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Ital­ian bike with elec­tri­cal grief? Nes­suna sor­presa. But the prob­lem­atic part isn’t ac­tu­ally made in Varese

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Si­mon Lee

MV Bru­tale’s elec­tri­cal grem­lins

2003 MV AGUSTA BRU­TALE 750 CHRIS NEW­BIG­GING

I CAN HEAR the bores right now. “Ital­ian bike with elec­tri­cal prob­lems? What did you ex­pect?” The nasally, sneer­ing tones of in­di­vid­u­als for whom su­perla­tive re­li­a­bil­ity is the only in­di­ca­tor of a bike’s worth and ap­peal are fa­mil­iar to any­one who dares own a bike rich in emo­tive ap­peal – two-strokes, clas­sics or niche Euro ex­ot­ica. I’ve had them all, and gladly lived with mi­nor (or ma­jor) grief for the per­for­mance and sheer joy of own­ing bikes where com­pro­mis­ing a bit of de­pend­abil­ity is a small price to pay for the sat­is­fac­tion of own­er­ship.

The MV is hav­ing one of those test­ing mo­ments. Nat­u­rally, it came just af­ter it had been go­ing bet­ter than ever. The New­big­ging tribe had sloped off to the coast on Fri­day morn­ing, and I joined them straight from work for a week­end on the sand. Only a 100-ish mile round trip in total, but in stun­ning weather, skip­ping the traf­fic, just en­joy­ing the Bru­tale in the sun.

It’s had a new set of Met­zeler M7RRs – af­ter our sports tyre test, I re­alised that lit­tle some­thing miss­ing in the feel and han­dling of the Brute might just be the Dun­lop Sports­mart Max IIs I’d fit­ted ear­lier – they came last in the test and the feed­back echoed mine. The Met­zel­ers were the win­ners on the road: the MV is a road toy, so I fit­ted a set. Sure enough, it’s more sta­ble, has more feel and steers bet­ter. Fixed.

It also loved a longer run and a fresh tank of su­per. I’ve mostly dragged it out for shorter lo­cal blats, and I think a chance to blow fresh juice through the sys­tem helped. It just seemed to run bet­ter – so much so that I fan­cied park­ing the KTM for the next week and com­mut­ing on the MV.

Come Mon­day, it fires as usual, but the charg­ing light il­lu­mi­nates. A blown main fuse. A new one sorts it, for 12 miles, be­fore an­other goes... A charg­ing sys­tem test re­veals it’s over­charg­ing: clas­sic reg­u­la­tor fail­ure.

An easy fix – new reg/rec, and maybe a wiring

con­nec­tor if it’s any­thing like a Honda’s sim­i­lar is­sues. Er, no. MV used a GSX-R750WN-WS mo­tor for in­spi­ra­tion, a mo­tor with ide­ol­ogy based in the 1980s, like an al­ter­na­tor charg­ing sys­tem, with in­te­grated reg­u­la­tor/rec­ti­fier.

The is­sue is that the Denso unit on the bike is tucked right be­hind the frame – getting it out is a pain in the Rocky Moun­tain oys­ters. You have to re­move the starter first (which is fit­ted be­low it and awk­ward in its own right), then wres­tle. In the end, I gently bent up a lug for a heat ex­haust duct just to let it out. Not ideal, but it’s a non-crit­i­cal part. The other op­tion is swing­ing the mo­tor out a bit – an op­tion I did the ground work for, but getting the frame to re­lease its grip proved fu­tile. I bolted it back up and made the short­cut work...

It doesn’t end there, ei­ther – MV don’t sell the reg­u­la­tor sep­a­rately, and when they specced the part from Denso, they man­aged to se­lect an al­most unique reg­u­la­tor type. One Ger­man seller had a gen­uine new MV part, pre­sum­ably re­moved from a com­plete al­ter­na­tor... for £180. A near-iden­ti­cal part for a car costs £20, so out of stub­born tight­ness, I wasn’t hav­ing that. I tried a lo­cal auto elec­tri­cian first – Stone­bridge Au­tos in Peter­bor­ough were very help­ful and popped the al­ter­na­tor on their test ma­chine, though the modern-ish de­sign wouldn’t give a read­ing with­out a full set of con­nec­tions to en­gage it. Some dig­ging through their sup­plier cat­a­logues didn’t yield any­thing. I’ve lost hours to re­search­ing parts for sale – it gen­uinely ap­pears the size and con­fig­u­ra­tion is unique. I found one that looked right, but the dog-leg shape of the unit was very slightly dif­fer­ent, mean­ing the mount­ing points (and there­fore con­nec­tions) were out of line. The next op­tion is find­ing one with a dif­fer­ent con­nec­tor, but the cor­rect di­men­sions and spec, and re­plac­ing the con­nec­tor on the loom. If I can find a read­ily avail­able part, it’ll at least be fu­ture-proofed.

Chris re­moves and moves all he can to pre­vent an en­gine-out sit­u­a­tion Chris’ MV play­thing con­tin­ues to blow hot and cold. And fuses... It’s all part of the ‘own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence’ STORY SO FAR

Drift­ing the en­gine mount­ing bol out only got him so far

Bend­ing an ex­haust duct lug gave him room to ma­noeu­vre the unit out of the frame

Yep, MV chose a sys­tem that in­te­grates the reg/rec into an al­ter­na­tor. Thanks...

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