2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 Review

The black cheap of the family


It’s a sunny morning in Varese in the north of Italy near the Swizz border. This is where every MV Agusta is made, and today we’re testing the company’s latest streetfighter, an all-black Brutale 920. If you pardon the pun, it’s the black cheap of the family, as this is the one and only MV Agusta you can get your hands on at less than €11,990 (about US$17,500).

I’ve spent the morning at the MV Agusta factory interviewing Giovanni Castiglioni and Massimo Bordi, two very important men for the future of MV Agusta. We’ve chatted about the new three-cylinder F3, which still only exists as a white test bike, and we’ve found out there will be a cheaper MV Agusta than even than the Brutale 920 in 2012, the Brutale 675, which will retail at €8,900 (about US$13,000).

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920

I take a seat and notice straight away that the suspension is on the comfy side. The Marzocchi 50mm USD fork and Sachs rear shock is standard on MV Agusta motorcycles, so there’s nothing budget about it. For comfort the Brutale 920 gets a one-piece saddle which is more comfortable, particularly if you carry a passenger. This seat and the different engine are the main two points that separate the 920 from its big sisters.

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920

I’m off through traffic straight away as I head towards the mountains on the Swiss border. What strikes me early are the nearly perfect throttle response and just how smooth the whole drivetrain is. Suddenly a wheelie and it doesn’t even feel as if I’ve added enough throttle to achieve one, also wheelies are smooth and controllable. You’re not going to find a finer wheelie bike than the Brutale, and they get better with more capacity. The 1090 RR pulls monstrous wheelies from third gear purely on the power so you can always save your clutch. Thank you MV Agusta for the refined Brutale, which is the most sophisticated brutal bike out there and a fine stunt bike.

MV Agusta has opted for the Pirelli Angel ST sport-touring tire (120/70-ZR17 and 180/55-ZR17) to fit all everyday scenarios rather than pure performance such as is the case on the two larger capacity R models. More everyday practicality, in other words, as the STs will last longer and cope better with rain and other commuter annoyances.

As soon as I find some nice roads with plenty of corners I start braking harder and I’m impressed both with the 50mm Marzocchi fork and the radial Brembo brakes with racing pads. The bite is direct and powerful. The only limiting factor is that front tire.

MV Agusta Brutale is one of very few sporty streetfighters with a decent-size fuel tank, a touring-worthy 23 litres (6.08 gal). The Brutale does like a bit of fuel, but the 920 with its 129-horsepower engine demands a little bit less than its higher performing siblings, so yet another advantage for those practically inclined.

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920

The engine runs smoothly at lower revs but just a slight twist on the throttle and a lot of fun awaits. The intake ducts roars to life and the inline-Four doesn’t waste any time building revs in an exciting way. All Brutale engines sound like proper race bikes when on the higher revs, and the Brutale 920 is no exception. The 920 pulls like motorcycles a lot more exclusive and it’s all very satisfying. The midrange is very smooth and the engine and throttle response has a refined feel and it tells of a very good injection map.

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920

MV Agusta wants the Brutale to compete against the Ducati Monster and Triumph Speed Triple first and foremost, and even the Brutale 920 could put up a good fight in most areas. This is MV Agusta budget style which is still pretty damn good even against on-the-paper superior models from competitors.

The Brutale is available also in a reduced power version which puts out 97 horsepower. This is important for this model, as France is a major market for the Brutale.

After riding some very tight hairpin corners in the mountains, I opt for a faster road back to the factory to let the engine breath a bit more freely. It feels great to open up the Brutale 920 throttle, as it has the same fine trellis chassis as its siblings so the handling is perfection.

Conclusion

I can’t see many problems with the Brutale 920. The only downside, if you can call it that, is the knowledge that MV Agusta produces even heftier Brutale models than this. The Brutale 920 is all black only to justify a lower price tag without insulting owners of the more powerful flashy versions. Apart from that it’s a thoroughbred Brutale. I could live just fine with this Brutale 920...just fine.

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920

Highs:    Lows:
  • The engine, despite lacking nearly 80cc to the 990R
  • Handling and brakes
  • Comfortable with practical elements
  • Stiff (mostly cheaper) competition
  • Lacks a bit of red paint

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View all Photos PHOTOS & VIDEOS

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 Studio-05
2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 Studio-05
2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 Studio-12
2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 Studio-12
2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 Studio-09
2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 Studio-09
2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 GIS3670
2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 GIS3670
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