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Monday 3rd December 2012


PH2 RIDDEN: MV AGUSTA BRUTALE 800

PH2 slings a leg over MV's new 800 triple. It proves much more than just a big 675...


Having only just launched the Brutale 675, on the face of it MV Agusta's choice to follow it up with an 800 version seems a bit odd. However there is method in its madness. The Brutale 800 is a very different machine to the 675 – despite sharing nearly all of the smaller capacity bike’s components!

According to MV, the 800 is a bike for experienced riders, while the 675 is a machine aimed at bringing people into the MV brand, with its softer nature appealing to younger riders and female riders. Can 125cc really make that much difference to a bike’s character? In the case of the Brutale, it most certainly can…

Brutale 800 feels rather different to the 675
Brutale 800 feels rather different to the 675
What’s different?
When it comes to the chassis there isn’t much different between the two bikes. The 800 has the same frame, swingarm, wheels, clocks, bars and headlight as the 675, with only the suspension different. The 800 gains fully-adjustable Marzocchi forks and a fully-adjustable Sachs shock. Externally the engine is identical. Inside, however, the 675’s stroke has been increased by 8.4mm to 54.3mm, bringing the capacity up to 798cc. The head, cams, gearbox, airbox, throttle bodies and every other major engine component, meanwhile, are identical. The clutch gains an extra plate, taking it from eight to nine, while the final gearing is different with the rear sprocket dropping two teeth to 41 from 43.

Hold on tight!
Being over six feet tall, I often find smaller capacity bikes cramped, with the older-style Brutale being especially annoying as my knees would get caught under the tank’s lip. No such issue with the 800; the riding position is roomy, even for the lofty in height, and the bike feels incredibly light. Tipping the scales at 167kg (claimed), the 800 is even the same weight as the Brutale 675 – it just makes more power and torque!

In sport mode, the 800 is pretty wild
In sport mode, the 800 is pretty wild
Setting the fuel mode to ‘N’ (normal), the Brutale 800 was a pussy cat through town. The throttle response had a slight lag before the power came in, but it was smooth when going from a closed to open throttle, and had no stutter at all at a constant setting. All was looking good. Then I switched to ‘S’, or sport mode, and on damp but drying mountain roads got a bit of a shock as the Brutale changed character completely!

Where Triumph’s triple engine is a fairly relaxed motor which is happy to turn its hand to a bit of tomfoolery, the MV’s engine has a feeling of aggression about it when revved – like it is urging you to get it wound up and screaming. It’s more abrupt than the Triumph, with a faster throttle pick-up and eagerness to rev that means you really need to concentrate when riding it.

Accelerate hard in any of the first three gears, and the slightest lip in the road will cause the front to lift. You have to be very wary in first gear when accelerating out of roundabouts, as too much throttle can easily see you wheelie-ing when you aren’t expecting it, and the same can happened over rises in the road in third gear. The Brutale 800 certainly is a bike for experienced riders – and it is bloody great fun for that fact alone!

Damping is surprisingly supple
Damping is surprisingly supple
As you would expect from such a lightweight bike (MV claims 167kg dry, 189kg ready to go), the MV’s handling is excellent. It can destroy a set of twisty corners and, oddly for an Italian bike, the suspension even has some give in it – isn’t set rock solid. In fact, the MV’s pre-set damping was so good I didn’t feel the need to break out the screwdriver and fiddle. The brakes are also pretty faultless.

Unlike the Triumph, the MV comes loaded with a full electronics package that includes eight-stage traction control, a speed limiter and four fuel modes, one of which is programmable. While I wouldn’t blindly trust the MV’s traction control like I would the system on the BMW S1000RR, it did seem fairly decent on the wet roads when I did decide to test it, although in truth I spent much of the ride with it turned off.

Brutale 800 continues MV's return to form
Brutale 800 continues MV's return to form
Conclusion
Where the Street Triple is a relaxed, naked bike that is also tremendous fun to go ballistic on, the Brutale is far more aggressive. It’s sportier than the Street Triple and considerably faster, making it not a hell of a lot slower than the Speed Triple and, I reckon probably faster on a track than the 1050 due to its light weight.

The MV is not a bike for less experienced riders, as the power is pretty ferocious when unleashed and this, combined with the light weight, can make it a bit of a handful on bumpy roads. Although nowhere near as user-friendly or charming as the Triumph, the Brutale 800 is certainly the best Brutale I’ve ridden and a brilliant bike in its own right. If this is the shape of things to come from MV then I can’t wait to see what else will be appearing from the Italian manufacturer; it seems to be going from strength to strength now it is back in the hands of the Castiglioni family with the late, great, Claudio’s son Giovanni in control.


Specs:
MV Agusta Brutale 800   
Engine:
798cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC triple, fuel injection
Power: 125hp @ 11,600rpm
Torque: 59ft.lb @ 8,600rpm
Top speed: 150mph (est)
Weight: 167kg (dry)
MPG: Probably not great!
Price: £8,999 (£9,299 EAS with a quickshifter or £9,799 with EAS and Italia paint)
Colours: Red/silver, White/red, Grey/white, Italia

Author: Jon Urry