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HomeZA BikersBike ReviewsRefining the Thrill: MV Agusta Dragster 800

Refining the Thrill: MV Agusta Dragster 800

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Over the years MV Agusta has been famed for building a special breed of motorcycle, motorcycles that can only be described as rolling art—bikes that make you stop and stare a second time. Although often familiarised as the pinnacle of motorcycle art, MV’s successful racing heritage has always trickled down into the design and engineering of their motorcycles. Most of this is thanks to MV Agusta’s Castiglioni research centre, their R&D department which is passionate about the brand’s history, future and also focused on developing the high-performing motorcycles we all drool over.

Image source: www.mvagusta.com

It was in 2014 when MV tried something bonkers, something that the then traditional manufacturer wouldn’t even dare think of before. Yes, we’re talking about the short, stumpy, aggressive and very much so sexy-looking Dragster 800. Breaking all the rules, yet ticking almost all the boxes, the Dragster took the traditional Brutale to the next level and blew many minds with its ground-breaking numbers. We’re talking about a 798 cc inline triple that put out 140 bhp at 13,100 rpm (from gen 2 onward) well pushing a light 168 kg dry chassis—in other words, you’re looking at the same power as a Moto2 bike in a road legal package. Just crazy!

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Although perfect on paper the original rebel was far from perfection, but rather a rough and ready beast. The rough and readiness only really became apparent when parked next to its newer siblings, which we got to see first-hand at Fire It Up! in Bryanston. After a quick chat with the MV importer, they scheduled for us three blind dates with the Dragster triplites to find out for ourselves how the Dragster has changed over the years.

2022 sees MV polish their uncut diamond by making tweaks to the engine, chassis and major electronic upgrades to make the new range of Dragsters more fun and easier to live with on a daily. Other than the hardware and software that’s wired into the background of this art piece, MV has focused a lot on the finer details and on sharpening the design.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

On the early models, you’d see rushed paintwork, loads of exposed wiring and stickers instead of lacquered decals, which was painful to see on a bike that wore an MV badge. I’m happy to say that the same cannot be said about the current Dragsters, especially the RR and RC models, which are just unmatched in their class when it comes to paintwork, carbon fibre detailing on the RC and beautifully styled spoked rims on the RR. Gone are the days of exposed wiring and lazy finishing, and in with a new element of luxurious feel and almost “German-like” precision.

A stocky Crossfit model holding a sharpened arrow must have walked into the design room before the brush hit the canvas. The design of the latest Dragster is sharp, muscular and very attractive with its new triangular triple exhaust tips, sharpened tank intakes and new rear tail section. The bike flows like an arrow and gets sharper the further back it goes, starting off with the new LED cornering headlight to the sharpened stinger-like seat just above the extruding halo brake light.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

The Dragster finally enters the 21st century with its new 5.5” full-colour TFT dash (the same one as the Superveloce 800) and electronic creature comforts, like turn-by-turn navigation (when paired with a phone), cruise control, lean-sensitive traction control, cornering ABS, cornering lights (powered by the IMU) and there’s even a factory installed tracker for improved security.

I found the TFT easier to understand and use compared to the old LCD and I think the main reason behind this is actually thanks to the new switchgear on the left and now right bar which works way better than before. Scrolling through the menu and selecting riding modes was easier on the fly, whereas before you’d just pull over out of frustration to take a closer look at what you were doing.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Once seated on the bike you are greeted with a low peg height, a roomier seat than before and a short yet wide stretch to the bars. The seat on our RC test bike was comfier than before, more accommodating to bigger riders and finished in beautiful outer leather and inner suede material, along with red stitching to finish it all off.

The passenger footpegs swivel neatly out of the way under the seat when you don’t need them, but with the very little room matching the aggressive nature of the Dragster, that’s where they’re likely to stay most of the time. All in all, the riding position and comfort levels get a 9/10 for my 175 cm frame size.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

The Dragster is all about the X factor, from the crazy looks, to the way the ‘now’ Euro 5 motor makes you rev it out past 12,000 rpm, to get that full 140 hp hit. It’s really quick, but what takes the cake for me is the awesome sound that triple makes. Hold it wide open in Race mode and that triple roars with an explosive sound amplified by the smooth autoblipper—so sweet you’ll be constantly changing up and down, just for the fun of it.

Despite the “eco-friendly” change with an introduction to Euro 5, MV has managed to keep the beastly power and tame the Dragster’s suicidal throttle, making it smoother and more controllable right through the rev range in all the riding modes. MV has achieved this by making a few small changes in the motor, including new coatings, higher pressure injectors and different bearing shells to help reduce friction. In short, it just feels special and in a completely usable way.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

What this all translates to on the road is a more ridable, just as fast if not faster and way more fun bike to ride. A feature that comes standard on the RR and RC Dragsters that I was sceptical about at first but grew to like was the ‘Smart Clutch System’ (auto-clutch or better known as a Rekluse clutch), which almost gets rid of all needs of the clutch. Pop the MV into gear with or without the clutch and pull away from the lights smoothly as ever, without assistance from the left hand.

What’s the point of that you say? For starters, it gets rid of wrist pain from pulling in the clutch when in high traffic situations, which I faced and I’m not embarrassed to say that it was awesome and I think it makes riding an MV in traffic super easy. But, don’t let this make you think the latest Dragster has gotten soft because it hasn’t, it’s still loud and proud. MV has, however, installed a foot brake so the SCS-equipped bikes don’t roll down the road whilst you enjoy your espresso.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Leaning in and out of the twisty and ‘potholy’ stuff we call tared roads have drastically and I mean drastically changed on the latest gen compared to the first and second gen. Where the first Dragster tied itself into knots as the twitchy throttle, under-damped suspension and head shake made for an arm wrestle of a ride and the second gens stiff suspension rattled your fillings out, the 3rd gen is just perfect. With its latest compact chassis and short wheelbase of just 140 cm, direction changes are just so precise, and its 200-section rear tyre keeps grip levels in check allowing you to simply look where you want to go, and the chassis will follow.

MV hasn’t just played with suspension setup and internals but has actually updated their frame with new side plates that improve the stiffness, while adding a new linkage for the rear Sachs suspension to improve comfort. The shock has been updated, while the front Marzocchi suspension has been tuned to match the updated rear. All these changes improve the comfortable on the road, get rid of the head shake (the updated steering damper on the RR and RC also helps) and make for a spot the apex and attack motorcycle.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

While running the MV trademarked Marzocchi/Sachs combo is all good, you can’t help but think why haven’t they put something a little more special on their limited-edition RC that’s limited to 200 units and the same goes for the off-the-mid-shelf Brembos? That’s probably one of my only criticisms when it comes to differentiating between their bog stock Dragster Rosso and RC with the same suspension and brakes.

So, there you have it, MV has refined their thrilling Dragsters, making them more convenient and most importantly, a whole lot more attractive. Not that we needed a prettier Dragster. With the Dragster being Italian exotica it comes at a premium, but Fire It Up! makes the decision a little easier with major specials. The current specials on offer, include crazy discounts on demos, free helmets included in the purchasing of certain models and additional performance parts worth R100 000. So, take your pick and swing a leg over an MV Agusta Dragster, whether it’s the Rosso, RR or RC, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

For more information on the current specials on offer visit – www.fireitup.co.za

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

MV Agusta Dragster 800

For more information on the bikes featured in this article, click on the links below…

Bjorn Moreira
Bjorn Moreira
My name is Bjorn Moreira (Senior Editor at ZA Lifestyle) and I always long for the next adventure. Why yes this may be a problem, but I’m what you call a #LIFEAHOLIC which I have been since my very first breath. My passion leads me to enjoy capturing memories on camera, riding motorcycles, cycling and spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors.
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