2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Review
Most of the appeal of the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800—actually, any MV Agusta really—has to be the motorcycle’s looks. The company is superb at leveraging its Italian-exotica image, and that is obvious when you look at any MV—they really are unique.
Pull up at any random Starbucks and without fail, the Brutale 800 will attract attention. The curves and complementing angles on the bike all work together beautifully; the paint and finishes are premium quality, and the detail touches have clearly had a lot of thought go into them. This is a motorcycle that is not obviously built to a budget, and the end result is distinctly different from anything else in its class.
As upright nakeds, the Brutale series of models is, by definition, devoid of plastic fairings, so the details are on show and there to admire; the more you look, the more you see. Iconic styling cues include the sculpted tank that flows into the seat unit; the minimalist trellis frame that stands out with it’s perfectly triangulated tubes; the single-sided swingarm that shows off the rear wheel; and the triple exhausts that peek out from under the motor.
The blacked out 43mm Marzocchi fork looks beefy and cool, even though the visual effect is ruined by the horrendously huge emissions sticker wrapped around the right leg. I realize we have to have one, but, really! I challenge any owner to leave it in place the second the bike arrives home.
Overall the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is beautifully put together. A lot of thought has gone into the looks of the bike and that alone will probably sell the bike to most owners. Happily though, the Brutale 800 isn’t just good-looking. It also performs at a very high level, so said owners will feel their purchase is fully vindicated once they get to ride.
This isn’t a beginner machine, but as incredibly responsive as it is, it is also easy to handle, and it comes equipped with eight-level traction control, as well as ABS with rear-wheel lift mitigation, and those systems work superbly in harmony to help keep the rider safe. Confident intermediate-level riders will find this motorcycle mellow enough to build their skills. As that skill set grows and they unleash the Brutale’s full potential, they will find it can dish out as much performance as they want.
Sitting astride the Brutale 800, my first impression was how tall the seat is. My 33-inch inseam was maxed out, although I can flat-foot while at a standstill in boots. Interestingly, despite its height, the Brutale simultaneously feels compact.
Despite a (claimed) nearly one-inch longer wheelbase compared to last year, at 55.2 inches the 800 Brutale is still definitely quite short end to end. Compare that wheelbase to similar bikes in its class, such as the Yamaha FZ-09 at 56.7 inches, and Kawasaki’s new Z900 at 57.1 inches—the Brutale is almost two inches shorter!
With 24.5 degrees of rake—the same as the Z900 and a half-degree less than the FZ-09—the geometry isn’t overly aggressive, and it’s that short wheelbase and competitively light weight that makes the MV is so startlingly agile. Yet, despite the MV’s extremely lively handling, it isn’t actually nervous. Instead, the Brutale 800 is sensitive to handlebar input and bumps in the road. Although that does tend to keep your attention while riding, it isn’t unsettling.
The Brutale does not have a steering damper, nor does it need one. I hit a big pothole that threw the front into a minor wobble, yet the handlebars settled down almost immediately with minimal drama. The chassis is very well developed, and it treads that fine line of being directly connected to the rider without quite crossing over into nervousness.
I’m six-foot tall and lanky with it, but I do like the riding position of the Brutale 800. Although the rider triangle is quite short from the seat to the tank, I did immediately feel at home and confident on the 800. The seating position is pleasantly upright and natural feeling, yet there is plenty of rider weight on the front. It’s aggressive and sporting for sure, but not overly so.
The tapered handlebars are a little wider than shoulder-width, so they’re sensitive to input. The seat feels quite thin and firm, there’s no mistaking that this is a sportbike. The rearset footpegs are conventionally situated and fairly aggressive, so I never touched one down.
Awkwardly, the right footpeg is close to those iconic triple exhaust pipes. As a ball-of-foot rider, my heel was a little hindered by the pipe when turning into right-handers. This is nothing like the heinously impairing Ducati Monster 1200 and it wasn’t a big deal, though it was noticeable.
I can’t say the MV is super-comfortable, but it is okay—perhaps I’m being overly critical as I did put in a couple of 200 plus mile days and never had a complaint. The main culprit that prevents me giving the Brutale 800 a glowing comfort rating is the suspension.
The Marzocchi 43mm front fork and Sachs shock are premium-quality components, however they are both very stiff, even with my slightly porky 185 pounds aboard. Don’t confuse stiff with harsh or jarring, because both the front and rear suspension are beautifully compliant and the action is very smooth.
However, with the factory settings, pretty much every bump was transmitted through to me. On poorly surfaced canyon roads, the bike bounced around so much my confidence was a little compromised. If all you’re going to do is ride on track, then leave the suspension alone—the Brutale’s handling is exemplary. But, in any kind of street situation, you will want to soften things, as I did.
The front suspension has the compression damping in the left fork leg and the rebound damping in the right; both adjusters are situated at the top and very easily adjusted. The same can’t quite be said for the rear, where the compression damping adjuster is at the top of the Sachs shock and almost obscured by the left chassis section. I managed to get a skinny Motion Pro screwdriver kinda in there to adjust it, but it was not easy.
I backed the compression damping adjuster out by two full turns on the fork leg, and a half-turn out on the rear, which incidentally put the shock at the minimum damping setting. The improvement was dramatic, and the changes allowed the suspension to really shine.
Overall, the Brutale is incredibly intuitive to ride. After I dialed in the damping, the front is now close to perfect and, although the rear is still a little stiff, it is much improved as well. The bump absorption is now great, and I now have plenty of confidence especially in the front in bumpy corners. The agile, neutral handling is unaffected and, as sensitive as the Brutale is, it doesn’t flop into corners or oversteer.
On twisty roads, the Brutale 800’s impressive agility allows me to flick it to maximum lean angle in a heartbeat, and flipping from one side to the other at speed doesn’t upset it at all. One fast right-left combination with a slight rise in the middle caused a minor waggle at the bars, yet it settled down straight away without me having to back out of the throttle at all. Very impressive.
The 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is equipped with Pirelli’s new Diablo Rosso III tires. I got on well with the previous gen Rosso II, so I’m not surprised to find that I really like the new version. Grip was outstanding and handling neutral. Even over bumps with the hard standard damping settings before I adjusted them, the Pirellis never even became vague, much less lost any grip.
The raucous sound from the uber-cool triple exhaust pipes is pure music coming from the 798cc three-cylinder motor at the heart of the Brutale. As with any triple, it doesn’t have the turbine smoothness of a four; on this bike, the vibration that does reach the rider is pleasant and makes the machine feel alive.
This model is the base version of the 800 motor—there is an RR model that is considerably more powerful, with a commensurate price hike to match. Despite its more modest power output, I really liked its character. The triple is incredibly torquey and feels as though it makes most of its peak claimed 61 ft/lbs of torque low down in the rev-range.
At a claimed 116 horsepower at 11,500 rpm (compared to the RR’s 140 horses at 13,500) this Brutale will happily point the front wheel skyward on the power in both first and second gears. Peak horsepower comes fairly quickly at 11,500 rpm, but it is so responsive at lower rpm it feels pointless to scream the motor other than to enjoy the sound.
The fueling on the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale comes with the typical three maps—Sport, Normal and Rain. I like the connection of the ride-by-wire throttle as it has plenty of feel. Sport mode is definitely more aggressive, so on twisty canyons I prefer the Normal mode that smooths the power delivery in the lower gears without sacrificing any power.
On wider, more flowing roads, I preferred the aggression of Sport mode. Fortunately, the Power Mode button is large and easy to use on the fly, however it is (oddly) positioned on the throttle side of the handlebar necessitating me having to loosen my grip on the throttle and use my thumb to change modes. It’s not a big deal, but I look forward to the day when motorcycle electronics systems show consistency between all the brands.
The impressive engine is partnered with an excellent gearbox. I was very happy to discover this, as the F3 I rode a few years ago had a glitch between 3rd and 4th gears, and that has been completely eliminated. The ratios slip into place easily and precisely, and the lever has a short throw and plenty of feel.
The transmission is enhanced by possibly the best shift-assist on the market today. MV’s EAS 2.0 provides flawless shifting, whether changing up or down. Once you’ve used this, there’s no going back. Old-school codgers will balk at “a gadget you only need on the track” fitted to a streetbike, but I submit that if you’re going to get the best from a highly sport-oriented streetbike—especially one as lively as the Brutale 800—you’re going to be tapping on that gear lever like you’re auditioning for the lead in Riverdance and you’ll be very glad to have a quickshift mechanism as seamless as the MV’s.
Brakes are (somewhat naturally on an Italian machine) high-spec front radial Brembos that grip 320mm floating rotors, and a two-piston caliper slowing a 220mm rotor in the rear. The brakes are exceedingly powerful and, although the master pump has a good pressure ratio, the initial bite is quite strong. There is loads of feel and they are not grabby in the least, but these are brakes for the more experienced rider.
ABS is handled by a Bosch 9 Plus system, and it also includes rear-wheel lift mitigation. So even if the superlative handling suckers you into grabbing a panicky handful of front brake, it won’t lock and throw you down, and the rear tire will stay planted to the tarmac. This is another electronic aid that’s perhaps underestimated. Although I never felt the lift mitigation system working, nevertheless the Brutale is incredibly stable under hard braking.
Coming down one particular mountain road with several fast sections linked by startlingly downhill first-gear hairpins, I was able to arrive at each one very fast, and then scrub off all of my speed with absolutely no drama at all. I realize that it’s fun to watch pro racers back it into corners with the rear waggling all over the place, but for me, on the road, no thanks. I’ll take that electronically controlled chassis stability every time when I’m really hard on the brakes, especially on a steep downhill gradient.
For those who use it, the rear brake lever is cleverly situated with the pivot and master cylinder ahead of the tip, allowing room for the exit of those three glorious, stubby exhaust pipes on the right.
The switchgear on the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is exemplary, and the LED instrument pod is well thought-out and easy to read. I didn’t quite understand the horizontal rev-counter along the foot of the display, as it goes up to 16,000 RPM while this motor tops out well short of that; it is clearly a one-size-fits-all piece.
I had a few other grumbles: the ABS and TC info is a bit small so they both need close inspection; there is no fuel gauge; and the line of warning lights below the instrument pod are tiny and not very bright. However, I’m going to put those niggles down to characterful quirks that I can live with, as the rest of the bike is so damn good.
At $13,498, the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 is worth the price of admission with its full-level electronics package, awesome up/down quickshifter, and high-spec suspension and brakes. However, it is half again more expensive than its two aforementioned Japanese competitors. For the arm-wrenching Brutale 800 RR flagship, there is a giant leap up to $18,198 (exchange rate dependent); and that’s a whole different ballpark.
So this Brutale 800 falls neatly into the market gap between the invitingly inexpensive Japanese bikes, and the superbike-priced Brutale RR. It will entice those who love Italian heritage, high-end styling, and top build quality, to become part of the MV Agusta family without having to go crazy.
I simply loved this motorcycle. Yes, I have been able to nit-pick here and there, and yes, I did have to spend a whole two minutes adjusting the suspension. However, nothing spoiled this bike for me. In the end, the Brutale 800 is every inch a well-designed, gorgeous-looking, high-spec Italian show-stopper that absolutely delivers on its sporting promise as well.
2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800
- Type: Inline-3
- Displacement: 798cc
- Bore x stroke: 79 x 54.3mm
- Maximum power: 109 horsepower @ 11,500 rpm
- Maximum torque: 61 ft/lbs @ 7600 rpm
- Maximum speed: 142 mph
- Compression ratio: 12.3:1
- Valve train: DOHC
- Fueling: Eldor EM2.0 w/ Mikuni throttle body and three injectors
- Transmission: 6-speed with up/down quickshifter
- Clutch: Hydraulically actuated
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: ALS tubular steel trellis w/ aluminum alloy swingarm pivot plates
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable inverted 43mm Marzocchi fork; 4.9 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Sachs shock; 4.9 inches
- Front wheel: 3.50” x 17”; aluminum alloy
- Rear wheel: 5.50” x 17”; aluminum alloy
- Front Tire: 120/70 x 17; Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
- Rear tire: 180/55 x 17; Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
- Front brakes: 320mm floating discs w/ radially mounted 4-piston Brembo calipers
- Rear brake: 220mm disc w/ 2-piston Brembo caliper
ABS: Bosch 9 Plus w/ rear-wheel lift mitigation
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 55.1 inches
- Rake: 24.5 degrees
- Trail: 4.1 inches
- Seat height: 32.7 inches
- Fuel capacity: 4.4 gallons
- Dry weight: 386 pounds
2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Colors:
- Black Matt Metallic/Matt Silver
- Pearl Ice White/Matt Metallic Graphite
- Red/Matt Silver
2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Price:
- $13,498 MSRP