MV Agusta differentiates itself from the streetfighter crowd with this rolling masterpiece, the Brutale 1090 RR. This up-spec model is crafted off the F4 Superbike, featuring a long-stroke 1078cc version of its Inline Four harnessed in MV’s signature hybrid steel and aluminum chassis.
Despite being the oldest in current form, the RR was unanimously voted the best-looking. Though it lacks the pointed angles of the ultra-modern Kawi and BMW, its shape is pure elegance. From its shotgun-style pipes to the beautifully machined single-sided swingarm, and high-end 10-spoke aluminum wheel, there’s not a whole lot to dislike about the MV’s styling.
“It’s incredibly striking,” thinks Dunstan. “It has incredible looks and a ton of attitude—that bike is put together.”
“I wasn’t that excited on its looks or the character of the bike but it has really, really grown on me. The red, the gold, the white—it all goes together really well,” surmises Abbott.
(Top) The Brutale 1090RR is powered by a water-cooled 1078cc Inline Four engine. It delivers a reasonable amount of power but lacks the top-end punch of the Aprilia and BMW. (Center) ABS comes standard on the Brutale for 2014. The system offers excellent calibration and along with its sturdy hard parts the MV boasted the best stopping performance. (Bottom) The MV’s suspension components work well offering a good comprise between sport and comfort.
Similar to the Kawasaki, the MV’s ergonomics foster an intimate riding posture. The handlebar is positioned near the rider and the footpegs are tucked up high giving a racy stance. It also has the second-tallest seat (32.68 in.) behind the Aprilia. For all-out sport riding the ergos function well, but it does make life tough for taller riders due to its limited leg room. The stubby footpegs are another oddity and they don’t offer the same-level of grip as the others.
“I felt a lot more cramped as far as the bar-to-seat position,” said Alex, our tallest rider at 6’1”. “I was a little concerned that would affect my riding. But once we got in the canyons though, and started picking up the pace and getting on the bike more aggressively—braking harder and getting on the throttle harder, and moving around on the thing—I liked that it was close and tight. It felt very racy and you could get on the bike and make it do what you wanted.”
“The MV was the bike I felt most comfortable on at the track,” concurs Abbott in reference to the MV’s high sport aptitude. “I felt my lap times were the best. I was able to hit my lines, hit my marks every single lap. I just felt like the bike flowed.”
Through turns, the Brutale is both nimble and planted. Its 56.6 in. wheelbase positions it between the stubby Kawasaki (56.5 in) and stretched-out Aprilia (56.9). Despite weighing the second-heaviest (480 pounds) it doesn’t feel that porky in motion. It does however feel a little top heavy at a standstill and at parking lot maneuvering speeds. It’s worth noting that some of that heft comes from its extra fuel payload, courtesy of its 6.01-gallon tank (highest in class).
On the road, the MV’s suspension does a much better job of filtering out bumps and irregular pavement than the rougher riding Kawi. Yet it didn’t offer the same level of plushness as the class-leading Aprilia or BMW.
Like the other machines, the MV now comes equipped with ABS. In action (race mode), the electronics performed seamlessly and were comparable in calibration and overall feel to that of the Tuono, and superior to the Kawi and BMW’s system. But hardware-wise, the Brutale’s Brembo components edged out its Italian foe in terms of feel and overall lever sensation. They also proved more effective, achieving the shortest stopping with ABS activated (119.0 feet) and disabled (116.3 feet).
Preload: 4 (turns in)
Compression: 8 (turns out)
Low-Speed Compression: 9
High-Speed Compression: 1
Power Mode: Sport
Dyno testing shows that the MV’s Inline Four produces the lowest peak torque figure of 68.8 lb-ft. It also arrives at the highest rpm (10,000). A short first gear helps the Brutale get off the line but both its 0-60 and quarter acceleration times lagged behind both the S1000R and the Tuono. Part of the problem is that the MV’s Inline Four lacks the top-end horsepower of the aforementioned duo—giving up over 11 horsepower to each. However around town—and even in the canyons—the disparity didn’t feel that big.
“The thing definitely didn’t lack for power and could pick up the front end anytime you wanted,” shares Dunstan. “Braking was solid, motor was solid, and handling at a good pace was very solid, so overall that bike made a great impression.”
Compared to the Aprilia’s three engine power modes and the BMW’s, four settings the MV offers just two: ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’. The ‘Sport’ Settings sharpens throttle response and gives
(Top) The MV’s gearbox felt the stickiest and wasn’t as smooth-feeling as the other bikes. It could also benefit from an electronic quickshifter. (Center) The Brutale has considerable sporting performance in its DNA. It was also voted the best looking even though it is a few years old now. (Bottom) Despite a few quirks the MV is one excellent handling motorcycle. We loved the way it handled through corners.
a more direct connection to the rear tire. We generally preferred this settings though it does make the MV’s engine overly sensitive during certain conditions, say, when splitting through congested traffic. Adjustable eight-level traction control is also standard but it’s more complicated to adjust and wasn’t anywhere near as effective as the Aprilia’s highly-polished system.
Of all the bikes in this test, the Brutale’s gearbox was the stickiest between cogs. It could also benefit from an electronic quickshifter which would no doubt improve its acceleration performance. It does offer a true racing-style slipper clutch which pays big dividends when blitzing into corners from a high rate of speed. Also of note was the clutch’s improved action and response when launching, with it no longer chattering and shuttering like it did when we last tested it.
At speed, the MV’s engine is buzzier than the ultra-refined Kawasaki and even the Aprilia. But it wasn’t quite as rowdy as the BMW’s. At full song, the MV’s mill sounds awesome, yet it didn’t ignite the senses as strongly as the Tuono’s wild-sounding V-Four or even the rip-roaring Z. During sound testing it tied the Kawasaki for being the quietest at idle (84 dB) while on the other end it registered a reading of 97dB, well below the attention-grabbing Aprilia and BMW.
The Brutale was one of the more well-rounded bikes in this contest. We love the sporty feel of its chassis, and strong, well-calibrated ABS. Plus, it offers the largest fuel capacity and mileage between fill-ups. But an overly cramped cockpit along with a steep price tag put it out of reach for many. Thus the MV ranks in third—a mere point behind the BMW.
- Exotic good looks
- Excellent brakes and excellent ABS calibration
- Highest mileage range between fill-ups
- Costs thousands more than competition
- Cockpit is cramped for taller riders
- Pumps out least amount of torque