MV Agusta Brutale 800 & Brutale 675 Comparison Review
MV Agusta’s resurgence in the last few years was certainly helped —ironically enough — by Harley-Davidson, which owned the Italian marque for a couple of years and brought some much needed supply-chain improvements to the production line.
Since the Claudio Castiglioni buyback in 2010 – Castiglioni sold MV Agusta to H-D two years earlier – new models and subtle redesigns have resulted in an expanded model lineup and much more user-friendly machines. Don’t mistake that for diluted or even emasculated, because the motorcycles themselves are just as uncompromising as ever – they are just better, that’s all.
Sadly, Castiglioni succumbed to cancer two years ago and did not live to see the fruition of his desire to develop new engines for this expanded model lineup. However, he would undoubtedly have been proud of the new three-cylinder motor shepherded to reality by his son, Giovanni. The three-cylinder motor — tre-pistoni, as writ large on the tailpiece — hearkens back to the considerable inline-triple racing heritage of the MV Agusta marque.
The most unusual aspect of the triple is that the crankshaft contra-rotates in the crankcase. The theory is that the torque from the rotating mass offsets braking forces; this helps the chassis turn-in immediately when the rider initiates it. The 675cc version came out first, although interestingly the motor was really intended as an 800cc.
Both models are now available in the upright, naked streetfighter-style Brutale chassis, in addition to the track-focused F3. The wheels are different styles, though essentially the same, and the steering geometry, wheelbase, weight, and seat height are identical on the Brutale 800 and 675.
The 675cc engine has very over-square dimensions, with a 79mm bore and a 46mm stroke; this translates into a rev-happy motor that spins up quickly and produces lots of power high in the operating range. Claimed by MV Agusta to put out just over 108 horsepower at 12,500 rpm, the torque peak of 48 ft/lbs comes just 500 rpm sooner. Over rev is plentiful.
Of course, there is usable torque at the bottom of the rev range, but the 675 is a somewhat highly-strung animal that loves to be thrashed; MV’s no-compromise philosophy is certainly alive and well in the 675.
Fifteen years ago, Massimo Tamburini pioneered the signature four-pipe underseat exhaust on MV’s iconic F4. The new Brutale triples pay homage to this with three slash cut pipes positioned behind the right footpeg. Although the sound is DOT legal, the off beat howling that emanates from the three pipes — coupled with the considerable intake noise — is intoxicating for the rider. If you’re going fast, you will know it.
The 800 perfectly bridges the gap between the top-flight 1090 and the 675. By lengthening the stroke 4.5mm (the only change to the motor), the personality of the triple changes. The 800 ups the ante by 16 horses and 12 ft/lbs of torque over the 675.
That doesn’t sound like a big difference, but in the real world, that extra punch is very noticeable, especially lower down. The Brutale 800 actually feels closer to the 1090 in power than to its smaller sibling, and it provides the sensation of a muscular sporting machine that is as fast as anything else on the road.
The Brutale 800 produces its maximum horsepower at 11,600 rpm, 900 rpm lower than the 675. However the big difference is in torque, where the 800’s peak comes at 8600 rpm, a significant 3400 rpm sooner than on the Brutale 675.
Both motors are willing to rev, and they spin up quickly. The fueling is entirely ride-by-wire—there are no throttle cables, just wires coming from the twistgrip — but the fuel mapping isn’t as good as it could be. The latest EPA regulations force the motor to run lean, and MV’s R&D team put more effort into passing the test than getting the throttle response just right; fortunately, motivated owners can fix the problem.
Despite this, grab a handful and the 800 will loft its front wheel easily in the first two gears, but such is the abrupt fuel mapping that it is hard to modulate the power effectively and hold the wheelie. A third gear bump in the road will bring the front up, if you are riding hard.
Once you start using larger throttle openings, the fuel mapping issues disappear. This isn’t a difficult bike to ride smoothly; it is just more of a challenge at lower speeds and less throttle.
Both the three-cylinder engines use the same electronics, likewise shared with the F3 675. The MVICS system (Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System) includes eight levels of traction control, as well as three pre-set fuel maps, plus one customizable map that can be personalized to your preference. Although the fuel map can be changed on the fly, the TC setting cannot.
The Brutales are equipped with smooth shifting six-speed gearboxes
and can be had with an optional Electronically Assisted Shift, which allow upshifts without the clutch or throttling off — even for a split second. This accessory has become, for me, an absolute necessity; my personal bikes now have aftermarket quickshifters fitted, and it is the one luxury I will no longer do without. Interestingly, the 1090 Brutales do not have a quickshifter option; I can only assume that is about to change.
The difference in physical size between the 1090 and 800/675 feels enormous. The 1090 has a seated-in feel, where the tank rises in front of the rider and makes you feel absolutely integrated with the machine. The big Brutale feels light, tight, and maneuverable — until you climb on the 800 or 675. In reverse, getting off the 675 or 800 and on to the 1090, the big bike feels like a tank in comparison; such is the diminutive nature of the smaller siblings.
The compact dimensions of the 675 and 800 are actually a little small for my six-foot frame. Unlike on most bikes, I found my rear pushing hard against the back step in the seat, even during normal riding. Still, these are intuitive bikes to ride.
With a claimed dry weight of just 368 pounds, the two triples feel as light as a feather. Razor-sharp turns occur in an instant, making the rider believe anything is possible.
The 675 is a fabulous bike in its own right — it is a small, precision scalpel of a machine that rewards fast and precise riding, and is so light and easy-handling that it filled me with confidence. Despite the slightly frenetic, howling motor, it produces more than enough power and just begs to be ridden hard. Unlike the four-cylinder 1090 engine, the tre-piston-is vibrate a certain amount. It is not unpleasant, to be sure, but it makes riding the smaller Brutale more of a visceral experience than the smooth- as-silk fours.
Taking the superbly compact, nimble chassis of the 675 and equipping it with the extra power of the 798cc motor creates a different animal altogether. The 675 lacks for nothing— until you ride the 800. The extra 12 ft/lbs of torque make a dramatic difference on the road, and the 800 feels much snappier from the saddle in the lower rev range.
Unfortunately, the ride-by-wire mapping is so abrupt in Sport mode that the 800 is a bit cantankerous around town, and the bike is difficult to ride smoothly. Parked in neutral, just holding a slight whiff of throttle, you will see the motor revs rise and fall slightly as the fueling hunts for consistency. The motor is being forced to run insanely lean, so it’s just a matter of time until a later map will be released that will fix the problem.
Once out on the open road—watch out. The 800 switches from grumbling caged tiger to Serengeti mode. Without too much prompting, it will take off hard, so make sure you are hanging on.
The Brutale 800 has different spec suspension than the 675, and that is due to more power and different tires, rather than more weight. Both bikes are equipped with inverted 43mm Marzocchi forks and a Sachs shock at the rear, although the 800 comes with higher spec units that feature full damping and preload adjustments, compared to the 675’s preload-only option.
This explains the $1000 difference in price between the two machines. The suspension is very firm and the springing pretty solid on the Brutale 800, even for my 185 pounds. It cannot be described as harsh, and on the open road such an uncompromising setup makes the bike handle impeccably at speed and gives good feedback to the rider.
At lower speeds on bumpy road surfaces the suspension can jolt you around a bit; at times it can get a little fatiguing. Other than the different spec suspension, the 675 and 800 chassis are identical, and both feature the same steel-tube frame and single sided aluminum swingarm.
The Brutale 675 is equipped with the Angel ST tire, Pirelli’s long distance sport-touring tire, whereas the 800 wears the Diablo Rosso II, a dual- compound, much more sporting tire. Despite my skepticism of the Angel ST tire choice — a sport-touring tire on a pure sport bike — it performed perfectly and didn’t give me any reason to complain. Likewise the extra power of the 800 was handled admirably by the Diablo Rosso IIs, although I did need to bring the traction control setting down from 3 to 2 on one long, hot run through the mountains.
Braking systems are the same for both bikes, with radial mount Brembo four-piston calipers up front that grip on to 320mm discs. A two-piston Brembo holds the 220mm disc at the rear. The brakes are excellent, with plenty of feel and stopping power.
These two motorcycles do everything with a confidence-inspiring sure-footedness that is absolutely addicting. In the end, the Brutale 800 and 675 are not about comfort or coddling you around town. The two MV Agusta triples are about superb, out-right performance from taut machines that react almost as quickly as your mind can think. These two motorcycles do everything with a confidence-inspiring sure-footedness that is absolutely addicting.
Unless you have a fixation on the 675cc engine size and the most frantic of rides, you are likely to prefer the 800 version of the Brutale. There is more power, of course, and it comes on sooner. Even though it has more
grunt, the 800 ends up being both faster when you want it to be, and more forgiving when riding at less than ten-tenths. Still, the higher revving 675 has its unmistakable appeal when you have the triple hovering near the redline.
In either case, upright and seemingly city friendly, you have to get into the canyons, with no traffic impeding your progress and few law enforcement people looking to raise revenue. Find that road, because that is where the challenge and satisfaction of riding the MV Agusta Brutale 800 and 675 truly lives.
Riding Style – MV Agusta Brutale 675
- Helmet: Shoei RF-1100 Diabolic Feud TC-5
- Jacket: Cortech Adrenaline
- Gloves: Cortech Adrenaline
- Pants: Cortech Adrenaline
- Boots: Cortech Latigo WP Road Race
Riding Style – MV Agusta Brutale 800
- Helmet: HJC RPHA 10 Cage MC-2
- Jacket: Joe Rocket Sonic 2.0
- Gloves: Sidi SDS Power
- Pants: Joe Rocket Speedmaster 5.0
- Boots: Joe Rocket Speedmaster 3.0
Photography by Don Williams
This story is featured in the July/August 2013 issue of Ultimate MotorCycling magazine — available on newsstands and good bookstores everywhere. The issue is also available free to readers on Apple Newsstand (for iOS devices) and Google Play (Android).