Built from MV Agusta’s F3 sportsbike with a custom-bike look, MV Agusta’s Dragster RR is far from just a styling exercise... Review: Matthew Shields Photography: SD Pics, Mark Dadswell
Don’t think for a moment that MV Agusta’s Dragster 800 RR is simply an exercise in how to find another niche in the heavily populated nakedbike market by giving its the Brutale a custom bike-style makeover. Remaining true to the Brutles’ core values of performance and styling, the Dragster goes a step back from the sports-focussed nakedbike to deliver a machine that is more at home on the road.
The MV Agusta Brutale family is one that has been around for many years. From this range there have been many derivatives to hit the street from the beautiful, limited-edition 750 Serie Oro, to special-edition models like the Pirelli, Mamba, Lewis Hamilton or the America.
Then came the Dragster. Born from the F3 sportsbike platform just like the Brutale, the Dragster takes the same nimble handling, class-leading electronics and gloriously smooth and potent power delivery and delivers it in a package that wouldn’t look out of place in a custom bike show.
Like the new MV Agusta Brutale, the Dragster may not look too different to the previous generation but the biggest changes have come inside the engine as the Italian manufacturer has strived to build a more ‘eco-friendly’ machine that meets more stringent Euro 4 emissions controls.
Those changes see the latest generation engine drop just over 50 percent of the bad stuff coming out of the exhaust while at the same time there has been an almost 50 percent drop in noise emitted. Euro 4 standards also require on-board diagnostics, daytime LED running lights and ABS to be fitted essentially meaning a safer and smarter machine.
In achieving these new emissions standards MV Agusta didn’t allow a single drop of power to slip through their fingers, while at the same time cleaned up the power deliver through addressing friction losses in areas of the engine like gearbox, balance shaft and primary gears.
The changes in the combustion chamber have also necessitated fine tuning to the cam timing, valve guides, harmonic damper, starter clutch and cam chain tensioner. All in all the changes have delivered increased reliability, noise and vibration reduction, and more efficient running – ultimately no backward step was taken in creating a more efficient and cleaner running engine.
The power delivery of the new engine is much more refined and there is little backlash through the gearbox which uses the latest incarnation of MV Agusta’s electronic up-and-downshift system. More than just an aid for race and trackday riders, the electronic shifter allows fast and precise changes on anything from partial to full throttle openings.
There are four engine map settings available – Rain, Normal, Sport and Custom – with each giving a noticeable change in throttle sensitivity, engine torque, engine braking, engine response and rev limit. While the parameters are set in the first three modes, the Custom map allows you to change each setting individually.
On the road, the powerplant is all that you’ll ever need, and a whole lot more. With 140hp and 87Nm at hand, the Dragster RR has sportsbike performance that is exceptionally rider-friendly to use at all road speeds. The three-cylinder 800 engine has a wonderful connection between throttle and rear wheel and is a doddle in city traffic, out on country roads, and of course on the racetrack.
Despite the custom-bike looks, the quickshift, slipper clutch, eight-levels of traction control, switchable ABS and rear wheel lift mitigation remind you this is a machine born in Supersport racing.
Like the Euro 4 update for the Brutale RR, new algorithms in the ECU have proved to improve the connection between the engine and rear wheel. The traction control system backs up that stonking powerhouse well with intervention seamless in all of the standard settings.
In the Sport mode it’ll allow for the front-end to get a little bit light but at the same time it’ll keep things in check if you come across a surprise like dirt or oil in the wrong part of the road. Also like the Brutale, electronics are adjusted off the handlebar and simply displayed on the compact LCD dash that is obviously the same as that of the Brutale, too.
One of the most distinct differences between the Brutale and Dragster is the styling – which in turns mean a subtle change to the ergonomics – and a larger, 200-section rear tyre. While it takes a little longer to turn into corners than the more nimble, 180-section shod Brutale, it is still a delightfully nimble package to ride on the road, or the racetrack, and noticeably a little more stable at high speed – something I could really feel in Phillip Island’s first three corners or coming onto Gardner Straight.
Changes to the chassis for this latest generation have both improved reliability of components and drivability of the three-cylinder powerplant. This has come courtesy of 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 now made in aluminium which sees a drop of around 1.5kg in unsprung weight. This weight drop reduces the forward weight bias of the Dragster, and too the Brutale. 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 provide additional crash protection.
The styling differences – that see spoked wheels and some subtle changes in the bodywork – amount to a machine that, as I have said before, is worthy of coming from the hands of a custom craftsman. The tailight is one of the more distinct differences, when illuminated looking like a mouth of a whale shark.
It sits tightly under the stumpy rear-end with the blinkers and plate holder hanging off the swingarm. The compact rear end allows an open view of the glorious spoked wheels which are something I’d like to see on more production roadbikes these days!
Quality of finish is superb – arguably better than any other production manufacturer on the market. Every painted surface is flawless and panel fit is perfect. There’s no sign of a dag on a weld, blemish in a casting or compromise in any other surface. It truly feels like a handbuilt machine.
Equally so, all of the bike’s components are nothing but top notch with most of the gear Italian. And when it’s not Italian it’s components like the Nissan brake master cylinders which give exceptional feel and control on the road, a more forgiving set-up than what the more track-focussed Brembo equivalent is known for being.
Price wise, the Dragster 800 RR starts at $26,390 for the base model, $28,390 for the Pirelli, $30,880 for the Reparto Corse (RC). That’s a little more than the Brutale but you are no doubt paying for the extra for the spoked wheels, and maybe too for the folding mirrors that look like a brush guard for busting through traffic! The new Euro 4 model Dragster RR comes with a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and service intervals are set at 15,000km.
The 2019 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR is more than just a Brutale with a fat rear tyre and shortened sub-frame. The handling is distinctly different enough to appease riders that don’t want the sporty, nimbleness of the Brutale. Howevere, just like the Brutale it delivers effortless handling, strong and predictable engine performance and comfort to boot – not a bad rap sheet for a machine born of a Supersport and that looks like a custom built machine.
2019 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Specifications
Price: $26,390 + ORC
(From $28,390 – Pirelli, $30,880 – Reparto Corse (RC) + ORC)
Warranty: Two-year, unlimited kilometer
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 17-in, 6.00 x 17-in, 120/70 – 17, 200/55 – 17
Seat height: 820mm
Overall length: 2060mm
Overall width: 825mm
Instruments: Multi-function digital display
2019 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Gallery
The Verdict | Review: 2019 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Road & Track
The MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR could almost be in a class of its own. Essentially a stripped down Supersport, it might not be a match on straight open roads for top speed, but it’ll leave any big capacity power cruisers, and nakedbikes, in its wake on the road – they’ll never have a hope in hell of catching it on a twisty piece of tarmac.