There’s an even more pragmatic MV Agusta coming in the Turismo Veloce, and I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing more versatile models from MV in the future. But for now, the Stradale 800 is the most comfortable, user-friendly motorcycle in the MV range. Who would have thought the bespoke maker of sporting motorcycles would launch a quasi sport-touring bike with bags and a small windscreen?
Straddling the Stradale, it’s immediately apparent that this is a different kind of MV Agusta. The fairing and cowling design are the same as the Rivale but that’s it, everything else is pure Stradale. The beautifully stitched leather seat is comfortable, and neither too tall nor too short. The standard 34.2-inch seat can be swapped for an optional 33.5-inch high one. The reach to the handlebar allows a vertical seating position with no strain on my wrists.
Because the soft lockable saddlebags cover the Rivale’s taillights, the bags are equipped with LEDs. In true MV style there is minimal compromise in terms of original design – the bags appear as if they were always meant to be there. Each bag holds 2.4 gallons of luggage but no more than 11 pounds. A large top box is available as an accessory. The front of the Stradale 800 is outfitted with an adjustable windscreen. The smallish screen provides a minimal amount of wind protection and does so without any intrusive helmet buffeting.
On fast motorways the riding position is comfortable and relaxed, allowing me to enjoy the drone of getting to curvier roads much more than on any other MV Agusta. The mirrors don’t quite stretch far enough to avoid my elbows but they don’t suffer from vibration.
The single-sided swingarm was stretched to 23.9 inches, increasing the wheelbase to 57.5 inches compared to 55.5 inches on the Rivale. Front and rear suspension both have 5.9 inches of travel. Together these changes make for a sure-footed, neutral handling motorcycle.
In the mountains the neutral handling is welcome, albeit not as quick steering as the Rivale, but still sporty. I actually prefer the Stradale’s handling for road riding because it better caters to the variety of road situations you’re likely to encounter. The suspension soaks up the bumps, providing both comfort and confidence.
The Stradale 800 is very easy to get going in first gear and the power delivery is less aggressive than on other 800cc trepistoni models. The engine is still more than capable of providing thrills. With a longer swingarm, the Stradale is less likely to surprise a rider with an unprovoked wheelie and the whole experience is solid. The larger (0.74 gallon) silencer still provides a hearty soundtrack from the three organ pipes.
Take the reduced top-end power out of the equation and the Stradale 800 is still one very fast motorcycle in the mountains. The EAS 2.0 quickshifter (both up and down) is standard on the Stradale 800 and provides smooth and effortless progress through the gearbox. The brakes are the same high quality radial Brembos with ABS as on other MV models. There’s no lacking in stopping power. Even with bags, claimed dry weight is only 399 pounds.
MV Agusta claims good fuel efficiency, so the 4.2 gallon fuel tank should last a respectable distance. The new instrument cluster now shows fuel consumption, displayed as a relatively large graph on the top left. The clock is now ridiculously tiny due to the lack of space, but I suppose time stands still when riding the Stradale.
As we have come to expect from MV Agusta, the 2015 Stradale 800 is jam-packed with electronics. The package includes traction control, quickshifter, riding modes, ABS with rear wheel lift mitigation, and more. This MV Agusta, though, is also probably the best in the range to pilot with rider aids turned off. This is all due to the stability of the chassis, the suspension and the state of engine tune.
The Stradale 800 made me feel comfortable and at ease from the word go. After setting the electronics to levels that I prefer, all I had to think about was riding. The bags are stylish and highly practical. I think it must have taken some guts to plan this model because it differs somewhat from the MV ethos. I salute MV because it gives me the opportunity to say that this is the best MV I have ever ridden.