Mva­gusta Bru­tale 800 RR SCS

Unique tech­nol­ogy and a new (and rep­utable) im­porter, same heady mix of style, per­for­mance and de­sir­abil­ity. Is now the time to fi­nally dive into MV own­er­ship?

BIKE (UK) - - Group Test -

Hav­ing SCS on the side is not be­cause its seat is made by the sofa com­pany. No, the acro­nym on the Bru­tale 800 RR stands for Smart Clutch Sys­tem and means you can ride the 798cc triple with­out ever touch­ing the clutch lever.

It’s not an au­to­matic. You se­lect gears man­u­ally and it doesn’t have the slushy re­sponse of a Mk2 Ford Granada. In­stead, it’s a cen­trifu­gal sys­tem de­vel­oped with Amer­i­can com­pany Rek­luse, who have been mak­ing sim­i­lar sys­tem for off-road­ers for years. An ‘ex­pan­sion’ disc has wedges that slide in and out; when revs dwin­dle be­low a cer­tain point they re­tract and the clutch dis­en­gages, then slide out to smoothly en­gage drive as revs build. Yes, like a slam ‘n’ go Honda Cub.

It gen­uinely works. Sit in neu­tral with the en­gine run­ning, press down on the gear lever and first en­gages seam­lessly, then open the gas and the Bru­tale pulls away smoothly. Re­peated fast starts are su­pereasy and it’ll mer­rily pull away in sec­ond or third too. Gearshifts can be done with the slick two-way quick­shifter, and the clutch au­to­mat­i­cally jumps in when you stop. A sec­ond rear brake lever locks the brake on, as leav­ing the MV parked in gear won’t stop it rolling off down a hill.

Clever... but the nov­elty wears off. We’re soon us­ing the clutch lever as nor­mal, and when do­ing so it some­times pulses while slow­ing. It makes us ques­tion pay­ing £800 ex­tra for SCS on top of £13,880 for a nor­mal Bru­tale RR. ‘The clutch is clever and I’m sure it’s use­ful in Mi­lan while ges­tic­u­lat­ing at driv­ers,’ says Andy. ‘Feels like a gim­mick here, though.’

Clutch mus­ings are for­got­ten when you un­tether the MV’S en­gine, mind. Growly, dry and raspy it drives proper hard from 8000rpm – with a claimed 138bhp it feels faster and edgier than the Tri­umph, with a haunt­ing racket like a Vul­can on take-off as it scorches past 13,000rpm. In terms of revs and de­liv­ery it’s the sporti­est mo­tor here.

Fu­elling isn’t quite as silky and pre­dictable as the Tri­umph or Yamaha, but is a huge stride on from finicky, glitchy MVS of a decade ago. There are four en­gine modes: Rain, Nor­mal, Sport and Cus­tom, each with pre­set re­sponse and elec­tronic set­tings (choose your own set-up in Cus­tom). Sport al­lows for the full might of the 798cc triple and lofty wheel­ies un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion; re­peat­edly press and hold (and press and hold) the mode but­ton to choose Rain and the 800 be­haves like its air­box is full of ex­pand­ing foam.

Some tra­di­tional MV traits re­main, in­clud­ing a rather firm ride. The Bru­tale cer­tainly han­dles and turns ea­gerly, though as with the Yamaha there feels like a very slight mis­match be­tween front and rear sus­pen­sion. The MV hasn’t quite the bal­ance and cor­ner poise of the two other Euro­pean bikes.

Be­ing plonked close to the ’bar gives good con­trol and means there’s noth­ing of the Bru­tale in your view for­ward. ‘Not hav­ing any bike in my line of sight needs more ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion than the auto clutch,’ reck­ons Andy. Ride on the balls of your feet and more stereo­typ­i­cal Mv-ness is high­lighted by pil­lion ’peg mounts that in­ter­fere with boots. They’re set wide to clear the sin­gle-sider and honk­ing ex­hausts, so you sit pi­geon-toed. It’s not un­com­fort­able, just a bit strange – and doesn’t help con­fi­dence when lob­bing the Bru­tale at corners.

Given it costs the best bit of 15 grand, the 800’s dash looks years be­hind the times, its switchgear feels dated and, as Andy points out, ‘where the Tri­umph’s bel­ly­pan makes it look pur­pose­ful, the one on the MV looks like a Ford Tran­sit sump guard.’ But the 800 coun­ters with se­ri­ous love­li­ness – from neat ad­juster wheels on the Nissin brake and clutch lev­ers and natty ac­tion of the twin-pedal rear brake, to the classy paint, per­fect stance and beau­ti­ful cast sub­frame (with burger trans­porta­tion hole). I like the steer­ing damper’s sym­me­try too, aligned with the top yoke - the one on our on-test Du­cati Pani­gale V2 is at a slightly wonky an­gle and an­noys me ev­ery time I look at it.

De­spite this al­lure, its best-yet dy­namic and the fact it’d be a glo­ri­ous thing to own there’s still some­thing about the Bru­tale that doesn’t click. ‘Yeah, the MV’S re­ally nice,’ says Andy. ‘But I pre­fer all the oth­ers.’

‘Growly, raspy… and a haunt­ing racket like a Vul­can on take-off’

Left: it’s a shame the dated dash doesn’t have the same class and glam­our as the rest of the 800

Above: take some time to soak in the lines, the stance and the de­tails – shonky it is not

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.