That Italian motorcycle manufacturers make some of the most beautiful motorcycles in the world cannot be denied. However, whilst gorgeous machines that stir the soul and are works of art in and of themselves are an Italian tradition, Italian bike makes always seem to have an issue with finances, or the lack thereof.

Even Ducati, today going great guns with its Testastretta engine and the upcoming Desmosedici V-4, has circled the drain more than a few times, and is now under the ownership of the Volkswagen Group, via subsidiary Audi. But one particular Italian motorcycle brand has stuck in the collective memory of Malaysian car and bike enthusiasts, and that name is MV Agusta.

We are not going to rehash the entire orgy of management decisions, buy-outs, sell-offs and the such associated with the name of MV Agusta, even Mercedes-AMG had to sell off its 20% stake to the Black Ocean group, to say nothing of court orders and work slow-downs. But, putting aside the negatives, MV Agusta is indeed back in Malaysia, under Moto Varese Asiatic, with a new MV Agusta Lifestyle Centre in Batu Caves, Selangor.

But, what does all this mean? Are the 2017 MV Agustas any good to ride? There is a reason we ask this, of course, after our encounter with the 2016 MV Agusta Stradale 800, and its very sharp throttle response and tremendously quick steering, for what was ostensibly a sports-touring motorcycle.

So, when Moto Varese asked if we would give the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 a go, we took the naked sports machine for a spin. A hard one. Read the full review of the Brutale 800 and find out what we thought of it.

Now, naked sports bikes are tremendous fun to ride, and every maker, occidental and oriental, makes one. After the hey-day of the Universal Japanese Machine (UJM) back in the 70s and 80s, a degree of specialisation crept into the motorcycle world, and bikes became more focused on doing a single thing well, rather than a multitude of tasks.

However, sometime in the mid-90s, after the Ducati Monster hit the market, many makers realised there was a demand for a simple, straight forward, high performance, naked sports bike. So, with its inline-three, derived from the four-cylinder power plant taken from its F4-series machines, MV Agusta set out to make a naked sports bike to take the challenge to the Monster.

Which then begs the question, did they succeed? On the first approach, the Brutale is a tall-ish machine, with a seat height set at 830 mm. If you are not standing at about 1.7-metres or so in height, you are going to tippy-toe on this one.

The overall impression you get of the Brutale is one of, well, brutality. The lines of the Brutale are raked forward and purposeful, and there is a certain animal intensity to its design.

Getting into the saddle, you will certainly take notice of the finishing and materials used in creating the Brutale. The seat itself is a pleather affair, with external stitching and embossed logo, showing that the Brutale’s designers spent a lot of thought in the details of the bike.

One design detail that made many ask, “why?” was the cut-out underneath the seat, relocating the battery further inside the engine room. One thing we did think of was to isolate the rider’s butt from exhaust, but this was not the reason, since the triple bronze-anodised pipes of the Brutale exit on the right side.

Either way, the Brutale abounds in small details that draw attention to the lines and curves of the bike. Indeed, when it comes to the styling stakes, the Brutale takes it all, in the naked sports arena, with no pretence made to it being practical for mass production.

But, while it does look good, what is the Brutale like to ride? On paper, the specifications look good, with some 110 hp at 11,500 rpm available from the liquid-cooled three-cylinder power plant, and 83 Nm of torque. This places the Brutale right up there with the Triumph 765 RS Street Triple and the Yamaha MT-09, though the MT-09 does lack some of the high-end equipment and handling manners of the Brutale and 765 RS.

Starting up the Brutale, the engine comes to life with a sharp bark, unlike the buzz and rasp of the Street Triple. That this engine means business is borne out by the eagerness at which it revs up to redline.

Clicking the up-and-down quickshifter-equipped Brutale into first, the gear engagement was precise, and lever throw short. This was welcome, as the Brutale’s triple winds up the clock very, very quickly, and the rider will have to be tap dancing on the left foot to keep up.

The Brutale’s fuelling, will not as trigger quick as the MV Agusta Stradale 800 we rode, was still very aggressive, and we had to be careful with throttle movement in heavy traffic. At very low speeds, there was a little stumble to be found, but overall the Brutale’s throttle delivered the power in a linear fashion, with the power band coming on at about 8,000 rpm.

Using this little quirk in the Brutale’s fuelling allowed us to leave the gearbox down one gear, and use the engine’s power to rocket out of turns, in an interesting manner. This was also the point where the Brutale would, quite eagerly, lift its front wheel into the air, and as long as the throttle was wound open, leave it there till fourth gear was reached.

More throttle meant that a fifth gear wheelie was entirely possible, but we decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Suffice it to say, most riders will find the Brutale very, shall we say, entertaining to ride. Newbies need not apply, this bike is a little unforgiving.

And when we say unforgiving, we mean it. The stock suspension settings, when we picked the Brutale up from the MV Agusta Lifestyle Centre, were hard, hard enough to rattle the fillings in our teeth.

The 43 mm diameter upside-down Marzocchi forks and and Sachs monoshock, while being full adjustable, were simply not complaint enough for road use, especially for Malaysian road conditions. We did do some adjustments to get the very extreme rebound damping lowered, but if you get a Brutale 800, either speak to the MV Agusta technicians first, or get a suspension specialist you trust and who listens to make adjustments.

As it is, out of the box, 98% of riders are going to find the suspension on the Brutale 800 unliveable. Spend some time tuning the suspension, and you will like this bike. If not, don’t blame the bike, the suspension components are top notch and not cheap, but need a little fine tuning.

Riding the Brutale though, does reveal why it has a solid fan base amongst performance-oriented street riders. On the sweeping bends on the highway, the Brutale tracked true, but mid-corner bumps and ruts would cause the bars to wiggle.

Again, this comes down to suspension tuning. On the straights, the Brutale performed pretty much like a cruise missile, with speed rapidly building up to “oh, my god, this is crazy,” levels.

The lack of a windshield did put a bit of a damper on high speed fun, but the Brutale is not designed to be much of a high-speed highway cruiser. Where it does excel is in the twisties and the turns, and the Brutale delighted in being thrown around from corner apex to corner apex.

Late braking shenanigans were also performed with aplomb, using the radial-mounted Brembos. Braking was fuss- and fade-free, and the Brutale comes with Bosch 9 ABS equipped with rear wheel lift mitigation, eliminating the danger of going arse-over-tit.

Seating accommodation for the rider on the Brutale was a little harsh. The leather clad seat, while looking comfortable, did cut into the thighs at the edges after a while. Seat height at 830 mm is a touch tall, but not insurmountably so, with the saddle cut narrow in front to let shorter riders get a foot down.

However, the riding position on the Brutale was good, encouraging the head down, elbows out, aggressive riding position favoured by hooligan riders of all stripes. The natural result of this is the rider is placed very much in control of the bike, and quick changes of direction are executed by instinct.

The quick steering might take new or inexperienced riders by surprise though, and to minimise this tendency for sharp steering response, riders should keep their elbows and shoulders relaxed. This is not a bike for newbies, and be forewarned, the Brutale can be brutal in every sense of the word.

A little time spent getting to know the Brutale will pay dividends, as this is a bike that rewards a rider who is dominant at the bars. If you’re into relaxed cruising and smelling the roses as you ride, we suggest you look elsewhere, the Brutale is all about hard riding, full stop.

It is not to say you could not press the Brutale into daily duties and general all-round riding, but this is not the reason why the bike exists. Winding the throttle open through the gears, deep-diving into corners, hoisting the front wheel, locking up the rear, the Brutale wants, and needs to, be ridden hard, as hard as the rider dares.

All this hard riding and charging into corners is helped by the full suite of electronics that accompanies the Brutale, including the Mikuni ride-by-wire throttle, four-map torque control giving four ride modes, eight-level traction control and a torque limiter to prevent rear wheel hop under hard down-shifting.

With a dry weight of 175 kg, and 16.5-litres of fuel in the tank, the Brutale tips the scale well on the average for this capacity range, and compares well against its primary competition, the Street Triple and Ducati Monster 821. While riding the centre-of-gravity is kept low, and there is little weight to be felt in the bars, making steering effort easy.

A word about the Brutale’s fuel consumption. This is not a bike that is meant to be ridden slow, and, indeed, the harder you lean on the engine, the better the bike feels. So, going by the fuel consumption readout on the LCD instrument panel, we managed a rather poor 7.2-litres per 100 km, and your mileage, of course, will vary.

It is just that the author has a very heavy throttle hand, and somehow, we feel that Brutale owners will not be overly concerned with fuel consumption. If you are, then a motorcycle in this class is not for you.

There are those who do detract from the efforts of MV Agusta, which has, for the longest time, undergone financial strife of one sort or another. This is borne out by the provision of a monochrome LCD screen in the cockpit, which, while clear and legible at speed, is somewhat being left behind by the competition which equips their equivalent offerings with full-colour TFT LCD units.

However, MV Agusta is very much a high-end, boutique motorcycle manufacturer, and does indeed produce some very good looking motorcycles, albeit with technology about a half a generation behind. This does not detract from the fact that when it comes to motorcycle art in the mainstream, MV Agusta makes some very stylish looking bikes.

So, at RM87,331, including GST but excluding road tax, insurance and registration, is the 2017 MV Agusta Brutale 800 the bike for you? Competition in the class includes the Ducati Monster 821, which retails for RM66,999 and the Triumph 765 RS Street Triple at RM66,900.

Does the price justify the Brutale 800 for what it is? It should be noted the Brutale comes in as a CBU unit, while the Monster and 765 RS are brought in from Thailand, taking advantage of certain tax breaks.

For the money you pay, the MV Agusta Brutale 800 is a rare machine on Malaysian roads, and is a focused, hard riding machine that rewards the equally committed rider. If a piece of Italian exotica is what you crave, then the Brutale 800, or better still, the Brutale Dragster, will serve that need.