ONE FOR THE STREET-FIGHTER CROWD: MV Agusta's shortened 800 Dragster (pillion possible!) belongs in the city - just for fun! Image: Dries van de Walt
Having previously tested the MV Agusta Rivale 800 Wheels24 was given the opportunity to review a second bike built around the same gutsy three-cylinder engine - the Brutale 800 Dragster, an abbreviated version of the standard Brutale.
The Dragster, with its shortened rear bodywork, is clearly aimed at the "street-fighter" set and definitely looks the part.
Typical of an Italian design, the Dragster is a feast for the eyes with a host of little detail touches that combine into a coherent whole. For me the only visually jarring note was the oversized single headlight – something smaller and less in-your-face would have worked better.
The dual tail-lights, on the other hand, looked particularly good, from behind and from the side. The 'street-fighter' emphasis makes it seem as if accommodation for a pillion was little more than an afterthought – even the rear grab-handles seem to be little more than a consolation prize.
The seat of the Dragster is more than comfortable, though, and looks good with its contrasting colours and double stitching. The seating position is typical for a sporty naked – just slightly forward-canted, making it easy to duck behind the small screen when the speed picks up.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2015 MV Agusta 800 Brutale Dragster
Quite obviously the Dragster is not an open-road bike – it's much more at home in the city streets where its ample torque and great handling makes it huge fun to ride. The bike’s nimbleness and performance almost make it a good commuter, too, but the bar-end mirrors (stylish as they may look) make lane-splitting difficult.
The fact that it wasn’t meant for long-distance riding doesn’t mean that an occasional open-road trip is out of the question – the vestigial screen over the instrument panel is surprisingly good at deflecting the slipstream, even at well over the national speed limit.
As it came out of the factory, the rear suspension is quite hard. While it makes for great cornering, it can become a little annoying if the road surface is less than optimal.
EIGHT-LEVEL TRACTION CONTROL
But put the Dragster in its natural habitat and it is hard to keep the smile off your face. The bike has four mappings: three (Sport, Normal and Rain) are set by the manufacturer but the fourth adjusts individual parameters: engine response, rev limiter, engine torque response, throttle sensitivity and engine braking.
This is complemented by an eight-level traction control (which can be disengaged) to bail you out when you get too enthusiastic for the road conditions.
With oodles of low-down torque, the engine feels stronger than its capacity would have you believe. The Dragster is a quick bike and roll-on acceleration is strong enough to allow to overtake slower traffic or squeezing into tiny gaps without swopping cogs. With traction control turned off It lifts its front wheel with the least provocation, which adds to its generally playful character.
Unlike the Rivale, the Dragster comes with anti-lock brakes to permit hard braking without fear of a front-wheel lock-up. As with all ABS-equipped bikes, ripples in the road surface can fool the ABS into kicking in, which means that you shouldn’t leave braking too late when cornering.
DON'T BE GENTLE
On the road, the Dragster spells FUN in capital letters. Light, nimble and powerful, it's a bike that begs to be ridden hard and rewards you with great handling and responsiveness if you do. The slightly forward-biased weight distribution means it responds well to late entry into a corner,then accelerates hard out of it.
Almost as if it wants to dissuade you from being gentle, the Dragster is isn’t very tolerant of low revs or small throttle openings, shaking and groaning in protest if you keep it below its comfort zone. But open the throttle wide and the engine becomes a great deal smoother.
The Dragster may not be to everybody’s taste (or budget, for that matter!) but although you can get bikes with similar performance and handling for less, you would be hard-pushed to find a better combination of Italian styling and passion.
Manufacturer: MV Agusta
Model: Brutale 800 Dragster
Type: Three-cylinder, four-stroke, 12-valve timing system
Maximum Power: 92kW @ 11 600rpm
Maximum Torque: 8 Nm @ at 8600rpm
Fuel supply system: Fuel injection
Fuel type: 95 octane RON
Fuel consumption: n/a
Type: Electronic quick-shift, six speed, constant mesh
Final drive: Chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2060 X 825 X 811
Dry weight: 167kg
Fuel tank: 16.6 litres
Front: Double floating disc, 320mm diameter, with steel braking disc and flange
Rear: Single steel disc, 220mm diameter
Front: Marzocchi “Upside-down" telescopic hydraulic fork with rebound-compression damping and spring preload external and separate adjustment
Rear: Progressive Sachs, single shock absorber with rebound and compression damping and spring preload adjustment
WHEELS & TYRES
Wheel, front: Aluminium alloy 3.50 x 17
Wheel, rear: Aluminium alloy 6.00 x 17
Tyre, front: 120/70 - ZR 17 M/C (58 W)
Tyre, rear: 200/50 - ZR 17 M/C (75 W)
PRICE: R169 900