MV Agusta Dragster800 RR
MV Agusta’s investment in its 675/800cc three-cylinder engine keeps paying big dividends, particularly now that the Supersport F3 models have been joined by the naked Brutale and its Rivale and Dragster derivatives. All naked models are blessed by the same excellent chassis quality that ensures success for MV Agusta in the World Supersport Series with Jules Cluzel. And it’s the excellent quality of the chassis that has led to the creation of the new higher-power RR versions of the Brutale 800 and Dragster 800.
The MV Agusta 800 three-cylinder has been tuned to deliver optimized performance for the naked duo. Claimed peak power of 140 hp is only fractionally lower than the 148 hp of the F3 800. Do not jump to the conclusion that MV Agusta has just adopted a slightly de-rated F3 powerplant for the Brutale/Dragster chassis. The new version was developed from the 125-hp Brutale 800 unit to maintain the great virtues of that engine, namely its glorious flexibility and smooth throttle response from 3,000 rpm up. The compression ratio stays at a robust 13.3:1 on all the versions to keep the thermodynamic efficiency at the highest level possible within the limits allowed by present gasoline standards.
In the evolution from 800 to 800 RR, a substantially larger air box has been adopted. Also, 50mm throttle bodies with two injectors are used in place of the 47mm units with single injectors used on the Brutale/Dragster 800 with 125 hp. Valve size remains unchanged from the Brutale 800 unit, at 31.8mm inlet and 26.7mm exhaust. The cam grind of the Brutale 800 has been used, while the exhaust duplicates the freer flow characteristics of the F3 800 unit. The extra power relates to the improved flow dynamics. The result is a strong and flexible engine that generates a claimed 140 hp at 13,100 rpm, with torque reaching its 63.4 pound-feet peak at 10,100 rpm. The Brutale 800, for the record, delivers its claimed 125 hp at 11,600 rpm while its 59.7 pound-feet of torque peaks at 8,600 rpm. For a complete comparison, I also list the claimed F3 800 numbers: 148 hp at 13,000 rpm and 65 pound-feet of torque at 10,600 rpm.
The new engine sounds like the F3 800, but there is a big difference in the torque delivery curve. It’s much flatter, and there’s a healthy response from almost as low as the 125Hp version. This comes as a further confirmation that a properly tuned three-cylinder engine has great throttle response, even when its specific power reaches way past the 150 horsepower per liter mark.
2015 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR engine close-up
Other meaningful updates: In addition to a new anti-lock clutch, the MV Agusta technical team led by Marco Cassinelli has further honed the electronics, in particular the quick-shift gearbox, which is now capable of clutch-free downshifting as well as the already possible clutchless upshifting. More important, the system felt better performing, quicker, and surge free. The Eldor EM2.0 ECU has been refined in its interface with the Mikuni “by wire” throttle bodies and offers three selectable maps: Sport, Normal, Rain, plus eight levels of traction control. It’s not yet up to the standards of the Ducati and Aprilia systems, but solidly improving.
The latest ECU is harnessed in the familiar steel trellis frame, which has solid aluminum plates that locate the pivot for the single-sided swingarm. It is a compact chassis, almost diminutive for its displacement. The three-cylinder engine is in a position that allows a weight distribution of 52/48. The front end employs the latest Marzocchi fork, an inverted all-aluminum part with gas-charged dampers and 43mm male sliders. These feature the latest DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) plating that has a very high level of hardness for good durability and smooth action. These new fork also weighs meaningfully less than the steel fork of corresponding size. Claimed dry weight, for the record, is 370 pounds for both the Brutale 800 RR and the Dragster 800 RR. And although these new MV Agustas have blossomed from the same seed, the Dragster is far more extroverted in look, thanks to its own great-looking wire wheels with metallic red spokes and black rims. Its rear tire is a fat 200/50-15, in place of the Brutale’s 180/55-17. The frame is unchanged in basic geometry, with a 54.3-in. wheelbase, 23.5 degrees of rake, 3.8 in. of trail, and a 31.9-inch seat height.
THE RIDE: MV AGUSTA BRUTALE 800 RR
Test day is cloudy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon. The pavement of the Pirelli Test Track in Italy is only 41 degrees Fahrenheit—not the best condition for great lean angles. First, I test the Brutale 800 RR. It’s compact, light, responsive, and neutral. The new engine is great, a flexible and torquey as the regular 800 version but with an impressive extra punch. Top speed is a cool 150 mph, and the super solid torque curve gets you there at an impressive rate, with superb torque delivery from as low as 3,000 rpm, with no stumbling or any other unpleasant side effect. Throttle response is superb, and I am using only a whisker of traction control to check the grip in these poor conditions.
The improved quickshifter works smartly while upshifting, but even better when downshifting. It’s a good step forward. After a few laps, the front end feels secure and responsive. I start pushing to see if knee-scratching lean angles are possible. You know, for the show. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso II are up to it, allowing lean angles beyond expectation. All told, the Brutale 800RR is one of the hottest nakeds around, even at a chilly 41 degrees!
As we know, the Dragster 800RR is just a Brutale with a more aggressive styling and a fatter rear tire—same engine, same chassis, same related settings. And it has a narrower and flatter handlebar. Given its size, the fatter tire applies a lower specific pressure on the ground, which means it warms up slower on the cold tarmac. The bike tries to stand up and the rear loses traction when forced. But no real problem. When the fat Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 200/50-17 starts biting, the Dragster 800RR suddenly turns into a great lean machine, totally fun and instilling absolute confidence in the rider.
Just one note: When I tested the original Dragster 800 at the Paul Ricard track in France, I noticed that the rear tire would flex when I leaned the bike in low-speed corners. I raised the tire pressure a couple of psi and things improved. Now, MV Agusta sets the standard rear tire pressure at 41.1 psi as opposed to the 33.8 psi used at the previous test. And now the rear end is impeccable. This latest 140-hp MV Agusta 800cc three-cylinder is one of the best midsize motorcycle engines in production today. It delivers supreme performance, plus excellent flexibility for everyday commuting. All in a beautifully balanced chassis.