Photography by Rohit G Mane
“We are not expecting to sell a lot of bikes and the focus is more on quality. We want to establish ourselves as the best premium bikemaker in the minds of the Indian customers.” That was Ajinkya Firodia, MD, MotoRoyale speaking at the launch of the Brutale 800 back in July. In fact, the company claims to be the ‘Ferrari of the motorcycle world’. The family owned business was in deep trouble and AMG helped keep the sinking ship afloat in 2014, by purchasing a 25 per cent stake in the Varese based firm. And we must thank AMG for this! Since then, MV has produced some scintillating products that still appeal to the eight-year old in you. Case in point being the new Brutale 800. It comes with a sticker price of (hold your breath), `15.59 lakh. So much money for a middleweight naked? Is it really worth your time? Hell, yes!
The previous generation Brutale 800 was never sold in India but we did manage to taste the craziness of the 1090. MV says that the new bike has been developed from the ground up. Sitting at Starbucks, I was left gazing at its beauty for over half an hour, while a bunch of college kids took selfies with the brute. The Brutale 800 is literally, sex on wheels. It is one of the most beautiful designs carved on two wheels (I still have a soft spot for the XDiavel S though) indeed. The wide handlebar that rests on top of the classic oval shaped LED headlamp unit is properly neo retro. The seat is a work of art in itself and gathers the most attention when viewed from the side.But view it from the right and it’s the triple exhaust that you will lust after. The silhouette is properly masculine with a wide fuel tank and a narrow seat, reminiscing of yesteryear bodybuilders. And it’s not just form over functionality; the Brutale 800 features premium quality thermoplastic panels (there aren’t many, anyway) to keep the weight minimal. In fact, the design itself will win a lot of buyers, especially in India.
Get on the saddle and you’ll instantly notice how tall and narrow the seat is. At 830mm (same as the 390 Duke), anything below 5 feet 8 inches and you’ll be struggling to put your foot completely down on the ground. The riding position is aggressive although not much weight is put on the bars as compared to the 1090. The new cluster is finished in white and looks good but isn’t easy to use and lacks several important bits, including a fuel gauge. Even the tell-tale display is useless in bright and sunny conditions and you’ll be struggling to decipher simple information, including indicator lights. The engine map switch is a big one located on the right and helps you to toggle between Normal, Rain, Sport and Custom modes (you don’t need to close the throttle to change modes here). The switch gear is still complicated and it is not easy to reach controls, like on all MV Agustas, yet it’s better than most of its siblings.
Leaving Kinetic Innovation Park, I left the bike in ‘Normal’ mode. Pulled the clutch, slotted the bike into first, I waved the staff goodbye as they warned me to be ‘really careful’ as there is no anti-wheelie control. I boast to them about my Brutale 1090 experience (the most mental thing on two wheels) and assure them that the bike is in safe hands. And like a genuine hypocrite, dumped the clutch and let her pop. There goes the first wheelie. Okay, maybe it won’t happen in the second cog then. Again I shift without pulling the heavy clutch, thanking MV Agusta for the bi-directional quickshifter in my head. At just about 4000rpm, I try to open the throttle and start developing tunnel vision in seconds! The insane amount of torque just catapults you into the horizon before you realise that you are doing unwarranted speeds and moving close to the truck that’s running in the fast lane. The feeling is intense and that calls for an immediate halt to let it sink in. And then I switch it into the Sport mode… the engine becomes hyperactive, jolting your mind (and body) with an intense rush, equivalent to having 10 cups of coffee at once. MV has allowed for larger spaces between the gear ratios and that calls for minimum gearshifts anyway, with the max torque being available at revs as low as 3800. You will never need to short shift, because there is truckloads of torque available throughout the range. You can happily rev to the limiter (close to 13,500!) in every gear but there is the option of upshifting and utilising the extra torque available. The party piece is the downshift blipper though that is guaranteed to give you a dose of adrenaline. The bike slots into the selected gear, without making any fuss and the exhausts continue to rumble, announcing your arrival to the world. Most of Lavasa’s corners can be tackled in the second cog, but it’s so much fun downshifting and slipping the rear that you’ll stop bothering about fuel efficiency.
The fuelling has been overhauled over the 1090 while the throttle response has vastly improved, though it still lacks response at times. Action from the Marzocchi fork at the front is excellent, though it is very stiff for our conditions in stock setup. The Sachs monoshock at the rear tells the same story. The pitching between front and rear is just perfect on smooth roads, but any bump mid-corner and you’ll crap your pants, all the way to home. The longer wheelbase along with 24.5 of rake allows for stoic poise into corners although the front is still hyper sensitive. You always have to put very minimal pressure on the bars to keep the bike on two wheels in corners, as the extremely sharp front is very twitchy, especially on our roads. And as MV expects us to believe, to give it a raw feeling, the 8-level traction control system is there just to keep you out of sticky situations. Not even once did I feel it intervene except on a wet road when the tyres just gave way. Don’t get me wrong though, the Pirelli Rosso IIIs are the best available in the market and provide intense grip, whenever you require. Wondering why we haven’t even mentioned the brakes yet? Because engine braking is excellent and orgasmic! Nevertheless, the Brembos are no drama queens, providing perfectly progressive feel. If you are someone who uses the rear brake, be prepared to let go of the habit. The rear disc is gimmicky and provides almost no stopping power, except maybe when you are controlling a wheelie.
If I were to nitpick, I would mention the emission control can that looks properly hideous on an otherwise beautiful machine. I also had issues while riding wearing a pair of denims as the narrow seat scraped away a lot of skin just above my thighs. Also, I am not an avid stunter and the startling speeds at which the bike can do wheelies takes a little time to get used to. Then there’s the heating issue in our conditions. We did complain to MotoRoyale that the bike we received for testing came with an extremely low amount of coolant, although we were assured that it was perfect.
Mind you, this is no bike for a novice. It takes your body and soul, and squeezes out every inch of juice from it at the end of a day. I was tired after a stint to Lavasa and believe me, I am the sort that goes to the gym even when we’re sending the mag to press, which means staying in office well past midnight. But still, I couldn’t keep the keys down and went for another ride to Lonavala to experience the touring abilities of the Brute. Why? Because not every machine connects you with your true self.
I’ve always been a Monster fan boy but the Brutale 800 has won me over. And if you’re still cribbing about the sticker price, allow me to give you some friendly advice. It takes just over two years to grow out of a bike. In the case of the Brutale 800, it will at least take 10. The somewhat rusty math of my earlier investment banker avatar tells me, this is superb value for money. What do you think?