In his 2013 review of the MV Agusta Brutale 800, E-i-C Kevin Duke starts off with, “I have a long history of saying that pretty much every engine could be improved by adding 10% more power.” The B800 delivered, pumping out a healthy 125 hp (117.0 hp at the wheel) compared to the Brutale 675 before it. With the introduction of the up-spec Brutale 800 RR, maybe Duke has had a bigger influence on the folks at Varese than we thought? Armed with a claimed 140 hp (at the crank), the B800 RR boasts a 12% boost in power relative to the standard Brutale 800 – without resorting to a bigger engine. This should make Kevin very happy.
To introduce American journalists to the 2015 model line, as well as MV’s restructured U.S. executive team, the company invited yours truly to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Here, the assembled journos would get a chance to ride the bikes, including the B800 RR, on Auto Club’s infield road course. This caveat is needed, since we didn’t get an opportunity to ride on public roads, which is where the B800 RR will spend the majority of its time. That will have to wait until we can get our hands on a long-term tester.
On track, however, and in the Sport riding mode, the RR’s increased power is instantly noticeable, especially after riding the standard B800 back-to-back. Both bikes come off a corner in a similar fashion, but once the revs start climbing, the RR hits its stride, maintaining its rush of acceleration as the standard B800 starts to taper off. Power delivery was quick, but suitable for a track setting. Were we performing a street ride, the Normal power mode, and its more manageable power delivery, is the one the MO staff typically gravitates towards.
To reach the 140-hp mark, MV took the standard B800’s counter-rotating 798cc inline-Triple and massaged it a bit, adding larger, 50mm throttle bodies and a new airbox design which makes room for a second set of injectors per cylinder, for a total of six. EFI tweaks to MV’s MVICS 2.0 engine management system also play a part in the power bump. Aside from the 140 hp, the RR also makes 63.3 lb-ft of torque. A small, but welcome, 5.5% improvement.
Further separating the RR from the standard Brutale, the MV EAS electronic quickshifter now has capabilities to perform both clutchless upshifts and downshifts, meaning the clutch is only needed at a stop. It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear the quickshifter works well at full-throttle upshifts. Then, for a few laps, I tried my best to ride at a less maniacal, street-like pace. It’s here where some race-tuned quickshifters show their warts, offering clunky upshifts at lower revs. Thankfully, the MV EAS worked equally as well at both high and low revs. Conversely, the clutchless downshift feature is a great addition when riding at a casual street pace, the revs matching perfectly each time. However, in a race, or even trackday situation, where you sometimes find yourself charging hot into a corner, I found I could still bang off downshifts quicker the old fashioned way, with the clutch.
Equipped with a 180/55-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II rear tire (120/70-17 front), mounted on RR-specific five-spoke wheels with a “vortex look,” the RR flicks from side to side quickly, its handlebars aiding with leverage. The RR benefits from an adjustable steering damper not seen on the standard B800, along with a gold anodized, all-aluminum, 43mm Marzocchi fork with DLC coating to reduce stiction. MV says the new aluminum fork is lighter than that fitted on the standard model, and of course features full adjustability. The Sachs shock is unchanged on both models.
According to MV Agusta USA’s Bruce Meyers, as part of the updated electronics package of the RR, its 8-way (plus off) traction control system now features a 3-way gyroscope under the left radiator shroud to more accurately apply TC intervention depending on lean angle. With our limited track time, this wasn’t a feature I was able to experiment with.
Stopping power comes via 320mm floating discs with Brembo four-piston radial-mount brakes in front, and a single disc in back mated to a Nissin two-pot caliper. Nothing new here between old and new, except for switchable ABS now being standard on all 2015 MV Agusta models to comply with Euro regulations. The B800 RR has two ABS levels (Sport and Custom), with the former activating much too soon for my taste when braking hard at the end of Auto Club’s back straight.
Otherwise, the Brutale 800 RR feels similar to the standard B800 tester ridden during our Four Thirds Shootout. That is to say, the seat doesn’t offer much room to move around, forcing its rider into a relatively committed position (for a naked bike, anyway).
We are happy to note that MV has dramatically improved the Brutale’s ride-by-wire calibration, one of the major complaints we had about our tester in the shootout listed above. Now that it comes packed with more power, electronic updates and higher-spec forks, the Brutale 800 RR’s price tag also reflects those improvements. Is it worth the $15,498 commitment? That’s a question we’ll be better equipped to answer as soon as we get one for a more thorough evaluation.