For those times when one does decide to get greedy on the throttle the traction control system steps in with eight different levels of intervention. Unlike the Ducati Traction Control system that uses wheel speed sensors to determine wheel slippage, the Marelli electronics on the MV strictly detects spikes in engine speed. Then, judging by the rate of change in engine speed, first ignition timing is retarded, and if that's not enough then fuel is cut to the engine, but never does it run on three cylinders. Goggi explained that the goal with the traction control system was to make it as seamless as possible to the rider. Our brief time on the track didn't afford us much of a chance to really explore the limits of the MV system, but initial impressions are positive, with it seemingly working as advertised.
The headlight still keeps...
The headlight still keeps the same basic look and shape, but now turn indicators are relocated to the mirrors. Inside, eight LEDs on each side of the element create a "light strip" effect-a popular look on cars nowadays.
Speaking of corners, the longer wheelbase does make the bikes more stable, but at the cost of quick turn-in. The Misano circuit features a chicane immediately following the front straight and getting the bike from each side took some effort-especially the 1090 as the bigger engine required more muscle to fight its gyroscopic forces. Both machines were solid once leaned over, though. In comparison, however, the enhancements of the 1090 give it a more precise feel compared to its smaller sibling. Chassis flex was less and suspension stiffness felt more track oriented. And speaking of turn-in, with its dual side-mounted exhaust setup drawing comparisons to the Ducati Streetfighter was inevitable. On the Streetfighter we complained that the heat shield protecting the rider's boot from the exhaust protruded so far it restricted right foot movement and made it nearly impossible to keep it on the pegs while cranked over. While the Brutale's heat shield also extends into the foot's natural path, it's less intrusive and easier to adapt your riding style around. Braking on both bikes is incredibly strong though there isn't much travel in the lever, making modulation of the brakes especially tricky during trail braking. At racetrack pace we found that the longer shift lever does as advertised and provides more leverage, but at the expense of sloppy (and missed) shifts due to the lever being too close to the peg.
It sounds almost ludicrous, but there are terrible roads in Italy. And just to our luck, they happen to be near the Misano circuit. There the tarmac is narrow and slick, with four-wheeled traffic coming in both directions. The resulting degradation of the road by the cars makes it less than ideal, but it proved to be a good testing ground for the Brutale as both models were easy to ride, even the more track-focused 1090RR. The more relaxed seating position of the upright handlebars gives more leverage for those tight street maneuvers like U-turns (which both bikes do with ease, despite a relatively shallow steering radius typical of Italian motorcycles). Power delivery is still smooth, even while riding over the many bumps in the road. Braking force is strong as ever, especially in the rear, as seemingly little pressure was needed for lockup.
New And Improved
Without a doubt, the new Brutale lineup is a major step up from the previous generations. MV's focus on driveability rather than big numbers was the right move, despite having the added pressure of keeping to the original design. In a world of form over function thankfully there's a company like MV Agusta that still believes in both.