Don’t judge a book by its cover. MV’s new Brutale may look similar to the old one, but it’s vastly different.
The new Brutale 1090RR and 990R (see sidebar) are the first new MV Agustas to appear after a year of Harley-Davidson ownership. They’re the first of a new generation of bikes to roll out of the factory gates in Varase, Italy. If the Brutale 1090RR is anything to go by, MV’s future new models, including the new F4 superbike, which will be unveiled in just over three weeks, should be epic.
Judging by the confident swagger of the MV staff at the launch here at Misano and the huge grin on designer Adrian Morton’s face, there’s a real buzz inside MV Agusta at the moment. At long last it looks as if MV could soon be back at its decadent best.
The old Brutale lived up to its name. From the original 2001-model 750, all the way to the out-going 1078RR, MV’s beautiful super naked was always an in-your-face aggressive beast. Everything from the course Inline-Four engine note to the uncompromising race suspension, brutal acceleration and neck-straining 160mph-plus top speed, screamed ‘race’.
It was a riot to ride for a few hours but just too extreme to live with once the thrill of non-stop wheelies, stoppies, knee-down and skids had worn off. As much as we loved its naughty side it was simply too cramped, vibey, harsh and uncompromising. Things have changed.
The 1090RR, which we estimate will cost around £14,000 when it goes on sale at the end of the year is the first MV Agusta I’ve ridden where I could keep going all day. In fact here at Misano’s stunning MotoGP racetrack, I had to be levered off the 1090RR when it was time to go home.
On the circuit the 1090RR is magical, and straight out of the crate with no modifications it’s a devastating track tool and would shame most production bikes, with or without a fairing.
The engine, which is still 1078cc, confusingly, is revvy, involving, packed with low and mid-range grunt and a howling top-end rush. It’s far more refined now, though and doesn’t sound like a bag of spanners when you start it up. On the throttle the power delivery is smooth and predictable, and off it the standard issue slipper clutch lets the MV glide into corners without upsetting the chassis.
It has impeccable stability on the straights thanks to a 20mm longer swingarm and a slightly lazier rake and trail, so much so I didn’t need to fiddle with the Brutale’s new adjustable radial steering damper. The ride quality is superb too and has the kind of plush, controllable suspension action you’ll only find with top quality racing hardware.
Best of all is the Brutale’s new layout. The bike might look the same as the old one but the seat is roomier and the big 23-liter (6-gallon) tank is shaped differently, which means you’re no longer locked-in and unable to move. There’s loads of room to climb over the bike in the corners and to hold yourself in under braking, even for a six-footer.
This new spacious layout lets you enjoy the Brutale far more and makes it less strenuous to ride fast. This freedom to move, coupled with the magnificent handling, acres of ground clearance, storming power, grip from the Dunlop Qualifier RR tires and four-piston Brembo monoblocs, which stops the MV with the same kind of severity as it accelerates, and sticky Dunlop Qualifier RR tires stick makes this a very easy bike to ride very fast.
It made Misano as easy to navigate as a computer game with as little effort, and on the road it continues to impress. While it still has the power to clutch up a wheelie in third gear if you want, it’s incredibly civilized, so much so that it’s got
The new layout of the ergonomics makes the MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR more comfortable. A cushier seat coupled with a new tank design means more freedom of movement for the rider and less leg cramp.
quite a lot of Honda about it. I cringed when I told one of the test riders it felt like a Honda Hornet, expecting him to spit out is espresso incredulously, but he actually smiled and said, “This is what we wanted to achieve. We actually had a Honda Hornet for comparison when we were developing this bike.”
You notice the extra room the instant you jump on and for normal riding the 1090RR is comfortable, the ride quality excellent and the power smooth. The massive grunt of the engine lets you plod around in sixth gear all day if you so wish, but if you want to thrash through the gears, the redesigned selector now has a longer, more comfortable throw.
The dash is new with a gear position indicator, which is always useful, and for low-grip conditions you can change from the ‘sport’ to ‘rain’ power map, which knocks off the bottom-end power. Peak power is still the same.
As for the traction control, which works by looking at engine revs and doesn’t have wheel-speed sensors (like we mistakenly said in last week’s MCN) like the Ducati Streetfighter S. I tried it switched on and off and to be honest I never felt it kick in on the track or riding the slippery, broken tarmac roads nearby. Usually you can feel it working, like the very apparent rev-limiter style system on the Ducati. Maybe it’s just too refined I never noticed it helping me out, I certainly didn’t have a slide all day…
The Brutale is Honda-like in its refinement, comfort and friendliness for the first time and manages to hold on to its scintillating performance, it’s a real shame MV didn’t move the styling on a bit though.
Compared to its closest rival, the Ducati Streetfighter S, I’d say it’s even better built, more stable and race bike-like on the track, but not as nimble or quite as much fun on the road. Weighing 190kg (419 lbs), the MV is still quite a heavy beast.
Best of all is what the brilliant new Brutale means for the next generation of MVs, like the F4 superbike. While the Japanese are sleeping next year with no radical new sportbikes to speak of MV Agusta looks like they could be the stars of 2010.
The Brutale’s slipper clutch means no slipping and no upsetting of the chassis prior to entering corners.
The 142 hp Inline-Four 1078cc engine has the same basic layout and capacity as the old 1078RR. It’s around 3 hp down on last year’s bike, due to restrictions in the exhaust for noise and emissions.
The motor is 2.5kg (5.5 lbs) lighter and has a slipper clutch. It also has a new starter and generator assembly, revised gearshift with a longer throw, water pump, oil pump, oil pump pick-up, fuel pump, balance shaft and exhaust.
Fuel injection and electronics
The 1090RR has new, lighter Mikuni throttle bodies and a new Magneti Marelli engine management system, including eight position traction control and a two power maps.
Although it looks the same as last year’s bike, the smaller-tubed, lighter frame is new, as is the 20mm longer cast aluminum swingarm. Rake is increased 0.5° to 25° and trail 2mm to 103.5mm. There’s a new adjustable radial steering damper and die-cast aluminum wheels. There are new internals in the fully-adjustable 50mm Marzocchi forks and Sachs rear shock, which is also adjustable for high and low speed compression damping.
To make the Brutale roomier and more comfortable is has a redesigned fuel tank, seat and tail unit with a cast aluminum Benelli TNT-style pillion grab handles . It also
has new mirrors with LED indicators built-in, a new front light with a row of Ducati Streetfighter-style white LEDs inside.
New instruments have a multi-function display including a gear position indicator and a readout showing the traction control and engine map position.
Replacing the old Brutale 989R, the new 139 hp 990R, which we think will cost around £12,000, has a sleeved down version of the 1090RR’s engine. It’s slightly lower spec, so has non-adjustable footpegs, more durable Pirelli Diablo Rosso tires, forged aluminum wheels, no steering damper or slipper clutch, but still has the two-way engine map and eight position traction control.
Like its big brother, the 990R is more refined, roomier and easier to ride than before, and still has more than enough power to keep you amused on road and track. The fuelling and ride quality aren’t quite as smooth as the more expensive 1090RR but these things are only noticeable if you ride the bikes back-to-back. On its own it’s still a cracker.