2010 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR | Review

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Naked Superbike

The new 2010 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR motorcycle is somewhat different. The previous MV 1078 RR, with its throbbing and raw in-line four, almost took me for a ride in an exhilarating and nearly out of control way. MV Agusta has worked very hard to make the 1090 RR a slightly more civilized naked superbike.

To achieve this ergonomics have been changed giving the rider more space. The new seat height of 830mm (2008 and previous models 805mm) comes as a result of the new lifted rear end and taller chassis. This also provided more space for my legs and I can push my backside further backwards when I want to ride more aggressively. The foot rest controls are adjustable on the 1090 RR but there’s already more space for my legs than on the 1078 RR model. The 1090 RR features all new mirrors with indicators incorporated that actually work on the road. Right in front of me sits the new steering damper on an the all new headstock. Out on the Misano circuit the steering damper proved very useful indeed.

Entering the back straight from turn 6 there is some headshake through second and third gear before the front calms down in fourth. This is despite having a steering damper so there’s plenty of horsepower in play here. The back straight is the longest straight at Misano but if you have balls of steel you’ll be fastest through Curvone three corners later. I was able to clock around 137 mph as my highest speed around Misano. MV Agusta claims a top speed of 165 mph, but the straight has to be longer to achieve the same ultimate speed.

Through Variante del Parco, which is a left hander taken in second followed by a very fast right hander where you empty second and kick in third gear, I can feel the weight of the bike as I go from an extreme left to bring the bike upright followed by the fast right hander. The transition from left to right isn’t as smooth and fast as on a full-on superbike and I wrestle the handlebars a little.

The Marzocchi fully adjustable magnum front fork feels very stable on the brakes and the internals have been calibrated by CRC (Cagiva Research Centre) to different specs than the Brutale 990 R. The monoblock Brembo brakes are also of a different quality than the 990 R and there is an abundance in both feel and power. The rear shock is a Sachs fully adjustable item fitted to MV’s new and longer single sided swingarm.

MV Agusta has opted for the Dunlop Qualifiers in a 120/70 ZR17 front and 190/55 ZR17 rear. Along with the new traction control and fine slipper clutch that keeps the Brutale 1090 RR pretty much planted despite its wild nature. The 2010 incarnation of the Brutale 1090 RR should therefore be easier to ride faster for both the pros and the amateurs.

Out on the road ride there is no mistaking the raw and aggressive sounding in-line four that contrasts the super smooth Japanese engines. The big MV sound echoes between the buildings in town and nobody doubt the real character in this engine. It’s rather slippery out on the beautiful roads surrounding Misano and despite having traction control I did manage to upset the rear tyre a few times from early rpm. I could appreciate the new comfortable aspects of the 2010 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR out on the roads. No part of my body was aching after our ride.

The new and bigger instrument cluster has a host of new features. The first I noticed is that the analogue rev counter has now been placed to the left while the digital speedometer is on the right. This feels better particularly on the racetrack. The new instruments are also bigger but to be a bit pedantic it’s still not that easy to see the green neutral light in sunshine. As the gear lever is a little fiddly sometimes it would be good if that green light was a little brighter (for instance when you want to rest your hands at traffic lights). The gear indicator is my favourite new feature and it’s lovely to see third indicated with the front pointing to the sky. Fuel level, water temperature and even a hazard-warning button for all four indicators to blink are all handy.

Riding the 2010 Brutale 1090 RR slowly through town is now a much more pleasant experience because the engine doesn’t produce as much heat as before. The lubrication and water-cooling systems has been completely revised and my legs were happier for it.

Horsepower and torque is now a claimed 144.2 hp at 10,600 rpm and 115 nm at 8,000 rpm. That’s a full 10 horsepower down on last years claimed figures but the bike still power wheelies from third gear even with a longer swingarm so you go reckon. It’s still just as much of a hooligan as you want it to be but the 2010 Brutale allows the rider to control it more than before. The midrange is fantastic and from as low as 4,000 rpm the acceleration in any gear is smooth and filled with strong momentum that you could only expect from the biggest Japanese in-line fours.

This fact makes the Brutale 1090 RR a very fine road motorcycle because you could ride it all day at low revs enjoying the scenery and still have plenty of power on tap instantly with no shifting down the gearbox. Both the Brutale 990 R and 1090 RR are available with engines restricted to 100 horsepower versions (poor French). And some of you will be happy to hear that you can boost your Brutale 1090 RR all the way to a 200 horsepower version with a couple of performance parts. New from MV Agusta and perhaps as a cause of the Harley-Davidson take over the Varese factory will now provide such performance parts directly. What I’m quite excited about is that if you can take a Brutale to 200 hp, what can then be achieved on the 2010 F4…

The 6-gallon fuel tank is a lot bigger than it looks and also bigger than what’s usual for a naked motorcycle. I reckon it is because the Brutale and its athleticism require slightly more body fuel than others which perhaps is something MV Agusta should look more into next time. The new headlamp still maintains the teardrop shape from previous models but with more efficient lighting and 8 new LEDs that’ll please those of you living in Vegas.

You might have heard that Massimo Tamburini that designed both the Brutale and F4 has retired from CRC. This is sort of correct, but I can also reveal that Tamburini himself was involved a fair bit on the 2010 Brutale and he also signed off the project before the launch.

Conclusion

MV Agusta calls both the 2010 Brutale 990 R and 1090 RR a silent revolution. Well, I tested the 2008 Brutale 1078 RR last year and I must say that not only have MV Agusta addressed almost all of my complaints, but they have listened to all the “born againers” in their 60’s that kept breaking their backs on the Brutale too. It’s now a lot more comfortable, less heat radiation, still attractive and less lies on the spec sheet too perhaps? Regardless, I must say that the 2010 Brutale 1090 RR now suits a lot more riders and that can only be a good thing. As for me I’d take the 2008 any time despite its “shortcomings” but the 2010 reliability might prove to be better.

Plus

>> The 1090 RR in-line four is still of the most exciting fours
>> Less heat radiation than before
>> Design and functionality: mirrors that work
>> Better seat and ergonomics than before

Minus

>> Gear and brake foot levers a little too short
>> Confusion around lost horsepower and gain in weight


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