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