MV Agusta's new £10,499, supermoto-style rival to Ducati's Hypermotard, the Rivale 800, is currently being put through its paces for the first time by MCN Senior Road Tester Michael Neeves in the south of France. Here are his first impressions:
"A departure from the firm's bread and butter sports and super naked bikes, this supermoto-styled machine is based heavily on the Brutale 800 and has a 125bhp three-cylinder engine, housed in a steel trellis frame and single-sided aluminium swingarm.
"Although it looks like a big supermoto, it rides like a super-naked – it’s stable, neutral-handling, fast and has that distinctive, glorious three-cylinder growl at full throttle.
"MV has struggled to get their ride-by-wire throttle systems working properly ever since the launch of the F3 675 at the beginning of 2012 and we recently tested a Bruate 800 with a very poor throttle response.
"But the Rivale 800 has a new generation electronics map and I’m pleased to say it works. It’s smooth, predictable and acts just like a normal bike, which is all you could ask for.
"I’d say the throttle response is on par with a Street Triple’s and better than the new Yamaha MT-09. Let’s hope the bikes headed for the UK are just as good.
"The highlight for me is the quickshifter, which thanks to the ride-by-wire is one of the smoothest I’ve used and adds to the pleasure of riding.
"Due to wet roads we didn’t have the chance to really push the Rivale 800, but in a way riding it in the damp was the ultimate test of its usability and it passed with flying colours."
See Michael's full test in MCN next Wednesday.