MV AGUSTA TUISMO VELOCE 800

Touring to MV Agusta used to be about the ride to the track, but the new Turismo Veloce ensures the brand now travels much further than before…

Among many things, MV Agusta is best known the world over for its racing heritage and its utter dedication to building ridiculously fast motorcycles. But things are changing quickly for the iconic Italian brand, as best highlighted with the introduction of MV’s second tourer of the year; the Turismo Veloce.

But this is a machine that almost never made it out of the factory. “Just six months before the bike’s reveal at the EICMA show, we had to change the model significantly,” explained MV’s CEO Giovanni Castiglioni during the bike’s presentation, before admitting, “It’s hard for a company that always chases the same goals to think along different lines, but that is what we needed to do to make the Turismo Veloce 800 a success. Touring motorcycles are new to us, but we have worked hard to think and adapt as a touring motorcycle manufacturer.”

MV AGUSTA TUISMO VELOCE 800

The big problem in the original Turismo’s build was the motor. It had been equipped with the same engine as used by the brand’s Dragster 800, sporting a performance punch that just didn’t sit right with the alternatively focused tourer. Significant modifications were needed to bring the engine and the intended character of the model closer, with the aim being for a softer delivering, stronger bottom-ended performance.

After a lot of hard work this was achieved by changing a number of key components; including the pistons, cams and gearbox ratios. To make the bike even more user friendly the engine also adopted a hydraulic clutch, which simultaneously lessened the width of the already skinny three-cylinder motor by another 20mm.

Unlike on the brand’s other touring option, the Stradale 800, the Turismo sports a slipper clutch, as well as a quickshifter and a full- factory downshift blipper. The ride-by-wire throttle is of the same ilk as used on MV’s F3 675, along with a counter-rotating crankshaft which is in place to reduce the effects of inertia when the bike changes direction.

And the tech doesn’t stop there. Slotted behind the bike’s wide bars, which loft up above the yokes on stems, is an all-new TFT dash. MV opted for this design of display to store and show an overwhelming amount of data. When you turn the bike’s ignition on the five-inch wide dash springs into life before settling on the standard face, which is literally rammed with info, including an illustration of the Turismo with a sidestand caution warning.

MV AGUSTA TUISMO VELOCE 800

As we’ve come to expect, this bike offers different riding modes (Custom, Rain, Sport, Touring), along with different levels of traction control (a range of eight levels and off), which can all be adjusted on the hoof by tapping away on a dedicated left-bar-mounted switch. The same switch also allows you to set a speed restrictor, disengage your ABS or quickshifter, as well as completely customise the mapping of the Turismo’s motor; from altering the mapping to changing the amount of engine braking you require. There’s no questioning the MV’s level of sophistication, which is taken to the next level on the soon to be released ‘Lusso’ (Luxury) version of the Turismo, which will feature panniers, a centre stand, heated grips and semi-active electronic suspension as standard. This base model Turismo doesn’t come with the panniers as standard and makes do with adjustable Sachs suspension front and rear, nestled within a narrow steel trellis frame. For a tourer, the bike’s wheelbase is short, measuring just 1,424mm long, but the thing which blew my mind was discovering its tank could hold 22-litres. To look at, you’d think it’d struggle to fit a few pints in, but the figures don’t lie. MV’s British designer, Adrian Morton, actually told me the tank was one of his proudest achievements on the bike, only outranked by the avant-garde rear.

Whilst the front of the bike looks typically MV, the rear end is unlike any brand at all, owing to a daringly huge void below the pillion’s perch. Adrian’s reasoning for this eye- catching, yet practical, design was to slim down the rear of the bike as much as possible – because it had to accommodate sizeable panniers. “It would have been much easier for me to make the bike bigger and broader, but I didn’t want to waste the image’s potential. I didn’t see why a sports tourer had to be larger than necessary, just because that’s traditionally been the case,” said Morton.

Firing the bike into life, the triple’s stacked silencers (designed to meet Euro 4 legislation) let off a throaty note. A twist of the lightweight electronically governed throttle only made for even more aural pleasure. The 120-mile test loop kicked off with some nadgery street riding on Nice’s outer edge. The first thing to hit me was how good the fuelling was as I accelerated time and again around urban obstacles. The pick-up from down low was torquey and smooth, with the quickshifter making life even more Gucci as I rattled my way up and down the motor’s seamless (in nature) gearbox.

Owing to the frantic actions of town riding, I struggled to get my head around all of the info displayed on the bike’s dash. It was a case of extracting what I could, before having to refocus on the road. Most of the core details were easy enough to see, including the speed and gear selection, but I had to hunt down the clock, and a few other bits. On more rural roads, I got chance to switch around with the intuitive display, changing from Touring to Sport riding mode and reducing the traction control to level two. Despite not being fitted, the dash still holds the Lusso’s display features, with GPS, suspension and heated grip symbols faded out, teasing you with what will be. Not being the warmest of days I was gutted about the lack of heated grips, which I see as being fundamental on a bike of this nature, but soon got over my flap when we hit the first decent set of bends and I got a real taste of the Turismo’s handling.

You sit upright and forward on the bike, which gives you a comfortable stance, but also the opportunity to hustle the bike around with ease; pulling it around on its big bars. I was blown away by the MV’s agility and I’m sure the model would have impressed me more had I had chance to stiffen up the soft rear shock. As it was, the back end tended to bounce around too much for my liking; compressing downwards on every EnginE As noted, this isn’t the lump just taken from the Brutale (or Rivale, or Stradale, or Brutale or F3…), this is a bespoke motor made for the Veloce. As such, torque has been increased to the tune of 20 per cent, all the while meeting this figure at lower revs. Similarly, power has been turned down to better suit the application. This has been achieved thanks to new phased driven cam profiles, a new piston crown design, changes to the intake and exhaust design and new mapping. Elsewhere, the Veloce gets a slipper clutch (hydraulically controlled), the hydraulic timing chain tensioner (as seen on all 2015 800s), and the exhaust is all new with revisions made to the catalytic convertor. Service intervals are upped from 6,000km to a more meaty 15,000km.

“Originally, we had slotted the Dragster 800’s motor into the bike. It was powerful, lively and exciting. But it also seemed a little confusing in the Turismo Veloce, which was set to be a more refined and comfortable motorcycle. One day I decided to take an engine, change a load of internals and put it into a Rivale. I called Giovani (Castiglioni) and told him what I’d done. He wanted to try the new motor and came back very pleased by it. He said it felt much more refined and user friendly; he couldn’t believe it when I told him it only made 105bhp. It was at this point that he said, ‘put that engine in the Turismo Veloce, it’s perfect for the model’. This is what we did. The core of the engine is still the same as the Dragster’s, but we’ve changed some key components such as the pistons which are now concave, rather than convex. By doing this we’ve reduced the compression ratio significantly, but it’s also allowed us to achieve a different, longer shape to the ignition flame; improving bottom-end torque performance. Helping to achieve a similar result, we’ve also altered the profile of the cams, which now have much less lift; encouraging a longer duration. The other big difference is the hydraulic clutch. The system was actually produced for the original F3 675 motor, but we later figured a hydraulic clutch like this would take away from the feel required by a pure sports machine. We found a good home for the technology in the Turismo Veloce, though, along with a new up and down quickshifter and some different gearbox ratios. The engine now is perfect for this bike.”

This offers more control than normal…

The Veloce takes full advantage of the slim engine design (with its new slender clutch), but uses an all new frame. As on other machines, it uses steel tubing with aluminium alloy side plates for the frame, with the new two part subframe able to support the pillion and luggage (that will come on the Lusso). MV uses Marzocchi forks at the front and a Sachs shock at the rear, with Brembo providing the braking paraphernalia (with the support of Bosch’s ABS system). The bike’s fitted with a five-inch TFT display, which is absolutely crammed with info. By toggling a button on the left-bar, you can alter a lot of the bike’s set up, including power modes and traction control. Tougher wheels had to be made for the Turismo Veloce.

The Turismo Veloce is one of five different MV Agustas that uses the company’s 800cc triple motor. But, according to the brand’s head of engine development Marco Cassinelli, this one’s quite a different proposition to the rest…

I’m not going to criticise the bike’s choice of Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres, as they performed perfectly well, but I was a little confused as to why they’d be chosen for this bike, which has zero off-road or dual-purpose inclinations? Having said that, the only slide I had during the test was when I gassed the bike over some loose stones, just to get a gauge of the traction control’s otherwise defunct input. The ABS, on the other hand, never seemed to want to leave me alone. I never felt I was braking excessively hard, yet the Bosch-powered system seemed overly eager to join the party at every given chance.

The bike’s fan had been coming on intermittently during our test, but it was almost permanently on by the time we worked our way back to the hotel. On a cold day, I was grateful for the added heating, but figured it could leave you roasting during the summer months. A small niggle, joined only by one other criticism of the bike; its clutch. The lever itself is adjustable for span, but you can’t alter the biting point, which was really far out, man, on my bike. Come the end of our ride I’d calibrated my hand to the bike’s excitable throttle and the awkward clutch, but I’d have hoped for better on a bike this expensive.