2010 MV Agusta F4 1000 Review
Power and Passion
MV Agusta’s F4 1000 is probably the most elitist motorcycle you can imagine, but don’t hold that against it. It is that way because the people behind it always wanted the F4 to be the best, the fastest and the most desirable object in motorcycling. It’s been all of those things at various stages of its lifespan.
The truth is that last year’s RR312 1078 was starting to stagnate. It was too heavy and it wasn’t going in the same high-tech direction as its competitors. The 1078 is still a fantastic and desirable bike, but to stay competitive the 2010 F4 1000 has arrived on high time. All the latest technology such as traction control and a double riding mode (Sport and Rain) are now in place. Whilst being competitive in WSBK and winning customers with cheap high-performance motorcycles drives the Japanese brands, something that can be described only by the word passion drives MV Agusta.
The new F4 is fired up in the Misano pit lane and I’m greeted by a racy and aggressive sound exiting the four square organ style pipes. I’ve already fiddled with the 8-stage traction control and have chosen level 4 for my first session. Exiting the second and third gear corners on Misano on the first two laps, the traction control on level 4 worked just fine allowing me to worry about my lines and warming up the tyres rather than being too cautious. As soon as the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres were warm, though, I wanted a less intrusive setting.
There’s a lot of grip and stability in the latest version of the F4 chassis, so as soon as I had done the warm-up laps the high level of intrusion started to frustrate me. Hence I changed down to level 2 and then 1 in my next sessions. It’s only in the early and late life of the tyres you really need the higher levels of traction control on the MV Agusta F4. It’s also very easy to turn off the TC completely, as in reality there are 9 levels where 0 is off. When I had optimal tyre grip I got all the feedback I needed from the chassis to handle traction with my right hand.
The F4 with 22 pounds shaved off its delicious lines is a whole lot more nimble than its predecessors. Directional changes from one extreme lean to the next are now more of a blast rather than a chore. The handlebar has been raised a little which makes it easier to take the bull by its horns and make the F4 less demanding to ride. Along with a shortened and smaller fuel tank, the seat is now roomier and comfier.
The fuel tank is now in a conventional 17 litre size rather than the old 21 litre and it’s made of rotational nylon, saving an additional 2.5 lbs of weight compared to the old one. The new 20mm longer swingarm is one of the major contributors to the weight savings. The adjustable chassis has in fact been lightened whilst at the same time torsional rigidity has been increased.
The suspension, which consists of a fully adjustable quick release (good for fork stantion leg service and front wheel change) 50mm Marzocchi fork and a Sachs fully adjustable rear shock, are high quality items specified to MV’s requirements. They give plenty of feedback through the corners and it’s easy to feed the throttle mid-corner. I had some pretty interesting headshake moments far into third gear a couple of times despite the steering damper. I’d have needed to stiffen up the rear shock a bit or raise the rear ride height, but no way if I would sacrifice any riding time to do that with a well functioning track tool.
With the F4’s massive speed potential, only the best brakes like the Brembo monoblocks will do. The hardest braking on Misano happens on the start/finish straight and on the back straight where speeds of up to 150 mph need to be brushed off all the way down to around 40 mph. The top speed of the F4 has been tested by MV Agusta to 190 mph in sixth gear which we never come close to at Misano. The stability on the brakes is impressive and the feel is progressive. I had no problems with fade during my day in the saddle despite the fact that the new 320mm front discs are 5mm thinner than before.
It’s a pure delight to feed in the revs down the straights at Misano as there’s so much power on tap. The engine peaks at 186 hp (claimed at the crankshaft) at 12,900rpm with a further 600rpm before the rev limiter kicks in. From 9,500rpm where max torque of 84 ft-lbs has been reached the acceleration is fabulous. I’ll recommend the MV Agusta F4 1000 for the scientists at CERN for chasing the Higgs boson. High speed acceleration above 125 mph from third gear and up is a very strong side to the F4 package, and the F4 races through with enormous stability. I’m pretty sure that I set a new personal top speed through that corner on the F4 as the level of confidence in the chassis was high.
"From 9,500rpm where max torque of 84 ft-lbs has been reached the acceleration is fabulous."
I hardly used first gear at all around the circuit even though I could have with traction control in place. The torque delivery in second gear was enough but I could have wished for a slightly lower second gear to really go for it without having to resort to first gear. In the long left hander after the back straight is where I felt the traction control kick in more often than other places, as it’s a hard acceleration second gear corner where I switch to third whilst still at a leaning angle.
The 2010 MV Agusta F4 1000 will do 155 mph in fourth gear, which is all you need on Misano. I still made my way up to fifth a couple of times just to sample the acceleration even when the revs are not at optimum. Working the six-speed cassette-type gearbox is a delight, and the clutch feels lighter and easier to use than before. Working my way down the gearbox ahead of heavy braking areas is also easy helped by a very good mechanical slipper clutch. The F4 keeps its line to perfection whether you’re accelerating or decelerating.
The new 998cc inline-Four engine is more compact than older versions, and along with considerable weight savings there’s also more space for a larger airbox. This has contributed heavily to the 186 hp max power figure. The new oil and water cooling is now a lot more efficient also at lower engine speeds which many MV Agusta owners will welcome. I’ve had a few very warm moments riding in traffic on the old MV myself so this is really good news.
The re-engineered engine is now one that’s up there with the best in all areas rather than just relying on massive power and torque figures. The 2010 MV Agusta F4 1000 has got huge potential whilst the F4 RR312 1078 was at the end of its engineering cycle as far as the engine goes.
The new all digital instrument panel is a treat for the eyes and it can be adjusted for night or day usage. On the previous models it was sometimes difficult to see the warning lights in sunlight, now this problem has been completely eliminated with a flashy looking new instrument console. A gear sensor is in place with the current gear selection showing up on the digital panel along with traction control setting and all the necessary data on a big and easy to read instrument panel.
Some very cleverly designed aerodynamic funnels now feature all over the new fairing. As always an enormous amount of attention to detail is on shown on the F4. The mirrors that have to be on a roadbike are just as much a part of the aerodynamic design of the F4 as any other part. If you work for CRC you’re simply not allowed to just whack on a pair of ugly black Mickey Mouse style mirrors. On the 2010 F4 there’s even aerodynamic funnels in place underneath the mirrors to deflect high speed turbulent air into a smooth flow passing the rider’s elbows rather than crashing into the rider and causing more turbulence at speed.
As far as I’m concerned the front fairing of an MV F4 is one of the most attractive design elements in motorcycling, and the 2010 is even better than before with a subtle, sleeker than before design. I could honestly spend hours just looking at the three-dimensional flowing lines on that front where the details really come out on the red version in the sunlight. The front is as smooth as sand having been tortured for a thousand years by the wind. The F4 has indeed been designed to spend considerable amount of time doing 150-plus mph and being a natural at it.
Further to the aspects of the evolution to the F4 design is the exhaust system ending in the new square design with four pipes under the seat. Insiders have told us that Claudio Castiglioni himself requested this and other changes only weeks before production. It’s fairly evident looking at the whole F4 package and finish that the one and only sore point is the difference in finish from the bronze-coloured exhaust collector box and the removable new aluminium-coloured square end-pieces. I suspect they have been changed partly to make the new F4 more visibly evo, but also to cash in on aftermarket carbon fibre exhaust ends. I bet CRC is working on ways to hide this area a bit better for future models.
The 2010 F4 is still a superb track tool as ever. The big news is that of a lighter package with a better power to weight ratio than before. It is down a little on torque compared to the big-bore 1078, and I feel that perhaps second gear could be even lower. MV Agusta have pretty much addressed every issue that I had with the 2008/09 RR312, including reducing excessive heat development in the lower to mid rev zones which is very good news for those that intend to ride the F4 on the road and presumably for reliability, too.
The 2010 F4 is now a whole lot more practical for road usage whilst still remaining a very sharp and aggressive track tool. It’s more race bike than road bike, just like we want it to be, but more friendly than past models for those Sunday rides. The pegs are high and the amount of ground clearance is superb. The F4 likes nothing better than high corner speeds, offering great stability to match. The new 998cc engine is not quite as powerful as the BMW S1000R but it’s not far off.
The chassis and the bodywork that looks smooth like hot chocolate are my favourite bits of the 2010 F4. Disregarding lap times and high tech gizmos I’d rate the 2010 MV F4 second only to the Aprilia RSV4 Factory, closely followed by Bavaria’s latest son. The Japanese manufacturers can only dream of ever building a bike such as the F4. Pure passion.