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I think it's safe to say, that while tastes may come and go, MV Agusta have never failed to make a good looking motorcycle.
There's been a lot of turmoil at the company over the last few years - Despite a proud race heritage, the storied marque changed hands four times since 2004, including an ill fated sale by Harley Davidson of all people that lasted just 10 months - but now it's in the hands of Claudio Castiglioni and showing increasing sales and new models.
The product line has expaned for 2013 with the introduction of two middle weights - The Rivale 800 and the Brutale 800
The Rivale itself was perhaps the most anticipated. A completely new line, the Rivale 800 is built around the same engine as the Brutale 800. A triple cylinder 800cc engine that makes 125hp and weighs just 175kg that is itself derived from the 675 that first debuted in the F3. All rider aids are present and correct.
It's kind of hard to say just what kind of motorcycle this is - I'd call it a super moto, but it also looks more organic and comfortable than the typical SM. One thing is for sure, this is an incredibly beautiful machine from any angle. Expect it to hit market at â‚¬10,990
The Brutale 800 is a more traditional naked sports and one thing you get with the Brutale is choice: There's a lot of them. The big daddy is the 1090, but that's a four cylinder and comes in plain and an R version. There's also a 675 (Brutalina). That's three cylinder, and it's this engine that the 800 is now derived from. There also used to be a 920, but that seems to have now disappeared.
And now there's an 800. MV state that it has the power and feel of a 1000cc sportbike - as it makes 125hp, that would be a 1000cc sportbike from a few years ago - but the entire machine weighs just 167kg. Again, it's packed full of the latest electronics to maximise your fun and safety. Cost will also be â‚¬10,990
Which would you choose?
There's not a lot of options in the 800cc naked sports category, and it appears MV are trying to make it their own. The closest machine is perhaps the Ducati Streetfighter 848 - a V-Twin that makes 132hp. It's been around almost unchallenged for a few years now and is a very exhilarating ride, but ergonomics conspire to reduce that to short trips. The Hypermotard also could be considered a competitor, but with 2013, Ducati have opted to soften that somewhat.
While the Ducati brand has always appealed to the premium end of the market, the attention to design and outright rarity of the MV make it another step up. You buy MV to stand apart and both these machines will do that for you.
Ducati aside, it would seem that with these two bikes, MV are really opting to compete with themselves. They're the same engine, the same power and the same price. The Brutale however is the purists option: The bike for those the crave performance above all else. It's slightly less massive and has the more agressive position.
The Rivale is perhaps it's true rival, but as MV state, it's a slightly softer option, made for a more comfortable but no less engaging ride: A bike that appeals to emotion.
And on that count, I'd probably choose the Rivale. Something about it really does appeal to the senses: It looks more distinct, more "new". While the Brutale would undoutedly welcome attention at the local bike meetup, anyone pulling up on the Rivale would probably steal your buzz and in the end, isn't that the main reason to buy an MV?