Do you still remember your first blind date?
The extreme anxiety and excitement it caused you while trying to guess if there would be “chemistry” between you and your mystery partner would make you jittery before the first eye-ball. Days before, you prayed so hard that everything would turn out okay, producing a much-desired romantic evening.
MV Agusta 800 Brutale
Call me mushy, but such predicament was comparable to my first encounter with an Italian road brute named MV Agusta.
Invited to join the prestigious California Superbike School (CSS) high performance riding classes last Feb. 7 to 8, I certainly wanted to join but had no cash and no bike with no recourse but to try and borrow one.
I had no idea what motorbike I would be riding until three days before the event, when CSS training program event organizer JP Tuason told me I will be loaned an MV Agusta by Granstar Motors, courtesy of Benson So and Julian Goitia.
For a journalist who’s seemed doomed to live out a “vow of poverty,” riding an MV Agusta motorbike was like having a rare chance to take out one of the world’s sexiest, Italian models, Monica Belluci.
And so came Feb. 7.
At the Clark International Speedway in Pampanga, a gorgeous, shinning silver example rolled out of the Granstar Pit toward my direction. It was an MV Agusta Brutale 800. Naked yet so good-looking, this 798cc liquid-cooled 12 valve stallion was definitely a stand out among the standard bikes present at the track.
In the midst of premium sport bikes in attendance, that included Ducatis, BMWs and Aprilias, the Brutale would not be a push over.
Only a few CSS participants knew my Brutale was a borrowed unit. So as not to end up being bullied on the track, I immediately familiarized myself with its features and riding characteristics.
The first time I mounted myself and held the handle bars positioned upright for a comfortable ride, I knew that the Brutale would be rider-friendly.
When I fired up the engine, it had a modulated engine hum and exhaust sound that was not so intimidating.
Silent waters run deep. Its clutch system is wet, multi-disc with cable actuation, making it more quiet than some of its fellow Italian compatriots.
I easily adapted to the depth of the front and rear brakes (courtesy of Brembo), the quickness of shifting and steering feel.
Proof of how easy the Brutale was to maneuver would come during the “throttle control” drill, when we were instructed by CSS Coach Steve Brouggy to stay on fourth gear while lapping the 3.2-kilometer speedway…with no braking. Only bikes like the Brutale could quickly recover speed from the tight turns and speed up on the main straight without much effort.
Another striking characteristic of the Brutale was its ultra light weight compared to other European motorbikes. On our first acquaintance, many were surprised with how I easily leaned in with the chain-driven Brutale on either tight or sweeping corners while maintaining throttle control.
The bike was neutrally balanced allowing me to attack corners with consistent brutality.
It had different settings too — Sport, Rain, Custom. I kept it mainly on Sport mode, with the bike ride firm for racing purposes. Its 54.3-inch wheelbase made it quick and nimble on corners, too.
Now enjoying the Brutale to the max, JP’s friendly reminder to me suddenly entered my mind, “Please don’t crash the Brutale, okay?”
With only two track sessions left before I earned my CSS Level 1 and Level 2 certificates of completion, the Brutale 800 ran out of gas. Not yet ready to end my dating game, Philippine Superbikes Champion Dashi Watanabe ushered me to another Brutale 800 on standby. “Feel free to use it,” he said.
Only then, while I was sprinting at the last lap did I noticed the speedometer was not covered (CSS coaches block the speedometer and side mirrors for safety reasons). This was when I realized I was already doing 205 kph on the main straight.
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