Earlier this year, MV Agusta said it was getting ready to explore the small-capacity motorcycle market, after years of only building high-end, high-capacity, high-dollar bikes. Supposedly, the new bikes would be in the 350 cc range, and now MV Agusta has confirmed that that’s the plan.
The confirmation comes after an interview between Asphalt & Rubber and MV Agusta’s CEO Timur Sardarov (remember, the Castiglioni family isn’t controlling the money anymore). Sardarov told A&R that MV Agusta is working on a small-capacity twin, with 350 cc displacement. He didn’t specify what exact engine layout it would have, but since everyone else is building parallel twins for their budget bikes these days, that’s what would make sense.
Or maybe not? Sardarov also stressed that MV Agusta wanted this to be a high-performance machine, so maybe we’ll see some sort of V-twin design (if you’re expecting a boxer from MV Agusta, you’re crazy).
It’s an interesting tack for MV Agusta, the company that has long been seen as perhaps the flashiest of the Italian brands, with bikes co-branded with the likes of Lewis Hamilton. Downsizing its machines will be a big change to the company’s image, but if Harley-Davidson, BMW, KTM and Ducati are doing it, no doubt MV Agusta feels it has no choice.
The potential problem is if MV Agusta really tries to build a true high-performance machine. A high-performance bike requires premium components, and those are going to be expensive, which in turn would drive up MSRP and ruin any plan to see a big growth in sales. Note that, of all the other manufacturers building small-capacity motorcycles, almost nobody is making low-priced bikes with high-end components. We’re getting closer, sure: Kawasaki’s 400 line, and KTM’s 390 Adventure are really pushing the envelope of what you can get for a low price. But if you’re looking for the reason why 750 cc sportbikes are dead, and why nobody’s even really building an up-to-date 600? It’s because they’re almost as expensive to make as a litrebike, but don’t bring in as much money on the sales floor.
So—stay tuned on this one. One other interesting thing to watch is where this takes the MV Agusta brand, as Sardarov told A&R his company plans to expand into new markets (cruisers? ADV bikes, even? Who knows!).