2009 MV Agusta Brutale 1078RR - Italy's Nastiest Naked Bike

By Roland Brown, Photography by Milagro

Talk about a bike that lives up to its name: MV's newest Brutale is completely insane! The 1078RR's crazy character is an inevitable consequence of bolting an ultra-torquey engine into a short, lightweight chassis, topped with high bars and plenty of attitude. Thankfully, said chassis is so responsive and well engineered that all this power is more of an asset than a liability-most of the time anyway.

Visually unchanged since its 2001 debut, the Brutale remains a breathtakingly aggressive motorcycle, even before you hear the menacing rasp emitted from the slash-cut shotgun pipes. The chromoly-trellis frame, paired to cast-aluminum swingarm plates, is essentially unchanged as well, along with the signature single-sided swingarm and rakish headlamp.

What's new is the powerplant, the largest ever for a naked MV. The DOHC, radial-valve inline-four shares the same 1078cc displacement as the F4 RR 312 superbike, and the same RR designation too, despite the Brutale's detuned status. Compression ratio is identical at 13:1, but the Brutale does without the 312's big valves, hot cams and EBS anti-engine-braking system. Its 154 peak horsepower are 36 down on the 312, but still huge by naked-bike standards.

Suspension components match those of the 312, with a 50mm Marzocchi inverted fork and a rising-rate Sachs monoshock, but spring rates at both ends have been reduced and the multi-adjustable damping circuits revised to suit. Brembo Monobloc radial front calipers deliver phenomenal power with plenty of lever feel.

With an ultra-short, 55-inch wheelbase and minimal, 408-pound dry weight, no class rival comes close to matching the MV's outrageous acceleration or attitude. Take care leaving traffic lights, lest the restyled instrument cluster smash into your helmet visor-and it wheelies just as hard in second, or even third, gear! The torque curve is admirably flat as low as 3000 rpm, and the fueling is crisp and precise, making this fearsome character improbably rider-friendly.

The 1078RR remains solid at any speed, despite unintended input directed through the handlebars by its windswept rider. Those high-leverage bars make the MV quick and easy to turn, and the more compliant suspension improves comfort but still provides sufficient control to exploit the fat Pirelli Dragon Supercorsas' impressive grip.

As with most naked bikes, lack of wind protection is the main barrier to high-speed riding. Geared taller than the standard Brutale 910, the 1078RR nonetheless ripped past the ton in an instant and kept charging toward a claimed top speed over 165 mph. Overkill, perhaps, but so what? Sure, the 1078RR is expensive and not remotely sensible, but we're not going to complain about a Brutale living up to its name.

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