Adrian's MV Agusta Brutale 990R - Owning and Riding
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I took delivery of my MV Augusta Brutale 990R on a cold, sunny, winter day in the UK. To own an MV is a life's
ambition for me, I never thought I could afford one. I bought 990R through Robinson's of Rochdale who used to be
the MV importer. Robinsons were selling off older 675, 800, 920,990,1190 Brutale's at special knock down prices.
That means I get a brand new Brutale that may have been in a crate for a couple of years - Who cares. I now own
a new MV Augusta. My Brutale 990R was delivered and my Vegas was taken in part exchange. Robinson's are a
pleasure to deal with, the whole process was very slick.
I bought my MV Brutale without a test ride. I was able to sit on one to check out the ergonomics. It is a risk to buy
a bike without riding one however there is now so much information on the WWW, especially YouTube, so I was
able to make a good assessment of the bike before committing to buy. The 4 cylinder 990R engine has matured
over the years so hopefully any issues should have been ironed out. With some trepidation I started my shiny new
Brutale for the first time (there is the smallest of choke levers on the twist grip). The MV ticks over smoothly and
warms up quickly. The exhaust note is special, definitely Italian. The clutch is light and the gearbox is slick. Like
many new bikes the MV Brutale's are compact 3/4 size machines, the engine is especially narrow. Parked next to
a typical Japanese street bike the Brutale looks smaller, lighter and very special. The riding position is good, nice
and roomy. At 5'8" I can get both feet down and I can easily swing my leg over the pillion seat.
Having read some road tests I was concerned that the fuel mapping might be an issue, fortunately there is nothing
to worry about. The MV responds perfectly to my throttle inputs, there is no powerband, no surging, no hiccups,
just buckets of smooth progressive power. I can ride at 30mph in top and the Brutale will pull away effortlessly.
The mapping is so good 4th or 5th are perfect gears for town work. 70 mph comes up at 5,000 revs in 6th.
Everything is smooth and the mirrors do not blur. I love the sound of the Brutale, in fact while running-in I was not
using earplugs because I wanted to hear the exhaust note. The MV is eager, the flywheel is light and the whole
impression is sporty. Two weeks before taking delivery I took a Triumph Street Triple 675RR for a test ride. The
675RR is very highly rated and costs more than my discounted Brutale. In comparison he MV wins hands down, it
feels smoother and much more able. I prefer the extra mass of a 1 litre bike and I love the torquey feel of a big
engine. Add a dose of MV exotica and the whole package is so much more special - exquisite, elegant,
impeccable, meticulous, discerning, peerless are words that springs to mind.
I was also concerned that the suspension would be rock hard, fortunately it is not. On smoother UK roads the
Brutale gives a better ride than my Tiger 800 XCx with White Power suspension because MV use even better
suspension components. The Brutale cannot soak up a big bump like my Tiger but for a sports bike the ride is
always composed and tightly controlled. The steering is neutral, the Brutale steers impeccably at low speed for
bike a street bike on fat tyres. U turns feet up near full lock are no problem. The clutch is light and down changes
require only the smallest of throttle blips. The brakes are fantastic being powerful and progressive. To be honest
after since the first 40 miles I have felt completely at home. My Brutale is as well mannered as a Honda.
The controls work well. I love the tiny choke leaver and tiny starter button. The indicator switch is good and the
smallest press will cancel them. The Brutale 990R has the front indicators built into the mirrors which is a neat
touch. Most magazine reviewers complain that the mirrors only give a good view of your elbows, not true unless of
course you ride like a road test super hero - hanging off - all elbows and knees.
The only negative I can report is the gearing which seems short. 70mpg is 5,000 revs so 140 would occur at
10,000. The MV is geared to reach it's top speed of 165 at max revs. Maybe it's me being sensitive, I have been
riding Tigers for 12 years which are relaxed, long legged 3 cylinder machines. The upside is that riding my Brutale
at 70mph feels fast.
Update - I have now ridden over 4,000 miles. Robinsons' performed the first service at 600. I had an enjoyable
370 mile round trip to Rochdale and back. As the engine loosens up jeez this Brutale is effortlessly quick. The
990R has buckets of usable power, speed just flows from the twist grip. Following my friend on his GS1200 on big
hills he would change down twice to overtake, I merely rolled the throttle in top gear and stuck to his number plate,
twist it any more and I would shoot past a hard accelerating 1200 BMW the MV pulling 2 gears higher. Not bad.
Shortly after buying the Brutale I took the Yamaha 900 Tracer and the Tiger 800 XCx for a test ride. The Tracer
felt good, nice 3 cylinder engine, good instruments, similar compact dimensions but the suspension is so cheap
and compared to the Brutale the overall fit and finish is quite awful. The Tiger XCx gave a much better ride using
WP components but neither bike had the power, brakes or handling to match the Brutale. This is a fair comparison
because my MV Brutale cost me the same as a Tracer and £1,800 less than the Tiger 800 XCx. I have since
swapped my Tiger Explorer for an 800 XCx.
The faster I ride the more confident I am with the handling and the brakes. The front end with 50mm forks and Brembo brakes could have been designed by
Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Some serious engineering here using Magnesium castings for the Triple Clamps. I was looking for a bracket to mount a steering
damper. A 64mm diameter would be required for the top of the fork leg! Nobody makes them that size, not even Harris or Ohlins.
I have now ridden my Brutale at night and I have to say this bike has the best dipped/main beam for a single headlight I have ever experienced. Almost as good as my
Tiger 1200 and 800 with twin headlights. I can easily cruise at 70mph. Well done MV, function as well as form.