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Review: 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800

Driven May 2017

Review: 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800

The Brutale 800 has always scared the hell out of me. It has always been a motorcycle that needs to be respected and treated with almost god-like reverence. Because if you didn't, it would chew you up and spit you out. But the bike I had tested was the older motorcycle – the first of the 800 generation. And like all things, that too came to an end. But only to give way to the new Brutale.

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The whole theme of the bike is the same as before. Small in size and very Italian in design. But while the silhouette might look the same as before, the closer you look, the more changes you will see. The headlight gets new brackets, the tank is more sculpted, the rear sub-frame is all new with a pan-shaped structure for the rear seat. The tail section too is a tad different with updated light clusters and a swingarm-mounted splash guard and number plate assembly. It does look as mean as before, though and the sense of aggression and Italian flair has not been lost. In fact this bike’s new design touches only add to the flair.

The motorcycle still uses the 798cc triple, but in a different state of tune than before. The bike now makes 109bhp and 83Nm of torque. While the outputs have changed, the character of the engine remains the same. It still has that rattlesnake-like reaction to throttle inputs. The difference, though, is that unlike the older bike, the throttle response has been toned down to be more manageable. On-off throttle transitions don't send you jerking around like before and that's a welcome change. Under full acceleration, the front end still comes flying up and that where ferocity of it all still remains the same.

The Brutale 800 still comes with adjustable traction control and riding modes. It gets four throttle modes and eight levels of traction control. The riding modes are now controlled by a dedicated button on the right side of the handlebar and the traction control is set by switches on the left side. The riding modes alter power and throttle response to suit Normal, Sport, Rain and Custom modes. The problem I have with the electronics is that they are still very counter intuitive to use. Getting the bike to change modes, especially traction control settings, is impossibly difficult.

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The Brutale 800 runs on fully adjustable Marzocchi USD forks and Sachs shock. The handling is nothing short of brilliant. Then motorcycle feels hardwired to your brain and reacts instantly to any input. Turn in is super quick and it holds its line as if on rails. Even over mid-corner bumps, the motorcycle never gets upset. It merely wiggles once and goes its way. Left to right transitions are mind-bendingly fast which makes it easy to overcook it. Like before, the new Brutale, too, is a bike that demands respect. It's very easy to get excited and run out of skill. And honestly, this is the sort of bike that will have you running out of skill way before it runs out of capability.

The flip side of the fantastic handling is that the ride quality has taken a hit. The ride is super stiff. On the back roads of Varese, Italy where we tested the motorcycle briefly, the suspension was making us squirm. I'm not looking forward to experiencing the harsh ride on our roads.

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If you want a cut-throat motorcycle that comes with a rich history and enough capability to make most others look like a toy, the Brutale 800 is for you. It ensures you a place on the table reserved for only the royals of the motorcycling world. Yes, you will have to pay a super premium price for it. But you'll be buying into a family and an experience like no other for that price. When it launches soon, we expect it to be priced around the ₹15 lakh mark.

The numbers
798cc, 3-cyl, 6-speed, 109bhp, 83Nm

The verdict
The Brutale 800 is the most cut-throat sub-1,000cc motorcycle you can buy. But the price will make you cringe!



Ashok George

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