Complying with the new Euro4 emissions laws has been a major headache for all manufacturers, with smaller firms, such as MV Agusta, facing the toughest challenges. Already struggling financially, MV have had no option but to substantially alter their 800cc triple engine to ensure it meets the stringent tests, as failing to do so would have decimated their model range.
However, while cutting both engine noise and emissions by nearly 50%, MV have also taken the opportunity to give their triple a refresh along the way. As well as reprofiled cams, the Euro4 motor includes refinements to the gearbox, clutch, exhaust and electronic systems. Importantly, while the engine is now both cleaner and quieter, it makes the same claimed 138bhp with 64.2ftlb of torque as before – and looks just as visually stunning, too.
The attention to detail that MV have lavished on the Dragster is impressive. It’s the small things that make it. The extending mirrors, position-adjustable bars, branded heel plates, and the fact that MV haven’t simply stuck a hideous dustbin exhaust on to meet Euro4 but instead have designed something elegant that helps justify its £15,090 price tag. But can you really justify spending that much on a performance naked?
Aurally, the Dragster more than lives up to its visual glory. The triple may be 48% quieter than before, but these are Italian percentages and it sounds just as good. At tickover it is pleasingly mechanical and raw, with almost a dry-clutch Ducati rattle, but when you feed it any throttle its note changes to a race-bike snarl as the revs flick upwards with haste before dropping back almost as fast. It sounds and responds as if the motor’s internals are very light – and that’s just how it feels to ride.
MV claim to have improved the triple’s gearbox, but to me it still feels a little unrefined with the occasional reluctance to select neutral. If the Dragster RR didn’t have a bi-directional quickshifter as standard this would be more annoying, but luckily the electronics make shifting between cogs seamless, allowing you to enjoy what remains one hell of a motor.
Every time I ride an MV they seem to get better, and the Euro 4 Dragster is certainly the best incarnation of the 800 engine I have ridden. As you would expect on a 798cc triple, it is packed full of midrange and has a searing top-end, but for me it is the fact that MV have conquered their ride-by-wire gremlins that impressed me the most. The throttle connection, initial power delivery and feeling between the twist grip and rear tyre are absolutely spot on, something you certainly couldn’t say about previous incarnations of MV.
You can now enjoy the way the triple picks up pace rather than be frustrated with a poor throttle response and that means the ride quality is also dramatically improved. The Dragster may be a naked bike, but it is also an MV so handling is always going to be high on its priority list.
It may look like a show pony, but the Dragster is more than capable in the bends and will happily take on any other sports naked, aided by its lightweight. The suspension is a touch on the firm side for the UK’s roads, but it is fully adjustable so this isn’t an issue and the brakes and electronic systems are spot on. And, amazingly for an Italian bike, the mirrors are really good. But, the seat is too firm, the turning circle non-existent, the exhaust shield gets in the way of your right foot’s position on the peg and the engine gets stupidly hot in town – so it still retains some traditional Italian character.
The Dragster RR is pricey, but it looks and sounds amazing and the updated triple engine is a joy to ride. It’s not the most practical of nakeds, but for sunny blasts it feels incredibly special to ride, and has bags of character – and that’s what you want on a slice of Italian exotica, isn’t it?
MV Agusta Dragster 800RR
Engine: 798cc,12 valve, inline triple
Frame: Tubular steel trellis.
Seat height: 820mm
Suspension: Marzocchi USD fork, fully-adjustable. Rear: Sachs monoshock, fully-adjustable.
Brakes: 2 x 320mm discs, four piston Brembo radial calipers; 220mm disc, two-piston caliper. ABS
Colours: Yellow, red/black,red/white
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