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Friday, September 30, 2022
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The Perfect Seat… From an Unlikely Source

I’ve found the perfect seat. Or, at least, I’ve found the perfect seat for my bony ass. It’s positively exquisite. Just the right shape with a nice “dish” to the seating area, a width that’s an ideal fit for my narrow butt, and outer edges that cup my lower buttocks like the hands of, well, let’s not go there.

Better yet, even though its tractor-like convex shape coddles said gluteus minimus, it doesn’t necessitate any of those awkward scoot-up-and-pivot-my-pelvis routines that overly sculpted Gold Wing and Russel Day Long seats require every time you come to a stop sign. That’s because the designer has thoughtfully narrowed the front portion of the seat dramatically, the end result being a virtually normal reach from foot peg to ground. Throw in the fact that the foam density was also weight-appropriate and the cover suitably slidey (making it easy to hang off), and this is the best seat I’ve tested since my dearly departed — but still serving someone — 2002 DL1000. I wish my second-gen V-Strom had such a welcoming perch.

Now here’s the surprising thing, and the answer to the question I’m guessing is on the tip of your collective tongues: What bike’s it from, and where can I get one of these pliant perches from heaven for myself? Well, without further ado, here it is: The best stock seat I’ve tested in more than a decade, with a shape I think is so enticing, I’m trying to get it copied, is — drum roll please — from…An MV Agusta.

“An MV Agusta?” I hear you all gasping incredulously. “Surely, you’ve lost your mind, Dave!” Yes, they build the most intoxicating of superbikes, but they’re impractical as only an Italian superbike can be: rock-hard suspensions, odd ergonomics and seats normally best described as, well, two-by-fours with a little vinyl covering.

True dat. But what you may not know is that MV introduced its first adventure tourer, the Turismo Veloce, a couple of years ago. Typical of anything two-wheeled and Italian, it’s red as a burning sun, has Brembo bits out the wing-wang and there’s enough attitude for a whole slew of wannabe knee-draggers. But here’s the thing: The handlebar is suitably dirtbike-like — high, wide and comfortable — the pegs allow a righteously touring bend to the knee, and then there’s that seat: the most comfortable, as I have been testifying, that I’ve tested in more than a decade.

Less unbelievable, of course, is that the Turismo Veloce handles well, stops on a dime and that its three-cylinder engine is the very definition of piston-powered charisma. This last is nothing short of incredible: at once tame enough for the touring part of the equation while still remaining more-than-adequately, well, Italian for the adventuring part. It’s got punch to spare, rasps like a Laverda on steroids when you honk on it and yet it’s as smooth as any touring bike out there. MV is promising a 950-cc version of this engine in the near future, but for the time being, this is as sweet as internal combustion gets.

It might even — Fix It Again Tony pejoratives notwithstanding — be reliable. Oh, early versions of the triple had fuel injection stumbles worthy of a leaky Amal. And the first few years of the Turismo Veloce had the usual Italian electrical glitches (turn signals that would fill to the brim with water and headlight switches that didn’t) not to mention some buggery regarding the rear wheel cush drive. But, by and large, the latest versions have proven both well-built and sturdy, sufficiently so that I would gladly take on a cross country trip on the adventuring Italian.

So, now the question you might be asking yourself is: If the Turismo Veloce’s motor is so sweet, its seat so sumptuous and reliability at least passable, why don’t you just buy one?

Well, the answer to that — as well as the editor’s only slightly-less-testy query as to why this isn’t a road test — is that MV Agusta, at least when I wrote this, had no current Turismo Veloces. In fact, my road test was aboard a 2020 model, a significant delay considering that I rode the little triple in December of 2021.
Making writing a road test on my test ride even more problematic is the fact that the 2021 is much changed compared with the 2020 I rode. Oh, the engine and chassis remain much the same, but the handlebar has been revised (a welcome improvement), the windscreen larger (ditto) and the seat lowered and reshaped (as you might have gathered, I’m not nearly as sure on this one). In other words, I have no idea whether that which I praised most highly will, in fact, be deserving of that praise moving forward.

As to why 2021 Turismo Veloces are such rare beasts, at least part of the blame lies in how ravenously COVID-19 took to Italy, one of the countries hit particularly hard in the pandemic’s first wave. That said, being both small and independently Italian — unlike Ducati, which has the Germans to thank for its recent organizational skills — probably doesn’t help things, either.

Whatever the case, the bottom line is that, despite my love of engine and ergonomics, I a) have no way to write an informed road test of MV’s latest adventure tourer, and b) know not whether the perfect seat has survived the transition. Which is why, as I type this, there’s a box on my front porch with a lightly used Suzuki V-Strom 1000 seat destined for far-off California in the hopes that seat guru Seth Laam can remake it into an MV Agusta Turismo Veloce replica – 2020 version, of course.

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