I’ve always been one of those people who prefers to do things a little differently, not necessarily stand out, but to just not follow the herd. Growing up, everyone became Chicago Bulls fans, because of Michael Jordan, I decided I was going to be a LA Lakers fan, not necessarily because of Magic Johnson, but because everyone I knew wore the black and red of the Bulls, so I rocked the purple and gold. Yeah, I guess I did stand out a bit. This mentality has carried on decades later and perhaps has affected my appreciation for motorcycles.
As much as I appreciate manufacturers that mass-produce motorbikes, there’s something about smaller companies that make specialized bikes that really spikes my interest. Mom and pop operations that have had their struggles but continue to power through with passion and determination. Companies that look at their craft not just as machines that move people around, but as a form of expression – an extension of the people behind the bike, and the rider in the saddle – a form of art. This is the type of company MV Agusta is, and when I found out that Motostrada was bringing the brand to the Philippines, back in 2019, I couldn’t hold back my excitement.
Late last year, I was invited to the Clark International Speedway to test out the different MC brands that Motostrada brings in, when I finally got on the MV Agusta Brutale 800, several rounds around the 3km track was just not enough. So I waited patiently for my turn to borrow the unit and test it out in real-life conditions. I got to know the bike pretty well, as the unit was with me for some time.
I road it through different conditions such as rain on the expressway, directly under the sun in Edsa traffic, pretty much everywhere I normally go to, whether it was Tagaytay, Batangas, Marilaque, or just normal city riding. In every place I went to, people stopped me and asked about the bike. I could feel people staring, and I can’t blame them, as the bike really does look good, and I mean its ridiculously good looking. Its an aggressive compact little pocket rocket with a big chest and narrow waist – yes I’m still referring to the bike. The wide tank and the air intakes show off the bikes muscles. It’s got an exposed trellis frame, a floating seat design – which is really more style over function, and the drop-dead gorgeous signature three-pipe exhaust. The thing I hate most about most motorcycle designs are the taillights and rear fender, well MV Agusta agrees with me, so they made the Brutale 800’s rear look tight, with a rear number plate hanger which also holds the rear indicators. The bike is distinctive and as I said, will draw a lot of attention.
The not so dashing
I’m convinced, that MV Agusta spent so much time designing the bike to perfection, that they completely rushed the dash. The LCD display reminds me of the dash of the CF MOTO NK 650, which is also distributed by Motostrada. It shows the speedometer, tachometer, clock, shift light, engine temperature, gear position indicator, riding mode, ABS, and traction control with their levels. It doesn’t show the fuel level! Why?! How can it not show how much fuel is in the tank? When I started riding it, I figured it out, you can hardly see the dash anyway, and I never really looked down at it. Out of sight, and out of mind.
The bike is powered by a 798cc, liquid-cooled, inline-three cylinder engine. It pumps out 108.5 BHP at 11,500 rpm of power and a peak torque of 83 Nm at 7,600 RPM. The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox absolute and the game-changer for me, a bi-directional quick shifter. Whether you are on the expressway or on the twisties, it’s such a joy using it. The Brutale 800 has four riding modes – Normal, Sport, Rain, and Custom. It also gets 8 TC levels, 3 ABS levels. The only time I used the Sport mode, was on the track and we were slowed down by the instructors, so I stuck to Normal and Rain when the bike was with me. Both modes, worked perfectly, in fact, the Rain mode was a lot better than I had expected, not once did I sense fear as I was caught in a downpour on SLEX.
Stopping power comes from the dual 320mm Brembo disc brakes with four-piston calipers at the front and from a 220mm rear disc with a two-piston caliper at the rear. The Brutale 800 comes with a fully adjustable 43mm Marzocchi USD forks up front and a fully adjustable Sachs mono-shock at the rear. Its set up is mainly tuned for handling purpose and it does the job very well. You will, however, be able to feel the less than stellar road conditions in the Philippines, as you will feel most of the bumps you pass.
The wet weight is 200kg, which is more than manageable. The seat height is at 810mm and at 5’6, I feel completely fine on the bike. It does seem like I am just the right size for it when I see photos of myself on the bike. Anyone taller than 5’10 might seem like they are too big. Although that is pretty relative.
The 2019 MV Agusta Brutale 800, is not perfect, but there’s still something about it that I’m completely drawn to, which is strange, as I’m not normally drawn to modern-naked bikes. Maybe its that I feel like I’m one with the bike when I’m in the saddle or maybe its the way it just begs you to twist the throttle just a little bit more than you normally would. Perhaps knowing that when you go for a ride with a group of friends, the likelihood of someone else having the same bike is pretty slim, and if you do run into someone on the same bike, you know, you instantly will have a connection with that rider.