The MV Agusta Rivale 800 is the answer to the question: “What do sportsbike manufacturers do when sportsbike sales falter?”
The Rivale 800 is the company’s belated entry into the hypermotard category which has been dominated by Italian rival Ducati with their Hypermotard 820.
These are basically sportsbikes with the fairings taken off and an upright riding position so you feel like you are going fast even when you are not.
Sportsbike sales have been declining in recent years as police speed patrols ramp up and more people head for adventurous routes.
Despite the worldwide sportsbikes sales decline, MV Agusta has actually been going quite well in Australia with sales up 64% to 159 in the first nine months of the year.
MV Agusta imports spokesman Kevin Beale says this is due to strong demand for the new 800cc three-cylinder models, the F3 800 supersport and the Brutale 800 naked, which is now their best-selling model despite only becoming available in March.
The Rivale debuts at the EICMA show in Milan next week and Kevin says they expect to receive their first consignment in January/February 2014 and plan to release it at $19,990.
That compares favourably with the Ducati Hyermotard 820 which starts at $16,990, while the SP version is $20,490.
The Rivale 800 is based heavily on the Brutale 800, but has a bored-out version of their 675cc triple with 92kW of power at the stratospheric revs of 12,000rpm and maximum torque of 84Nm at a more conservative 8600 revs.
Still, it sounds like something that will run best at screaming volumes.
There are three new engine maps which are claimed to produce smoother response than previous jerky models with fly-by-wire throttle. The maps are: sports, normal, wet and a customisable map. There are also eight levels of traction control.
The Rivale 800 has a steel trellis frame, single-sided aluminium swingarm, Marzocchi forks and Sachs shock, and has a dry weight of just 178kg.
It comes with a quickshifter and a new digital dashboard with a multi-function display.
Brakes are 320mm discs up front with twin four-piston Brembo radial calipers and a 220mm disc at the rear with a twin-piston caliper.
The Rivale 800 will arrive in red and silver or black and red paintwork.
Meanwhile, Kevin says they have been working hard to develop their dealer network.
This year they have appointed a number of dealers in formerly unserviced areas: Mototecnic in Knoxfield, Victoria; Flynn Motorsports, Raymond Terrace, NSW; Motolife Townsville; and service-only dealers at ProTech, Port Macquarie and Bikecraft, Cairns.