’s no longer a one-trick pony like the original. On one hand the set-up is compliant enough to take minor road imperfections in its stride without jolting you out of the seat, feeling plusher and more forgiving than the previous model. Yet on the other hand, it has loads of ground clearance and the Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 rubber gives you the confidence to drop the Brutale on to your knee with ease.
It’s only when you begin to really push on that you start to want to play with the suspension a little, but these very minor modifications can easily be made via the fully adjustable suspension, and the vast majority of riders would never feel the need in normal road use. I mention the high-speed handling because, unlike much of its competition, the Brutale wouldn’t be out of place on track, even on standard tyres and set-up in the fast group.
On the road the new Brutale took on the more mundane town work with ease. Again the low-down fuelling proves almost faultless, as good as any other fly-by-wire bike on the market. The narrow seat meant that I was just about flat-footed at a standstill despite my 5ft 6in stature – impressively accommodating for such a focused naked. However, that slim perch isn’t the most comfortable over long distances, and you’ll feel the solid edges of the seat on your inside thigh with both feet on the ground. But its lightness, ease of use, excellent fuelling and ABS aren’t intended for dashing between red traffic lights every 300 meters. This is a bike that needs to be let off the leash on sinuous ribbons of tarmac.
Overall, the new The Brutale is now easier to ride, has much improved fuelling and a wider spread of torque, plus a bi-directional quickshifter. It’s an impressive offering – but one that will cost you £10,500 ($18169). Is it worth the extra bucks? If your heart is set on a sexy naked middleweight with serious road and track skills, then the answer is probably yes.
So there I was, less than six hours after arriving in Malaga (after a 33-hour trip from Australia), tagged on to the back of the lead MV test rider. We had left the other journos behind and were really putting the Brutale through its paces. I was thinking that perhaps full race leathers might have been a good idea as I tried to keep my Draggin Jeans from getting holed on contact with the tarmac. This bike gives you an uncanny confidence that only a few machines offer – it’s just so rider friendly.
I’ve always thought it’s hard to make a nakedbike look good, but when I first laid eyes on the new Brutale my heart fluttered a little. It was easy to see that Adrian Morton (the man responsible for the design dating back to the ORO) hadn’t just fitted new stickers, but had in fact created an 83 per cent new machine.
The modern era of MVs World Supersport racing experience was also heavily tapped in the making of this 800, helping to make it one of the best handling bikes I’ve ridden on the road. The Brutale has a higher centre of gravity than last year’s bike, which considerably lightens up the handling when changing line and flicking from side to side. The frame has also been tweaked, opening up the steering head angle to increase the trail. This trail increase plus the myriad other changes allow the bike to handle in a very neutral way. I found that when I hit the front brake mid turn the bike stayed on line instead of standing up and running wide, but at the same time was still stable when I hit bumps at speed.
Probably my favourite part of the Brutale though has to be the engine. I love the burble created by the in-line counter-rotating-crank triple. My smile went into overdrive though when changing up through the gears. A fantastic pop – caused by the butterflies closing in the fly-by-wire system –occurred every time I stamped on the gear lever to change up through the box. Pure ecstasy.
The electronic shift works beautifully and matches the power characteristic of the engine. I love the torque of this Brutale, it has been upped dramatically from last year and the power is really in the hand of the rider, allowing you to have a lot of fun. It’s down on top-end horsepower compared to last year’s bike, but you wouldn’t know it when you open the taps. It really feels like an open sportsbike.
I enjoyed my short period of time on the Brutale but importantly it’s good to see a small company like MV creating a good functional motorcycle for the people and not just the purists.
The pistons are completely new, and the cam profiles and timings have been revised. The intake and exhaust are all new, to comply with Euro 4. Power is down from 93kW to 86.5kW, but peak torque is up by 25 per cent from a lower rpm and across a broader spread of the rev range.
There are four rider modes as standard: Rain (60kW), Normal, Sport and a Custom mode. The rider modes only change the fuelling, while traction control stays on your saved setting. TC ranges from 0-8, including off, and can be changed on the move even with the throttle open. ABS can be de-activated.
Wheelbase is now 20mm longer at 1400mm, trail has increased from 95mm to 103.5mm and rake is now 24.5°. It’s a significant change to improve stability and calm down the handling. The old Brutale never suffered instability, but the tweaks make the ride a little more civilised.
It’s a spring thing
There’s a fully adjustable 43mm Marzocchi USD fork up front with 125mm of travel, and a Sachs fully adjustable unit on the back; both are quality items with a plush feel. The factory suspension settings have been tweaked in order to cope with the 2016 bike’s extra 8kg.
WORDS ADAM CHILD, PHOTOGRAPHY MILAGRO