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2008 MV Agusta Brutale 1078RR: MD First Ride

Only 4,000rpm and half-throttle, but the front wheel ploughs controllably sky-high. Incredibly impressive stuff when max torque is way up at 8,100rpm and max horsepower at 10,700rpm.

Yes, we have seen the chassis before and also the overall design. New is the addition of one of the most powerful in-line four engines in the world, and with it the most powerful standard Monoblocks from Brembo.

The 1078RR launches and accelerates in a way that only the Suzuki B-King and Triumph Rocket III can rival as nakeds. 117Nm of torque is less than both bikes mentioned, but not when you take into account the power-to-weight ratio as the Brutale only weighs in at 185 kilograms (407 lbs.). Compared to the Brutale 910, the 1078RR has two fewer teeth on the rear sprocket, but it still accelerates like mad from low rpm. Add two teeth again on the 1078RR and you’ll have a genuine handful as it’ll wheelie everywhere.

I have started with the engine here, as it leaves a mighty impression. The 1078 was presented first in the super exclusive F4 CC last year. For 2008, both the Brutale and the most standard (it’s nowhere near standard, but for the sake of this article…) F4 1078 RR312 also get the 1078.34cc in-line four engine.

The F4 version produces an astronomical 190 horsepower. Believe it or not, such an engine requires very clever engineering work to detune it for a motorcycle like the Brutale. One of the main differences lies in the fact that the Brutale 1078RR utilizes the old F4 1000 R’s 46mm throttle bodies (48mm on the F4 RR312). Add to this a smaller air box and a different exhaust system. The end result is a whopping 154 horsepower at 8,100 rpm. MV Agusta claims all this is enough for a true 166mph top speed, on a naked…

But never mind the top speed, it’s the way that the 1078RR gets there that is impressive. The old 910 (now replaced with the 989R) didn’t have a perfect throttle response and Marco, my guide for the day and also in charge of testing the 1078RR for MV, has worked very hard on subtle issues to allow the rider to control this beast. The throttle response is very linear and, with such a huge dollop of torque available from as low as 4,000rpm, you need all the control you can get. While a lot of new bikes these days have very nice torque curves that disguise the true nature of the acceleration, the Brutale 1078RR feels like a tiny motorcycle with the engine of a freight train. In many ways it’s overkill. You certainly don’t need all that horsepower in a naked. But at the same time I absolutely love riding it and it’s a motorcycle that makes you shout joyfully inside your helmet when the rpm needle rises quicker and quicker around the tachometer. The Suzuki B-King might get the upper hand in a drag race due to the fact that it can keep its front wheel better planted to the tarmac in the first three gears, but for thrills and the feel of raw power the Brutale 1078RR wins hands down.

The clutch on the 1078RR is slightly heavy to operate. In town, I felt this in my left wrist. To counter the need for the clutch at low speed, I used second or even third gear, because the Brutale 1078RR responds beautifully from low rpm and the torque curve almost works like there is some gigantic magnetic field in front of me. To permit aggressive downshifts, MV Agusta have added a slipper clutch. Without the slipper clutch, I can’t imagine how this high compression engine (13:1) would react in a 4th gear to 2nd gear transition. The six-speed gearbox is a cassette-type box.

Through town, it’s worth mentioning that the 1078cc engine runs very hot. I could see 130 degrees Celsius indicated on the instrument panel and the fan runs at full speed most of the time in town. Luckily for us, the MV Agusta fan doesn’t produce as much noise as on some other bikes, so I can live with this (and the assurance that it’s not dangerous for the engine). As long as you can lane-split, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The seat position is upright and surprisingly comfortable. The 805mm seat height puts the rider in control and the stretch to the handlebar is very civilized. Despite some detail changes, the instrument panel is perhaps the one item on the 2008 Brutale that looks slightly dated. Compared to the rest of the bike, the plastic looks a bit on the cheap side. The digital speedometer features a number readout that looks like a calculator from the 80’s, and we’re sure this is one of the items set for a redesign the next time around. The analogue tachometer is still as pleasing to the eye as it ever was.

The foot controls are annoyingly short for my Nordic feet, and I have to angle my toes inwards to use them. The brake pedal, in particular, is a bit of a pain for me to use with my Alpinestars Supertech R’s. The gear box foot lever is also not ideally adjusted for me, but on the left side it’s more of an adjustment issue than length. The gear box itself is very good.

Let’s say you’re in sixth gear at Mugello doing 166 MPH on the Brutale down the everlasting straight. That’s when those new Brembo Monoblock radial brakes would come in handy. They are supremely strong, but at the same time not too sharp and the feel with the front wheel is great. The tires fitted to the Brembo five-spoke wheels are Pirelli Supercorsa Pro (120/70-ZR17 front and 190/55-ZR17 rear). They stick like glue to the tarmac and suit the powerful 1078RR perfectly.

The front suspension is a fully adjustable (all at the steering head end of the fork) 50mm USD Marzocchi fork with an increased 130mm of travel. This set-up ensures a very comfortable ride, and with the extra travel up front you don’t have to worry about landing those wheelies too hard, either. The massive stopping power from the Brembo Monoblocks, combined with this fork, enables more control under hard braking. At the back, we find the classic Sachs fully adjustable Monoshock set-up.

First came the Monster, then came Brutale. The Brutale has been copied shamelessly several times. Think Suzuki GSR600 and Yamaha FZ’s, in particular. In its 8-year existence it has won design awards everywhere and the Italians themselves have voted the Brutale the most beautiful motorcycle many times. A naked motorcycle is very difficult to design from an aesthetic perspective. You can’t hide anything, so the concept has to be thought through from the initial engine development. MV Agusta with Tamburini have succeeded better than anyone else with the Brutale. The 1078RR is irresistible for at least two reasons – that design and that fantastic new 154hp engine. Downsides are the fact that this engine vibrates a little bit more than most Japanese fours, and produces more heat. The clutch is a tad heavy, and the foot controls are a little short. That’s it though, and it wouldn’t stop me from wanting one if I had the spare coin.


  • A fabulous design. 8 years later and it’s as irresistible as ever.
  • The 1078RR engine is as exciting and powerful as they get!
  • Great Brembo Monoblock stopping power
  • Even with 154 horsepower the handling is sophisticated
  • Exclusivity that only MV Agusta can offer. Ride a bike designed by a living legend.

  • Heavy clutch
  • Engine runs hot and vibrates a little
  • Brake pedal too short for me