OUR BIKES

Tam­burini-de­signed naked MV for £3200? How could Chris re­sist?

Performance Bikes (UK) - - Contents - photography Ja­son Critchell

Jonny Mac gets drunk and buys a Yamaha TRX850, Chris buys an MV Agusta Bru­tale 750 while sober. Rut­ter’s S1000RR takes shape and Project Blade is all set for glory

THIS WAS sup­posed to be a KTM 990 Su­per Duke. I’d re­searched them, viewed one, but got cocked around by a use­less dealer. I wanted some de­cent pics or a bit of ex­tra info be­fore I set off on a 300-mile round trip. A week of has­sling got me no fur­ther; in which time, they’d dropped the price and some­body else grabbed it sight-un­seen. If they’d helped me in the first place, I’d have bought it for more. Twats.

I took a punt on view­ing one at an­other dealer: low miles, shiny in pics. In real life, it had been dropped, had a cor­roded sub­frame and var­i­ous parts rat­tle-canned in sil­ver to pass eBay photo muster. Cocks. I wanted to buy in win­ter be­fore val­ues rose in spring, so I trawled everywhere. That’s when I found my Ital­ian stal­lion, on a Face­book group usu­ally only help­ful for buy­ing stolen mo­tocross bikes and cat-D Thun­der­cat 600s plas­tered in Monster En­ergy de­cals.

I hadn’t con­sid­ered a Bru­tale at all – good ones start from about a grand more than my bud­get. But this 19,000-mile stan­dard ex­am­ple (bar­ring some crash bungs and an Ar­row stubby half-sys­tem) was up for £3400. It looked in­cred­i­bly clean – pic­tures of the rear hub showed in­tact plat­ing on fas­ten­ers, bright paint, min­i­mal dirt. And it was only 50 miles away.

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. Su­per Dukes are cool, but the de­tails aren’t so neat. The MV stuns at a dis­tance, and Tam­burini was a master of beau­ti­ful de­sign fea­tures. An MV al­ways felt out of reach to me... but this one wasn’t. I de­cided to view it.

I was pleased to find it’s as good as it looks. Nat­u­rally, there’s a catch: it was rid­den home from an MoT in 2014, where it had an oil/fil­ter change and a new back tyre. But it hasn’t turned a wheel since – the tyre still has the lit­tle hairs in the mid­dle to prove it. It was grumpy start­ing on old fuel (not helped by a ka­put fast idle lever), but held at 2000rpm it warmed up OK and the mo­tor was nice and quiet. Un­like the stubby si­lencer...

I was only able to go for a spin around the block to en­sure all the ma­jor bits func­tioned OK – steer­ing, gears and brakes worked at 30mph. Leaf­ing through the pa­per­work, it’s had reg­u­lar ser­vices but the book stamps aren’t all ac­com­pa­nied by an itemised bill. It should have had a valve check or two: I’m not con­vinced it has.

Umm, aah. It’s cheap, looks good and seems it, too. But there’s al­ways an el­e­ment of risk with a may­be­un­der­ser­viced Ital­ian bike. “Take £3000?” “No, can’t go that low,” said help­ful and friendly seller Alex. “I’ll go to £3200, though.” Sold. Get in the van, you sexy beast.

So, in­stead of a long-con­sid­ered, fully-re­searched pur­chase, I bought a bike on a whim af­ter 10 min­utes of Googling ‘Bru­tale 750 prob­lems’. Fuck it – I love Ital­ian bikes, and I al­ways feel some pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance and a bit of faith pays div­i­dends with them. So that £3200 is wedged firmly where my mouth is this time...

Some con­sul­ta­tion on mva­gusta.net eased my fears a

‘Mis­matched rub­ber needs re­plac­ing with some­thing much sportier’

lit­tle. Known, ma­jor is­sues are lim­ited: hub bear­ings are ser­vice-crit­i­cal and sen­si­tive to torque set­tings. Ne­glect them, or over­tighten the bolts, and they shit them­selves. Head­lamp glass glue loses its grip – re­place­ments are pricey. They’re sen­si­tive to bat­tery volt­age – mine has a new bat­tery, but also an an­cient alarm.

Be­yond that, it’s a nor­mal in­line four with no com­mon is­sues. It’s the least pow­er­ful and least stressed ver­sion of the Valv­ole Ra­di­ale en­gine, too. I in­tend to re­new the hub bear­ings first, to head off the po­ten­tial locked back wheel/mullered swingarm is­sues a fail­ure causes. I tested the head­light’s struc­tural in­tegrity by get­ting my fin­ger­nails un­der the edge of the glass – it only needed light ten­sion to sep­a­rate it. So that needs bet­ter glue.

One tyre might be new, but they’re mis­matched sports-tour­ing tyres. A chassis like this needs sportier rub­ber. And it needs a ser­vice – flu­ids, and valve shims check­ing. The shims are in­ter­change­able with cer­tain Honda parts, so I’ll con­sult Whitey on that.

Ar­row half-sys­tem is a proper neigh­bour-waker. Whether it goes or stays de­pends on how many com­plaints Chris gets. STUBBY-ON

Get­ting in­volved in sort­ing any­thing ma­jor that go awry is Chris’s best course of ac­tion. PRE­VEN­TA­TIVE MEDICINE

Spend all win­ter re­search­ing 990 Su­per Dukes, buy a Bru­tale on a whim. Stan­dard Newbigging

Chris learns about the ser­vice life of MV Agusta head­light ad­he­sive

Re­plac­ing the hub bear­ings is the num­ber one job on Chris’s ‘to do’ list

There’s ini­tial con­cern about clear­ance be­tween car­bon hug­ger and tyre

He knew he’d find a home for Baracuda bar ends he had knocking around

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