2008 MV Agusta Brutale 1078RR Review
At 4,000 tiny rpm on a half throttle, and the new Brutale’s front wheel plows controllably sky-high. Incredibly impressive stuff when max torque is still further away at 8,100 rpm and max horsepower at 10,700 rpm.
Yes, we have seen the chassis before, and also the overall design. New is the addition of one of the most powerful inline-Four engines in the world and with it the most powerful standard Monoblocks from Brembo.
The 1078RR takes off and increases in momentum in a way that only the Suzuki B-King and Triumph Rocket III can rival. The 86.3 ft-lbs of claimed torque is less than both bikes mentioned, but not when you consider the power-to-weight ratio, as the Brutale only weighs in at a claimed 408 lbs. Compared to the Brutale 910, the 1078RR has two teeth less on the rear sprocket but still accelerates like mad from low rpm. Add two teeth again on the 1078RR and you’ll have a genuine handful, as it’ll wheelie everywhere.
I have started with the engine here because it leaves a mighty impression. The 1078 was presented first in the super-exclusive F4 CC last year. For 2008 both the Brutale and the most standard F4 1078 RR312 get the 1078cc inline-Four engine.
The F4 version produces an astronomical 190 horsepower. Believe it or not, but such an engine requires very clever engineering work to detune for a motorcycle like the Brutale. One of the main differences are the fact that the Brutale 1078RR utilizes the old F4 1000 R’s 46mm throttle bodies (48mm on the F4 RR312). Then the issue of a smaller airbox and a different exhaust system. The end result is a whopping 154 horsepower at 8,100 rpm. MV Agusta claims all this is enough for a true 166-mph top speed, on a naked…
'...it’s a motorcycle that makes you shout joyfully inside your helmet when the rpm needle rises quicker and quicker around the tachometer.'
But never mind the top speed, it’s the way that the 1078RR gets there which is impressive. The old 910 (now replaced with the 989R) didn’t have a perfect throttle response, and Marco, my guide for the day and also in charge of testing the 1078RR for MV, has worked very hard on subtle issues to allow the rider to control this beast. The throttle response is very linear, and with such a huge dollop of torque available from as low as 4,000 rpm, you need all the control you can get.
Whilst a lot of new bikes these days have very nice torque curves that disguise the true nature of the real acceleration, the Brutale 1078RR feels like a tiny motorcycle with the engine of a freight train. In many ways it’s overkill – you don’t need all that horsepower in a naked. But at the same time I absolutely love riding it, and it’s a motorcycle that makes you shout joyfully inside your helmet when the rpm needle rises quicker and quicker around the tachometer. The Suzuki B-King might get the upper hand in a drag race due to the fact that it can keep its front wheel better planted to the tarmac in the three first gears, but for thrills and the feel of raw power the Brutale 1078RR wins hands down.
The clutch on the 1078RR is slightly heavy to operate. To counter the need for clutch at low speed I used second or even third gear at very low speed. Because the Brutale 1078RR responds beautifully from low rpm and the torque curve again almost works like there is some gigantic magnetic field in front of me. For fast downshifts, MV Agusta has added a slipper clutch. The six-speed gearbox is a cassette-type box. Through town it’s also worthwhile to mention that the 1078cc engine runs very hot. I could see 130 degrees Celsius being indicated in the instrument panel, and the fan runs at full speed most of the time in town. Luckily for us, the MV Agusta fan doesn’t produce as much noise as on, let’s say, a Buell, so I can live with this and the assurance that it’s not dangerous for the engine. As long as you can lane-split it shouldn’t be a problem.
The seat position is upright and surprisingly comfortable. The 805mm seat height puts the rider in control, and the stretch to the handlebar is very civilized. All you can see in front of you is the cone-shaped instrument panel. Despite some detail changes, the instrument panel is perhaps the one item on the 2008 Brutale that looks slightly dated. Compared to the rest of the bike, the plastic looks a bit on the cheap side. The digital speedometer features a number readout like on a calculator from the ’80s, and we’re sure this is one of the items set for a redesign the next time around. The analogue tachometer is still as pleasing to the eye as it ever was.
The foot controls are annoyingly short, and I have to angle my toes inwards to use them. Particularly the brake pedal is a bit of a pain for me to use. The shifter is also not ideally adjusted for me, but on the left side it’s more of an adjustment issue than length. It needs more play, basically, and that would have worked magic on the gearing side of things because the box itself is very good.
Let’s say you’re in sixth gear at Mugello doing 166 mph on the Brutale down the everlasting straight. That’s when those new Brembo Monoblock radial brakes would come in handy. They are supremely strong but at the same time not too sharp, and the feel with the front wheel are great. The tyres fitted to the Brembo five-spoke wheels are Pirelli Supercorsa Pro (120/70-ZR17 front and 190/55-ZR17 rear). They stick like glue to the tarmac and suit the powerful 1078RR perfectly.
The front suspension is a fully adjustable (all at the upper end of the fork) 50mm inverted Marzocchi fork with an increased 130mm of travel. This set-up ensures a very comfortable ride, and with the extra travel up front you don’t have to worry about landing those wheelies too hard. The massive stopping power combined with this fork enables more control with that power under hard braking. At the back we find the classic Sachs fully adjustable monoshock set-up.
First came the Monster, then came Brutale. In its 8-year existence it has won design awards everywhere, and the Italians themselves have voted the Brutale the most beautiful motorcycle many times. A naked motorcycle is one of the most difficult types of design when beauty is concerned. You can’t hide anything anywhere, so the concept has to be thought through from the initial engine development. MV Agusta and Massimo Tamburini have succeeded better than anyone else with the Brutale. The 1078RR is irresistible because of that design and that fantastic new 154-hp engine.
Downsides are the fact that this engine vibrates a little bit more than a Japanese design, produces more heat, the clutch is a tad heavy and the foot controls are a little short. It wouldn’t stop me from buying one. The price probably would, though.