Archive for July 2010

Triumph Demo Day   Leave a comment


I went down to Jack Trebour Motorcycles today for the Triumph Demo Day. Lots of people turned out and there were a lot of demo rides going today. It was 93 degrees when I arrived. I feel for any of these guys who were wearing leather today.

A few pictures –

The back parking lot. Most of the action was near the food at this point.

click image for slideshow of my 2010 motorcycle gallery

One of the demo rides returning:

There were quite a few riders there – here are a couple of their bikes:

Click for bigger image

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

That’s it!

Posted July 17, 2010 by jeffkeith in Bonneville, General, Motorcycles, Tiger 1050, Triumph

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Brutale 1090 RR mid-year review   6 comments


2010 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR

My 2010 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR

In the beginning

It all started innocently enough. I was interested in getting a more sport-oriented, high performance bike. Maybe something “naked” to match Valery’s Ducati Monster 696. There was a used MV Agusta Brutale 910 at our local MV Agusta dealer, (Jack Trebour Motorcycles) and after expressing some interest in the brand, Steve was kind enough to walk me through the 2010 model year features and updates. That was basically all it took – the fire was lit.

The research

Being an exotic brand, only available in limited numbers, I made the assumption that if the bike needed parts, it would probably take some time for them to arrive, so I should try to determine if reliability and parts availability might be enough to dissuade me from buying an MV.

I had been reading a good deal on the MV Agusta forums (MVAgusta.net) about the prior year models to learn more about reliability and the current buzz on the new 2010 bikes. What I found was a passionate group of enthusiasts and a lot of information.

As with most forums, all problems bubble immediately to the top. The MV’s are no different, and a few issues on prior year bikes seemed worth noting but also seemed to have their workarounds or factory upgrade parts that could resolve most problems. There were some legitimate patterns of characteristics with the prior year models that deserved noting, but nothing that would kill my interest if the bike came with a factory warranty.

MV Agusta is owned by Harley Davidson and was for sale during this research process. I decided to not worry about the future ownership of the brand. My personal opinion is that HD leadership doesn’t have much of a clue about motorcycles anymore, but there seemed to be enough interest in the brand to avoid a total shutdown.

On the positive side, MV is a manufacturer whose craftspeople take as much time as they need to get the bike built right – there is no forced procession of bikes on their lines, no! Bikes are assembled by hand, parts are scrutinized for fit and finish, and the bike doesn’t move down the line until the builder is satisfied with it. While I haven’t met anyone from the factory, it doesn’t take a great leap to realize that these folks probably take a great deal of pride in their work and initial quality must be very good.

Running through the changes and features of the MY10 Brutale with Steve at Trebour and in the 2010 brochure also allayed my concerns on most of the issues I had read about on the forums. The improvements cited in the literature read like a punch-out list of almost all of the prior-year-model complaints.

The “logic” had been run through, or at least I had convinced myself that I “needed” a 2010 Brutale 1090 RR. With clearance from SWMBO, I now only had to figure out the financials.

Buying it

The 2010 Brutale 1090 retails for $18,500. Not a small sum by any measure. However, I had been gathering my pennies for a while in preparation to buy a new bike this year, and Henry and Steve worked some magic for me to close the deal. A couple days later, a big check and one DR650 traded in, and the Brutale was mine. Thanks guys!

Trebour Motorcycles is on Route 46 in Ledgewood, New Jersey. If you haven’t driven Rt. 46, I can’t say you’ve missed out. It’s a four lane highway that’s pretty consistently heavily trafficked by a variety of aggressive, cell-phone wielding and generally oblivious motorists. Not the best place to take your first ride on a new, powerful motorcycle, and I’m always a little extra cautious every time I depart the dealership on a bike. Delivery day had me about as amped up as I could get. Everything went smoothly and after finalizing the paperwork and getting the run down from Joe, I was off.

The Brutale was a much smoother ride than I had expected and was quite comfortable to boot, but there was no doubt there was a lot of power on tap. My first ride impressions included thinking the slipper clutch and associated “clicking” feeling at the lever was a little weird, the gearbox and brakes were awesome, the horn/blinkers were going to take a little getting used to, and finally, “OMG this bike is fantastic”! One thing becomes immediately clear riding the 1090′ – it’s basically a race bike. A very, very nice race bike!

The Motor

The Brutale 1090 RR motor

The Brutale 1090 RR motor

My first thought hearing the bike blipped from idle was “There be monsters here”, and there are. The 1090 RR motor is a radially-valved inline 4 – advertised at 144bhp at 10,300 RPM. The exhaust exits through an instantly-recognizable MV Agusta twin pipe on the right side of the bike. Under way, the motor spins up very quickly, has very smooth power delivery and a barking, urgent exhaust note, complete with an off-throttle snarl that is just awesome – all with the stock exhaust.

Classic MV dual exhaust

Interestingly, the Brutale now comes equipped with traction control as standard. The system uses algorithms to control the rate of change as the motor is spinning up. In conjunction with gear position, the system is designed to limit wheelspin. It does not use wheel sensors such as those on ABS systems, and the bike does not have ABS.

The traction control system is set using the instrument cluster, and goes from 0 (off) – 8 (highest restriction). I have tried it set on 0, 6 and 8 and have left it on 6. I haven’t had any noticeable wheelspin in 6 or 8. Turned off, the bike will spin up the rear tire on low-traction surfaces at moderate throttle openings (“There be dragons!”). It would take better skills than I have to intentionally spin the rear tire up for any type of controlled maneuver, so I’ve tried to avoid testing the traction control extensively.

Front view of the 1090

Better cooling for 2010

One of the major improvements for MY10 was a new cooling system that utilizes a double rotor pump that serves both the revised lubrication and cooling systems. The new pump is supposed to be lighter and 65% more efficient at low revs compared to the prior design. The radiator also now sports two cooling fans.

I’ve had no cooling issues with the bike, the fans cycle on as soon as the meter shows a couple bars above the center of the gauge and the bike cools off pretty quickly. The gauge no longer indicates actual coolant temperature in degrees, and it looks a lot more like a fuel gauge than coolant temp. This mis-perception became clear to me when the low-fuel light came on as I was thinking I had a half tank left.

The Signature MV Fuel Tank

The Signature MV Fuel Tank - also notice damper in front of key

Unfortunately, the bike does not have a fuel gauge. When the low-fuel light comes on the instruments switch to a distance-to-empty calculator that evaluates the last 90 seconds of riding to estimate range until empty. There appears to be about 1 gallon of fuel left in the tank when the light comes on, but I haven’t tested this theory. Average fuel economy is around 30 mpg for everyday riding. The worst mileage I’ve been able to wring from the bike was a lowly 17 mpg and involved pretty constant aggressive riding.

Controls

Controls and Dash

Controls and Dash

The Brutale 1090 sports a slipper clutch. The clutch is actuated hydraulically and has a clicking feeling that’s a little distracting at first. Aside from the strange feel, the clutch is light and very smooth with a wide engagement band that allows for great feel and control with just two fingers. In fact, all of the controls operate with fantastic feel both in the adjustable levers and through the suspension. The throttle is easy to modulate but requires both restraint and respect. Small throttle position changes are translated to the tire immediately – maybe this is what people mean by abrupt or “snatchy” throttle, but to me the throttle is excellent.

Front Wheel

Front Wheel, Brembo radial calipers

One odd thing I noticed right away was the use of Brembo calipers with Nissin master cylinders on the front brake. This is the first time I have seen a bike off the showroom floor with mixed brands of components in the braking system. While odd, the components are matched perfectly, and the braking feel on the front lever is outstanding. The brakes utilize dual 320 mm disks and 4-pot Brembo monoblock radial calipers out front and a single 210mm disk with a 4-pot caliper in the back. Although the rear disk seems small, it works very well and has plenty of power (at least until the tire leaves the pavement).

With the suspension setup at the base “road” settings, you can easily tell what the front end is doing under full braking. The rear brake is excellent in terms of feel and feedback.

Left Switchgear

If you ever see a new MV owner approaching an intersection and hear them beep the horn, I can tell you why. The controls for horn and turn signals are swapped. The turn signals are on the bottom, and the horn on the middle of the left control. Odd, and hard to get used to in a multi-bike household, but also a little funny. I’ve repeatedly beeped the horn both looking to set a turn indicator and trying to cancel the signal after turning. In exchange for these wanderings-of-thumb, I have been rewarded with a number of friendly waves, and some, well, not so friendly gestures.

Lights and Indicators

2010 Brutale headlight

2010 Brutale headlight

The lighting system consists of a composite projector low beam and reflector high beam with white LED accent lighting strip separating the two within the headlight housing. Turn signals are LED and incorporated into the front mirrors and on independent stalks at the rear of the bike. The brake light is a bisected LED unit that is styled beautifully into the narrow tailsection.

Wheels and Suspension

Wheels and Suspension are top notch

Wheels and Suspension are top notch

The wheels on the Brutale are forged in a new design and have extremely thin spokes. They’re so thin on edge that they look positively delicate and I still have trouble believing that they don’t blow apart under hard acceleration. Dunlop Qualifier tires are fitted in 120/70-17 front and 190/55-17 in back. The tires work and feel great at the recommended 33psi on the street.

The rear single-sided swingarm is 2.2 pounds lighter than the previous design, incorporates a revised hub and bearing, a new cush drive and has revised chain guards. The rear is progressively suspended with a Sachs shock with high and low-speed compression damping, rebound and preload and offers 4.72 inches of travel. The front forks are also adjustable for compression and rebound damping and spring preload utilizing 50mm legs with 5.1 inches of travel.

Handling is excellent and the bike tips in easily and holds a line well in corners. Straight-line performance is very stable. When I first got the bike I had cranked up the steering stabilizer quite a few clicks and the bike would weave a little at low speeds (below 40 or so) after I reduced the tension to 7 clicks, it no longer weaves. The recommended settings for the steering stabilizer are 0 clicks for the street and 8 for the track. I’ve always preferred a stiff-steering setup with a steering damper, but this unit has little perceived drag and to be honest, I have not pushed the bike so hard out of any corners as to induce a good shake anyway.

While the stock suspension setup, in my opinion, is excellent, the geometry is highly adjustable through the rear swingarm ride-height adjustment rod and through the use of swingarm-pivot bolt bushings that change the position of the swingarm pivot relative to the frame.

Swingarm pivot bushings in front of rearsets

Swingarm pivot bushings in front of rearsets, also notice ride-height link to the rear of the shock's remote reservoir

Instrument Cluster

Also new for MY10 is a revised instrument cluster. The tach is easy to read and is accompanied by a digital speedometer, a gear position indicator and a bar-graph temperature gauge. Idiot lights are built into the top of the cluster for other functions and all of the bike’s settings are accessed using the “OK” and “Set” buttons on the right side of the cluster. Overall, the instruments are easy to read but making setting adjustments, like resetting the trip meter, is a pain in the ass and cannot just be puzzled-out without referencing the owner’s manual the first few times. I find the trip meter reset procedure to be particularly annoying and have just used 100 mile increments as fill-up targets on numerous occasions (instead of fiddling with it for five minutes at the pump). Also somewhat strange is the fact that the bike has two trip meters, but will only display one of them at a time.

The instrument cluster also displays the status of the “Sport” mode. The Brutale can operate in standard or Sport mode, which is selected and changed using another magical series of starter button presses once the bike is running. I have yet to get the hang of changing between modes on the first attempt.

The modes change the power output of the engine. When in Standard mode, the motor is limited to 100bhp and Sport mode allows for full engine power. I believe there is supposed to also be an affect on throttle sensitivity, but I have not noticed a huge difference between the two in that regard. In terms of power output, there doesn’t seem to be much difference below 8,000rpm, but after that, the difference between the two modes becomes more pronounced. Again, no question about the dragons above 8,000 rpms.

On the bottom of the instrument cluster, in a slightly difficult-to-reach position, is a button to activate the hazard flashers. Having hazards is a nice touch, but the position of the switch and its close proximity to the handlebar clamp makes it nearly impossible to activate while under way.

Instruments

Instruments and view from rear of bike

Comfort

While I expected the bike to be a bit cramped, the riding position is surprisingly comfortable. The bars are reasonably high and are an easy reach from the seat. The signature flat-diamond MV tank works well for leaning off – go figure – and the seat is firm but actually quite comfortable. The rearsets are adjustable using a concentric insert, but the pegs are quite small with undersized heel guards. On the right side of the bike, my boots rub on the exhaust heat shields. On the left, they rub on the swingarm. I’m not so concerned about the exhaust heat shields becoming scuffed, but I really don’t want to abrade the finish on the swingarm. My complaints are supposed to be easily fixed with aftermarket rearsets, but could, honestly, be better from stock. In the meantime, I have figured out a foot position that avoids contact and it basically involves positioning the end of the peg directly in the middle of the ball of my foot. I also think a sharper, machined cut on the pegs would improve peg grip considerably.

Bodywork and Looks

Brutale 1090 RR

Being a naked, the motor plays a central theme in the visual design of the bike, and it is put together beautifully – as MV Agusta brand literature says “Motorcycle Art”. They mean it – this bike is supermodel gorgeous from every angle.

There is no windscreen. There are no bags. Being a naked bike, there just isn’t a lot of plastic hanging around. The front fender and fender spoiler, a small bikini fairing around the instrument cluster, some small plastic parts around the radiator, a couple small pieces covering gaps in the trellis frame and making up the airbox intake, and a slender, flowing tail section are about it. Where painted, the finish is flawless with a liberal application of the MV Agusta logo. Unfortunately, in some spots, the factory has chosen to use stickers instead of painted lettering. I understand the cost motivation but the stickers look pretty crappy. Without the cheap stickers – the bike looks great.

Accessories

There are already a few factory accessories available for the new Brutale, and some other parts, like beautiful aftermarket rearsets, will fit the new bikes. My first priority was to find some type of tank or tail bag and I ordered the MV tank bag. We were unable to determine stock status and I believe it probably came on a slow boat from Italy, but it is a very nice bag and was priced around $200. It holds 30 liters or so (it’s expandable) and is waterproof. It fits the bike perfectly and includes a base attachment piece that includes (maybe synthetic?) leather patches to avoid scuffing the frame at the rear attachment points. In the front, the base is secured with rubber-coated hooks. The bag attaches to the base with hooks and snap-buckles. Overall, a very nice unit with plenty of space.

With the MV Tankbag

With the MV Tankbag

I was also able to secure an appropriately-sized rear axle pin for my PitBull rearstand from Ron at Washington Cycle Works, which will aid chain and wheel maintenance. Up to now any wheel cleaning and chain maintenance had to be performed with the bike on the sidestand.

Overall Impressions

I love this bike. It has gobs of power, handles like nothing I’ve ever owned and is stunning to look at. The Brutale, and any MV for that matter, is a bike that’s easy to stare at. It’s simply captivating and has an all-business presence that brings a great deal of pride and satisfaction to the ownership experience. As of today, I have a little over 1,200 miles on it and have had no problems at all aside from the nagging difficulty in using the settings on the dash.

The only thing that I am disappointed by are the mirrors. Fortunately, there are a few good options out there that I’m exploring.

The Secret Powers of Time   Leave a comment


This is a pretty interesting video.

Posted July 5, 2010 by jeffkeith in Uncategorized

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