MV Agusta's Brutale 800 RR offers far more than some extra style, with the 2018 edition further updated... Test by David H. Images by Kris Hodgson
To me the 800RR Brutale is a visually appealing package, with its short wheelbase, centralised mass and typical Brutale styling. Replicated by a few other manufacturers, none have come close by my reckoning…
The RR follows on from several years of 800 Brutale models, each offering improvements on previous models as well as being targeted at different market segments – think the Dragster for instance. The Brutale heritage is very evident, but this has not stopped MV from improving with new technology. The RR is firmly aimed at the sporting rider who wants a nakedbike with real performance and style. Italian style.
The deep gloss red, black and white paint, mixed with matt black bodywork sections and black finished engine is complemented by the red lattice frame and gloss black forged wheels with polished spokes. The RR continues the fine piece of engineering and style that is the cast rider and pillion seat sub-frame too.
Now as a disclaimer, I have owned Italian motorcycles for close on 45 years, so I am somewhat predisposed to them. Most fit me in that their seating, handlebar and footpeg relationships suit my 166cm build of shorter body and longer arms and legs. I also appreciate their distinctive styling.
Just a pity that it retains the ‘dag’ on the rear of the rear wheel that mounts the numberplate, rear light and blinkers. That and the plain plastic front guard in matte finish detract from a bike that really is to my mind, the naked sports bike style leader. Style-wise, the RR is head and shoulders above its main competitors. Subjective? Absolutely.
LED lights also abound, including the taillight and indicators, which look good, and are highly visible around town, although the halogen headlight does struggle somewhat at night at speed, out on our rural roads, which isn’t unusual.
Once on board, all the controls fall easily to hand, with a LCD information screen and very straightforward access to the bikes electronics package, by using the mode selector on the RHS handlebar, allied with the up/down buttons on the LHS handlebar. I found it relatively easy to move between selections and make the necessary adjustments, but the trip meter resets should be the first items one comes to.
The LCD screen continues with its basic layout as before, but I still find it quite odd in that the rev counter bar graph is located at the bottom of the screen, as is the separate warning light bar.
Sitting on the bike reveals that you sit in it, rather than on it, with the tank rising up in front of you and the pillion seat section providing a good bum stop. My legs also fit into the tank and the tank actually comes out and covers your knees.
Footpegs are positioned lower than I’m used to on my 910R Hydrogen model, so your legs/knees have an easy time, while the rear brake and gear-change levers offer easy operation, and are adjustable. The rear vision mirrors are effective and can be adjusted to offer you good vision.
The sidestand is easy to find and operate seated on the bike and provides a reasonable angle of recline when down, so the bike is stable. There is no centrestand, so workshop stand suited to single sided swingarms is a good investment for an owner.
The handlebars seem a touch wider than before, and tip you forward into a sporty but comfortable position, and an adjustable steering damper ensures you can make quick changes to suit the current road conditions, such as dialing it up around town where those wide ‘bars offer massive leverage. This canted forward riding position balances the wind pressure when moving at speed very effectively. The riding position is very comfortable both in traffic and out on the open road, especially as the seat cushioning is not overly generous.
One very large positive is that the shape of the seat allows shorter people to easily touch the ground with one foot or both feet flat on the ground. So don’t be disheartened when looking at the bike, if you think it looks high – it is, but that seat shape makes a large difference.
The RR is also reasonably frugal, returning between 180 and 230km per 13L depending on how hard you have been twisting the throttle or the amount of (Sydney) city traffic you have been involved in. Stated tank capacity is 16.5 litres, so around 3.5L is left when the reserve light comes on. Needing to refuel every two or so hours ties in well with when you’ll want a break from the seat.
The electronics package is also extensive but easily managed by the rider modes, with a range of presets, include torque control, traction control, ABS and shift assist. I had the bike in Sport mode most of the time, as the characteristics are perfect for the bike. Rain and Normal modes seem very flat after Sport, with a doughier throttle response and power delivery.
Custom mode also offers fine tuning of all aspects of the electronics, for those wishing to set it up to their exact preferences, while retaining the standard options too.
I even used Sport mode in a wet weather run and didn’t change ABS or Traction Control settings, where I found it worked very well. In really wet and slippery conditions Rain mode will no doubt be handy, or if you’ve chosen a sportier tyre with less wet weather capability.
The engine itself is revised for 2018, with MV Agusta boasting it is quieter and more efficient, thanks to new harmonic damper, mechanical cam-chain tensioner, camshafts, valve guides, countershaft, starter motor and primary gear drive. Plus updated electronics via the MVICS system.
With that said, the engine is very noisy, almost as noisy as an Italian bike with a dry clutch. Most of this noise is from the clutch at a standstill which drowns out the exhaust and intake sounds until around 6000rpm where the intake seems to come in, and then be replaced by the exhaust around 9000rpm.
Listening to the bike being ridden past during testing, the noise is considerably less than the rider experiences though.
Moving off from standstill requires a reasonable number of revs to get the bike moving smartly, but once moving, the free spinning engine settles in nicely, with seamless torque on tap. That 140hp of power available is never wanting, and on the freeway the naked bike riding position is likely to be your limiting factor, while fourth is ideal for cruising the freeway on hillier sections, with the torque available providing instant acceleration.
The hydraulic clutch is very much like a Japanese mid-sized machine (that is, good), and nicely weighted with a reasonable take up range. Gearshifts both up and down the gearbox using the quick shifter are magic, accomplished with just a slight nudge of the lever in either direction as long as you have around 5000rpm on the screen. Anything less and the change can be a bit hit and miss, which is what you’d expect with most quickshifter setups which operate from a specific rpm.
Throttle response is linear from closed all the way to 13,000rpm and the throttle opening from closed position shows none of the snatchiness of the previous standard Brutale 800s we’ve tested. This comes down to the Brutale RR running dual injectors per cylinder, like the Dragster RR and F3, and the ability to control the throttle response so finely throughout the range means that curves and fast flowing road sections become more enjoyable than before, meaning your grin becomes permanent.
That balanced with the bike’s seemingly innate ability to go exactly where you look, means a very effective weapon for such roads. Small changes in body position and transferring of weight all make a noticeable difference when cornering, showing how finely balanced the bike is, and further add to the experience.
The suspension works well, but the rear end does suffer from being caught out by ridges or pot holes, where a kick will be felt, although this becomes less evident as the speed rises. The front forks are readily adjustable at the top of each fork leg while the rear shock being hidden in the swingarm does not lend itself to simple spring preload adjustment, and the damping adjustment is hidden away behind the main frame spar on the LHS, making adjustment a pain.
Two Brembo radial four-piston monobloc calipers operate on 320mm steel rotors perform well, retarding progress smoothly and powerfully, without unsettling the bike. The rear 220mm steel disc and two piston caliper is nicely weighted, proving a good balance to the front and allowing easy trail braking into turns.
Hard acceleration will have the front end going light – very light if you keep the throttle pinned, even if you move your bodyweight forward, but the throttle is so finely balanced you shouldn’t have any problems with control and keeping the bike steering where you want.
Now while riding on major arterial roads is a pleasure, with plenty of acceleration and torque keeping you out front of traffic, it is in the hilly country and out on the flowing country roads that this bike is really in its element. The combination of instant acceleration, powerful brakes, telepathic steering and excellent ground clearance make life very enjoyable indeed.
The standard Pirelli Rosso III obviously play a part in this, with their consistent grip from shoulder to shoulder and their quick warm up time. The front tyre steers beautifully and the rear tyre shape works perfectly with the front providing very linear tip in.
The RR can be ridden in the modern ‘square the corner up style’ or in the traditional arcing, smooth flowing style, it works either way, but boy it works. The centralised weight and fine balance helps transitioning from side to side as does the seating position, the bars provide good leverage, with excellent ground clearance.
Out on the open road is where a Brutale 800RR really belongs. It behaves beautifully in any combination of bends, including tight hairpin bends. The punch out of slower speed bends is intoxicating. You can hold a gear and ride the torque wave, using the full rev range. Stringing together bend after bend with the bike tipping into corners and following your desired line without deviation, picking up the throttle to jump out of corners.
The Brutale behaves well on a trailing throttle where just backing off is enough, and transitions back onto throttle beautifully, with the suspension working away in the background unobtrusively. Just like previous editions of MV 800s the thought of going back and having another run along a section of road is now even more common as it doesn’t have any of the previous low throttle opening stutters.
With the Brutale 800 RR MV Agusta offer a truly excellent mid-sized naked sportsbike. One suitable for an occasional commute, a cruise along your favourite beach or café road but more at home on the open road and bend swinging through your favourite winding roads. The entry cost is high, but the riding pleasures are most assuredly delivered. We did experience a small oil leak with our press bike the day we picked it up, but this was quickly fixed by MV Agusta Parramatta, and we had no issues afterwards. We were assured it has not happened before. The MV Agusta Brutale 800RR costs $24,490 Ride Away and more info is available from MV Agusta Australia
2018 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR Specifications
Price: $24,490 Ride Away
Warranty: Two-year, unlimited kilometre
Claimed power: 103kW[140hp]@12,300rpm
Claimed torque: 87Nm@10,100rpm
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, six injectors, EAS quickshifter (up-down)
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
2018 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR Gallery
The Verdict | Review: 2018 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR
MV Agusta’s Brutale 800 RR offers an updated model in 2018, with a host of engine changes, as well as the dual injector per cylinder setup and updated electronics, for the absolute premium Brutale experience, but for those who aren’t after something as extreme as the Dragster RR styling-wise.