MV Agusta have updated the Brutale 800 for 2016, sacrificing some power due to Euro 4 compliance but more than delivering with extra torque... Here's our 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 review. Test & Photography by Kris Hodgson, David Hodgson
Riding MV Agusta’s Brutale 800 has got to be one of my highlights of the year, not because the bike was perfect but just because I had so much fun in a variety of conditions.
Picking up the bike from up the North Coast and heading into Sydney during peak hour traffic wasn’t the best way to start. I got home after lengthy delays, annoyed that even with plentiful amounts of filtering it had still taken ages. The Brutale 800 was capable and controllable but like most performance machines, not all that happy in these conditions.
The ergonomics are exceptionally good though, considering just how compact the Brutale 800 is, with the bike still feeling roomy and comfortable with a nice stretch to the ‘pegs and reasonable reach to the wide ‘bars.
There’s great leverage to the ‘bars as a result making the bike very nimble with minimal input. The seat was also comfortable with just the forward sub-frame/rear tank contour situated right where I wanted to grip with my knees, making it uncomfortable during longer sporty rides, but fine for commuting or suburban riding.
My next ride was around Sydney during some quieter times of day and the Brutale 800 proved itself a much more enjoyable motorcycle in regular conditions.
In ‘Normal’ mode to soften the throttle response somewhat and give a smoother, albeit less intense ride, the Brutale 800 more than delivers with spadefuls of torque and staggering acceleration.
There’s no build up through the rev range of power or torque, it just starts strong and continues until it plateaus around the 10,000rpm mark, although to be fair this is at a point where you’re normally well outside the law in any gear.
MV Agusta claim they’ve increased that low to mid-range torque by almost 20 per cent as the trade-off for the reduction in power that the Euro4 compliant bike had to make. However on the road I’m just never riding hard enough to really miss that top end, particularly on a bike that’s capable of landing you without a licence using only the lower 50 per cent of the rev range.
There’s still a slight roughness at throttle open in Normal, which is worse in Sport, with the engine struggling to roll along under 20km/h smoothly without some clutch. In Rain mode on the other hand the throttle response is far softer with quite doughy power delivery, but that very low speed riding is smoother. Perfect for really poor conditions or if you’re stuck in horrific traffic you can’t filter through really.
I had one day with a wet, raining, two-hour commute and actually found with Rain mode that the Brutale remains an extremely docile machine, with easy, confidence inspiring handling and power delivery, with the ABS and Traction Control offering good piece of mind but proving unnecessary.
In normal mode however, for your regular city and suburban riding the Brutale 800 is awesome fun. It’s nimble, light and fires off the line like a rocket heading for space. Quick take-offs is absolutely addictive and the bike is deceptively fast, and I had to reign it in on many occasions after looking down at the speedo.
Gearing is also tall meaning you can pretty much sit in second gear for your general city riding to sit in the real meat of the rev range, while at 100-110km/h third was comfortable. Fourth felt like overdrive and cruising along in fifth or six felt totally unnecessary but helped fuel economy.
Further improving your experience with the gearbox is the up and down quickshifter (MV EAS 2.0), which like on the recently tested Lusso, is an extremely well integrated piece of kit. Up and down shifts are smooth, with downshifts offering the whole next level in quickshifter technology.
It’s just one of those features you never think you’ll need but take for granted shortly after riding a motorcycle with it, only to go back to a normal machine and feel like something is missing!
Around town the Marzocchi forks are well damped, with a light front-end feel but confidence inspiring tracking. The rear Sachs shock on standard settings was on the rough side over the common city elements like speed bumps but great in all other regards.
Brakes are strong with good modulation but gentle initial bite and being too aggressive on the front anchors can unsettle the bike, with enough stopping power to really pull you up in a hurry thanks to Brembo radial four-piston calipers.
Where the Brutale 800 really shined was out on the open road, with a trip out to Wollombi and back down the Putty Road giving a great opportunity to really put the bike to the test.
With a mix of fast sweepers and some tighter sections this route was great, with the Brutale 800 proving exceptional fun with that torquey triple providing plenty of thrills. I kept the 800 in Normal mode here too, as while the additional responsiveness on the throttle from Sport was good while aggressively riding I was getting some hunting on a steady throttle in faster sections.
Normal mode remained the more balanced option offering better transitions back onto the throttle and better steady throttle performance.
It’s also worth noting there’s a Custom mode that you can set specifically to your needs, so you can actually customise the settings to your exact needs, however with the test time available I stuck to the standard maps.
For about 90 per cent of the ride the Brutale was pure joy, with third and fourth providing exceptional drive and only needing second through the much tighter sections.
Firing through the corners using just the up and down quickshifter and that super meaty torque allows for rapid progress, with the bike handling exceptionally well, offering neutral steering, easy line changes even mid corner and plenty of feel, although again the front end feels quite light. When you’re really caning you’ll also hear the explosion of the quickshifter operating to upshift, which is frankly awesome.
Light front brake into the corners and judicious use of the gearbox and engine braking – benefiting from the slipper clutch – made for a memorable ride and some awesome fun.
The 10 per cent where the Brutale 800 wasn’t a joy was when we turned the pace up a notch and the high speed rebound damping on the rear suspension really started to struggle through rougher sections. I was getting some extreme rear end rebound compacting my spine, with the rear chattering over particularly poor sections, enough so to start getting some wiggle through the front ‘bars.
With more time to tinker with the suspension this could probably be dialled out thanks to fully adjustable forks and rear shock, however for general riding the suspension was pretty spot on for my 70kg riding weight.
This was also the section where I’d switched to Sport mode and found the throttle hunting slightly at higher speeds on a steady throttle, although obviously with the more sensitive throttle setting the suspension settings may have had an effect as well.
Switching back to Normal mode at a slightly more refrained pace the rest of the test was without issue.
As important as the ride itself is of course the styling and look of a motorcycle, not to mention the technology included, as the market becomes increasingly competitive.
MV Agusta can hold their head high in this regard of course, with the Brutale 800 my favourite nakedbike in their range, styling-wise. It’s simple, sporty and exceptionally finished. The headers and exhaust collector still need a bellypan, but the single-sided swingarm, five-spoke wheels, fighter-jet like sub-frame and tail and low profile headlight all make for an awesome nakedbike.
The triple-tipped exhaust is honestly very quiet, often drowned out by the engine’s mechanical noise, but very much in keeping with the MV Agusta look. The swingarm mounted plate holder and mudguard are also an interesting touch, which I like thanks to keeping the tail so clean.
A multifunction display has everything as a glance, however the idiot lights are along the bottom edge, under a darkened lens, meaning under direct sunlight it can be quite hard to see the lights, with the indicator notifications needing a glance down and still being hard to spot.
Controls are on the left hand switchblock for navigating the computer system, which is pretty space age, allowing control of the full RbW electronic system, traction control, ABS, quickshifter and your trip meters.
Making for easier mode changes is a right hand switchblock button, which can be used to toggle through the modes. I wasn’t actually able to press the buttom while holding the throttle normally, but could shift my grip to reach. I normally just switched at a stop though.
Overall the MV Agusta Brutale 800 proved an exceptional machine, the electronics are expansive with enough options to ensure any rider will find their preferred settings, while handling and power are well deserving of praise.
For those after a nakedbike the Brutale 800 is definitely worth considering, offering a sporty package, exceptional technology and a truly unique option, with typical Italian style and exclusivity.
SECOND OPINION – DAVID’S RIDE
I’ll be right up front and admit to being an MV owner for the last seven years, and an Italian bike owner since 1974, so I am somewhat biased.
My MV is a 2009 910R Brutale, Hydrogen limited release that I have owned since new. It has done some 38,000kms. The Hydrogen has appalling fuelling off a closed throttle, so I was interested to see if the new triples were afflicted with the same problem.
The 800 Brutale is a visually appealing package, with its typical MV Brutale styling and attention to detail in the locating and mounting of ancillaries. The red lattice frame offsets the black of the motor and wheels rather well.
I am not a fan of matt black bodywork, as I think it is a cop out from the styling department, especially in this case where the bodywork is shaped superbly (I told you I was biased). However the cast rider and pillion seat sub-frame is a fine piece of style and engineering, working very nicely.
The hollow section between the bottom ‘rails’ and the padded seat provides an interesting shape as well as see-through area. This is somewhat offset by what can only be called a ‘dag’ on the rear of the rear wheel that mounts the number plate, rear light and blinkers. What were they thinking? Surely a tail tidy cannot be that hard to style in.
Visually the 800 has people wondering what size engine it has, as the build of the bike is very compact with its mass centralisation design which is a direct follow on from the original 750 Brutale’s.
The 800 is 11mm shorter in wheel base than the 910R, and the seat around 25mm higher. The engine is a very compact and well finished unit. It is noisy though, drowning the exhaust at idle and up to 3000rpm.
I found the exhaust was really never heard, only the intake above 3000rpm and the engine below. The engine architecture of a stacked gearbox and down-draught fuel injectors contribute to compact nature of the bike as well as the height of the tank, as does the exhaust system which is largely under the engine. The exhaust keeps with the three outlets that characterise MV’s three-cylinder bikes.
The bodywork keeps the Brutale heritage, and is both eye catching and effective. The ‘wings’ on the top edges of the tank should allow you to hook your leg under when pressing on, but there is a curious ridge running inside where your calf goes that is initially uncomfortable.
I moved my legs outwards slightly so not to rub on the ridge, but a strange piece of design. This ridge is not present on any other Brutale I have ridden, so maybe just a bodywork fit quirk on this bike.
All the controls fall easily to hand, including the information screen which contains all of the info one expects (and probably more) with very straightforward access to the bikes ride-by-wire controls by using the mode selector on the RHS handlebar.
In fact, the menu system is one of a small number where the systems do not need a manual to make sense. The font used is clear and sized so that everything displayed is instantly readable.
The blinker warning lights are hard to see in the corners of the display, and it’s easy to leave them on after use. A small niggle that would go away with more time on the bike.
The controls are light and provide good feedback. The clutch is a smidgen heavier than Japanese mid-sized bikes, but nothing too difficult, even in traffic. Gear shifts both up and down the gearbox using the quick shifter are excellent, and accomplished with just a slight nudge of the pedal in either direction.
The sound of a flat change higher up the rev range is amazing. There is a loud ‘crack’ on the wide open shift, and the earth moves backwards even faster. Maybe it’s the combination of speed and sound that is addictive.
The Brembo radial front brakes perform as expected, lacking initial bite, but retarding progress smoothly and powerfully. This applies to both the 910R and the 800 and seems to be a common design thread for MV – power without an initial bite, but immense power right through to stop.
Moving off from standstill requires a reasonable number of revs to get the bike moving smartly, but once moving, the free spinning engine settles down nicely, so that keeping up with fast flowing traffic on a major road or freeway is a breeze.
Where on the 910R you would be in the 3000-4000rpm range, on the 800 you are in the 4000-5000rpm range. The engine is felt rather than heard up to around 6000rpm, then the intake noise starts to become evident, building up to a howl at redline of 12,000 revs.
The power available is never wanting, even on the freeway where the naked bike riding position is the limiting factor. Fifth and sixth gears are only used on the freeway or way out west on big open roads.
Fuelling is a mixed bag, just as on the 910R. Mode selection does make a difference though, but I mainly left it in sports mode for the review as it is a sports bike.
Where from closed throttle the 910R is snatchy and incredibly poor until around 2000rpm, the 800 is more refined, but suffers a surging sensation and is very touchy on the throttle up to around 6000rpm where the direct relationship between throttle position and fuelling starts to work in Sport mode. Above 6,000 revs it has a lovely, linear surge of torque and power much like a Triumph Daytona 675R or Yamaha R6.
The seat is on the lowish side for a modern bike, and does not appear that thick or cushioned. But no questions on comfort, it handled several continuous hours in the saddle without upsetting my older body.
In fact it will easily take you from fuel stop to fuel stop out on the open road without Numb Bum Syndrome appearing. With a reasonable reach to the bars allied with lower set foot pegs, it provides a riding position that is surprisingly comfortable.
The handlebars are set at just the right height and width to provide a good arm bend and shoulder position, enabling longer rides to be undertaken. At no time did I notice loading on the hands or wrists, and the vibration free nature of the engine ensures no vibes affect your extremities.
I felt the engine working lower in the rev range range, but not as vibration. Even in stop start traffic, the hands and wrists are not subject to pressure. I found the 800 provided a much more open riding position than a 910R where your legs tend to be tucked up under you.
There is enough room to move around on the rider’s seat, allowing you to slide forward or back if you require and the shape allows effective body weight transfer under spirited cornering. The small triangle of the pillion seat is best kept for taking your small lady 1km to your favourite café, just like the 910R. The mirrors also provide a brilliant view of your elbows, but this seems to be a trait with a lot of recent bikes.
In traffic the bike is light and very manoeuvrable, easily able to wend through traffic, and slot down between stationary cars. The wider bars need a bit of concentration at first as they line up with the higher set car mirrors, but once a bit of time has passed, no worries.
The 800 has ample power to stay in front of all traffic, or to just mosey along in the traffic, your choice. On faster flowing roads the combination of instant acceleration and powerful brakes make life very easy for the rider.
Out on the open road is where a Brutale 800 really belongs though. Any combination of bends is treated as an exercise in cornering, stringing together bend after bend and sling shotting down straights into the next bend.
The jump out of corners in the mid-range is superb, as are the brakes. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III obviously play a part in this, even though not the grippiest of Pirelli’s road tyres.
The Brutale 800 can be ridden in the modern square the corner up style or in the traditional arcing, smooth flowing style, it works either way, and it works beautifully.
The light weight helps transitioning from side to side as does the seating position, the ‘bars provide good leverage as required and the footrests, even though relatively low set, provide good clearance.
The suspension works well, only being caught out by really high ridges or deep holes, and then on the back end where the kick or jolt is felt. It is not the knife through butter experience of a Daytona 675R or Yamaha R6 due to the naked bike rider stance, but it is just as enjoyable. An added benefit is that it is way more comfortable than the pure sports bikes, so you go much further before NBS descends.
Roads such as the Putty Road, the Calga to Broke road, the Old Road and the Bell’s Line of Road are its home ground. Take the Brutale there and the smile on your face will be hard to remove.
In the Brutale 800 MV Agusta have a very enjoyable mid-sized naked sports bike. One suitable for an occasional commute, but as I have said above, more at home on the open road and bend swinging through your favourite winding road.
BRUTALE 800 – TECH TALK
The latest development of the three-cylinder engine with counter-rotating crankshaft now meets Euro 4 emission standards, and is capable of delivering a maximum power output of 116hp at 11500rpm. A record maximum torque, increased by 25 per cent is now 83Nm at 7600 rpm, with 90 per cent of that value already available at 3800 rpm.
Another unique feature is the fact that the new Brutale 800 features an electronic EAS 2.0 Up & Down quick shifter. The slipper clutch is now hydraulically operated while the engine is managed by the MVICS system which includes integrated multi map Full Ride by Wire in the traction control with eight settings.
The 2016 Brutale 800 has a new frame with a wheelbase that has been extended to 1400 mm and a trail that is now 103.5 (95mm in the previous version). The ALS steel tubing frame is incorporated with light aluminium alloy clamps in the rear area of the pivot of the single swingarm.
The 43mm Marzocchi forks have a travel of 125 mm, which is 1mm more than the Sachs shock absorber, which is tethered to the single-sided swingarm. The brake system is Brembo throughout, with a pair of 320mm diameter front floating disks and brake callipers with four pistons, while at the rear a twin-piston caliper acts on a 220mm disk.
The Bosch ABS 9 Plus completes the picture, guaranteeing safety and performance on any road surface. From a safety perspective, the new Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres, fitted as original equipment for the first time ever on a standard production motorbike, are an additional asset.
The headlight is also an LED elliptical item, with LED indicators as standard.
Three colour options are available: Black Matt Metalic/Matt Silver; Pearl Ice White/Matt Metallic Graphite; Red/Matt Silver
SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800
Warranty: Two-year, unlimited kilometre
Claimed power: 86.5kW[116hp]@11500rpm
Claimed torque: 83Nm[61.2ft-lbs]@7600rpm
Dry weight: 175kg
Fuel capacity: 16.5L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, in-line three-cylinder, four-stroke, four-valves per cylinder, DOHC, 798cc, 13.3:1 compression, 79 x 54.3mm bore x stroke, Mikuni EFI, MVICS, Eldor 2.0 EMU, RbW, three injectors
Gearbox: Cassette style, six speed, constant mesh
Clutch: Hydraulically actuated Wet-clutch, multi-disc with back torque limiting device
Chassis: ALS Steel tubular trellis, aluminium alloy single-sided swingarm,Trail: 103.5mm
Suspension:43mm Marzocchi USD forks, fully adjustable, 125mm travel, Progressive Sachs single shock, fully adjustable, 124mm travel
Brakes: Bosch 9+ ABS with RLM, dual 320mm floating rotors, Brembo four-piston radial calipers, single rear 220mm rotor, Brembo two-piston caliper
Wheels & Tyres: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres, Aluminium alloy five-spoke wheels, 3.50 x 17in, 5.50 x 17in, 120/70 – 17, 180/55 – 17
Seat height: 830mm
Overall length: 2045mm
Overall width: 875mm
Instruments: Multi-function digital display