MV Agusta goes for the brat life with the $23,398 Dragster 800 RR.
MV Agusta’s been pushing real hard over the past two years. Some of their bikes have missed the mark – I throw the uber-expensive Brutale 1000 RR and RS machines into the mix here – but others have been pleasantly surprising (namely the 800cc three-cylinder bikes), such as the Brutale 800 and the achingly pretty Superveloce 800. And now I can add a third model onto the list of those 800s as MVs I’d be happy to own in the $23,398 MSRP MV Agusta Dragster RR.
The MV Agusta Dragster RR is very much a Brutale 800 in drag (sorry), running the same motor and chassis set-up, but with more relaxed ergonomics, bodywork and wheels whose spokes only extend to the right side of the rear wheel on the single-sided swingarm.
The Dragster’s inline three-cylinder motor cranks out a claimed 140 hp/64 lb-ft of torque, and you’ve got four available maps to choose from in Sport, Race, Rain, and Custom via the ride-by-wire throttle.
Thankfully, this is an MV that doesn’t retain the four-cylinder’s patchy fueling characteristic when opening from a fully closed throttle. Race mode does have a bit of a hit to the throttle at low speed but Sport mode is where I spent almost all of my time and the ride was a pleasant one for the majority of situations encountered over my month with the machine.
Given this is a near $24,000 naked bike, you get all the bells and whistles including a 5.5-inch TFT dash, IMU-fettled traction control, Cornering ABS, cruise control, an up and down quick shifter, and full LED lighting that has its own cornering function, and on the chassis side there’s a tubular steel chassis, that trademark MV Agusta single-sided swingarm, 43 mm Marzocchi fully-adjustable front suspension and Sachs monoshock, and the same Brembo four-piston brakes mated to a Nissin master cylinder.
The MV Agusta Dragster RR runs a counter-rotating crank, a feature normally run in MotoGP (MV was the first company to run a counter-rotating crank in a production motorcycle, beating Ducati’s original Panigale V4 by two years), and the way the three-cylinder picks up revs is prodigious. This feels like one of the fastest-revving triples I’ve ever ridden (kinda hard to tell if it actually is), and it’s matched with an induction and exhaust roar that’s truly wonderful to listen to.
The low-down torque of below 2000 rpm is still missing a little, but run 2000 to 6000 rpm and you’re in the happy zone, shifting on that light-action quick shifter and reveling in an Italian moment.
The engine is for sure the star of the show but the chassis is not far behind, even if the ride quality is a little crude. Running the standard Marzocchi and Sachs suspension set-up, the ride is, shall I say, on the firm side and not as compliant on the crappy SoCal roads as I’d have liked for a model of this price.
It’s not quite as bad as the Brutale 1000 RR and RS models in that they only really work when you’re breaking the sound barrier, but a little more softness as the base setting wouldn’t hurt the Dragster RR.
Despite this, the Dragster turns with almost sublime speed. A short, snappy wheelbase of 55.1 inches gives the MV a turn of speed many others would dream of, and it’s not met with too much instability when you then transition onto the throttle and power down the next straight.
The chassis remains taught and focused when you’re getting after it, which is another benefit of the somewhat stiff base suspension settings.
I’ve got to be honest and give a black mark against the front brakes as the ABS kicks in far too early for my liking. I feel a motorcycle of this price should come with a proper race-spec radial master-cylinder set-up, and the old-school feel at the lever lets the ride down, somewhat. Also, the wing-style side mirrors look cool but vibrate so much, they are next to useless at speed. They also make the MV quite wide at the shoulders, so it’s a good thing you can flip them in when lane splitting.
Despite these qualms, the MV Dragster 800 RR has renewed my faith in the brand. This is a company forging ahead with new designs like the long-awaited Lucky Explorer ADV project in the coming months but it’s good to see they haven’t neglected bikes like the 800cc triples which, I feel, are the best in the current MV line-up. Yes, it’s expensive, but you’re paying for the name and style that comes with it. It’s an MV, after all, and the Dragster 800 RR is a very good one.
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