2012 MV Agusta Brutale 675 | First Ride

An MV for the Masses

By Roland Brown, Photography by Milagro

They say: “The MV for everyone”
We say: “Everyone with $12k kicking around, anyway."

Shortly after journalists set out for their first ride on the new Brutale 675 in Italy, a rainstorm swept in and soaked us. In a way, the weather was appropriate: Unlike most MV Agustas, this is not some exotic superbike meant only for sunny Sundays. The Brutale 675, in the Italian firm’s own words, is “the MV Agusta for everyone.”

Everything’s relative, mind you. This bike is still very much an MV Agusta, even if it has simple suspension and a distinct lack of carbon fiber or magnesium. This new Brutale is the naked version of the F3 supersport released earlier this year, and apart from the three-pipe exhaust, this bike’s profile is almost identical to that of the four-cylinder Brutale models. But this machine is smaller in more ways than just capacity. Its wheelbase is 2 inches less and a shorter fuel tank moves the rider closer to the bars, which are slightly lower and angled downward more. This bike’s 31.9-in. seat height means its rider sits nearly an inch closer to the ground, making the Brutale 675 appropriate for shorter riders. From the saddle the bike feels positively tiny.

The three-cylinder, 12-valve engine is based on the unit from the F3, but as you’d expect the naked roadster gets some changes to soften power delivery and improve rideability. New pistons have flatter tops, reducing compression from 13.0:1 to 12.3:1. New cams give less lift and duration. The valves are the same size as the F3’s, but made from steel instead of titanium. Claimed horsepower is 20 bhp less than the F3 at 108.5 bhp, and arrives 2000 rpm earlier at 12,500 rpm. Torque is more evenly spread through the range, with a claimed maximum of 48.0 lb.-ft. at 12,000 rpm.

The motor fired up with a satisfyingly raspy three-cylinder sound, and the tachometer bar flicked across the digital instrument panel before settling into a smooth idle as I fiddled with the ride mode button on the right handlebar.

Like the F3, the Brutale has a ride-by-wire throttle that incorporates four engine modes and adjustable traction control. I began in Normal, which gives neutral throttle response and a medium TC setting. Sport mode sharpens throttle response and backs off the TC; Rain does the opposite; Custom can be set however you like.

The first few minutes’ ride was going to be an important test, given that the F3 has been criticized for its low-rpm fuelling, which is arguably even more important on a naked roadster. MV says it has already sorted that problem with an ECU update is incorporated into the Brutale. We’re halfway there: The new bike still hesitates slightly off idle, but throttle response above 2000 rpm is certainly better than the F3.

It was immediately clear that this motor is in a very different state of tune compared to the F3 unit, which really prefers to be spun above 10,000 rpm. By contrast, the Brutale pulls from down low and feels powerful from 5000 rpm onward. Out on the open road, the Brutale was brilliant: strong through the midrange and revvy enough to make it truly thrilling to cane. And the howling exhaust sound can’t be ignored—it’s intoxicating!

Handling was super sharp, too—as agile and responsive as you might expect of a wide-barred bike that’s said to weigh less than 400 pounds with gas. On tight roads the Brutale’s light weight, quick handling, torquey engine and near-infinite ground clearance make it a real thrill to ride, although in hairpin turns the chassis felt rather nervous. For the most part though, the chassis is well balanced and a good compromise between compliance and support.

There was no shortage of braking ability thanks to big Brembo calipers and 320mm discs. U.S.-market bikes will come equipped with a quickshifter but not ABS, which isn’t even available as an option. I was keen to have ABS when the rain started falling, but at least the wet weather gave me an excuse to try Rain mode, which softened throttle response considerably to help the excellent Pirelli Angel ST tires maintain grip.

Like other bikes in this class, the Brutale doesn’t have any wind protection or luggage capacity, and the seat is fairly thin. But, equally consistent with its class, this doesn’t matter—naked middleweights are ridiculously fun to ride, and typically a pretty good value. Sure, $11,498 for the Brutale isn’t cheap, but it’s thousands less than the F3, making it the most affordable path to MV Agusta ownership. But that doesn’t mean cheap feeling or dull: The Brutale is a subtly sharper, more aggressive naked than you’ll find elsewhere in the middleweight category, one that brings a touch of Italian style, performance and attitude to the division.

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