MV Agusta wants a slice of the middleweight streetfighter segment and it’s doing it with its 800cc Brutale. Learn more in the 2013 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Comparison Video.
Positioned in the middle of MV Agusta’s naked motorcycle line-up is the Brutale 800 ($12,498 as tested). Built with charisma and wild sporting character, this Italian-made machine features an arsenal of electronic adjustments allowing the rider to fine tune engine performance.
Rolling the MV onto our scales proves that it’s the lightest motorcycle in this contest with a 413 curb weight gassed up and ready to ride. That’s a pound under the Triumph and five less than the Yamaha. And it certainly feels lightest behind the handlebar.
The Brutale offers the maneuverability of a play bike—able to dart through traffic with the ease we expect from a smaller mount. Its 54.33 inch wheelbase is more than two inches less than the FZ and an inch shorter than the Triumph—a recipe for supreme agility.
“I felt like the MV was the most fun to ride,” says our speedy lady test rider, Melissa Paris. “It handled better in the canyons than I expected.”
While we loved the accuracy of the MV’s chassis and its feel through corners, its overly soft suspension hampers performance for those who weigh more than Paris’ slim 120-pound frame.
Those of average size and larger will notice the MV’s aggressive weight transfer during braking and acceleration. Adding damping to the fork and shock calm it but not enough to eliminate the condition. Therefore, if you really want to exploit the sporting potential of the MV’s chassis, you’re going to need to do some internal modifications to the suspension. On a positive note, however, it does make for a supple ride on the highway. Only problem is it’s not quite as cozy as the class-leading Yamaha or even the Triumph.
Preload: 7 (Turns in)
Compression: 1 (Turns out)
Preload: 2 (Turns in from stock)
Power Mode: Custom
Traction Control: Off
Gas Sensitivity: Rain
Engine Brake: Sport
Maximum Torque: Sport
Engine Response: Slow
RPM Limiter: Sport
Despite employing strong, capable braking hardware from Brembo, the fork is so undersprung that it’s nearly impossible to make full use of the front brakes’ stopping power. Thus it isn’t a surprise that it registered the longest stopping distance from 60 to 0 mph—14 feet more than the Triumph (without ABS) and 12 feet longer than the FZ. Though it’s worth noting that braking feel with the MV was plentiful allowing the rider to apply the brakes with confidence and anticipate wheel lock-up.
The 800 offers a slim seating position with large cutouts for the rider’s knees. The handlebar has a pleasing bend which keeps the rider upright while still providing excellent leverage—not that the MV needs any extra help in the steering effort department. The footpeg position equates to a sporty stance without it being too unyielding during casual street rides. Together this nets a machine that is surprisingly comfortable on the street but still not quite as relaxed as the more urban-friendly FZ and the ultra-refined Street Triple.
The MV’s soft suspension performed well for our 120-pound tester. Anyone heavier however will note it’s fast and un-nerving weight transfer when loaded with the gas or brakes.
Power-wise the MV takes some seat time to get used to. Its ride-by-wire throttle is very sensitive—especially through the first eighth of its turn. Another strike is the throttle’s lengthy twist pull,not to mention the insufficiently weighted spring action. These three problems compound to make it a challenge to launch cleanly from a stop. A fact that’s evident by the MV’s slowest quarter-mile acceleration despite having the superior power-to-weight ratio.
At the drag strip the MV mustered an 11.85 second result at a trap speed of 122.2 mph placing it behind both the Yamaha and Street Triple. The aforementioned problematic throttle response paired with a shuttering clutch, and stubby wheelbase made the MV especially hard to launch as it either lofts the front wheel in the first three gears or stalls off the line. True, the electronic quickshifter makes for rapid upshifts, but it isn’t enough to counteract the finicky clutch.
“The bike’s name tells you everything you need to know about this motor: brutal!” says club racer and all-around riding buff, Alex Dunstan. “Out of the three bikes the MV’s motor hits the hardest and across the widest rpm range.”
“The MV engine was crazy,” Paris agrees. “It felt so fast it really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it to pull that good. You could get in a lot of trouble on that bike.”
It’s important to note how much of an effect the electronics have on the engine’s powerband. Specifically the Gas Sensitivity (Sport, Normal and Rain) and Engine Response (Slow and Fast) settings alter throttle response and the speed at which the engine spools up. While we loved the fast revving nature of the ‘Fast’ setting, it made the bike harder to ride so we preferred the ‘Slow’ mode (similar to adding more weight to the flywheel, thus reducing the speed at which it builds revs).
(Above) The sounds the MV’s engine creates with the throttle pinned have to be heard to be believed. It’s one charismatic motorcycle. (Below) While it is a little raw we like the outright performance of the MV’s engine the best.
On the dyno the MV’s engine unleashes the most horsepower surpassing both the other two bikes in excess of 10%. Peak horsepower arrives at 11,700 rpm with 117.12 hp on tap. For reference that is 12 more than the 49cc larger FZ and nearly 20 extra ponies than the 675cc Triumph.
However in measured torque it’s another story. The Brutale lacks the immediate low end grunt of the Yamaha. But as the engine spools up, the torque wave comes on strong belting out its peak of 58.24 lb-ft at 8800 revs—placing it a couple lb-ft behind the FZ but well ahead of the Triumph.
What the dyno can’t measure is the 800’s obscene character emitting wild screams akin to a prototype race engine. The melody is so erotic it begs the rider to twist the throttle harder until they’re so scared they finally tap out. Factor in its edgy styling and the Brutale was the bike we’d pick to be seen on.
“Of all the bikes the MV felt the most like a streetfighter,” says Paris. “It’s the bike that would make me want to do wheelies, get in trouble, and hurt boys’ feelings.”
At the pump the MV surprised us netting a 37.5 mpg average during mixed riding, which included freeway tours as well as some spirited backroad blasts. This was a tick better than the Yamaha’s figure (36.9) but not quite as thrifty as the Triumph (37.9). Considering its 4.39-gallon fuel capacity and the 800 offers a range of 164 miles between fill-ups.
- Strong, hard-hitting top-end power
- Feels light and offers superb agility
- Outrageous engine character
- Undersprung suspension hampers handling
- Touchy throttle response
- Clutch shutters at the drag strip
No doubt the Brutale offers one crazy ride. We love the motor’s potent mid-range punch along with its mesmerizing intake and exhaust echo that forces us to twist the throttle harder. But severely under damped suspension along with an awkward-feeling ride-by-wire throttle makes it challenging to ride at any pace. Pair that with its lofty price tag and it’s no wonder the MV finishes at the back. However, it’s worth noting that MV plans on addressing the throttle and clutch glitches for the 2014 model year, which should vastly improve the riding experience.