2010 MV Agusta Brutale 990 R | Review

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2010 MV 990 R Review

MV Agusta launched the original Brutale 750cc in 2001. The base Brutale model has since grown to 910cc, to 989cc, and now to 998cc in the 2010 MV Agusta Brutale 990 R. The top of the line Brutale still features a 1078cc engine despite the 1090 RR name tag. The original Tamburini design stunned the world and only now has MV Agusta’s CRC design house done a relatively big change in the aesthetic department.

At first sight only the connoisseurs will notice the subtle changes on the 2010 MV Agusta Brutale 990 R, such as the new headlight, new instrument cluster, redesigned double signature exhaust (without unattractive welding scars) and an all new rear-end to mention a few.

We started our day in the MV Agusta 990 R saddle, which isn’t so brutal anymore, doing a quick road ride in the area around the Misano circuit. Due to the all-new rear-end the seat height is now at a sporty 830 mm rather than the old 805 mm, which to some might not be the best improvement. The 990 R suited my frame perfectly and the new roomier seat now actually fits. This is great news for bigger and taller riders as it adds a lot more comfort.

To my big surprise there’s one new item on the Brutale 990 R that’s a full and true revolution; the mirrors work really well! They are bigger, taller and don’t vibrate much at all. MV Agusta has also tidied-up the look by incorporating the indicators as part of the mirrors.

So the 2010 Brutale 990 R gets most of the new stuff shared with the 1090 RR apart from a few exclusive parts, which I’ll talk more about in the 1090 RR review. The new engine is one of the major changes along with the chassis. The feisty in-line four developed in-house now sports a full 998cc capacity and it delivers some nice torque via a bigger bore.

The tech specs suggest a loss in horsepower when compared to the preceding 989 R motorcycle. The claimed figures for horsepower and torque are now 139 hp at 10,600 rpm and 106 Nm at 8,000 rpm. I would take this with a big pinch of salt until somebody tests both the 989 R and 990 R on a proper Dyno.

Out on the road and track the loss of power is not apparent. The 990 R might be the smallest capacity MV Agusta, but it still is a formidable and powerful naked superbike. I’m truly enjoying myself out on the sunny Italian Adriatic coastal mountains and power wheelie the 2010 990 R in both first and second gear. I’m pretty sure I’d be able to lift the 990 R just by using the throttle in third too, but in would require more effort than the 1090 RR big brother. I sampled full throttle acceleration at sixth gear from low speeds. The 1090 RR responds with a lot more authority from around 5,000 rpm than the 990 R.

A bungee feeling hinders low-speed response during the application of the off/on throttle. Keeping it on full throttle avoids this fuel injection glitch. This is more of a road problem than a track problem because around Misano, the throttle was pretty much pinned all the time.

The 990 R’s clutch feels less grabby than on the 1090 RR making it easier to use. The six-speed gearbox works just fine both on the road and on track but isn’t always willing and eager to hit neutral when needed. Quite often I did not want to change into neutral on both of the 990 R and 1090 RR and just parked them in first gear. One of my previous complaints with the Brutale still stands with both the gear and rear brake pedal. They are a little too short for the ultimate precision that I’m looking for in a motorcycle like this.

On heavy-handed downshifts, I noticed quite clearly on a couple of occasions that the 990 R doesn’t feature the same fine slipper clutch as the 1090 RR. The rear wheel locked up for a split second before I engaged the clutch and brushed of the speed with the brakes instead. I then adjusted my corner entry speed and technique to cater for the difference between the 990 R and the 1090 RR. The 990 R radial-mounted Brembo brakes are not of the same quality as on the 1090 RR either. The 990 R brakes are still powerful enough, but lacks in feel and ultimate power compared to the 1090 RR.

The 2010 MV Agusta Brutale 990 R now features traction control but I’m scratching my head to find a way to describe it. It’s either so good that it can’t be noticed or I didn’t ride ham-fisted enough. Either way on Misano I simply couldn’t upset the chassis in the same way as I could on the 1090 RR and I felt particularly more confident mid-corner. The latest Marelli 5SM ECU enables the whole traction control management in eight adjustment stages.
The new chassis features a taller frame and a longer swing arm for increased stability and lighter weight. The new die cast wheels are also lighter than on the previous Brutale 989 R. It all comes together to provide a stable and safe ride at both low and high speed. The fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi front suspension is subtle over bumps and steady on the brakes far into corners. At the back, MV Agusta uses a Sachs mono shock only adjustable for preload.

The dry weight is a claimed 418 pounds, which despite the claimed figures are probably still lighter than last year’s model. The 2010 MV Agusta Brutale 990 R is still slightly on the heavy side compared to competition such as the Ducati Streetfighter. As well, directional changes on Misano from the extreme left to the extreme right demands more effort than on a full on modern sportbike.

Conclusion

Many manufacturers launch a standard and an R version to designate the model with the extra racing bits. MV Agusta has gone a bit further by offering an even larger engine capacity in the RR model. The 2010 MV 990 R is truly a formidable streetfighter. I feel that the comfort and engine changes are welcomed enhancements the 990 R. The Brutale has been softened a little bit which I think is absolutely fine for this “entry” level MV. The 998cc engine is both powerful and exciting with buckets of character, but get the 1090 RR for that little bit of extra excitement.

Plus
>> Engine and chassis
>> Finish and build quality
>> Exclusiveness

Minus
>> Fuelling at low rpm in off/on throttle situations
>> Difficult to engage neutral gear
>> Photos by Milagro


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