Test Ride Impressions: MV Agusta Turismo Veloce

MV Agusta Turismo Veloce

Let me start by saying that the rear wheel hugger with integrated number plate and indicators does look a bit naff.  Not completely ugly, but it does have a degree of “well, we have to do something to make it road-legal”  It is a concession to the fact that someone, somewhere dragged out some technical document which stated something about having the rear wheel covered at a  certain point and declared that if you didn’t – you weren’t on a street-legal motorcycle.  There’s no way that it will look good, so this is the best compromise the MV Agusta designers could come up with.

Now that I have stated that caveat, let me state: I think that MV Agustas have to be amongst the prettiest motorcycles ever made.  The Turismo Veloce is no exception.  Whatever angle you view it at, it is just gorgeous.  I was lucky enough to spend a bit over an hour on the bike, hooning around the local hills and backroads, plus a bit of time in regular Saturday morning traffic. So, I took off from the store, down the road – quick U Turn and back past the shop and straight into my first false neutral!  This is the first bike I’ve ever ridden with a quick-shifter. Twenty years of muscle memory argued with computer controlled fuelling and ignition – the result of which was a short, noisey and embarrassing argument as the engine shot to redline and I clunked the bike into the next gear.  After that momentary faux-pas and wondering how many people had seen/heard the commotion, I noticed how much of my jacket sleeves I was looking at in the mirrors.  Much to my amazement, despite how close the mirrors are to your hands, it is possible to get a reasonable rear-view out of them.

I try and ride bikes on a test-ride, the way I would ride them if I owned them.  This can be summarised as: “sedately – most of the time.”  It took me half an hour or more on the MV, before I discovered it could be ridden sedately!  The engine is such a hoot – it just encourages you to behave badly on it!  The acceleration is instant and the throttle response is “precise”.  Fuel injection has come along way since my model VFR…

There were a couple of little things that weren’t the way I would like them to be.  These may have been characteristics of the particular demo model I rode.  Firstly, there was a lot of rear-brake lever travel before you got any real response.  I trail-brake using the rear brake a lot – especially in slow commuting or car park manoeuvres.  It didn’t bother me at other times and it may just be that the demo required a brake bleed, but I noted it at the time.  The other thing was with the switch gear:  The mode selector has the same motion as the indicators. In both cases, you can push them left-right, or “in”.  (i.e. the “cancel” motion on the indicator, is the same as the “OK” motion for the mode selector)  These feel natural to reach with the left thumb and despite their proximity, I didn’t confuse the two.  But, neither the “OK” nor the indicator cancel gave any real haptic feedback.  The OK selection didn’t appear to work terribly well and was too distracting to really bother with on  a test ride of an unfamiliar bike.  Back in the shop, I tried the indicators on a Brutale model and was surprised by how much more feedback it gave.  (I was also surprised by the fact it had different switch gear! )   There was evidence that the demo model sat out in the rain, so maybe a quick squirt of WD40 on the switch gear would improve matters.

I have seen various discussions on the web, wondering if the seat height is too tall.  For the record, I’m 178cm (according to my driver’s licence) and have a measured in-seam of 88cm when wearing my bike boots. When stopped, I could comfortably have both feet “two-thirds” on the ground, with just the heels not touching.  If I went for *ahem* an “uncomfortably forward and upright stance in close proximity with the fuel-tank”, both feet were flat on the ground.  Given the light weight and wide bars of the bike, I didn’t once feel in danger of an embarrassing car-park style tumble…

At first, I positioned myself a long way forward on the bike.  Seated like this, I found my knees were too low, gripping the tubular frame of the bike, rather than the tank.  This was uncomfortable for me.  Once I settled down, I was seated slightly further back and the whole seating position made a lot more sense.  The tank was easy to grip with my knees, the reach to the ‘bars felt natural and the view in the mirrors was good (and not of me!)  It was superbly comfortable –

I could easily imagine riding for hours in this posture without tiring. The more I rode this bike, the more excited I was about it.  So what if it doesn’t have 150 rear-wheel horse power?  The power and torque were such that it just got on with it…  Make no mistake – it is not slow!  It would do small controlled power-wheelies out of the traffic lights and would overtake traffic with just a quick blat on the throttle.  It left me cackling like the wicked witch and my helmet was only just strong enough to contain the ludicrous grin the bike gave me.  The brakes were superb and it would change direction with just the slightest input on the bars.  The long-travel suspension dealt with the worst of crappy back-road bumps and delivered a clear indication of the grip levels you had available to you.

Where I live, the authorities take such a dim view of people who dare to speed, it makes sense to have a bike that’s more capable on back-roads away from public scrutiny.  This bike definitely ticks all the boxes there. Niceties such as cruise-control and up-right seating position  meant that the unavoidable straight-line drone that riding in Australia entails would be handled with a minimum of fuss.

Speaking of such, I didn’t spend any time sitting at length on the open-road speed limit, so can’t really comment much on the wind/weather protection the adjustable screen affords – either up or down.  I can tell you, it’s beautifully easy to adjust while you’re going along. Overall, I loved this bike.  Despite being a “sports-tourer” it feels vastly different from bikes I have previously owned.  I find it difficult to express, but it would take me some time to feel truly comfortable riding it at speed.  Maybe it did everything I asked of it so easily, I felt like I was wobbling around on it?  It didn’t do anything untoward and put up with any ham-fisted gear shifts and dodgy lines in corners that I threw at it.  I’m sure with more time, or in more competent hands it would be an amazing bike.

MV Agusta Turismo Veloce
The biggest problem I would have if I owned this bike is: “Would I ever get out of the garage, or would I just get stuck admiring it?”  In the red/silver combination, it is just so gorgeous to look at… even with a naff rear hugger…

It is time…

It looks like the planets have aligned and it is time for a new motorbike.  I’ve had the Honda VFR 800 for almost ten years now – over twice as long as any other road-going bike I’ve ever owned!  Part of the problem with getting older is that somehow changing motorbikes every couple of years is harder to justify (especially to significant others)

This time around, I’m determined not to buy another Honda. – There’s nothing particularly wrong with them, but after three in a row, it’s time to try something a little different.  There’s no doubt the riding I do these days is substantially different to riding I did ten and twenty years ago.  Part of my problem is, I’m not entirely convinced I know what sort of riding I want to be doing…  I am leaning towards a slightly more “adventure” style bike (hey, I fit the demographic) but I’m not absolutely convinced…

So, in up-coming posts I’ll be writing up test-rides I have on various bikes.  You can read far more objective reviews on these sorts of bikes elsewhere – so expect a fair amount of subjective criticism.  If I don’t like something on a particular model, I’ll let you know.  Remember though, these things are only my opinion.  You shouldn’t take offence if I don’t think much of your favourite bike – I’m buying one for me, not you after all!

I also won’t discuss bike pricing.  The world is a big place, and you could be reading it anywhere.  The one thing I’ve learnt is that pricing of particular models varies wildly from country to country.  What might be competitively priced and technologically superior in your market may be way more expensive here…

So, with a couple of test-rides already done and dusted, the first review will be of an MV Agusta Turismo Veloce.  But, that is a story for another time…