2006 MV Agusta Brutale 910S Road Test
Remember the gnarly scene in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta’s character stabs Uma Thurman right through the breastbone and into the heart with a shot of adrenaline? What? You haven’t seen the movie? No problem. Just head down to your MV Agusta dealer and look at the $14,495 price tag on a Brutale 910S. When your heart stops, hit the bike’s starter button. Same thing.
That’s how it’s been ever since the MV Agusta name was revived by the Castiglioni family, owners of Cagiva, and the company rolled out the first in-line four to come out of Italy in a long time. Developed by Ferrari with radial valves and styled by the legendary Massimo Tamburini to hold sway with the likes of his benchmark Ducati 916, MV Agusta’s F4 750 with its four underseat organ pipes was indeed a heartstopper and starter, in price if not performance. At $32,000, the limited-edition Serie Oro sportbike established a reputation of exclusivity for the marque that is only just beginning to broaden at the company’s own hands. In 2004 engine size grew to 998cc to meet customer demand, and lower-priced versions of the F4 1000 with fewer unobtanium components are now readily available. Some years ago the company also launched a line of naked sportbikes based upon the in-line four called Brutale, the initial 750 model eventually growing into a 910.
If the Brutale 910S model seen here isn’t fancy enough for you, for another $3,500 there’s the 2006 910R, complete with carbon fiber this, titanium that and racing whatnot. Oh, and eight more horsepower, for a claimed total of 144 at the crank. Our fortunes being more Bilbo Baggins than Bill Gates, however, we thought a test of the 910S was most apropos as it is still a naughty little beast with a penchant for trick componentry and makes more pleasing power than the (still available) Brutale 750.
See that fat 50mm Marzocchi male-slider cartridge fork on the 910S? It’s fully adjustable, and has quick-release mechanisms for the axle. The Sachs remote-reservoir single shock in back is fully adjustable as well, and has a height adjuster. Tiny Nissin F4 opposed six-piston calipers in front and an opposed four-piston caliper in back stop the Brutale 910S, which also has a quick-release rear sprocket riding on that lovely single-sided swingarm. The frame is a combo of tubular chrome-moly steel trellis with cast-aluminum pivot plates, and the star-spoked wheels are cast aluminum. Footpegs are exotic little assemblies that are adjustable for height.
The Brutale 910S is still a naked sportbike even if it’s a rather exclusive one, and to that end it should perform well in a variety of environments. Light it off and the liquid-cooled, 909cc in-line four quickly settles into a rather urgent idle, and while there’s a tiny fast-idle control on the right handlebar we never used it. The bike can be ridden away immediately with a few hiccups as it warms up, then smoothes out as the growl from the motor becomes more alert. Whack the throttle open in any gear and the four-into-two exhaust snarls Ferrari-like, only if this Ferrari were human it would be a big, bald-headed and tattooed bouncer at a downtown Las Vegas strip club. On the Borla Performance dyno the Brutale 910S made a whopping 113.9 horsepower and 61.0 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel, which translates into stinkin’ fast for a bike with a 464-pound wet weight. It takes some real hair to hold the throttle wide open all the way to its 12,000-rpm redline before shifting, which takes place seamlessly up or down with nice, smooth clutch action.
Settle into the saddle of the Brutale and it’s clear that it means business. Although the seating position is only moderately sporty, with a slight forward lean to the wide tubular bar and reasonably rearset footpegs, the small seat’s cupped shape and firm padding are intended for clenched butts whose owners have their minds on one thing-going fast. If the sentence, “I’m taking the Brutale touring, Honey, see you next week” sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is-this ain’t no touring bike. Even if you could find a way to mount a small seatbag on back and strap on a tankbag (the tank is plastic), the engine’s urgency, that small seat and the Brutale’s diminutive, sporty size would constantly force you to steer toward the canyons and you’d never get anywhere.
With a redline of 12,000 rpm and 13.0:1 compression, the Brutale’s engine pulls strongly down low but lives to be revved. Some light vibration creeps into the handgrips above 5,000 rpm, but it’s never bothersome. It steers, suspends and stops like a pure sportbike, yet the rider is completely exposed to the elements and has to remember to lean forward when accelerating hard, lest the front end loft skyward. Suspension action front and rear is first rate-freeway plush and backroad taut at the same time with infinite adjustment for the fiddlers. Though the brakes could use some more initial bite in front they’re heck-for-strong and well balanced front and rear.
The little things matter even more on such an exclusive machine, such as the micrometrically adjustable clutch and brake levers, remote hydraulic reservoirs and small storage space under the tiny pillion pad. Riding with a passenger? Don’t plan on doing so often. A large tach sits beside the LCD info display with all of the basics, and mirrors are sleek but almost useless as they blur and don’t see around your elbows much. That trademark MV Agusta Brutale headlight with its double parabolic curves is clear and bright at night, and with the exception of rear spring preload being the inconvenient ring-and-locknut style, all of the suspension adjusters are easy to use.
This is the kind of bike you could just as easily park in your living room or over the mantle, a piece of art as much as a high-performance sportbike. I think if I were going to join the ranks of contemporary MV Agusta owners I would probably go all the way and spring for an F4 1000 before I paid only slightly less for its naked sibling, many cheaper alternatives to which abound. But if you’ve just gotta have a one-of-a-kind Italian Stallion with a reasonable seating position, the Brutale 910S is probably your pony.