2013 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR Review – Quick Ride

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

One sexy Italian streetfighter

MV Agusta produces four renditions of its inline-Four powered 1078cc naked streetfighter: Brutale 1090, Brutale 1090 R, Brutale 1090 RR and Brutale Corsa. The two Triple models, Brutale 675 and Brutale 800 brings the total Brutale count to six.

2013 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR

Editor Score: 90.25%
Engine 17/20
Suspension/Handling 13.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9/10
Brakes 9/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 10/10
Appearance/Quality 10/10
Desirability 10/10
Value 8/10
Overall Score90.25/100

Of this current crop, including this report and a forthcoming Brutale 675 vs Triumph Street Triple R comparison, we’ve tested all but two – the standard and Corsa model 1090 Brutales. The Brutale 1090 is the foundation upon which the other three 1090 Brutales are built, each one offering upgraded componentry and greater performance, as well as a commensurate price increase, ending with the Corsa and its assortment of forged wheels and billet components.

For 2013 only the Brutale 1090 and Brutale 1090 RR are stateside bound (Corsa model upon special request) but the good news is this year’s Brutale 1090 is practically the same as 2012’s 1090 R version. Better yet, the price has been reduced from last year’s $16,498 for the 1090 R to $13,998 ($14,898 with ABS) for the 2013 Brutale 1090. In other words, buying this year’s base model Brute gets you last year’s R model Brute at a $2500 savings. More performance for less money. Cha-ching!

In addition to the Metallic Blue/Pearl White model we tested, 2013 Brutale 1090 RRs are available in Red/Silver, and Metallic Gold/Pearl White (pictured).

Like the other Brutales, and all MVs for that matter, the Brutale 1090 RR is a mechanical feast for two-wheel-inclined eyes. When rolling the Metallic Blue/Pearl White model in our possession out of the garage, the earth’s rotation slowed so the sun could get a better look at the bike.

See how the Brutale 1090 R performs against its competition

Besides the Brutale’s overall design and elegantly racy color scheme, a slow, visual scrolling of the bike reveals details such as the quick-release axle clamps on the bottom of the fork legs, 90-degree valve stems, a three-bolt bottom triple clamp and tolerances so tight an index finger won’t pass between the exhaust and rear tire.

The Marzocchi fork legs are a massive 50mm in diameter and are fully adjustable, as is the Sachs shock suspending the single-sided swingarm.

When the wife – an aficionado of expensive, name-branded anything – got wind there awaited a boutique, Italian motorcycle in the garage, it became my immediate marital duty to take her for a ride. So off we went, crossing the soon-to-be-replaced Gerald Desmond Bridge on our way to the appropriately ritzy community of Palos Verdes, CA.

Read our review of the Triumph Street Triple R

A few attributes – some good, some not so good – surfaced during our ride. I had previously noted that of the two rider modes (Race and Normal) the more aggressive setting was damn near impossible to facilitate smooth off-to-on throttle application. This light-switch effect was only exacerbated with the addition of a passenger.

Integrated LED strips highlight the front of the restyled dash cover.

For 2013 MV implemented new fuel and ignition mapping “for smoother throttle control.” To our understanding, early-release 2013 model MVs were shipped stateside without the ECU update and this would explain the abrupt throttle response we experienced. The problem could therefore be solved by simply uploading the new mapping to our test unit, as well as fixing the same issue with older Brutale models (check with your MV dealer).

Read our review of the Ducati Streetfighter

The other option is to use the softer, Normal, rider mode setting to smooth throttle inputs. This setting puts plenty of the engine’s claimed 158 hp to ground (The Brutale R we dynoed last year cranked out 126.6 hp at 9750 rpm) and just as easily snatches up first-gear power wheelies, so the ride is always exciting no matter which mode you choose.

The 2013 updates for the Brutales include new wheels and slash-cut mufflers that add to its visual appeal.

Which brings me to the Brutale’s other fault: its incredibly short gear ratios. Yes, it’s a hooligan bike, so wheelies and immense power on tap are part of the hooligan equation, but constant rowing of the gearbox up and down the first three cogs gets tiresome when cruising around town. And when two Brutale owners I’ve spoken with have changed to taller gearing (one going as far as adapting an F4 transmission into his Brutale’s gearbox), I know it isn’t just my opinion.

Otherwise, the double-R Brutale makes for a comfortable streetfighter for solo or two-up riding. Its handling manners fall on the aggressive side of neutral, but, as Editor Duke notes, “It feels much heavier and quite a bit bigger that the three-cylinder Brutales. On the plus side, it’s much more stable than the little Brutes and has much better suspension compliance.”

+ Highs

  • Mouth-wateringly gorgeous
  • Powerful
  • Rare/exotic

– Sighs

  • Harsh throttle control
  • Expensive
  • Short gear ratios
Duke liked our 1090 RR so much, he described it as “One of the prettiest production bikes I’ve ever seen” and snapped a picture of it in his driveway.

The Brutale’s seating position isn’t confining and provides an upwards rider triangle with slight forward bend for lessening high-speed headwinds. It’s a surprisingly pleasant cockpit for an exotic sportbike such as this.

“I swapped a Brutale 800 for the 1090 RR,” Duke relates, “and I was happy to feel a dramatically plusher seat and significantly more legroom.”

Passengers have to take the good with the bad. Grab handles provide them some reassuring leverage for keeping them in place, and the small seat is tolerable for at least short jaunts. However the heat emanating from the upper exhaust muffler disfigured the heel of my wife’s favorite boot.

Big news for the 2013 model Brutale RR is a price decrease from last year’s MSRP of $18,998 to this year’s $17,498 asking price. Even with MV’s new optional anti-lock braking installed, the Brutale 1090 RR ABS retails for $18,598, $500 less than last year’s model.

Other upgrades include new lightweight, aluminum wheels, slash-cut mufflers, a new instrument cluster and a new tail light. Altogether, the upgrades and price decrease conspire to make an already attractive naked Italian more desirable.

ABS is a $500 option on the 2013 Brutale 1090 RR – a small increase to pay for a bike in the $18k range.

2013 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 vs Brutale 1090 RR Specs

Brutale 1090Brutale 1090 RR
Displacement1078 cc1078 cc
Bore x Stroke79 mm x 55 mm79 mm x 55 mm
Rev limiter @11,600 rpm12,200 rpm
Horsepower144hp @ 10,300 rpm158 hp @ 11,900 rpm
Torque82.6 ft/lbs @ 8,100 rpm73.7 ft/lbs @ 10,100 rpm
Throttlebody46 mm Mikuni with longer intake manifolds49 mm Mikuni (same as on F4) with shorter intake manifold
Camshaftstandardhigher lift intake camshaft same exhaust cam shaft as R model
Valvessame as RR modelsame as base model
Clutchhydraulic standard wethydraulic slipper wet
Transmission6 speed casette type6 speed casette type
Final gearing15/4115/43
FrameALS steel tubing, MIG weldedCrMo steel tubing, TIG hand welded
Suspension front50 mm Marzocchi50 mm Marzocchi
Suspension rearSachs, pre-load & rebound adjust.Sachs, pre-load, hi & low compression, rebound adjust.
Front brakeBrembo Gold line calipers, 310 mm discsBrembo Monobloc, 320 mm discs
Wheels 3.5×17 6×17Cast aluminumCast aluminum
Tires 120/70, 190/55Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIPirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Traction control8 level8 level
Steering dampernoadjustable
Foot controlsfixedadjustable
Seatone piece stepped bench typetwo piece
Front turn signalsstandard bulb, yellow lensLED, front integrated in mirrors, white lens
Rear turn signalsstandard bulb, yellow lensLED white lens
HeadlightHalogenHalogen with LED running light strip
Radiator shroudsblack plasticcolor match painted
Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

A former Motorcycle.com staffer who has gone on to greener pastures, Tom Roderick still can't get the motorcycle bug out of his system. And honestly, we still miss having him around. Tom is now a regular freelance writer and tester for Motorcycle.com when his schedule allows, and his experience, riding ability, writing talent, and quick wit are still a joy to have – even if we don't get to experience it as much as we used to.

More by Tom Roderick

Join the conversation
  • Balz Renggli Balz Renggli on Jul 25, 2013

    The racier RR version's gear ratios are purposely short to make it easier to keep the revs in the somewhat peaky powerband. The base model 1090 has longer ratios and a torquier power delivery and that, along with the cushier seat and better passenger seat make the base model Brutale 1090 a significantly easier and more relaxed streetbike.
    Maybe you can test the Brutale 1090 alongside the 1090RR to get a direct comparison.

    • Kevin Duke Kevin Duke on Jul 26, 2013

      You mean you want us to ride more of MV's sex machines? Poor us!