Modern motorcycles really are phenomenally well-designed and cohesive machines. Riding a fast bike has always been an experience of consummate awe, but the latest machines are so clever that they take away much of the fear and inconvenience riders once had to push through to experience the highs.
Look at the tech that even the standard Turismo Veloce Lusso carries; the ABS system is so clever you can't outbrake it or send yourself over the bars. Semi-active suspension reads and adjusts to the road constantly, eliminating much of the "comfort versus grip" compromise that has plagued performance tourers forever. Electronically managed quickshifting lets you bang your way up and down the gearbox faster and in a more controlled manner than any top level racer. You don't need to have the experience and reflexes of a great rider to feel like a superhero on these things.
You do generally need to be able to work a clutch, though. And while that's not a problem for the vast majority of us, it's certainly not what you'd call a luxury experience in stop-start traffic.
There have been numerous attempts to eliminate the clutch, but each has its own drawbacks. Scooters, for example, use cone-and-belt CV transmissions, but those aren't very suitable for high-torque performance riding, and they mess with a rider's connection to the engine revs.
Honda and Aprilia have released bikes with dual-clutch automatics. But these are big, heavy systems that get rid of the clutch lever altogether. Most riders aren't prepared to sacrifice that lever. They haven't exactly taken the motorcycle world by storm.
MV has chosen to take a different approach, looking for the best of both worlds, and as such they have teamed up with Rekluse, an American company that's been making anti-stall clutches for dirt bikes for some 15 years now.
The Rekluse clutch is a centrifugal system; when the revs drop to a certain point, the clutch disengages. As the motor spins up, little wedges slide out of the "EXP" expansion disk and the clutch engages smoothly.
The clutch lever remains fully operational – indeed you can ride the bike exactly as a normal motorcycle if you wish, with full control over clutch and gears, or, when the traffic's nasty, just crawl along in first letting the Rekluse system do all the left hand work for you.
The system also makes drag-race style takeoffs a piece of cake. Between the anti-wheelie traction control, quickshifter and automatic clutch, you can more or less wait for the green light and belt the throttle open. MV claims a 0-100 time of 3.15 seconds, which won't suck any paint off a superbike, but is certainly impressive given that the Turismo Veloce only makes just over half a superbike's power.
Apparently it took some two years' development in collaboration with the Rekluse team to get what MV Agusta is calling its "SCS," or Special Clutch System, happening. Rekluse hasn't typically found itself dealing with 110-horsepower engines, so the clutch hub needed to be specially designed, along with diamond-like sleeves on the clutch basket fingers to eliminate the kind of notching that can make a clutch grabby after being abused on a lot of hard takeoffs. There's now 12 friction and drive plates, as well as an optimized pressure plate with a sexy red coating, that's fully visible behind a clear clutch cover – the first we've seen on a production bike, although a bit of a staple in the custom bike world.
This is a great engine to put an anti-stall clutch onto. The 798cc, three-cylinder MV Agusta 800-series motor is not the torque monster you'd expect if your only experience with triples came from Yamaha or Triumph's bikes. In our experience it needs to be revved to get off the line, and it's one of the few large-capacity bikes we've found ourselves accidentally stalling at the lights.
Once it starts singing, it makes for a super-light and super-quick touring bike in the Turismo Veloce, which in the Lusso SCS spec comes in with a dry weight of 192 kilograms (423.2 lb).
While the SCS system does look like it offers the best of both worlds to riders who like having a fully functional clutch, but would just prefer not to have to use it all the time, there is one compromise. With the bike stopped and the engine off, the clutch remains disengaged – you can only effectively park it in neutral.
To get around this and let you still park it on a hill, MV has stuck a park brake on the bike, in the form of a little foot lever above the rear brake. It's not ideal, but as compromises go it's pretty minor.
If the Rekluse system ends up working well, we might end up seeing more of it in the road bike world. It does seem capable of solving the problem of annoying stop/start traffic and a stallable engine, without removing a rider's ability to maintain full control or use the clutch to flick up a wheelie.
It's certainly a proven system in the dirt bike world; we look forward to seeing how it works on the road. The only pricing we're privy to at this point is European, where the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso SCS will have a retail price of €21,390 (US$25,170). For reference, the standard Turismo Veloce Lusso costs €19,690 (US$23,170) in Italy, and more like US$21,490 in the United States.
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