Before leaving for the Côte d’Azur to attend the press intro of the new MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800, Editor ’Arris and I had a rather lengthy discussion about which bikes the MV compares to.
The BMW S1000XR made the list, as did the Ducati Multistrada, and the Yamaha FJ-09. Although the displacement and output of these machines varies greatly, they are very similar in concept and share some basic styling cues. In this case the category was the CMG-coined ‘adventure-street’ – bikes with taller suspension, protective fairings and luggage capability, but that roll on road-going 17-inch wheels.
We also agreed to see what the folks at MV Agusta thought were the Veloce’s competitors.
During the technical presentation, Giovanni Castiglioni, the dapper CEO of the Italian manufacturer, presented a list of competitors as he saw it. Although ‘Arris and I got it mostly right, there were a couple of surprises on Castiglioni’s list, namely the BMW R1200GS and the Triumph Tiger Explorer, two bikes that are much bigger and more off-roady than the Turismo Veloce.
Despite being on the list, Castiglioni pointed out that the Turismo Veloce is not a GS, and it’s not designed specifically for riding off road, but is rather a ‘Premium-level’ motorcycle, like all of those listed. He went on to explain that the reason the adventure-ish Pirelli Scorpion II tires were selected as its OEM rubber was because they have a more forgiving, flexible carcass than a proper sport bike tire, providing a more comfortable ride on the road.
Regardless of how much you rack your brain trying to figure out this category conundrum, one thing’s for sure: MV Agusta has a winner on its hands with the Tourismo Veloce.
This is the technical intro for the bike. If you wish to avoid confusing your head with blurbage that may not mean much to you, please feel free to skip ahead to The Ride.
Although the other triples in MV’s line up are all based on the Brutale, the Turismo Veloce is new from the ground up, with its dedicated platform sharing only six percent of its components with the naked bike.
The 798 cc triple gets new pistons, new cams and cylinder head, new intake and exhaust systems, as well as engine mapping, and taller gear ratios (down 2,100 rpm at cruising speed), which contributes to a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption. These changes are meant to provide a broader spread of torque than the firm’s other triples, which is why output is also down 15 hp from those bikes, now at 110 hp.
To help reduce ownership costs, maintenance intervals have been more than doubled, going from 6,000 to 15,000 km, and the valve-adjustment intervals are at 30,000 km. The Canadian importer also includes no-cost scheduled maintenance during the 24 month warranty period.
The chassis, including the trellis frame, suspension, brakes and wheels are also specific to the TV8 (my abbreviation, not the company’s). The rear wheel, for example, is stronger to handle the added loads of two-up, stuffed-saddlebag long-distance touring. The frame is wider at the bottom and includes mounts for a centre stand, an item no other MV has, even as an option.
There are two variations available, the TV8 and the TV8 Lusso. The standard bike comes with a Marzocchi fully adjustable USD fork and a single Sachs shock, also fully adjustable, while the Lusso uses a Skyhook semi-active electronically adjustable setup as well as saddlebags, heated grips, and a centre stand.
The electronics are extensive, with switchable ABS, eight-level traction control, four selectable ride modes (Sport, Touring, Rain and Custom), cruise control, a quick-shifter that works up and down the gearbox, and Bluetooth capability, allowing you to pair up to nine devices.
A new 5-inch TFT colour screen is the information centre, with all electronic functions controlled within. It doesn’t have the most user-friendly interface I’ve seen to date, displaying most of the different parameters on one page rather than using a configurable setup with dedicated displays (say sport or touring). However, I did get the hang of it on my first attempt, so it remains relatively easy to use.
We were also told that an upcoming app will allow you to adjust the suspension (on the Lusso) and make other changes from a distance, as well as other things. Welcome to 21st Century motorcycling.
The tester’s first person account of how the bike actually feels.
The Turismo Veloce 800 is one of those bikes that looks better in the metal than in pictures. It is easily identifiable as an MV Agusta by its unique single headlight, its triple-outlet exhaust, and MV’s use of smooth, flowing curves, but where it really looks unique is from the rear.
The skeletal rear subframe is a very unique item, giving the bike an attenuated backside. But this design isn’t accidental: the large empty space between the rear tire and the underside of the tailpiece is meant to accommodate the optional saddlebags (standard on the Lusso), each of which has a 30-litre capacity, while allowing them to be tucked in enough that they are narrower than the handlebar for filtering through European city traffic.
The riding position is by far the most relaxed of any MV Agusta model I’ve ridden – the handlebar is mounted on extended risers for a very natural reach, there’s plenty of legroom, and despite the bike’s generous 22-litre fuel tank, it is surprisingly narrow between the legs. All of this is dandy for my six-foot stature, but riders measuring below five-foot eight might find the 850 mm seat height rather tall.
Once fired, the engine has that distinctive inline-triple growl, though it is more subdued than on other MV triples for increased long-term rider comfort. This also accentuates the bike’s mechanical chattering at idle, a result of the bike’s straight-cut primary gears.
When we hit the road I immediately noticed that the rebound damping at both ends was too soft. All the test bikes were standard models, as the Lusso models haven’t yet left the factory. Unfortunately, a screwdriver was needed to make this simple adjustment and was not included under the removable passenger seat. Adjustment would have to wait until lunch break.
Despite this, handling was very responsive, with light, neutral steering, seamless turning transitions. It even managed the numerous tight, first-gear hairpins with precision and without running wide at the exit.
The first MV Agusta’s I’d ridden several years back had fuelling issues, with erratic, harsh throttle response marring the ride. This was amended a couple of years ago, and the company is continuing to improve the bikes in this respect. I could find no fault in the throttle response on the TV8, in any of the four ride modes.
The triple, despite being a bit down on power compared to its naked brothers, still provided wheel-lifting acceleration out of corners with a smooth, flat powerband. Passing only required a downshift if it needed to be completed in haste, otherwise just rolling on the gas got me by slower traffic quickly enough.
Gear selection is light and precise, and once moving it’s assisted by the quick shifter, which blips the throttle on downshifts, allowing clutchless gear changes in both directions; using it does increase shifter effort though. I used this feature almost exclusively throughout our 220-kilometre test loop that took us on tight, twisty roads through the mountains of the French Riviera.
A short stint on the highway revealed a fairing that provides a fair level of wind protection, which is mostly free of buffeting. The windscreen is adjustable in two positions over a 60 mm range, and it can be done with one hand using a locking mechanism very similar to the one on the most recent Ducati Multistrada: you just squeeze the locking tab and lift or lower the screen. Raising the screen does improve wind protection at helmet level without increasing buffeting.
After the lunch break, I had the suspension adjusted, firming up rebound and compression damping at both ends – though some disassembly at the rear was required, save for the rear preload, which is adjusted remotely by a knob mounted on the left side of the bike.
Well, these adjustments transformed the machine into a true sport bike. This is a good thing because post lunch, I placed myself behind the lead rider, and to say he wicked it up a few notches is an understatement. At this pace and with the firmer suspension, the TV8 handled with the prowess of a supersport bike, the only hitch being an occasional mild headshake, induced by the wide handlebar, not by any flaw in the chassis.
Braking followed suit, slowing the bike efficiently from speed with light effort at the lever. Trail braking, sometimes deep into turns, didn’t upset the handling, the bike maintaining its arc and hitting apexes with little extra effort. Despite being told during the press briefing that MV Agusta “didn’t take inspiration from 75 world titles” to focus the TV8 entirely on performance, that racing heritage nonetheless trickled down to this latest MV – it’s a sport bike at heart.
The tester’s final thoughts on the bike
Just a few years ago MV Agusta was a well known, if somewhat obscure bike maker with a questionable future – made no more secure by several ownership changes over the years. Fortunately, the Italian brand is once again a family-owned enterprise and the younger Castiglioni has turned the company around by tying in the company’s racing heritage to a modern business plan of introducing a slew of new models in a short time.
Until now, I still considered MV Agustas as desirable and exotic, but also as secondary motorcycles; bikes you’d consider because of their styling, performance and exclusivity, but still too focused to occupy a single spot in the garage. Buy a Brutale Dragster or a Rivale and you’d still need a second bike to fulfil other duties, like long-distance touring.
Although the Turismo Veloce isn’t a touring bike in the traditional North American sense, it is the first MV Agusta that broadens its focus to fulfil multiple roles. It is comfortable and practical, and can handle everything from a sporty pace on twisty back roads, to commuting in the city, to a two-up weekend (or longer) tour, while maintaining its exclusivity.
Well, the pre-launch where-does-it-fit talks between Harris and I continued post launch, ultimately identifying the machine as an adventure-street bike, thanks to its tall suspension, upright riding position and its styling. But should engine displacement/layout come into the equation? What about electronics? Here’s what we think.
The Turismo Veloce 800 isn’t a new idea, but it is well executed. It is an upscale version of an adventure-street bike, with high-tech electronics and suspension that put it on par with the upcoming BMW S1000XR and the Ducati Multistrada (see chart below), both larger-displacement bikes, but both similar to the TV8 in concept.
At $18,995, MV has matched Ducati’s 1200 Multistrada price tag, despite offering significantly less power, torque and a taller seat (850 mm Vs 825 mm lowest setting of the MS). But look at the 105 mm reduction in wheelbase, 18 fewer kg (dry) weight and comparable electronic packages, and it’s clear that MV considers a sportier experience to be more important.
That price also makes the TV8 out of the reach of most motorcyclists, but that’s how Castiglioni wants to keep things. Every time I’ve met him and discussed the company, he reiterates how his vision of the firm is that it remains a luxury brand. Production won’t grow exponentially, and MV Agusta will never produce a “cheap” entry-level bike. Think Ferrari versus Fiat, or more appropriately Mercedes-AMG versus Chevrolet.
If you’re on a budget, however, you need look no further than the Yamaha’s FJ-09. It’s also a triple, has a very similar spec sheet, but it also has a more basic suspension and much fewer frills, though at just $10,999, it won’t break your bank account.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.