The holy grail for many motorcycle riders is to have a bike with both performance and practicality, something that can put a smile across even the most jaded of faces while remaining comfortable. Enter the MV Agusta Stradale 800, a first for the Italian company who up until now has produced only either dedicated sportsbikes or nakeds. And while the Stradale 800 is billed as a Sports Tourer, its definitely the former that is the foundation for this machine.
MV Agusta has been on a big expansion of late, releasing the Dragster, Stradale and Turismo Veloce all within a relatively short period of time. And who can blame them? The 798 in-line three cylinder engine that powers its mid-range models is one of the best powerplants currently available. I say that with a bit of bias as I find that engine configuration to be the best for the real world, a perfect combination of power and flexibility. The success, both critical and commercial of three cylinder powered bikes like the Triumph Street Triple and Yamaha MT-09 would seem to indicate a lot of other people agree.
The engine found in the Stradale has been retuned slightly in comparison to the F3 800 and Brutale 800 it has been in used in before. Overall power of the engine has been reduced slightly to 115bhp and torque to 79 Nm but of that, over 80 per cent is available from 2,000 rpm. That translates into an extremely responsive and flexible engine that doesn’t necessitate a lot of gear changes. Not that you wouldn’t want to ring the engine out all the way up to its 12,000 rpm redline – MV Agusta continues to make some of the best sounding motorcycles currently on sale and the Stradale 800 is no different. It’s motorcycle music and well worth a twist of the wrist.
As has come to be expected from MV Agusta, the electronics package is fairly comprehensive. The Stradale 800 uses MV Agusta’s latest system which provides ride by wire throttle, four engine maps (Sport, Normal, Rain and Custom), eight stage traction control, anti-stoppie control and an electronic quick shifter. There’s probably five too many options for traction control but the custom engine mode setting is great. It allows you to modify the engine torque curve in line with power output (two levels), rev limiter cut-in point (Hard or Soft), throttle sensitivity (three levels), engine braking (two levels), engine response (two levels) and, naturally, traction control. That’s a great deal of control made available to someone to get the bike exactly where they want it.
The other highlight is the aforementioned quick shifter. As you’d expect, it allows for clutchless upshifts but this unit also enables clutchless downshifts with automatic throttle blipping. Essentially, this turns to the Stradalde 800 into a semi-automatic motorcycle should you desire to use it that way. All one needs to do is push up or down on the clutch lever while rolling off the throttle and shifts happen automatically. It’s all done electronically but it’s incredibly smooth. In fact, so good is it that it theoretically makes mechanical systems like Honda’s DCT redundant. Why bother with heavy components (and another mechanical feature that may break) when electronics will do the job just as well for a fraction of the price and weight?
It’s all the more impressive because just over a year ago, electronics were MV Agusta’s Achilles’ heel. While the F3 and Brutale bikes were great, they suffered from some awful throttle response and fuel mapping. That’s firmly in the past now as the Stradale 800 proved fantastic to ride. Even at low rpm in first gear, acceleration was predictable and linear and coming off the ride-by-wire throttle was just as good.
The quality of the engine is carried over to the rest of the bike. Despite essentially being a mass produced motorcycle, you could quite easily describe the MV Agustra Stradale 800 as bespoke in its quality. The fit and finish is exemplary – everything about the bike screams class. The switch gear feels expensive and the entire bike has been designed with aesthetic purpose. Even without the saddlebags fixed to my test bike, the lines and design of the bike are great.
My only complaint is that in at least one respect, form has won out over function. The stylishly sculpted seat looks great, but for reasons which I can only assume are aesthetic there’s a large triangular piece of rubber right where your derriere rests. What it does is prevent you from moving further back in the seat, which really limits your sitting positions. At 6’3″, I was virtually looking over the windshield which resulted in a decent amount of wind buffeting. It also meant that I was wedged right up to the fuel tank. Those planning of having children may want to consider freezing some swimmers before riding this bike – especially under heavy braking.
The ergonomics just didn’t work for me from a comfort point of view given my dimensions. It’s also odd given that at 870 mm (34.25 in), the seat isn’t exactly low so you’ll probably need to be approaching 6′ in height to feel comfortable on the bike anyway. There is an aftermarket option which lowers the saddle by 20mm however which will help accommodate a lot more riders.
Ergonomics from a riding perspective however are great. Being over the bars, your leverage is greatly improved and cornering is a breeze. Ironically, due to the wind noise I often found myself going far faster than I realized in corners. But the Stradale 800 handles that with no problem. The suspension is set fairly hard at stock but that’s not really an issue as both the front and rear are fully adjustable.
The quality handling of the bike is no doubt because MV Agusta spent plenty of time in designing the geometry of the frame. They could have quite easily used the dimensions from the Brutale, changed the looks of the bike and called it as sports tourer without anyone really caring. But instead they worked hard on creating a motorcycle they felt would blend touring and sportsbike riding and they’ve largely succeeded. A steering head angle of 25.5°, a 110 mm trail and a 1460 mm wheelbase provide a chassis that is comfortable and compliant when cruising along but more than capable when riding aggressively.
The MV Agusta Stradale 800 is a beautiful motorcycle. It’s a quick and brilliant handling motorcycle and it’s an awesome sounding one too. It could well be the perfect all rounder bike – just see if you can get something done about that piece of rubber on the seat and it would be close to perfect…
With special thanks to MotoSport Gold Coast.
2015 MV Agusta Stradale 800 Specifications
|Engine||Three cylinder, 4 stroke, 12 valve|
|Power||84.5 kW (115 hp) at 11.000 r.p.m.|
|Torque||78.5 Nm (8.0 kgm) at 9.000 r.p.m.|
|Gear Box||6 gears|
|Front Brakes||Double floating disc with Ø 320 mm|
|Rear Brakes||Single steel disc Ø 220 mm|
|Front Suspension||Marzocchi 43 mm USD telescopic hydraulic fork with rebound-compression damping and spring preload external and separate adjustment, 150 mm travel|
|Rear Suspension||Progressive Sachs, single shock absorber with|
rebound and compression damping and spring
preload adjustment, 150mm travel
|Front Tire||120/70 – ZR 17 M/C (58 W)|
|Rear Tire||180/55 – ZR 17 M/C (73 W)|
|Dry Weight||181 kg|
|Tank Capacity||16 l (4.23 U.S. gal.)|