Matthew Shields heads to Melbourne to spend a day on the road and a day lapping Phillip Island on the 2019 MV Agusta Brutale 800RR... Review: Matthew Shields Pics: SD Pics/Mark Dadswell
As far as nakedbikes go, few out there have continued over their lifetime to be as iconic as MV Agusta’s Brutale. Originally born of the F4 750 superbike in 2001, MV Agusta’s Brutale has been around for 18-years now and, while the lineage is clear between all model variants produced over the years, the Brutale in whatever guise it has come in has continually improved in terms of performance while staying true to its core values of high performance, lively handling and timeless styling.
With the release of the next generation of four-cylinder Brutales imminent, the current crop of Brutales are three-cylinder machines born of the F3 sportsbike platform. As such, all the technology that was primarily focussed on the racetrack domain of the F3 has trickled across to the Brutale line-up and delivered equally rewarding features for the road such as nimble handling, class-leading electronics and gloriously smooth and potent power delivery.
While the 2019 MV Agusta Brutale may not look too different to the 2018 model we have previously tested, the biggest change has come internally to create a machine that pumps out less pollutants – nearly half as much Nitrogen Oxide as the Euro 3 model.
Although the strict controls mean nought to us here in Australia, the EU have also enforced that bikes must meet these emission control limits when they still have 20,000km on the clock – less fuel vapour is allowed to escape from the tank, daytime running lights are essential, ABS is mandatory, and all new bikes must have onboard diagnostics systems.
While MV was already a step ahead on a lot of things on their Euro 3 models, it was still a seismic challenge to meet the new Euro 4 parameters set. “Going from Euro 3 to Euro 4, there has been a massive change inside the engine,” said MV Agusta’s R&D Technical Director Brian Gillen.
“The emissions in the change in standards have seen a drop of about 52 percent at the exhaust and at the same time the noise emissions levels are down about 48 percent. We took a very strong position in the changeover that we didn’t want to drop any power and we succeeded in that.”
Better still, in meeting these stricter set of standards MV has ensured the 2019 Brutale has exactly the same amount of power and has also improved the bike’s engine internals in terms of friction efficiency to offset the loss of performance in the combustion changes.
A new gearbox, balance shaft and primary gear are the most of the engine’s changes but along with fine tuning to the cam timing, valve guides, harmonic damper, starter clutch and cam chain tensioner have delivered increased reliability, noise and vibration reduction, and more efficient running.
On the road the power delivery of the Brutale is much more refined and backlash through the gears is noticeably reduced. Power is velvety smooth from idle and depending on which one the four map settings you have selected – Rain, Normal, Sport or Custom – you get varying degrees of throttle sensitivity, engine torque, engine braking, engine response and rev limit.
These are all settings that can be changed within the Custom map if you so desire. Add in the eight levels of traction control, switchable ABS and rear wheel lift mitigation and you have one of the top spec electronic packages available on the market.
New algorithms in the ECU have proved to improve the connection between the engine and rear wheel. Electronic intervention is seamless in the Normal mode which I spent most of my time in on the road. Even on a dirt road sidetrack we took, you couldn’t fool the rear wheel into spinning much before the electronics kicked in or get a shudder in the front-end before the ABS did its magic.
On the more aggressive Sport mode things were different, but it’s the sort of aid you want working for you if you come across dirt or oil on the road surface when you aren’t prepared for it. All the electronics are controlled off the handlebar and simply displayed on the compact LCD dash.
With 140hp and 87Nm on tap, there’s a fair case to be made for the need of a comprehensive electronics package, but the three-cylinder 800 engine has a wonderful connection between throttle and rear wheel and is easy to ride filtering through city traffic, out on country roads, or most of all on the racetrack.
The up and down quickshift works perfectly on all throttle openings and teamed with the slipper clutch is something that has ultimately simplified and smoothed out gear changes leaving you more time to concentrate on braking later and hitting the perfect apex – something the Brutale revels in doing.
The ride position of the Brutale proved quite comfortable after a day out on the road and on the racetrack it proved sporty enough to get tucked in and felt right at home around the glorious Phillip Island circuit. The little fairing / dash cover cut the air enough to take the brunt out of it on the road and at 260km/h down Gardner Straight didn’t obscure the view of Bass Strait racing towards you!
The turn of speed – and how quickly it gets there – is ridiculous for an 800cc nakedbike and testament to MV’s pursuit to build a class-leading middleweight machine that has proven itself in 675cc guise in World Supersport.
Already a superb handling machine as David Hodgson’s test in 2018 showed last year (check his review out for the full detailed ride impression of the Brutale 800RR, here we cover updates for 2019), changes to the chassis for 2019 have focussed on improving the reliability and drivability with improved cush drive rubbers and bearings for reduced chain lash (meaning a better connection to the rear wheel and better traction).
The fork inner and outer tubes as well as cartridges are all now made in aluminium shedding around 1.5kg of unsprung weight which also reduces the weight bias towards the front-end of the bike. With new wheel and steering damper designs, the other chassis changes are the addition of covers on top of the engine to dampen sounds and also provide additional crash protection. Interestingly, these covers are all part of a tuning of sounds that MV has delivered.
“With what we have learned in the development process for Euro 4, we understood so much more about noise that we could drop the noise beneath the homologation limits and then tune it,” said Gillen.
“We were then not looking at noise anymore, we were looking at sound, frequencies coming from the intake, gears, exhaust. We could then tune that sound and bring out certain frequencies – like the sound through the airbox when the auto-blipper is engaging on a downshift.” In stock trim the Brutale sounds superb, though I can’t help wondering how it would go and sound with the extra noise and 10hp an SC exhaust would deliver especially around The Island!
While the three-cylinder engine is undoubtedly the Brutale’s strongest feature, it’s also the facet of the gloriously revelled across the machine’s styling. Be it the three stout, side-slung exhausts, three-point footrest hangers, three visible engine mounts or three tones of paint, it’s no coincidence that the Italians have orchestrated and perfect symbol of form and function.
Every drop of paint sits flawlessly on its surface, every panel follows its accompanying one in perfect symmetry and no stitch, weld, cast or machine mark could be called anything else but flawless. The components are nothing but the best – Italian first and foremost, but that all changes when it comes to what works best for the Brutale and its intended domain such as the Nissin master-cylinders that give the kind of feel road riding needs.
Price wise (all ride away), the Brutale 800 RR starts at $23,490 for the base model, $26,990 for the America, $28,990 for the Pirelli, $30,880 for the Reparto Corse (RC), and $36,880 for the RC LH (Lewis Hamilton). There is a base model Brutale 800, but with 31 horsepower less than the RR its playing with a different bunch of competitors on the market. All Euro 4 models come with a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and service intervals are set at 15,000km.
MV Agusta’s Brutale 800 RR is one hell of a motorcycle, proving that you don’t need big capacity to play hard. On the road you can’t ask for more in a machine – effortless handling, strong and predictable engine performance and comfort to boot. And if you so desire, on the racetrack it’s a bike that will deliver all but the top speed of a four-cylinder naked bike. That’s a hell of a lot of motorcycle in one ridiculously good-looking package.
2019 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR Specifications
Price: From $23,490 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 2.0, Eldor EM2.0, RbW, six injectors, EAS 2.0 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: 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
2019 MV Agusta Brutale 800RR Gallery
The Verdict | Review: 2019 MV Agusta Brutale 800RR road & track