2010 MV Agusta Brutale 990R Launch
998 reasons to be excited
MV Agusta launched the Brutale in 2001 with a 750cc engine. The basic Brutale model has since grown via a 910 and 989 to the 2010 990R (998cc). The top end Brutale still features a 1078cc engine despite the 1090RR name. The Tamburini design stunned the world and only in 2010 have MV Agustas CRC design house done a relatively big change in the aesthetic department.
At first sight only the connoisseurs will notice the subtle, but significant changes such as the new headlight, new instrument cluster, redesigned double signature exhaust without unattractive welding scars and an all new rear end to mention some.
We started our day in the Brutale saddle which isn’t so brutal any more, doing a quick road ride in the area around the Misano circuit. Due to the all new rear end the seat height is now at a sporty 830mm (32.7 inches) rather than the old 805mm (31.7 inches) which to some might not be the best improvement. It suited my frame perfectly and the new and roomier seat now actually fits. This is great news for bigger and taller riders and it adds a lot more comfort. To my big surprise there’s one new item on the 990R that’s a full and true revolution; the mirrors work really well! They are bigger, taller and don’t vibrate much at all. MV Agusta has also tidied up further by adding the indicators in the mirrors.
So the 990R gets most of the new stuff shared with the 1090RR apart from a few exclusive parts I’ll talk more about in the 1090RR article. The new engine is one of the major changes along with the chassis. The feisty in-line four developed in-house now sports a full 998cc capacity and it’s all about the torque with a bigger bore. The tech specs suggest that there’s a loss in horsepower from the preceding 989R model. The claimed figures for horsepower and torque are now 139 Nm (102.5 ft-lb.) @ 10.600rpm and 106Nm (78.2 ft-lb) @ 8.000rpm.
I would take this with a big pinch of salt until somebody tests both the 989 R and 990R on a Dyno. Out on the road and track there’s nothing that suggests to me that there’s any loss of power. The 990R might be the smallest capacity MV Agusta, but it’s still a formidable and powerful naked sportsbike. I’m truly enjoying myself out on the sunny Italian Adriatic coastal mountains and power wheelie the 990R in both first and second gear. I’m pretty sure I’d be able to lift the front just by using the throttle in third too just like its big brother the 1090RR. But not with as great ease of course. I sampled a full throttle acceleration from sixth gear from low speeds and the 1090RR responds with a lot more authority from around 5.000rpm than the 990R. The 990R top end is a bit more hectic and the 990 isn’t quite as flexible as its menacing RR sibling.
Low speed modulation of the throttle is hindered a bit by an old fashioned bungee feel. It’s that fuel injection science again but keep it on full throttle all the time and there’s no problem at all. This is more of a road problem than a track problem because around Misano I pretty much pinned the throttle all the time. The 990’s clutch feels less grabby than on the 1090RR and is easy to use. The six speed gearbox works just fine both on the road and on track but isn’t always willing and eager to hit neutral when warm. Quite often I just couldn’t be arsed and just parked in first gear and this goes for both bikes. One of my previous complaints with the Brutale still stands and that’s that both the gear and rear brake pedal are a tad too short for the ultimate precision that I’m looking for in a bike like this.
On the heavy handed downshifts I noticed quite clearly on a couple of occasions that the 990R doesn’t feature the same fine slipper clutch as the 1090RR. The rear wheel locked up for a split second before I engaged the clutch and brushed off the speed with the brakes instead. I then adjusted my corner entry speed and technique to cater for the difference between the 990 and the 1090. The radially-mounted Brembos are not of the same quality as on its big brother either. The 990R brakes are still powerful enough, but lacks in feel and ultimate power compared to the 1090RR.
Brutale anno 2010 now features traction control but I’m scratching my head a bit to find a way to describe it. It’s either so good that it can’t be noticed or I didn’t ride ham-fisted enough mid-corner. Either way, on Misano I simply couldn’t upset the chassis in the same way as I could on the 1090RR and I felt massively confident mid-corner. The latest Marelli 5SM ECU enables the whole traction control management in eight adjustment stages.
The new chassis features a taller frame and a longer swingarm for increased stability and lighter weight. The new die cast wheels are also lighter than on the 989R. It all comes together to provide a stable and safe ride at both low and high speed. The fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi front suspension is subtle over bumps and steady on the brakes far into corners. At the back MV Agusta uses a Sachs mono shock only adjustable for preload.
The dry weight is a claimed 190 kilos (419 lbs.) which despite the claimed figures are probably still lighter than last year’s model. It’s still slightly on the heavy side compared to competition such as the Ducati Streetfighter. Directional changes on Misano from an extreme left to an extreme right does demand some effort and a lot more effort than on a full on modern sportsbike.
Many manufacturers launch a standard and an R version of its sports models. MV Agusta has gone a lot further in this area offering even larger engine capacity in its RR model. But this is the way to view the Brutale 990R where in fact this is the standard version of the Brutale. It’s as if the MV Agusta engineers refuse to call anything S, it’s got to be R or RR. And I can confirm this idea by telling you that the 990R is truly a formidable streetfighter and in 2010 a fairly comfortable and more practical one too.
I feel that the ergo and engine changes are particularly successful in the 990R packaging. The Brutale has been softened a little bit which I think is absolutely fine for this “entry” level MV. The 998cc engine is both powerful and exciting with buckets of character, but get the 1090RR for that little bit extra.