Every self-respecting child treated their bedroom wall as a canvas to help them see out of their respective bubbles. Given Italy’s ability to export anything that looks cool and runs fast, it seemed silly, from my perspective in Southern California, to look beyond the boot-shaped country for motorcycles, cars, fashion, and cuisine. Can we move on? Despite living in a culturally rich environment, Italian youths often daydream about certain American cities, dazzled by the hustle and bustle of New York and the glamor of Los Angeles. And in this coveted space of cultural exchange is the MV Agusta Dragster America 2023.
MV Agusta’s star-studded livery dates back to 1973 when the 750SS was launched, adorned with our flag’s red, white and blue color scheme. Over the years, many models have received a special “American” livery. Dragster America (formally Dragster RR SCS America) continues this fine tradition with 300 of his individually numbered models available exclusively in North America. Some will end up in dealers in Canada or Mexico, but most will be sent to America.
Brutale’s radical style serves as the basis for his Dragster, making it a special American edition of his. The timeless, sharp lines and exotic single-sided swingarm allow for a wide range of neck extension. In addition, the revised Dragster version features polished machined parts and a fatter 200mm rear tire that will be the center of attention on Sunday rides, complete with the Stars and Stripes inspired look. Once you start looking into the special paint and surface parts on this $28,247 bike of his, everything fits in nicely. The final price of 247 is also not an arbitrary number, as it is the number of years since the Declaration of Independence was signed.
From front to back, it should all start with a laser-engraved license plate and of course lead to a 4.36-gallon fuel tank that sparkles in red, white and blue. Until then, all eyes are on the sports seats with ‘America Special Edition’ embroidery, complete with a striking carbon fiber cover for the forged aluminum rear wheel.
The enhanced Dragster RR SCS features a Marzocchi fork, Brembo M4.32 calipers with a DLC coating for improved feedback and ultimately a fine-tuned rear brake set-up that improves riding comfort. It makes a little more sense because it is said to provide. A ride-by-wire throttle can disengage cruise control slightly beyond the fully closed position. MV reps feel that this change helps simulate the experience with a cable throttle more closely, as there is always a touch of slack on hand. Got it? Good.
Of course, no MV Agusta special edition model is complete without a box of goodies that includes a certification of authenticity, a model-exclusive bike cover, and a transparent clutch cover. Our test bikes had this accessory installed, but they’re shipped without them bolted on to sidestep EPA noise regulations—stickin’ it to the man.
There is a timeliness of all this, as the Dragster America comes at a pivotal time for MV Agusta. Its unveiling falls near our nation’s birthday and, more importantly, the Italian manufacturer has received much-needed support from Pierer Mobility AG—the parent company of KTM, Husqvarna, and Gas Gas—and plans to expand its reach while maintaining the exclusive nature of its products. The limited-edition America model is evidence of the luxury underpinning, and that revitalization is occurring. That’s all dandy because, at the end of the day, a performance-minded bike needs to, first and foremost, perform.
Hitting centerstage of the Dragster America is the 798cc triple-cylinder howler, pumping out a healthy 140 horsepower and 64 ft-lbs of torque, that reps technology seldom seen outside of MotoGP, such as a counter-rotating crankshaft. Claimed figures like these put it head and shoulders above any triple, backed up by a livelier personality than what we’d see out of the Yamaha and Triumph camps. This beast’s competitors have had combs run through their respective manes that speak to refinement reaching new heights, and while quite impressive, the MV Agusta is as raw and untamed as the day it was born.
Whacking the smooth ride-by-wire throttle on and the snarling triple-stacked exhaust spits fury, followed up by a Dragster-specific state of tune that pumps up the midrange punch compared to its Brutale cousin. A twinge of low-rpm clattering highlights that this pony wants to sprint, and if you kindly oblige, it tears off through the rev range with glee.
Moreover, the SCS (Smart Clutch System) 3.0, developed with the clutch maestros at Rekluse in Idaho, automatically engages or disengages without ever having to reach for a lever. This is where the Dragster earns its stripes, seeing as once it popped into gear, the bike and its electronics systems transform the rowdy MV into a fire-breathing twist-and-go-scooter where every stoplight is an opportunity to run your best quarter-mile ETs. Whipping through the sporty gearbox is made easier with an up/down quickshifter that, for the most part, heightens the experience. Though, there is some notchy shifting when not on the throttle. Like other auto-clutch motorcycles, the Dragster America has a parking brake because the SCS clutch disengages when the engine is off.
That raises the question of the Brembo’s old, faithful M4.32 calipers and the Nissin axial master cylinder setup. While not the latest spec or last word in braking performance, they do well to quickly haul this roughly 420-pound bike to a stop. Does a machine of this stature deserve M50 or Stylema calipers with a Brembo MCS? Absolutely.
A steel trellis frame featuring aluminum braces uses that lovely engine as a stressed member, replete with the same fully adjustable suspenders that we’ve known the Brutale and Dragster RR to wield—a Marzocchi fork and Sachs shock. At this price point, one would yearn for semi-active suspension or perhaps something from the golden-gilded Öhlins camp, but that’s pennies for the wishing well.
The firm settings certainly lend themselves to the Dragster’s quick-witted nature, tipping in sweetly and holding firm as this machine carves up Malibu’s smoother canyons with glee. The only hiccup here is that the supersport-adjacent setup can take its toll on sunbaked road sections with more undulation than the edge of a lasagna sheet.
If extra coaxing is needed through a corner, a bit of effort put through the ultra-wide clip-on style handlebars will do the trick, but the aggressive stance can become a bit wristy. What about those foldable mirrors, you ask? I’d recommend tucking those in to help prevent high-fiving cars when filtering past. Of course, the rest of the accommodations are as expected, with plenty of legroom and comfy seating. The iconic pipe-organ muffler outlets take up some real estate near your right foot, making the narrower and homologated traditionally shaped Akrapovič slip-on muffler more appealing.
A full suite of IMU-supported electronics is on hand, all customizable from the 5.5-inch TFT display sporting new software, or via the MV Ride App once you’ve paired your smartphone to the motorcycle. The rider aids work as intended, with adjustable T.C., cornering ABS, and wheelie control watching over your shoulder—or not, depending on how you’ve programmed it.
On that note, the MV Ride App is quite nifty, opening the door for navigation. Digging deeper, features such as ride data-logging come into play; a measurable aspect of your outing is recorded and can be downloaded later. As someone typically underwhelmed with motorcycle apps and their abilities, this is one of the few offering something substantial for owners.
This leaves us in a familiar place with MV Agusta, a brand that has leaned into its Motorcycle Art tagline in recent years. The Italian maker has made it clear that large-volume motorcycles will never be part of its business model; instead, it will focus on delivering unique and exclusive customer experiences, both on and off the bike. And there’s the rub; a machine as beautifully appointed as this would feel right at home in DTLA’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Thankfully, we can ride it without getting dragged off by security.
The 2023 MV Agusta Dragster America taps into that theme easily enough, but it goes well beyond exotic paint and finishes. Those facets are bolstered by genuine substance from an absolute belter of an engine and a sport-worthy chassis. Holes can be poked in the America’s argument if we focus on component spec. However, those performance-fixated observations are quenched by those who want something wildly different. And, if there are machines worthy of inspiring youthful minds, it’s going to be something like this.
- Type: Counter-rotating Inline-3
- Displacement: 798cc
- Bore x stroke: 79 x 54.3mm
- Compression ratio: 13.3:1
- Maximum power: 140 horsepower @ 12,300 rpm; 148 horsepower @ 12,800 w/ Special Parts kit
- Maximum torque: 64 ft-lbs @ 10,250 rpm
- Maximum speed: 152 mph
- Transmission: 6-speed w/ quickshifter
- Clutch: Wet multiplate SCS 3.0 (Smart Clutch System) Radius CX fully automatic clutch w/ hydraulic actuation
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Tubular steel trellis w/ aluminum swingarm and 8-position steering damper
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 43mm inverted Marzocchi aluminum fork; 4.9 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Progressive Sachs shock; 4.9 inches
- Front wheel: 17 x 3.50; aluminum alloy
- Rear wheel: 17 x 6.00; forged aluminum alloy w/ carbon fiber cover
- Tires: Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 200/55 x 17
Front brakes: 320mm floating steel discs w/ 4-piston Brembo M4.32 calipers
- Rear brake: 220mm steel disc w/ 2-piston Brembo caliper
- Parking brake: Rear disc
- ABS: Cornering-aware Continental MK100 w/ rear wheel lift mitigation
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 55.1 inches
- Seat height: 32.3 inches
- Fuel tank capacity: 4.4 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 35 mpg
- Curb weight: N/A
- Color: Ago Red/Mica America Blue/Intense Black