MV Agusta is a terrific brand with some very exciting motorcycles. However, when we rode the first of them in India, we discovered that we liked the 800cc triple-cylinder MV Agustas a lot more than the bigger F4 with its inline-4. MotoRoyale, the Indian representative, is about to add the new Brutale 800 into the Indian market shortly. We went to the MV Agusta factory in Varese, near Milan, to ride the bike. Hold on tight!
Part of the story of the MV Agusta is the design. The late Massimo Tamburini was a big part of it, and now Adrian Morton's lines have become well-appreciated as well. The Brutale, MV's sport-naked, has always been a distinctive motorcycle. In fact, many of the details that you see on the sport-nakeds today can be traced back to the original Brutale from 15 years ago.
And that many years later, while the Brutale continues to evolve slowly, the silhouette is still striking and distinctive. The bodywork is tightly packed and heavily sculpted and there is a sense of unabashed wallowing about in mechanical glory about the design. For 2017, the design has heavy revisions, within the limits of the silhouette and lines that signify the Brutale. The tank is new, for example, but it takes a moment to notice the shape. More obvious is the new instrument cluster and the plastic housing into which it is mounted. Also new is the headlight which includes a simple DRL as well as an MV Agusta logo now. At the back, the light is a new design and the grab rails are neatly integrated so they disappear though you can use four Allen bolts to move it backward and make it useable. Very good idea that one.
But the revisions are not restricted to the design. The chassis has been revised too with MV Agusta elongating the wheelbase slightly as well as adding a hint more of trail. The base frame is the same, more or less, with a red trellis frame connecting the headstock to the cast pivot plates, which in turn host a single-sided swingarm. Suspension is Marzocchi 43mm upside-down forks, fully adjustable while the rear is a fully adjustable Sachs unit. The tyres are Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIIs, and Brembo works its magic with twin 300mm discs at the front and a 220mm single disc at the rear.
The Brutale also boasts the latest suite of the MVICS electronics which add engine brake control, 8-level traction, 3-level ABS and more. And thankfully, MV has evolved both the screen and the switchgear and solved one of the issues we had with the older Brutale.
And let us not forget the engine. The 799cc triple has been revised too. It makes 110PS but gets as much as 25 per cent more torque of which 80 per cent is available at under 4,000rpm. Peak torque is 83Nm, again at a low point too - 7,600rpm. The Brutale 800 has a slipper clutch, a quick shifter and more. But enough specification, let us go for a ride, shall we?
The Brutale looks like a small, tightly packed motorcycle and it feels even smaller to ride. The new subframe with the hole in it looks tres cool, and you really feel just how compact it is when you sit on the hard, flat saddle and realise that there isn't any squirm room. The seat combines well with footpegs that are set backwards but not too high and a flat handlebar that puts you in a sporty slant but without too much weight on your wrists. We only had a short ride but it felt good, and that instrument cluster mounting keeps more wind off your chest than you would expect.
MV Agusta also made the triple-tipped exhaust pipe bigger for 2017, and it looks better finished to be sure. It also sounds good. The hum from the triple is more raw than you expect, and it adds to the flavour of the Brutale 800. Listening to it echoing off Italy's walls and mountainsides was a distinct pleasure.
But this is an easy bike to ride. Torque is immediate and city speeds are despatched easily. Opening more throttle produces instant bursts of speed, but I like the fact that MV hasn't made the throttle too sensitive even in the Sport mode.
But the sensation of the Brutale is of lightness. It feels completely weightless. And it begins with the engine which appears to have no crankshaft attached to it. The counter-rotating crankshaft, to be clear, is one of the signature features of the machine. But the revs rise and fall with an inertia-free glee that I really loved. Feed it the gears as the revs rise or dawdle in, say third, and you will be happy with the progress in either way. Lovely, really.
The handling of the motorcycle is similar. The bars give good leverage but it feels more as if the Brutale 800 weighs as much as, say a KTM 390 or something. Direction changes are assured but instant, and I would love to buzz a racetrack as well as tight mountain road with the Brutale. I imagine it would totally destroy apexes in both environments with great aplomb.
What will probably need adjusting is the stock suspension set-up which feels very taut indeed. We did run into some bumpy roads and some manhole covers around the Varese area and that motorcycle absorbed the punishment, but only just. If I were regularly riding the Brutale 800 in India, I would be hunting for more compliance to be sure.
All told, the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is an impressive sport-naked. Our short ride revealed the need for a much longer ride, heh heh, but it clearly pointed to a well-made real-world motorcycle. The lightness of feel, the instant torque, the ease with which it smashes past 150kmph, there is much to like about the Brutale 800.
MotoRoyale, who represents MV Agusta in India, intends to launch the motorcycle in June at a price around Rs 14.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune). The higher-spec 800 RR is also like to follow a few months later. That is roughly Rs 2 lakh lower than the F3 although MotoRoyale hints that the arrival of the Euro-IV F3 might push the prices of the sportsbike a little higher.
MotoRoyale will be working on expanding product lines this year, and the F3 is already their biggest seller and I expect that the Brutale will top that without too much of a struggle when it goes on sale.
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