2013 MV Agusta F4 and F4RR Test
The MV Agusta F4 carries its DNA all the way back to the F4 750 Oro of 1997. Sixteen years later, the Italian motorcycle manufactuer launches its most sophisticated F4 yet, the F4 RR.
Here’s a superbike with 201 strongly claimed horsepower with a state of the art electronic package and the super exotic all-over Ohlins electronically controlled suspension. This baby is dripping over with high tech, and the standard F4 isn’t bad either.
MV Agusta had chosen the technical and fast Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia for their introduction of the F4 MY13 range. Only six motorcycles would be in action at any time, three standard F4s and three F4 RRs. Exclusive launch for exclusive motorcycles and yours truly was lucky enough to be there to sample the Schiranna superbikes.
I kick off my first of four 20-minute sessions on the standard F4. The inline four growls to life with the sound of serious intentions exiting the four square organ pipes. The seat is very much racing and not exactly spacious. Knees are high up clutching the 4.49-gallon (17-liter) fuel tank and off I go out onto the circuit.
The F4 is so eager to rev so in my head I start thinking of how the F4 RR is going to be already. I do my warm up laps and start using more and more revs and revs there are plenty of. Above 9,000 rpm the F4 is fury itself and with 195 horsepower on tap you get that familiar sensation of “How could anything be faster?”
The F4 must be ridden very fast to get the best of it and in this early session I’m not quite up to the job yet. It feels stiff and too hard because I’m riding it like a sport tourer; I got to shape up for my next session.
The F4 again for my second session and I feel more determined to wrestle the best out of this beauty from Varese. I’ve set the traction control to level 2, which I feel is only a safety setting on this circuit with plenty of grip. I still don’t feel fast enough to test traction control but towards the end of session two I’m ready and go for it.
The F4 998cc in-line four is more flexible than ever and second gear is just fine where one should use first. The MV Agusta engineers have come up with a fine torque curve which from 9,600 rpm maintains 81 ft. lbs. of torque (110Nm) all the way to the rev limiter at 13,600 rpm.
Power, which feels smooth all the way, just rushes up the revs like mad above 9,000 rpm, and in fifth gear the F4 accelerates just as hard as a lesser bike in first gear. And at 13,400 rpm the F4 develops 195 rapid ponies and the 421-lbs. (191 kilos) claimed dry weight disappears and makes the F4 feel very light.
At standstill the F4 feels heavier and stiffer certainly compared to the Ducati Panigale and Aprilia RSV4 Factory but at speed there can’t be much in it at all. Regardless I’m left with a profound feeling that the F4 must be ridden fast and if you don’t its goodness am unobtainable.
It’s time for my third session and it’s F4 RR time. If possible the growl at start-up sounds more evil than the standard F4 and I know I’m up for a treat. Here we have exclusive forged titanium con-rods with a 21-percent mass reduction compared to the F4 standard models. The crankshaft is also forged and here a 2-percent reduction in mass has been achieved.
Along with new more efficient (8mm to 10mm) oil lines and higher oil pressure the engineers has been able to push the rev ceiling to 14,000 rpm to achieve a sky high 201hp figure at 13,600rpm. All this whilst maintaining an overall lower working temperature for the engine.
Out on the circuit 201 horsepower feels mental down the roughly one kilometre straight and if fifth gear feels like first on the F4 then you can only imagine how it feels like on the RR. Inside a riders crash helmet it obviously feels like you could rival a NASA space rocket at revs above 10K but this again obviously isn’t true. The F4 RR is extremely fast and must be tried to believe.
The electronically assisted shift system is a great aid when going down a straight at such speeds but I did fail to kick properly up a gear a couple of times so I’ll put a question mark on the sensitivity of the system. It’s probably something that can be adjusted out as the F4 RR is oh so adjustable (frame, pegs etc).
The EAS also enables clutchless downshifts but naturally not at 14K rpm. Clutchless downshifts aren’t something I’m too easy to be persuaded to naturally do so I used the good old clutch for that job. Transmission was satisfactory apart from just these moments of niggles. Testing at Monza MV Agusta have measured that using the EAS shifting times is reduced by 40 percent, which equaled a 2.2 second faster lap using the same test rider.
The suspension on the F4 RR differs from the F4 and F4 R in one major area and that’s called Ohlins EC (Electronically Controlled). The F4 gets a Marzocchi 50mm fork and a Sachs rear shock whilst the F4 R features an Ohlins TTX rear shock to differ it from the F4 standard model. The standard but fully adjustable Marzocchi/Sachs set up works very fine but step up to the Ohlins EC and we’re in another ballpark.
The Ohlins EC features a TTX EC rear shock and an Ohlins EC Nix 43mm fork. In addition even an Ohlins EC steering damper. What all this means is that you can use the riding modes to adjust also the suspension and in a progressive manner so that the suspension follows vehicle speed. Enabling all this is an integrated Ohlins ECU connected to the F4 RR’s ECU and RBW. MV Agusta has really gone out big time to blow our minds with the F4 RR which now equals the Ducati Panigale S in high tech.
I suppose we have to keep in mind that these two will compete against each other in the world superbike championship at some point so MV wants to give its F4 RR baby the best start possible.
The Ohlins EC suspension is what dreams are made of out on the Valencia circuit and you just simply can’t put a foot wrong. There’s sensitivity when you want it and the suspension stiffens up when needed automatically and it’s also fully customizable in the dashboard for individual parameters.
Due also to super lightweight forged aluminum wheels the F4 RR feels feather light when throwing it from ear to ear and that’s quite an achievement on an in-line four with such a high rev ceiling. The faster you go the more brutal you have to be with it and to save energy I found it perfectly acceptable to short shift from second to third as the power is always plentiful. Should you be fast enough to overtake somebody else on the same machine then all the revs will be needed. Only the F4 R and F4 RR get the forged aluminum wheels.
Tyres are the eminent Diablo Supercorsa SP’s from Pirelli in sizes 120/70-17 front and 200/55-17 rear. These have become the standard for the litre class superbikes and they have more than enough grip even to deal with the massive 201 horsepower of the RR. Traction control is without doubt needed at some of the slower and perhaps also some faster corners in low gears but we’re then talking about a massive power surge and fact is that the F4 RR would be slightly too mad without TC.
To stop this superbike MV Agusta have gone for the very best for a production sport bike in the Brembo M50 radial callipers while the F4 and F4 R has to make do with heavier M4 items. The RR also has a Brembo master pump that replaces the long lived Nissin items. I could only feel a marginal difference between the two because I believe the suspension makes even more of a difference. In terms of weight there are grams saved by using the M50’s. Going from 170 mph to 80 mph after the Valencia straight is a peace of cake and I probably always maintained a too large safety margin.
2013 MV Agusta F4 and F4RR Tech talk
In the press conference Brian Gillen (3 & 4 Cylinder platform manager) stressed that it’s very difficult to produce 1,500 F4 RR engines with 201 horsepower. To achieve this benchmark pistons are hand selected and also the porting is done by hand.
The new Ride-By-Wire electronics package ensures that all 201 wild horses can be used effectively. The new RBW features dual micro architecture for safety. The new Mikuni fuel pump with two injectors per cylinder can now spray fuel with 3.5 bars rather than the previous 3 and with enormous precision. The fuel sensitivity now stretches to two Hall Effect sensors with three signals each (go google it!). Simplified this all equals one thing – fast!
2013 MV Agusta F4 and F4 RR Conclusion:
The F4 RR is the absolute MV Agusta flagship model and as such almost automatically one of the very best motorcycles in the world. Engineers have spent night and day trying to make a top superbike even better and they have succeeded.
At 18,499 Euro ($24,638 USD), it’s not cheap but I can guarantee you it has been priced even higher in the board rooms prior to the launch (my press kit states much higher prices to the official e-mail I received after the launch). For what it is I think it’s worth every penny but for a very narrow expert/enthusiast audience.
The red/white one is my choice. Come the F4 at 5,000 Euro ($6,659 USD) cheaper and now we’re talking more mainstream and obtainable compared to the competition. There’s no way around this, the F4 is slightly harder and more difficult to ride fast than its top competitors and only marginally more desirable than the Aprilia and Ducati.
Engine reliability has been improved a great deal on paper so MV are definitely on its way to top marks also in this area. I love the engine improvements and how the engine feels at full throttle. Suspension is great even on the standard F4 model. Whilst prices may seem high there’s a high degree of hand built’ness particularly on the RR model, which should be at a premium in my humble opinion.
I could still easily have ignored the 201hp figure and gone for the 195hp standard F4 simply because I’d just like to own a thing of beauty. The saved 5K would buy me a second hand Honda for every day usage.
2013 MV Agusta F4 and F4 RR Positives/Negatives:
+ Massive power from the best in-line four there is
+ Suspension and handling (Particularly F4 RR)
+ Exclusivity (F4 RR)
– Hardcore riding position
– For speedfreaks and trackday fans only (because an F4 RR with 201hp isn’t fun on the road)
By Tor Sagen