Having been established over 70 years ago, MV Agusta has had its fair share of issues which saw the company being bought over by several entities, only to be sold back for a diminutive amount of money. The company was resuscitated by the late Claudio Castiglioni, who was responsible for the F4 superbike. Now in the safe hands of his son Giovanni, MV Agusta has been on a steady stride, slowly taking its place back in the hearts of motorcycle enthusiasts with eye-catching products such as the gorgeous Brutale 800 Dragster.
Unveiled globally for the first time at the 2014 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, the Dragster serves as a testament to MV Agusta’s no-holding-back policy when it comes to designing motorcycles. While it is developed based on the Brutale 800, the Dragster distances itself from the model it is based on with a generally sharper bodywork and – if you didn’t already notice – a shorter tail section matched with a set of gorgeous curvy LED tail lights.
This leaves the Dragster with a with a really tiny pillion seat (if you can call it that) that would make your riding partner think twice before getting on. The bob-tailed Italian machine also adopts an adjustable machined handlebar, matched with intricate bar-end side mirrors and lever guards, as well as the F4R’s 10-spoke rear wheel wrapped in 200-section Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyre. It’s just fair to say that these accoutrements make the Dragster look fast standing still.
And make no mistake, the Dragster IS fast. The 798 cc, inline three-cylinder engine derived from the F3 800 delivers quite a stinging punch with 125 hp at 11,600 rpm and 81 Nm of torque at 8,600 rpm on tap. And what do figures like that mean for a street bike that tips the scale at just 167 kg? An impressive weight to power ratio of 1.34 kg per hp. To put it into perspective, the F3 675 achieves a slightly heavier ratio of 1.35 kg per hp, while the 148-hp F3 800 has 1.17 kg per hp. Tasked with channeling the power to the rear wheel is a six-speed transmission, which is best performed with the Quickshifter adopted from the F3 800.
Apart from the fat rear tyre, the rest of the chassis is carried over from the bike it’s based on. The Dragster is built around a trellis frame with aluminium plates that hold the engine and swingarm in place. It has a wheelbase of 1,380 mm, which is identical to that of the Brutale 800. Both the 43 mm inverted Marzocchi fork and Sachs rear shock have 125 mm of travel and provide adjustable compression and rebound settings, as well as spring preload options. No lack of braking power comes from twin 320 mm rotors and four-piston calipers at the front and a 220 mm rotor with a two-piston caliper at the back.
Electronics-wise, the Dragster is packed with the latest version of MVICS (Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control) system that integrates an Eldor EM2.0 engine control unit and a Mikuni full Ride-by-Wire throttle body. Also, there are four engine mappings you can choose via the controls located on the handlebar. The first three modes are pretty self-explanatory – Normal, Sport and Rain – while the fourth one serves as a custom mode that allows the rider to tailor the engine response, rev limiter, torque, throttle sensitivity and engine braking to the his or her liking. The traction control is adjustable over eight levels and, like the Quickshifter, can be switched on and off.
Yes, the bike looks great and is even more impressive on paper but how does it fare in real life? Well, the Dragster is nothing short of intoxicating, to put it simply. There’s so much power and energy, it’s almost intimidating but you never lose the sense of being in control thanks to the well-thought-out ergonomics. The seat is positioned lower than that of the Brutale 800 but the foot pegs remain high, so you end up in a position best suited for aggressive riding but comfortable enough for daily outings. The handlebar feels wide and you’d probably need some time to get used to the extra width from the bar-end mirrors while navigating through traffic.
The Dragster is gentle enough to be a daily ride, but should the need for speed comes, it’s one that’s always ready to pounce. The engine loves to rev and delivers power steadily across the rev band, though we might say it operates best from low- to mid-range. While it won’t match the four-inline sportbikes when it comes to top-end power, the Dragster accelerates pretty quick off the line – or maybe it just feels that way thanks to the smooth Quickshifter, which can be a delightful addiction to first-time users. Throttle response is immediate, but not to such an extent that makes it jumpy. That said, extra caution and wrist control will be needed in Sport mode, where the bike turns its aggressiveness up a notch.
The bike also delivers on the handling front. It’s just 15 mm longer than the Brutale 800, which is still perfect in terms of dynamics, though the fat rear tyre means you’d have to put more effort into the handlebar to get it pointed towards the right direction. The chassis feels solid overall but the suspension can be a tad too stiff for daily use. It does, however, give the bike great stability and composure especially in mid-corner. The stiffness also results in decent braking feel, even when it’s done in a heavy fashion. ABS provides great backup while the traction control intervenes quick enough in situations where it is needed. However, as mentioned, it can be adjusted to one’s liking.
Coming as a tricky take on the already stunning Brutale 800, the Dragster certainly walks the talk. Its beautifully sculpted demeanour is met with brilliant engineering and raw power derived from the brand’s proven 800 range, resulting in such a capable machine. It’s not the cheapest of the lot but if you have the privilege, this would be one of the many Italian bikes you have to spend hard-earned money on. Just one thing – be sure to get used to public attention because you’ll be getting lots of it.
|Engine Type||Three-cylinder, Four-stroke, 12-Valve|
|Power||125 hp @ 11,600 rpm|
|Torque||81 Nm @ 8,600 rpm|
|Gearbox||6-speed Constant Mesh|
|Clutch||Wet, Multi-disc with Mechanical Drive|
|Frame||ALS Steel Tubular Trellis|
|Front Suspension||43 mm Marzocchi USD Telescopic|
|Rear Suspension||Sachs Single Shock, Rebound, Compression Damping and Spring Preload Adjustment|
|Seat Height||811 mm|
|Fuel Capacity||16.6 Litres|
|Tyres||120/70 R17 (F), 200/50 R17 (R)|