Staff bikes: MV Agusta Brutale 920 - That’s it run-in then!

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Last year I arranged with the factory on a recent visit that MV Agusta would supply MCN with one of the new 920cc Brutales as a long term test bike.

The plan was for an MCN person to fly out to the Varese factory, watch a load of identical bikes being built on the production lines before saddling up and riding the near 900 miles home. On a naked bike. In April.

Everything seemed cool but at no point did I think it might actually be me doing the trip!

Fast forward to April 7 and there I was getting a quick look over the bike which was parked outside the MV Agusta Research and Development workshops alongside a tatty F4 1000 test hack and the stunning F3 prototype in white.

Thankfully it was more than 30C, beautifully sunny and the Brutale was looking lovely in white. This is MV’s least expensive model. I’m not going to call it cheap because a bike that costs £9999 cannot be considered that by any but the deranged.

This version of the Brutale is the third and lowest-spec of the range underneath the 990R and the 1090R. The engine is 921cc with softer suspension and lower spec components. None of which make it look cheap.

I had another job to do down the road at Husqvarna so only set off for the UK at around 5.30pm with a hotel in Colmar, France and 225 miles away booked for the night.

The route meant cutting through the Alps, gagging on diesel fumes through the 10 mile Gottard Tunnel, getting really cold the other side and then heading through Luzern and Basel as the night drew in.

I finally made it, tired and ready for some food at a very pleasant Ibis in Colmar with 15 minutes to spare before the kitchen closed at 10pm. Steak et frites avec un grand biere were most welcome.

An early start the next morning saw me reaching the Channel Tunnel for a 3.20pm departure and I was home in Kettering for just after 5pm. I was tired and aching from the number of miles but still in pretty good shape considering.

The Brutale managed the trip with no drama whatsoever. It even managed around 45mpg which considering it has 130bhp and carried me wearing a big rucksack and a tankbag the whole way is pretty impressive.

Long trips like this always manage to let you gel (or not)+ with a bike and I’m hoping this year is going to be a great riding one with the Brutale.

What I love so far…
The way it looks obviously. The engine may be the least powerful of the Brutale range and has been tuned for a softer throttle response and 130bhp, but it’s still the dominating part of the package and has a ferocious bark at high revs; it really howls through to the 11,600rpm rev limiter.

It’s got a 23 litre (yes, really) fuel tank and on normal road riding you can get 165miles out of a tank before the reserve light comes on. I think that’s pretty good for a performance naked bike.

Especially as I have been squeezing in just 17 litres which means there is still loads left in there and 200 miles between fill-ups appears possible.

The softer suspension, reprofiled (narrower and lower) seat is pretty comfortable even after 500 miles in a day.

The radial Brembo 310mm brakes are brilliant with instant grab and huge power, the standard fit Pirelli Angel ST tyres are really good and barely look touched despite 1800 miles already covered.

The MV Agusta tankbag was very good at keeping the windblast down and carries a lot of stuff. It hooks onto a tank-mounted strap that loops over the front and side frame trellis.

And what I don’t…
The footrests are way too slippery for some boots; mine included. I thought I had oil on the sole of them for a moment and pulled over to check down the road from setting off from the factory. Turns out they are like this for most boots. I am looking at rearset alternatives.

The dashboard is far too confusing to try and work through the sub-menus controlling the traction control, trip computer and everything else.

I remember when zeroing a trip meant rolling a wheel or pushing a button; not getting so infuriated that you give up and leave it. I’ve managed to do it twice out of about nine fill-ups so far.

It took one of the electrical engineers from the MV factory to change the dash from kph to mph before I headed home; that’s how stupid it is.

In the end I committed the ultimate sin…referring to the owner manual. That would have been mildly helpful had it not been wrong! I only found this out after trial and error and accidentally held down one button for longer than four seconds rather than the ‘less than’ four seconds as recommended by the manual.

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920, £9999
Value now: £9250
Mileage: 1835
Power (claimed): 130bhp
Torque (claimed): 70lb ft
Top speed (claimed): 165mph
Colours: White and black

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Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter