Because testosterone-fueled monikers like Monster, Firebolt, and Intruder abound, it seems natural that MV Agusta would christen its no-holds-barred machine the Brutale. While first generation Brutales boasted gorgeous design and crisp handling, the 749cc motor came up a bit short on torque and horsepower.
Finally living up to its imposing name, the 2006 Brutale enjoys a displacement boost to 908cc that produces wheel-lifting, tail-snapping thrust, endowing it with bad boy bravado that must be negotiated with the type of care normally reserved for feral animals or deposed dictators on trial.
The bigger powerplant is at the heart of the Brutale’s personality transplant. Utilizing radial valve technology that was developed in part with Ferrari, the 910 produces 136 hp and 71 ft lbs of torque. Thanks to design features borrowed from the 996cc F4 1000 powerplant, the new engine is actually lighter than the previous 750. The 910 growls with a throatier, deeper timbre than the previous engine, yet revs easily despite its increased displacement.
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The eagerness of the bike’s acceleration and the broad power band results in a sensation that feels more like a torquey triple than an inline four. Wrapped around the engine is a graceful trellis frame and a chiseled, aggressively flared tank; the 910’s exposed mechanicals do justice to the naughtily apt term “naked bike.”
This particular Brutale 910 boasts custom elements that complement its spartan design. Its exquisite MV Corse full-length titanium exhaust amplifies the engine’s already seductive growl, and the Marchesini magnesium wheels not only reduce weight, but provide an elegant extension of the bike’s classic silver-and-red racing colors. The minimalist bodywork is accented with a complete MV Agusta CRC carbon fiber kit, though clearly this Brutale’s most functional custom element is its custom-made Zero Gravity fairing and windscreen.
“The idea was to create wind protection while also enhancing the bike’s personality,” explains Glenn Cook of Zero Gravity. “I really wanted to avoid detracting from Tamburini’s vision, so I paid careful attention to the flow of the headlight, tank, and rear end before finalizing the design.” Made from vacuum-formed ABS, the fairing plays off the already aerodynamically slick headlight and reduces turbulence at highway speeds.
The fairing was finished by Chris Wood at AirTrix paint shop in Santa Barbara, Calif., who dug deep into his work ethic and talent, not only matching the Brutale’s paint colors but also ensuring that the design flowed well with the spirit of the machine. “It wasn’t just a case of layer on some paint,” Chris explained. “Brutal this machine may be by name, but its elegance dominates its looks. This fairing took careful thought and a precise vision to get the design and color matching correct.”
Easy on the eye the Brutale certainly is, but easy to ride fast it is not. Plenty of power means less cog-swapping during spirited canyon riding, and the seating position—upright, on a relatively small seat—can translate to some forward sliding during dramatic reverse thrusts. Braking is, in fact, one of the most forgiving aspects of the Brutale’s riding dynamic; stopping power starts early in the lever travel, and the feel of the 6-piston Nissins is very progressive. Once proper entrance speed is achieved to set up for a turn, the real work begins. Turn-in is razor sharp, so much so that the uninitiated will apex earlier than intended. Once banked over and transitioning back on to the throttle, the rider must remain acutely aware of the fuel injection’s supersensitivity. Likewise, the engine’s torque responds so immediately that anything more than very carefully applied midcorner power is punished with a snappiness that can make it difficult to hold the chosen line. The result can be a choppy, lurching ride, but ride it smoothly—turn in late and fast—and the Brutale will reward its pilot with the ultimate ride. Challenging? Yes. Rewarding? Absolutely.
Downshifts are met with curiously counterintuitive engine behavior. Though the Brutale’s 4-cylinder motor revs with astonishing ease, engine speed actually drops off considerably slower. In fact, the effect is dramatic enough to feel during downshifts, as if there were a slipper clutch on the bike. This is a result of the Brutale’s remarkably lightweight pistons and low flywheel mass, which makes the engine quick to respond to throttle twists, but slow to wind down.
While the chassis of the 2006 Brutale remains unchanged, the bike’s larger powerplant gives the machine a savage quality that was absent from the 750cc version. The increased power, in concert with the firm suspension and meticulous steering, makes the Brutale a precision instrument that punishes the meek but truly rewards the skilled. Its mechanical dedication to acceleration, braking, and turning is unapologetic, and it demands the same total and uncompromising commitment from the rider. Anything less than absolute smoothness and ultimate confidence does not do justice to the 910’s supreme capabilities. (Click image to enlarge)
As its name accurately implies, the 2006 MV Agusta Brutale is a take-no-prisoners motorcycle built for the small percentage of riders with enough skill and attitude to bring out the best in its fierce performance. Unlike countless models marketed with menacing names bearing the false promise of danger, the Brutale delivers with stunning yet elegant totality.
908cc. Liquid-cooled, inline-4, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder. Weber Marelli 1.6 M fuel injection.
136 hp @ 11,000 rpm
71 ft lbs @ 7,900 rpm
6-speed (chain drive)
50mm Marzocchi forks, rebound and compression damping adjustable, spring preload adjustable
Single Sachs shock, rebound and compression (high- and low-speed) damping adjustable, spring preload adjustable