While the 2018 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR is visually similar to the old model, the changes that have been three years in development have significantly improved its feel and behavior.We took to the streets and roads of Northern Italy to find out what separates the new Brutale 800 RR from its impressive predecessors.
1. The new Brutale 800 RR’s revised fueling and chassis dimensions make it noticeably smoother and more stable than before. This motorcycle does everything exceedingly well. The 800 RR is easy to ride at slow speed, and yet also incredibly rewarding and confidence-inspiring to ride at high speed.2. The powerful three-cylinder engine, with the innovative counter-rotating crankshaft, is now Euro 4 compliant without losing any horsepower. Peak power remains at 140 horsepower at 12,300 rpm, with the torque peak up 1.5 ft/lbs to 64 ft/lbs at 10,100 rpm.3. The motor’s lack of rotating mass ensures the willing motor spins up quickly, so the Brutale reacts rapidly when asked. The downside is the motor does need quite a lot of revs when moving off the line. It is possible to (embarrassingly) stall the engine.4. Updated engine mapping and TC algorithms are a big improvement, and the Brutale 800 RR is now very smooth on the throttle. The previous nervousness that was especially noticeable at small throttle openings around town, has completely gone. There are still four power modes—Sport, Normal, Rain, and a Custom setting for individual preference—easily changed on-the-fly with a button on the twistgrip-side handlebar. Despite the extremely high level of engine tune and relatively aggressive Sport mode, the Brutale is still pleasingly tractable at low speed. I loved the smooth yet responsiveness of the throttle; this is an easy machine to ride.5. An obvious upgrade is a new gearbox and quickshifter system that includes a flawless blip-downshift. There is now reduced effort required at the shift lever, so it feels soft yet precise, and smooth to operate. Aggressively riding the twisty Italian roads around Lago Maggiore requires a lot of rapid ratio-swapping, and the Brutale’s gearbox was an absolute pleasure to use.6. A lot of effort has been dedicated to update the eight-level traction control calibration to make it much more accurate. The Brutale 800 RR does not have an IMU, so TC algorithms depend on the wheel speed sensors for accuracy and there is no separate wheelie control. In TC-2 setting, the Brutale is willing to power wheelie in both first and second gears.7. The 43 mm Marzocchi fork now has DLC-coated aluminum inner sliders and anodized aluminum outer legs that save 4.4 pounds on each side! The Sachs rear shock is unchanged. The steering damper atop the triple clamp couldn’t be easier to adjust. However, the RR’s dry weight remains unchanged at a claimed 386 pounds. It’s time for MV to quote accurate curb weights.8. The Brutale is a lot more stable, especially at speed. The wheelbase has been extended by about three-quarters of an inch to just over 55 inches, and the trail at 4.1 inches has been extended slightly from 3.7 inches. The Brutale 800 RR still retains its amazing agility, and the old mild bar-waggle at every speed has now gone completely. This leaves the Brutale absolutely stable, even when riding hard. Credit for increased chassis rigidity and better handling must be given to the additional engine mounting point on the steel trellis frame.9. The eight-position steering damper is a non-event, but it is there. It runs across the top triple clamp and the adjuster knob is on top in the middle, so it is super-easy to adjust while riding. I cranked it up to max firm just to see and it didn’t make any difference that I could discern. The 800 RR is so well behaved—maybe some of that can be attributed to the damper.10. The mixed conditions of the Italian roads were handled superbly by the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires fitted to the 800 RR. The Diablo Rosso IIIs have better wet weather grip than the Supercorsas, and in the dry they were exemplary, with nary a slip or slide anywhere. The Brutale’s new wheels are forged aluminum with cool machined slots and accents. They perfectly complement the bike’s drop-dead gorgeous good looks.11. ABS comes as standard on the Brutale 800 and that also includes rear wheel lift mitigation to help control stoppies. The Brembo calipers, operated by a Nissin master pump, have a soft initial bite with progressively powerful stopping power. In traffic, I had a ‘moment’ induced by a careless car driver. Happily, the Brutale reacted perfectly to my panicked braking. The rear brake is quite soft, and I found it a useful tool when I got a little exuberant with a wheelie. Overall, I really enjoyed the feel of the MV’s brakes at both ends.12. Ergonomically, the Brutale’s relatively tall seat height of 32.7 inches will definitely challenge some riders. I have long legs and was only just able to flat-foot when stopped. However, the motorcycle is so light and well balanced, most people won’t find it a problem even if they have to stretch a little to reach the ground. The rider seat is firm, yet comfortable as well, and there is plenty of room.13. Despite the sporting position of the footpegs, overall they were comfortable to use. However, the classic MV signature right-side triple pipes can interfere with my right heel when pivoting my foot for right hand turns. It’s not as bad as some I’ve used—such as the Ducati Monster 1200— but it is there.14. Particular attention has been paid to the passenger accommodations. The new split seat is claimed to be much more comfortable for the pillion rider, while the detachable and stowable grab handles are a nice touch. No, I couldn’t find anyone in Italy to ride on the back to check.15. As part of its Euro 4 compliance toolset, MV Agusta uses advanced audio research tools to precisely identify where different noise levels come from the engine. This helped the engineers to redesign the engine covers and internal engine parts to quieten mechanical noise. It also has the effect of multiplying the intoxicating intake roar and exhaust tone, which are hallmarks of the MV Agusta range of motors.16. The instrument pod is disappointing. The really important information on the LCD screen is easy enough to see, although the TC and other settings are tiny and difficult to see at a glance. On a premium motorcycle with such advanced technology, I expect a good-looking and legible color TFT display. That is now de rigueur—even on much less expensive motorcycles.17. Incredible build-quality and MV Agusta exclusiveness does not come cheap. At $18,500, the Brutale 800 RR’s price is about as jaw dropping as the rest of the machine. MV makes premium quality machines sold at a premium price, and it’s difficult to say the 2018 MV Agusta 800 RR isn’t worth every penny.RIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to the Ultimate Motorcycling podcast—Motos and Friends. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Motos and Friends is brought to you by the Yamaha YZF-R7—Yamaha’s awesome supersport machine that is as capable on the racetrack as it is on the street. …and it’s comfortable too! Check it out at at your local Yamaha dealer, or of course at YamahaMotorsports.com.
In this week’s first segment, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the BMW K 1600 GT. This is the sporty bagger version of BMW’s K series of machines, those are the models with the awesome 6-cylinder engine. The GT has been given a little makeover for 2023, and Nic gives us his take.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my all time heroes—three-time World Champion racer ‘fast’ Freddie Spencer. I’ll do my best not to come off as too much of a fanboy here, but frankly it’ll be tough!
In my humble opinion, Spencer is a contender for the GOAT—greatest of all time. Sure, his career was a little shorter than some, and his number of championships falls behind the likes of Lawson, Doohan, Rossi, and of course Marquez. But at the time, Freddie literally changed the way motorcycles were ridden. 30 years before Marc Marquez, Freddie was able to push the front wheel into a slide, corner after corner, lap after lap in order to get the bike turned faster than anyone else. Freddie took completely different lines and was able to get on the throttle so early he could out accelerate anyone off a corner.
In the modern era, of course Freddie is the chairman of the FIM MotoGP Stewards panel. This is the panel of referees for all three classes of Grand prix racing. I talked to Freddie about his task there, and although for contractual reasons with Dorna and the FIM he cannot talk about specific riders, teams, or events, nevertheless his explanation of the job makes for interesting listening. It’s a tough job, and frankly I wouldn’t want to do it!
Actually—Ultimate Motorcycling is giving away five copies of the book—signed by Freddie himself—to the first five listeners who contact us with the correct answer to the question: How many national AMA championships did Freddie win, and which years were they?
Please email your answers to email@example.com and we will contact the winners and send you a signed copy of Feel. Those five winners will be announced on a future episode. Unfortunately for legal reasons this offer is ONLY open to US residents.
So, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!