1983 861 Magni MV Agusta

The bike MV Agusta should have built

| January/February 2008

  • Magni
    Owner Shane Chalke warming up the 861 Magni MV Agusta at Summit Point Raceway.
    Photo by Tom Riles
  • Magni4
    Lucky man: Neale Bayly sets up for a turn on the 861 Magni MV Agusta.
    Photo by Tom Riles
  • Magni2
    The view from the seat of the 861 Magni MV Agusta.
    Photo by Tom Riles
  • Magni7
    In addition to a bump in engine capacity from 750cc to 861cc, the 861 Magni MV Agusta features a Magni-designed dry clutch.
    Photo by Tom Riles
  • Magni6
    Yes, we wish we had one of these 861 Magni MV Agusta bikes sitting on our back patio. Don't you?
    Photo by Tom Riles
  • Magni8
    The 861 Magni MV Agusta also features a Magni-designed chain drive in place of the stock MV Agusta driveshaft.
    Photo by Tom Riles
  • Magni9
    So perfect, the 861 Magni MV Agusta looks like a small scale model when seen without a background.
    Photo by Tom Riles
  • Magni3
    Arturo Magni in his shop in the 1990s, preparing a Magni Moto Guzzi.
    Photo from the Alan Cathcart Archives
  • Magni5
    A BMW-powered Magni MB2 alongside an 861 Magni MV Agusta.
    Photo from the Alan Cathcart Archives

  • Magni
  • Magni4
  • Magni2
  • Magni7
  • Magni6
  • Magni8
  • Magni9
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  • Magni5

1983 861 Magni MV Agusta
Claimed power:
95hp @ 10,000rpm (est.)
Engine: 861cc DOHC, air-cooled inline four
Weight (dry): 440lbs (200kg)
Fuel capacity: 6.35gal

Just listening to Shane Chalke’s 1983 861 Magni MV Agusta warming up as he blips the throttle sends the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. As he rolls up to greet us, the sound of the Magni’s engine shatters the quiet of his rural Virginia home with the most raucous, feral, mechanical shriek I can remember. For once in my life, I’m rendered speechless.

Standing next to Motorcycle Classics editor Richard Backus, I notice we are gazing at each other with identical dumb, slack-jawed grins that communicate the mutual realization that we are sharing a motorcycle lifetime high.

Sound ideas
Shane continues blipping the throttle to get the 861 Magni MV Agusta up to temperature, and as he does my mind transports me back to the vintage festival at the Barber Motorsports Museum in Alabama in 2006, when I had my first real taste of the legendary MV Agusta sound. At that memorable event, Backus and I met "Sir" John Surtees, uniquely famous for being the only man ever to win world championships on both two wheels and four. At Barber we watched Surtees, now 73 but still competent as ever on the track, making parade laps on his MV Agusta race bike, one of the very bikes he rode to a world championship in the late 1950s.

As intense as that experience was, watching a legend in motion, and watching and listening as they warmed up his equally legendary bike in the pit area, I have to say Shane’s 861 Magni MV Agusta sounds better to me.



Hear the Magni MV Agusta and read more about the origin of the bike 

Snarling through its four individual, handmade Magni GP one-piece exhaust pipes on idle, then winding up to a phenomenal crescendo as Shane roars off down his driveway, the 861 Magni MV Agusta has risen to number one on my chart of best motorcycle sounds, knocking off any bevel-drive Ducati with Conti pipes and Dell’Orto carburetors and even my old beloved three-cylinder Laverda: Shane should be selling audio CDs of this intoxicating Italian stallion making hot laps on the racetrack.



The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

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