Motorcycle MV Amore
Motorcycles are visceral things. They ignite the same kind of irrational passions that fuel amorous feelings between two people. They fill the devout enthusiasts with irrepressible euphoria, inspiring them to almost ridiculous impulsiveness. How fitting that Italy, a country renowned for its amoré—almost an official national treasure—would also be the romantic epicenter of motorcycling, producing some of the world’s most alluring examples of two-wheel lust.
If ever there was an Italian motorcycle manufacturer that could be found guilty of willful temptation through the proffering of sheer beauty, it is MV Agusta. The company has a prolific history of decimating the learned restraints of maturity by building stellar machines, capable of driving Homo sapiens back to our most basic, primal impulses. This is no false predilection. The motorcycles are legendary for being as technically well-endowed as they are aesthetically pleasing. Propagating the aforementioned, unabashed theory of a tangible connection between technology and emotion is MV Agusta’s new F4 1000 R.
The machine was recently revealed at the Santamonica Autodrome circuit in Misano, Italy, the famous paved playground situated on the Adriatic Coast, virtually in the company’s backyard. When the F4 1000 R was rolled out in its striking black livery, it induced a quiet moment of awe among the gathered. The dynamic flow of the bodywork and stylish Brembo Y-spoke wheels, together with the titanium finish of the classic, staggered organ-pipe exhaust—an established piety of F4 design—served to imbue the machine with an aesthetic of speed. (Click images to enlarge)
A storm was brewing in the mountains of nearby San Marino, threatening rain. The approaching crack of thunder underscored five of the regal MV Agustas harmoniously coming to life in pit row. We took to the track under a surreal backdrop of darkening skies and lightning strikes—a metaphor for the powerfully electric ride ahead.
Unraveling the Santamonica circuit, dipping the MV through corners and chasing its spirited brethren down the straights, it became blatantly apparent this is the arena the machine was intended for. The F4 1000 R is a surprisingly intuitive motorcycle, immediately translating the rider’s wishes and intent to the pavement.
The bike is sculpted to put the rider into a deceptively comfortable sport riding tuck; its aggressiveness is appropriate for a machine descending from MV’s prodigious racing lineage. The situation of the footpegs, in relation to the drop of the handlebars, drapes the rider’s body over the fuel tank, tucked in behind the windscreen. Arms fall naturally onto the grips. The position of the legs, in relation to the tank/seat juncture, allows effortless side-to-side body transitions, without unsettling the machine at speed. (Click image to enlarge)
The 998cc, 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 16-valve engine has undergone the most significant reworking since its introduction in 2003. Engineers concentrated on changes to the head and valve design to increase flow and aid heat dissipation without affecting the established mid-range power. New forged pistons with graphite-coated skirts raise overall horsepower. A new aluminum clutch bell housing and larger two-plate clutch strengthen the transmission and help push that power to the rear wheel.The F4 1000 R spreads its incred-ible 174 horses evenly—with much appreciated predictability—over the entire powerband. That peak is reached with the engine pleasantly screaming at 11,900 rpm. It is relatively easy with the fast-revving motor to unintentionally hit the rev-limiter, which kicks in at 13,000 rpm, begging for the next gear. Keeping the engine in the sweet spot and stepping through the 6-speed transmission results in straightaways being dispatched with relative ease. Clipping 145 mph on the back straight, the manicured grass bordering the Misano circuit is blurred in my peripheral vision. The fairing has been redesigned—inspired by this very circuit—to reduce the vortices of turbulent air collecting behind the windscreen, resulting in a relative calm that belies the speed.
With this level of performance on the straights, the corners arrive with surprising alacrity. Fortunately the F4 R enlists the phenomenal stopping power of radially mounted Brembo monoblock brake calipers and dual 320mm aluminum discs that work in concert with an EBS (engine braking system) to slow the machine down. Unique to the industry, the EBS allows the number 2 cylinder to produce torque under deceleration even with the throttle closed. The result is effective, controlled engine braking that greatly reduces the risk of rear wheel hop or skittishness.
The new WSBK Magneti Marelli 5SM fuel-injection system smoothes out the power delivery, however the engine still has a slight hesitancy when transitioning back onto the throttle from the fully closed position. That hiccup is quickly forgiven as the power builds. The F4 R bolts forward, with its head down, and the Pirelli Dragon Supercorsa PRO tires track and grip solidly. An Öhlins steering damper helps eliminate head shake under hard acceleration.
The F4 1000 R debuts Marzocchi’s newest R.A.C. (Road Advanced Component) forks with a wide range of adjustment possibilities. The hefty 50mm diameter units, held in place by massive triple clamps, give the business end of the MV a menacing persona. The fork tubes are treated with carbon nitrate for smoother telescoping slide action. A fully adjustable Sachs shock controls the arc of the single-sided aluminum swingarm through a progressive rate linkage.
The responsive suspension components, enhanced by the reduced unsprung weight of the Brembo forged aluminum wheels (which are only slightly heavier than full-race carbon fiber units) contribute significantly to the machine’s superlative handling. Engineers have packed a lot of muscle, precision and heart into a very compact and slender 423-pound package. It is difficult to believe an in-line 4-cylinder engine is nestled into the tubular trellis frame beneath the silver eco-leather hammer-finish saddle. (Click image to enlarge)
Racetracks impose a brutal honesty by exploiting a machine’s capabilities and idiosyncrasies, quickly revealing its virtues and frailties. Unleashing the F4 1000 R on the serpentine Misano circuit confirms the company’s objective of building on the glory of their racing heritage. In the process, MV Agusta has created a motorcycle of exquisite beauty for the discerning enthusiast.
Yes, motorcycles are visceral things. They take us back to the unbridled impulses of our youth, before reason and logic interfered with desires of the heart. The MV Agusta F4 1000 R stands as a pleasant, taunting rebellion to maturity, reminding us not to let our grown-up minds talk us out of too many indulgences.