MV-AGUSTA DRAGSTER 800 RR (2018 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Lighter engine internals
  • More comfortable seat
  • Extra front end stability

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
Power: 138 bhp
Seat height: Tall (33.3 in / 845 mm)
Weight: Low (386 lbs / 175 kg)

Prices

New £15,240
Used £12,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

MV Agusta are all about evolution over revolution. As each year passes, their cool creations don’t change much on the outside but underneath they’re constantly honed and polished.

For the 2021 the Dragster 800 RR looks as bonkers as ever, but it gets a bundle of small mechanical and electronic refinements that significantly improve the way it rides, without taking away any of its old fire-breathing aggression, which is quite a trick.

Still the last word in naked decadence, its unique looks and aggressive sound are like nothing else and it has the poise and acceleration of a superbike.

Riding the 2021 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR

But now it has friendlier road manners and smoother power, ably aided by its brilliantly useful SCS auto clutch and it’s genuinely comfortable for hours in the saddle, even for tall riders.

Tweaked suspension is firm without being crashy, it’s far more stable and the colour dash brings things bang up to date. It isn’t cheap, but now it’s more supermodel than prima donna.


MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Pirelli

MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR Pirelli

In September 2018 Italian tyre company Pirelli teamed up with MV Agusta to produce the 'Dragster 800 RR Pirelli' special edition. 

The bike is a standard Dragster 800 RR and comes complete in two striking colour combinations; yellow and black, and blue and white. It'll also come complete with a set of the brand’s Supercorsa SP tyres, naturally.

What's more, both the tank slider and fairing are made of Pirelli rubber, specially formulated by their Research and Development department, to combat against scratching and unwanted contact with third-party substances, such as fuel.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

What we said in 2018: MV claims the 2018 Dragster RR has increased torsional rigidity from its new engine mounts, although the chassis was stiff on the original 2014 model begin with – not so much its fully-adjustable suspension, which is actually soft when you bounce it at a standstill, but the trellis frame itself, giving the Dragster a harsh, unyielding feel at anything below brain-out speeds.

Bars constantly wag in your hands at speed – they never get out of control, but you’re always waiting for the big ‘slap’ to happen, which is unnerving, to say the least. Braking power is superb, but old generation Pirelli Diablo II tyres (with a chunky 200-section rear) lack the grip of more modern rubber.

Riding the 2018 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR on UK roads

Pillion peg hangers swivel neatly out of the way under the seat when you don’t need them, but that’s where they’re likely to stay most of the time. Just look at that tiny rear seat – it’s a perch for the dedicated, but life up front for the rider is more relaxed.

The Dragster 800 RR might look tiny, with no real overhang past the wheels, but the canted-forward riding position is surprisingly roomy, even for tall riders, so won’t squash your knees, but wrists take a fair bit of weight and wind protection is as limited as you’d expect on a bike so exposed.

What we said in 2021: As before the Dragster still has a tough, racebike-like feel, but the 2021 model is more supple over bumps thanks to revised fork and shock internals and a new progressive rear suspension link.

It’s never on the brink of a tank slapper like the old bike and you’ll need a racetrack to get anywhere near the limits of its chassis, especially to feel its more rigid frame plates. Brembos are a riot of feel and power, too. The MV is surprisingly comfy over distance thanks to its perfect bar position, generous legroom and comfier new seat. The new clock surround offers decent wind protection.

A side view of the 2021 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

What we said in 2018: Tweaked to meet Euro 4 in 2018 the quieter, more frugal Dragster’s 798cc three-cylinder motor makes the same power and torque as the 2014 model, thanks to a new countershaft, primary drive, intake cams, valves, gearbox, exhaust and engine cover.

It’s undeniably quick, but by far the best thing about this raucous engine is the racket it makes. It might sound like a bag of spanners at tickover, but up the ante and the triple’s raw, mechanical, 40-a-day soundtrack is pure Steve McQueen-Le Mans. It also has one of the crispest, most explosive-sounding autoblippers around – so good you’ll be constantly changing down, just for the hell of it.

Ever since the launch of the 2012 F3 675, MV Agusta has never quite managed to get its three-cylinder motor to deliver its power consistently, especially at low speed, but thanks to new ride-by-wire mapping it’s the smoothest it’s ever been, but it’s still not perfect in any of its four riding modes.

With the motor screaming for mercy fuelling is perfect and the throttle is no longer snatchy, but it still lacks the kind of satisfying, creamy low speed response you want at normal speeds. It’s still over sensitive and sometimes tricky to keep a constant throttle around town, especially if your right hand is jolted by a bump.  

The three-cylinder engine has been updated for Euro5

What we said in 2021: Now Euro5 friendly the 2021 model still makes 138bhp, which is the perfect amount of power for a naked sportsbike. The counter-rotating crank motor gets a handful of mods in a bid to reduce friction and increase reliability, like sintered valve guides, DLC-coated tappets and new bearings for the big and small ends and counter shaft.

The exhaust collector is new, as are its stacked, slash cut cans. All this adds up to a Dragster that accelerates like an early noughties’ superbike with a soundtrack that howls, growls and gloriously twists your senses, even short shifting through the gears.

It was never slow, but the Dragster’s power delivery was always inconsistent at low speed, but fuelling woes are now a thing of the past thanks to new mapping. The throttle is now smoother and more predictable for the 99.9% of the times you’re not riding flat out and the snap, crackle and popping new third-generation shifter delivers crisper gear changes.

Fresh exhaust design for the 2021 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR

Making getaways smoother still is the SCS model’s automatic clutch that turns the MV into a geared twist and go, so you don’t need to use the clutch to stop or pull away. We averaged 45mpg during our test.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

It’s no secret MV have had their reliability issues over the years, but things have improved greatly thanks to changes in the Varese factory and improved dealer and spares back up. The Dragster 800 RR comes with a three-year warranty and two years roadside assistance.

We've only got the one MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR owners' review on the site, and it scores 4 stars out of 5. The dropped star is attributed to it being difficult to ride at low speeds.

The 2021 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR is well built

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

There’s no getting away from the fact the Dragster 800 RR isn’t cheap. It’s more expensive than direct rivals like the KTM 890 Duke R, Triumph Street Triple RS and Yamaha MT-09 SP and more in line with a high spec, big-cubed super naked.

A static image of the 2018 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

What we said in 2018: You’ve got to give it to MV: they know how to design and finish a beautiful motorcycle.

Delicate tweaks to this latest model serve to make the sultry Dragster 800 RR look more striking than ever: adjustable clip-ons, ali front mudguard brackets, aluminium tank pad, a new seat unit, number plate holder, LED indicators and a natty little steering damper that looks like the innards of a Swiss watch…and doesn’t actually work (there’s no discernible difference between hard and soft).

The 2018 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR

But when colour displays are the norm on machines with this kind of price tag, its LCD dash and dim warning lights look cheap and dated.

What we said in 2021: Loud, brash and dressed to impress, think of the Dragster as a two-wheeled Lamborghini in spirit. It isn’t a bike for the shrinking violet. It’s also very expensive and doesn’t have the best-of-the-best suspension and brakes, but everything works perfectly and build quality, paint finishes and attention to detail are everything you’d expect from an exotic MV Agusta.

You can spend hours drinking in the detail, from its spoked wheels and fancy fasteners to the clear clutch cover and new cornering LED headlight, but best of all it’s now simply a lovely and far less awkward bike to spend time with.

Plenty of impressive equipment on the 2021 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR

A new e-Novia inertial measurement unit takes care of new lean-sensitive rider aids, but traction control and ABS will stay well in the background most of the time thanks to the grip of Pirelli’s Diablo Rosso IIIs.

The system is now clever enough to allow wheelies with the TC activated. It’s also out with the old black and white LCD, which dated the old Dragster in with a more contemporary Bluetooth-enabled 5.5in colour TFT, although it’s still hard to see the dull indicator lights. New switchgear now contains a menu function joystick and button for launch control and it still has a basic cruise control system.

Specs

Engine size 798cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 12v, inline triple
Frame type Steel trellis
Fuel capacity 16.5 litres
Seat height 845mm
Bike weight 175kg
Front suspension Marzocchi 43mm forks, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Single Sachs shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 320mm front discs with four-piston Brembo radial calipers. ABS
Rear brake 220mm rear disc with twin-piston Brembo caliper ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 200/50 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £150
New price £15,240
Used price £12,000
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Three years

Top speed & performance

Max power 138 bhp
Max torque 64 ft-lb
Top speed 150 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 163 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2014: Brutale-based Dragster released in base and RR versions

2018: Engine updated for Euro4, including a new countershaft, primary drive, intake cams, valves, gearbox, exhaust and engine cover. Stiffer engine mounts, adjustable clip-ons, ali front mudguard brackets and tank pad, a new seat unit, number plate holder, LED indicators and ornate steering damper.


Watch our video review of the 2014 Dragster 800 below:

Other versions

Base model Dragster 800 Rosso, full spec Dragster 800 RR, auto clutch Dragster 800 RR SCS and limited-edition Dragster 800 RC SCS.

Owners' reviews for the MV-AGUSTA DRAGSTER 800 RR (2018 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their MV-AGUSTA DRAGSTER 800 RR (2018 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your MV-AGUSTA DRAGSTER 800 RR (2018 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 3 out of 5 (3/5)
Engine: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
4 out of 5 OAP's Dragster Review
07 September 2019 by Bruce Taylor

Version: RR

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £150

Sensitive throttle, stiff suspension and tendency to run hot, makes riding through traffic uncomfortable. The clutch is on the heavy side, which becomes tiring, but neutral is easily found. If “Rain” mode is selected, low speed running improves. Would not recommend the bike for daily commuting or for an inexperienced rider, but for ride outs you could not have better. Instrument Panel difficult to read especially in sunlight, having said that it is only the speedometer reading that is required. Unable to pass comment on the lights as the bike is not used at night.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

Strongly recommend that you obtain a professional suspension set up, which will improve the standard ride Front brake is excellent. Rear brake not so, loss of pressure over a period of time is not uncommon, regular bleeding required. Handling has been significantly improved with the fitting of Michelin RS tyres with a 55 rear profile With the option of four speed modes and ABS, it covers all the options that you are likely to require. Not convinced that the steering damper is that effective, certainly not the same as the Ohlins that was fitted to an 800RC The need for a break is determined by the tank range which is in the region of 100/120 miles

Engine 4 out of 5

The power and sound of the engine is something to behold and the auto-blipper is a dream. So smooth, that you are constantly changing up and down just for the fun of it. The only time the clutch is used is from first to second or downshift to first. Still a little twitchy at low speeds

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Only corrosion in 20 months and 8000 miles is to the front brake bleed nipple, no other problems whatsoever. Comments are often made by onlookers asking if the bike is brand new. Hunting/Surging problem between 2500/5000 rpm rectified under warranty. Sprag clutch and starting issues that were common with the Euro3 version have been resolved and the bike, even when not used regularly throughout the winter, has never failed to start first time. The bike has been completely reliable and is a vast improvement on previous models.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Service intervals are annually and then at 9000 miles, other than the first service there have been no additional dealer costs. I understand the 9000 service will be in the region of £150/200.00. The only other maintenance necessary has been the normal routine checking of levels, tyre and chain care. Fuel consumption in the region of 35/40 mpg.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Style, second to none. The bike appearance has been improved with removal of the rear number plate holder and the fitting of a NRC integral light unit and front indicators QD exhaust improves sound and looks, R&G radiator guard for safety MV Corse seat also improves the riding comfort

Buying experience: RRP paid when purchased, but received a very good p/x price from the dealer on 2016 MV 800RC. Looking to deal with the same dealer at the end of the year when I will probably purchase another Dragster, which will make five MV’s since 2012. The news that MV is increasing the number of dealers in the UK is more than welcome.

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