MV Agusta Rivale 800 review Motorcycle Trader New Zealand | Motorcycles catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions

MV Agusta Rivale 800 review Motorcycle Trader New Zealand

5 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on MV Agusta Rivale 800 review Motorcycle Trader New Zealand
MV Agusta 800 S America

Test: MV Agusta Rivale 800

There’s no such thing as a bad-looking MV Agusta, but even by the high standards of the marque the Rivale is indeed outright eye candy

The Rivale is powered by the same 800cc version of MV Agusta’s three-cylinder F3 engine found on the macro-motor versions of the Brutale and F3, but it’s been subtly revised to deliver a completely different personality than when fitted to either of its longstroke siblings in MV’s 14-strong 2014 model range. Costing Euro 12,690 in Italy, with just 2000 examples planned for production in 2014, the Rivale is a premium product that’s still relatively competitively priced, though another model directly in its firing line is its Brutale 800 sister retailing at Euro 11,080, including the optional EAS powershifter which is standard on the Rivale. Is the new so-called ‘crossover’ bike — the Italian term for a street supermotard — really Euro 1500 better than its naked sports sibling? Let’s see…

You need only ride the Rivale for ten minutes to realise that MV Agusta has taken a substantial step forward with this model, which is by some way the best MV Agusta streetbike yet built. There are several reasons for this, but the two key factors are the revised engine tune that’s resulted in a much torquier, even-more-punchy package, and the completely different RBW mapping strategy that’s almost totally resolved the previous issues with inconsistent fuelling and a snatchy pickup from a closed throttle.

Engine first, and although the Rivale version of the 800 engine delivers the same 125hp/92kW at 12,000rpm as the Brutale 800, with the same maximum torque of 84Nm/8.6kgm produced at 8600rpm, it has a completely different and much meatier torque curve, with 77Nm already available at 7000rpm, and the same again at 11,000rpm. This comes thanks to a revised header pipe design, altered mapping for the Eldor ECU, and a different inlet tract leading both into and out of the smaller airbox necessitated by the closed-up, more aggressive styling, says MV’s platform director, Brian Gillen.

We had certain target values we didn’t want to fall short of in terms of engine performance, even though we had to work hard at meeting them, he says. We achieved the 125hp horsepower target quite easily, though getting the spread of torque was more difficult. But we made it.

The result is a forgiving engine that will allow you to enter a turn one or even two gears higher than you really meant to, yet by rolling the throttle on hard will deliver smooth, syrupy drive out of the bend. It means you can spend many kilometres of twisting, turning highway holding the MV motor in fourth gear, just rolling back the throttle to slow for a bend, then winding it on hard for the exit.


You can accelerate wide open from as low as 2000rpm without any trace of transmission snatch — though there isn’t a lot of grunt till the tacho readout hits the six-grand mark, and that meaty midrange comes on strong — then flirt with the 12,000rpm rev-limiter all in the same gear, noticing as you do so that there’s an extra kick in power between 10,000rpm and 12,000rpm, so it really pays to rev the motor out if you want to go places in a hurry. Yet it has such an improbably well-rounded character for a high-revving triple that you can short-shift at 8500rpm where peak torque is delivered, and just ride the torque curve from 6000rpm upwards — revelling as you do so in the crisp action of the wide-open EAS powershifter, now fitted as stock, and on which MV has definitely improved the action — now less jerky than before. But this is a bike that will respond in different ways according to your mood — it’s truly a bike for all seasons, a chameleon of a street supermotard that is incredibly easy to wheelie in the bottom two gears, although you’ll want to make sure you have your right foot covering the rear brake pedal since the lack of crank inertia means the front wheel doesn’t always come down as quickly as you might want.

But for once it’s not so much the outright performance that the Rivale version of the MV triple motor delivers that matters so much as the way that it does so, and here MV’s engineers and Eldor have taken a big step forward in producing a quite different character to the three-cylinder engine’s RBW riding modes. The ‘rain’ map I started out with on drenched roads does its job, though with TC on setting eight (you can change it via the rather fiddly rubber switches on the handlebar, but it’s hard to do while riding the bike).

But in the ‘normal’ mode I used for most of my ride, as well as in the heaps more aggressive ‘sport’ mode, the pickup from a closed throttle is much more fluid and less jerky, and somewhat ironically on such an aggressively styled motorcycle, the whole character of the engine is much more rounded and friendly. We realised we had a problem with the ride-by-wire system that we had to address, admits Gillen.

So we sat down with Eldor and went back to basics, establishing a completely new set of algorithms to change the way the ECU thinks and interprets the information coming in. We’re really proud of where we are today and we feel we made a big step forward in delivering a new ride-by-wire strategy that the customer will like. That they have, and the good news is the new map can be retro-fitted by MV dealers to existing bikes of whatever model.

Indeed, MV is working on allowing its customers to constantly benefit from uprated maps by downloading them directly to their bike’s ECU via a smartphone app.

There’s no such thing as a bad-looking MV Agusta, but even by the high standards of the marque the Rivale is indeed outright eye candy that looks ready to rumble even at a standstill. Hopping aboard will entail standing on tiptoe for shorter riders, since the 881mm-high seat is a fair bit taller than the Brutale’s 810mm perch.

But the footrests are lower and not too far back, making for a comfortable stance that’s really quite upright, thanks to the wide, flat-spread handlebar — this’ll be a great bike for riding in town. Indeed, before cranking the engine into life and savouring the muted howl of the glorious-sounding triple motor through those exquisite stacked pipes exiting behind your right heel, I had to pinch myself to remember what I was riding. That’s because you sit 100mm further forward than on the Brutale, so you end up with your chin seemingly hanging over the front mudguard, which combined with the flat ‘bars reminded me of nothing so much as a first generation Ducati Monster.

At first I thought the well-shaped seat sloped too steeply forwards, risking crushing my crown jewels on the back of the tank. But once under way, I realised that, with your feet on both footrests, your knees tuck nicely against its flanks, so you feel at one with the bike.

This is an extremely well thought-out riding position, with much reduced weight on your arms and wrists, meaning it’s less tiring to ride for longer distances — it also means the Rivale is much more of an all-rounder than you might expect. I made many long runs to the south of Italy on the Rivale in the past year, says Andrea Vespucci, one of the MV test riders, as we chatted during a stop for coffee.

You can cruise at 130kph all day and it’s not tiring, so it makes a surprisingly good touring bike. But at those speeds the range is only 140km with the small fuel tank, so you have to stop quite often. Ducati obviously came to the same conclusion with the Hypermotard, hence the creation of the Hyperstrada weekend tourer.

It’ll be interesting to see if MV Agusta follows the same route with the Rivale.

MV’s engineers have finally responded to all the criticism of their cluttered dash on their other models. The all-new LCD dash fitted to the Rivale is a big improvement, better ordered and miles more legible, with the speed, tacho, riding mode (there’s a choice of four, with a ‘custom’ map you can tailor yourself), the now very-visible gear-selected readout, the TC setting (out of eight), and the coolant temperature all infinitely easier to pick out than before, as well as a tiny clock that seems to have been squeezed in as an afterthought. But there’s no fuel gauge, and this is asking for trouble on a bike with such a small gas tank — though after around 110km a DTE readout appears on the dash, and a warning light comes on at the bottom of the display.

The only problem is that, like all the rest of that row of idiot lights, this is so dim you most likely won’t see it — just as it’s all too easy to cover many miles with your direction signals flashing, because you can’t see the warning lights in bright sunshine. Needs attention.

The ‘bar-end mirrors are both neat-looking and practical, with their minimalist presence in keeping with the stripped-out nature of the Rivale, while giving excellent rear-view vision at the expense of being wider – but it’s easy to fold them in when negotiating a tight passage. The way Morton has incorporated the sidelights and traffic signals into the handguards is really neat, ditto the rear splashguard-cum-numberplate mount with the trafficators on the bottom corners. This apparently meets all EU requirements, and is just one of the many clever elements in a design bristling with innovation.

To begin with, the roads we were riding on were too damp to really test the Rivale’s handling but as the day wore on it finally dried up, and that’s when I could start to revel in the great streetfighter qualities of the new MV’s chassis package. Sitting that much further forward gives seemingly more direct steering, especially with the extra leverage from that wide handlebar.

And in fact, to calm everything down a little, MV’s engineers have gone more conservative with the steering geometry, adding an extra half-degree of rake over anything else in its model range for the fully-adjustable 43mm Marzocchi forks, as well as adding substantial extra trail. Believe me, this doesn’t make the steering in any way unduly heavy, but instead it delivers a beautifully balanced handling package that’s quick-steering yet never unstable – even when working the new-generation cast aluminium Brembo radial four-piston brake calipers gripping the twin 320mm front discs, to stop hard and fast without the benefit of a slipper clutch.

Still, it means you have even more reason to blip the throttle on downshifts, and glory in the mechanical aria of that triple motor. With the rider sitting that much further forward, you might expect the rear wheel to lift and start street-sweeping the tarmac when you lean on the brakes, but that didn’t happen to me, even without working the rear brake first to offset the weight transfer.

One thing in particular about the Rivale’s chassis setup stands out, and that’s the unexpectedly high ride quality from the Marzocchi fork and Sachs shock. These are set up to give a much higher degree of wheel travel than is usual on a sportsbike — 150mm up front, and 130mm at the rear — but it’s controlled rather than spongy, yet is so compliant you’ll go looking for rough patches in the road surface just to be able to nod in approval to yourself at how well the Rivale rides it.

The suspension is really outstanding, and even with that extra travel, the front end doesn’t collapse earthwards when you brake hard — the default settings for the Marzocchi fork’s compression damping and spring preload were excellently chosen. So too were the TC settings on the damp roads in the morning — not a trace of a rear wheel slide, though I frightened myself once losing the front wheel on a damp patch, which a combination of the MV’s good handling and that wide handlebar helped save.

Exactly 20 years ago a bike like the Rivale was conceived in what is now the MV Agusta factory in Varese and began production in the Ducati factory 300km further south in Bologna. That bike was the Cagiva Monster, which later reached production as the Ducati Monster, and helped save the company several times over.

Now the third generation Ducati Monster is about to make its debut on the world stage — but the fact is that it’s been pre-empted by the arrival of the MV Agusta Rivale, which in terms of character and handing, as well as the beautiful minimalism of its design, is in every way a modern Monster, but with the extra performance and special personality of its three-cylinder engine platform. And yes, the Rivale did indeed live up to its looks.

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MV Agusta 800 S America
MV Agusta 800 S America

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