Sure, the 2023 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR is expensive. But, boy, she’s outrageously beautiful. The carbon detailing, the crazy shapes, the Italian design flair—it’s all there. The more you look, the more you see. The finishes—I caress that gorgeously sculpted tank, and my mind wanders. The speed—she’s built for it, and I want it. This animal, this Brutale—she is immensely capable. Staggeringly powerful and shockingly fast, she’s also smooth, refined, quiet, and sophisticated. She’ll let you think you’re in control, and you are. But let her off the leash, and you’d better be holding on—you’ve got a tigress by the tail.
Brutale sits there. The hyper naked is compact. A beautiful Italian trellis frame wraps around that dominant 998cc engine. Actually, it’s all engine—a mega-powerful inline-four cylinder with radial valves and a screamer firing order. Brutale puts out (gulp) 208 horsepower and 86 ft-lbs of torque. You read that right. Two hundred. And eight. Horsepower.
The radial valves are a big deal as the configuration allows the engine to breathe better. As Brian Gillen (R&D Director) explains, a compression chamber is spherical, so if the valves are placed around the dome, their entire surface can let the air/fuel mixture in or out. If the valves are aligned—making it easier to position the camshafts—the valves aren’t straight inside the sphere, limiting the surface area of the opening.
For 2023, there are big changes. The motor now has a balancer shaft to eliminate the typical I-4 high-frequency vibes, and, yes, she’s smooth as silk now. A lighter crankshaft, redesigned combustion chamber, lighter pistons, and titanium connecting rods let that motor spin up in a second. New algorithms in the fueling give the 2023 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR the best throttle connection I’ve ever felt. That’s quite a statement, but I stand by it. From off-throttle to on- the motor just pulls smoothly and predictably.
I throw a leg over. The Brutale is pure purpose. Total aggression. Total performance. Total commitment. I lean forward into the semi-upright handlebar bend and realize that comfort is not high on the agenda here. I’m stretched over the tank and, although my wrists are not low, I anticipate the ergonomics taking their toll.
The controls fall easily to hand. Easy, intuitive switchgear that includes an insane-but-fun Launch Control (hooligan mode activated) and wheelie control, which is more of a Maximum Acceleration Control designed to float the front wheel just off the ground when the motor moves past 7000 rpm and goes into berserk mode. Cruise control has one-button activation, and a simple throttle roll-off smoothly deactivates it.
Above the 2023 MV Agusta Brutale’s naked front end is an attractive 5.5-inch color TFT instrument display with all the relevant information at a glance, though I never really had time to look much at it. A large single left thumb control swipes from side to side and pushes to confirm, making it easy to toggle through the options on the screen and change everything from fuel maps to TC settings.
I connected the MV Ride App on my smartphone via Bluetooth; it couldn’t be easier. I can adjust all the electronics on the bike remotely, including the engine power, throttle response, engine braking level, and that helpful quickshifter. I’m not quite sure why anyone would want to turn the quickshifter off, but hey, it’s an option. There’s a Mobisat antitheft system with geolocation, and the sticky-fingered or overly curious will get a warning if they get too close.
We’re headed out from the Schiranna factory on Lago de Varese to the nearby shoreline of the stunning Lago Maggiore, and up into the Dolomiti. The roads are narrow and insanely twisty, with multiple slow 180-degree hairpin turns. The pace set by our guide is fast, bordering on manic.
Colleagues on smaller, lighter Dragster RRs and Turismo Veloces, leveraging those high, wide handlebars and flick through the twisties in a balletic rhythm that I cannot replicate. Yet, the Brutale is light at 410 pounds (using the vague “dry” standard), and she’s so brilliantly intuitive handling that I can come close to staying with them.
The fueling is so flawless that I never use the clutch, even on those super-slow, first-gear hairpins. I dance on the slick-shifting gear lever, which clicks obediently and smoothly; the up-down quickshifter performs precisely as I need it to. Tipping into low-speed corners and keeping up my pace, all I have to do is roll on the throttle—no snatching, no jerking, no hesitation, and certainly no feathering of the clutch, and this is in first gear.
One guy asked me later how heavy the clutch is, and I genuinely didn’t know. I only used it to start and stop. I am very familiar with crazy-powerful liter-bikes on the road. I rarely use first gear, as it’s typically too jerky if I’m riding hard; just too aggressive. On the odd occasion I do have to use the clutch, it’s for feathering. I’m staggered by how good Brutale’s fueling is, and how strongly yet smoothly it pulls—no kidding.
The semi-active Öhlins EC suspension is a 43 mm Nix fork and TTX shock; they perform flawlessly, too—of course they do. Nasty little speed ramps on Euro roads come up quite fast in towns, so I stand a little on the pegs to unweight the seat. However, the suspension confidently glides the Brutale over the bumps like a Viking longship slicing through the waves.
I can change the suspension rebound and compression settings on the suspension and the steering damper at the touch of a switch. In practice, I don’t bother, as the handling on the Brutale is exemplary at the modestly insane speeds we’re doing. If the roads were to really open up and the pace get truly maniacal, maybe I’d firm things up a little—maybe not.
The point of the EC suspension is that it adjusts to riding conditions, so I’m assuming it’s going to do its thing well. With the riding I’m doing now, the suspension is phenomenal. The Brutale on its Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires turns well and feels neutral. Those slow corners are far easier to negotiate than I would expect on any liter bike.
A few straights appear, and I twist the throttle and—wham! Brutale is truly Jekyll and Hyde. There are two engines in the 2023 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR. Below 7000 rpm, it’s tractable, torquey, smooth, and incredibly user-friendly—thank you, fueling. However, above 7k, Mr. Hyde appears. He’s snarling, gnashing his teeth, and yelling, “Let’s go!”
In a breakneck, inexorable rush, the Brutale spins up and takes off, flattening my eyeballs in the process. The monumental power builds ridiculously fast. In the blink of an eye, the team stampedes towards 13,000 rpm, where the number of horses grows to 208. They want to get there quick—real quick. I hang on tight, click it into third, and the front wheel starts to come off the ground. It’s not frantic, as the wheelie control holds it nicely a little off the pavement. In addition to trying to hold on, I’m also trying to keep my weight forward as a slight panic starts to rise in me.
The horizon and things I don’t want to hit are coming up fast. Dang, Brutale is absurdly, savagely fast. Everything is suddenly getting a bit blurry. That intake roar is now a scream. The gray ribbon is rushing under my wheels, and I’m now a bit nervous. I back off, listening intently for any following sirens. The only outcome would be the click of handcuffs and a clanging cell door. None come. They’re crazy, those Italians, I tell you.
Hunter S. Thompson famously observed, “Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba.” I don’t disagree. The sheer wild ferocity of the Brutale motor over 7000 rpm is shocking and addicting in equal measure. Two engines—and I love them both.
With all that speed on tap, it’s a relief that the 2023 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR’s brakes, wheels, and tires don’t disappoint. Up front, double 320m mm floating discs and Brembo Stylema four-piston radial calipers are activated by an adjustable Brembo radial master cylinder. The braking package is efficient, with the feel I expect, as much power as I need, and without a nasty initial bite.
On the busy, twisty roads where I have zero knowledge of what’s around the next blind corner that I’m fast approaching, the Brembo package gives me comfort. A couple of times, an unexpected car came the opposite way, so I had to slow down quickly and steer at the same time, while leaned over. No biggie. While cornering-aware ABS is useful, the brakes have such excellent feel that I never felt it interfere. That’s a good thing.
Unusually for me, I find myself using the rear brake a lot. Exiting those super-tight first gear turns, I drag the rear to tighten my line on exit. As with the front, I’m happy with the feel of the pads on the 220mm Brembo disc. The rear brake never locked or caused the ABS to cut in. Brutale also has cornering-aware RLM (Rear Lift-up Mitigation). Again, I didn’t feel I used it, but maybe that’s the secret sauce—I used it, but it was so seamless I didn’t realize it.
As we return to the MV Agusta headquarters, I realize the Ride App records my trip route, along with various stats along the way—throttle openings, average speed, and so on. Bragging rights might be in order here. However, there is a caveat—if I think I’m riding fast, yet the stats show that I’m not, do I really want to share that? Maybe not. I’d like to keep the yellow stripe running down my back hidden if possible.
By the end of the ride, the long reach for the grips took its toll on my body. We must suffer for our (motorcycle) art, I suppose. Did it spoil my ride or make me want the Brutale any the less? Absolutely not. If I buy a Brutale, and I may, I’ll get the RS version. It’s much more ergonomically friendly and no less committed, but less ‘Brutale’ on the body. I discovered that the warning lights are a bit dim, so it’s easy to forget you’ve left a turn signal on; a minor niggle, though self-canceling would be nice on a premium motorcycle like this.
It’s all there, this 2023 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR. This bike feels so taut, aligned, and precision-made that every piece fits perfectly into the next one. The tolerances throughout the motor and drivetrain are so exact, there simply is no slack. The Brutale 1000 RR is hard-nosed, hyper-high-velocity—if you want it so. It’s a total commitment to an insane level of performance that is shockingly accessible in a user-friendly package, yet only the lucky few will get to experience it. All I can think of now is how to get back on a Brutale 1000. Try it again. Experience it again. That rush. Yeah, Thompson was right. Sure, Brutale is easy to ride slowly, but who wants to do that? Where’s that Brutale 1000 cannon? My helmet’s on, and I’m ready to roll.