2023 MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America | First Ride Review

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
The 2023 MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America is a limited-edition model – only 300 units will be produced, all aimed at the U.S. market. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

Some memories are indelible. Etched clearly in my mind is a moment that happened 25 years ago when I went to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City for the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit. As I walked through the lobby and approached the exhibit, front and center on a mirrored pedestal was an MV Agusta F4, a stunning red and silver machine designed by Massimo Tamburini. Its quartet of underseat exhausts looked like God’s own pipe organ.

MV Agusta F4 Art of the Motorcycle Guggenheim
MV Agusta F4 at the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1998. (Photo by the author)

A decade later I joined the staff at Rider, and over the years that followed, I never got a chance to ride an MV Agusta. The brand always seemed to be on shaky ground, with ownership changing hands several times. The bikes were exotic and produced in small numbers, so opportunities to test them were few and far between.

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
2023 MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America

My chance finally came when MV Agusta hosted a press launch in Los Angeles for the Dragster RR SCS America Edition, a limited-production model designed for the U.S. market.

MV Agusta and ’Merica!

Fifty years ago, MV Agusta released the 750S, the Italian company’s first model to sport a red, white, and blue paint scheme as a nod to the American market. Recent decades have seen several limited-edition “America” models – a Brutale 750 in 2004, a Brutale 1090 RR in 2012, a Brutale 800 RR in 2017, and a Dragster 800 RR in 2018.

1973 MV Agusta 750S
1973 MV Agusta 750S

Next in line, announced on July 4, 2023, is the Dragster RR SCS America, priced at a cool $28,247 to honor the 247th anniversary of American independence. With a stars-and-stripes logo on the tank, a mix of Ago Red and Mica America Blue paint with white accents, and “America Special Edition” stitched in white on the red seat, it’s the second most patriotic-looking motorcycle I’ve ever seen (it would be the most patriotic motorcycle I’ve ever seen had the American-made Buell Freedom Edition Hammerhead 1190 not been announced just days before the MV).

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
Each MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America comes with a special cover.

Only 300 Dragster RR SCS Americas will be made, each with a serialized number laser-etched on the triple clamp, and all are slated for sale in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Each bike comes with a Special Parts Kit that includes a transparent clutch cover, a dedicated motorcycle cover, and a certificate of authenticity.

Related: 2020 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Rosso | Road Test Review

Not Your Daddy’s Clutch

The SCS in the model name stands for “Smart Clutch System” and refers to the bike’s hydraulically actuated SCS 3.0 Radius CX semi-automatic clutch, made in collaboration with Rekluse. It’s a slick system. Just hold in the clutch lever when starting the bike, and then ignore it the rest of the ride. The up/down quickshifter assists with smooth, fast gear changes, and the clutch automatically disengages when coming to a stop.

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
The clear SCS clutch cover is included in the Special Parts Kit. Bikes are delivered with a regular clutch cover that meets sound regulations.

One of the SCS clutch’s coolest features is launch mode. At a stop, pull in the clutch lever, pin the throttle, and wait for the light to turn green. When it does, dump the clutch and you’ll be treated to the bike’s fastest possible launch time: 0-100 kph (62.1 mph) in 3.55 seconds. Works like a charm too. Lining up next to Rennie Scaysbrook, the road test editor at Cycle News who holds the motorcycle record at Pikes Peak and is way faster than me, the SCS launch mode let me get the drop on him a couple of times.

For those who want to use the clutch lever, it’s still fully functional. For trackdays or personal preference, the SCS function can also be disabled. And unlike Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission, which adds more than 20 lb of weight compared to a conventional transmission, the MV’s SCS clutch is only 1.3 ounces heavier than a regular clutch.

Horses of Courses

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America is powered by a 798cc inline-Triple that makes a claimed 140 hp at the crank. It has a counter-rotating crankshaft that reduces gyroscopic effect for lighter handling.


At the heart of the MV Agusta Dragster RR is a thrilling mill: a liquid-cooled 798cc inline-Triple with a 13.3:1 compression ratio and DOHC with 4 valves per cylinder and DLC-coated tappets. It churns out a claimed 140 hp at 12,300 rpm and 64.2 lb-ft of torque at 10,250 rpm.

Motorcyclists are a greedy lot, and we always want more power. MV offers an accessory Akrapovič titanium exhaust with a dedicated ECU that bumps up peak power to 148 hp at 12,800 rpm while shaving off nearly 18 lb of weight (claimed dry weight for the stock bike is 386 lb). As appealing as the Akrapovič exhaust is, it’s a shame it requires the removal of the elegant triple-tipped stock exhaust.

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
One of the most distinctive features on the MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America is the carbon fiber cover for the rear wheel.

The Dragster’s Triple sounds like a diesel at idle, but spin up the revs and it wails in a way that only an odd number of cylinders can, mashing up the rumble of a Twin and the scream of a Four. Response from the throttle-by-wire system is direct and snatch-free, and there are three standard ride modes: Sport, Race, and Rain. Pairing a smartphone with the MV Ride app allows a rider to create a custom map. Adjustable parameters include gas sensitivity (throttle response), max engine torque, engine braking, engine response, rpm limiter, quickshifter, traction control, and wheelie control. Choose your own adventure.

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
The MV Ride app allows uses to create customized ride modes and record trips.

The MV Ride app also allows a rider to record a trip, which will show a map of the route taken and provide statistics such as average speed, max speed, max throttle, and max roll (lean) angle. Our test ride on public roads, for example, covered 60.2 miles at an average speed of 18.6 mph (we spent a lot of time in L.A. traffic and idling between photo passes). My max speed was 74.5 mph, and my deepest lean angle was 47 degrees. Rennie was certainly faster and leaned over more.

Made in Italy

MV Agusta is a storied Italian manufacturer that was founded in 1945 by Count Domenico Agusta. The brand has an impressive record on the racetrack, having won 270 Grand Prix races, 38 World Riders’ Championships, and 37 World Constructors’ Championships, many of those wins and championships courtesy of legends like John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, and Phil Read.

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
Made-in-Italy components include a Marzocchi fork, Brembo brakes, and Pirelli tires.

Following the death of Count Agusta in 1971, the company went through a roller coaster of highs and lows. It was acquired by the Castiglioni family in 1992, sold to Malaysian car maker Proton in 2004, sold to an Italian holding company for 1 euro in 2005, acquired by Harley-Davidson in 2008, and sold back to the Castiglioni family for 1 euro in 2010. Mercedes-AMG acquired a 25% stake in 2014, which was sold in 2017 when a Russian investment fund headed by the Sardarov family acquired a 49% stake, and the Sardarovs acquired 100% of the company in 2019. The brand is currently enjoying another high point. In late 2022, Pierer Mobility, the Austrian company that owns KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas, acquired a 25.1% stake, with assurances to provide marketing, distribution, purchasing, and supply-chain support.

Related: KTM to Distribute MV Agusta Motorcycles in North America

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America is a visual feast of shapes, colors, and finishes.

Although the brand’s fortunes have fluctuated, the support from Pierer Mobility puts it on a much more solid footing. MV Agusta motorcycles are built in small quantities, with an emphasis on the company’s “Motorcycle Art” motto. They are still built on the shores of Lake Varese in Italy, and MV claims that 75% of the parts on its motorcycles are manufactured in Italy.

MV Agusta: Rideable Art

On the road or at a bike night, the Dragster RR SCS America won’t be confused with another motorcycle. Its color palette, its sharply edged and creased surfaces, and its unique details give the America the exclusive look its price tag commands. The most eye-catching feature is the carbon fiber cover on the rear wheel, which has teardrop-shaped cut-outs and the “RR” logo. A trio of slash-cut exhaust tips are finished in black, though they’d pop more in silver against the black of the rear tire and wheel cover.

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
Under the rider’s seat is negative space, and below the tailsection are fold-down passenger pegs.

The Dragster also has one of the most unique tailsections of any motorcycle. Beneath the rider’s portion of the seat is negative space, and below the passenger seat is what looks like the open mouth of a bird, with the lower edge framed in red LED lighting. Under the tailsection are passenger pegs that can be discreetly tucked away or folded down for use.

As a naked sportbike, the Dragster has an upright handlebar with bar-end mirrors that can be folded back – a useful feature when we were lane-splitting through rush-hour traffic on Sunset Boulevard. Front and center is a 5.5-inch TFT display with bright, crisp, easy-to-read graphics, and navigating through the bike’s menus and settings was intuitive.

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
Weighing about 400 lb with a full tank of gas, the compact MV Agusta Dragster has light, confident steering.

Got Curves?

After escaping the traffic, we headed into the Malibu hills on roads familiar to every L.A.-based sport rider and SoCal motojournalist: Topanga, Saddle Peak, Piuma, and Mulholland. They are tight, technical roads, and the MV Agusta’s light weight, compact dimensions, counter-rotating crankshaft (which reduces gyroscopic effect), and premium components made it an ideal canyon carver. The fully adjustable suspension, with an inverted 43mm Marzocchi fork and a Sachs shock, is tuned for speed over comfort, but it kept the chassis in check, and the adjustable steering damper diffused any twitchiness.

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
The MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America’s patriotic paint scheme uses Ago Red, Mica America Blue, and Intense Black with white accents.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV sport tires are grippy and lend themselves to fast, confident transitions. Good braking power and feel come courtesy of Brembo M4.32 radial calipers squeezing 320mm floating discs up front and a Brembo 2-piston caliper squeezing a 220mm disc out back, with Continental cornering ABS getting your back. A 6-axis IMU informs other electronics as well, including eight-level lean-sensitive traction control, front-lift control, and rear wheel lift-up mitigation.

Happy Birthday, America

Every MV Agusta is a special motorcycle. They have Italian flair, they are fast and fleet, and they are unique. The F4 I saw in the Guggenheim 25 years ago commanded admiration, respect, and envy. And now that I’ve ridden an MV Agusta, I know they are much more than visual art. They are visceral art too, which triggers a deeper level of desire. The Dragster RR SCS America is an exceptional motorcycle that celebrates American exceptionalism. Buon compleanno, America!

MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America
2023 MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America

2023 MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America Specs

  • Base Price: $28,247
  • Website: MVAgusta.com
  • Warranty: 3 yrs., unltd. miles
  • Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Triple, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
  • Displacement: 798cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 79 x 54.3mm
  • Horsepower: 140 @ 12,300 rpm (factory claim)
  • Torque: 64.2 lb-ft @ 10,250 rpm (factory claim)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated semi-automatic wet clutch
  • Final Drive: Chain
  • Wheelbase: 55.1 in.
  • Rake/Trail: 24 degrees/4.1 in.
  • Seat Height: 33.3 in.
  • Dry Weight: 386 lb (factory claim)
  • Fuel Capacity: 4.36 gal.


  1. I was mesmerized with the same MV Agusta on display while visiting the Art of the Motorcycle show at the Guggenheim. It was not the F4 1000, but was the F4 750 Serie Oro that was displayed on the pedestal upon entering the museum. I fell in love instantly and could never get the image of that bike obliterated from my brain. When I saw a used F4 750S (not the Serie Oro unobtanium version) for sale on a street near my home I knew it was my destiny. I agree it is a truly visceral experience to ride, and a work of art as well.

    • Ah, yes, it was a 750, not a 1000, at the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit. Thanks for catching my mistake (I’ve corrected the text). However, the one on display at the Guggenheim wasn’t the limited-edition Serie Oro (only 300 built), which had gold-anodized wheels, swingarm, and frame side plates (all were made of magnesium). The bike at the Guggenheim, as also shown in the gorgeous hard-cover exhibit catalog on my shelf, was a regular-production model with black wheels (the swingarm and frame side plates are still gold).

  2. Do the Euros even have Dragracing? Kind of a stupid name as there are many bikes that could clean this bike’s clock. MV should’ve extended the swingarm 6” and installed a monster engine and added a wheelie bar if they are going to call it a Dragster. Marketing types that are non-enthusiasts probably named this bike.


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