The old Brutale was a bit harsh – it felt like you were being pummelled by every surface change you rode over. The latest combination of the Marzocchi upside-down forks and Sachs rear shock work well. The front end is fully ¬adjustable but the rear just for preload and rebound. Both have been softened slightly in terms of the internal valving compared to the 990R to give a more forgiving ride. The suspension still feels taut but has a lovely, plush feel, too.
It’s the new 921cc inline four-cylinder motor that dominates the Brutale for all the right reasons. Not only will it rev through with a howling note all the way through to the top of the 11,600rpm rev limiter but it will trickle along in sixth gear at 2000rpm. There is no fluff, no surging and the throttle response is lovely. The combination of the crank from the more powerful 1090RR but with new smaller pistons and corresponding cylinder block works well.
Brutale anoraks will spot the changes aimed at keeping the price down; indicators in the backs of the mirrors are replaced with cheaper ones mounted by the side of the front light, matt paint finish and only two colours (black and white) to choose from; others won’t. Only the welding on the centre section of the exhaust lets the finish down.
No bike that costs £9999 on the road can be called cheap. But with Japanese bike prices now on a par with ‘exotic’ brands like MV Agusta, it makes choosing even harder. While the Yamaha FZ1 is the same price, it can’t compete in terms of fun, performance, looks or character with the Brutale. The class-leading Triumph Speed Triple at £8649 has a stronger hand in terms of price and handling, and the cheaper Honda CB1000R and Kawasaki Z1000 muddy the waters further.
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The engine has two switchable maps (Normal and Sport) which change the ignition response. Eight-stage traction control is adjustable through the dashboard within both riding modes and is standard.