Sure, the F3 lacks a cylinder, 323cc and about 55 rear-wheel horsepower to its big brother, so the three-pot F3 can’t compete with the inline four-cylinder, 998cc F4RR on a racetrack. However, in its white fairing/red frame livery and boasting features such as a ride-by-wire throttle, a quick-shifter and programmable engine braking (electronics the F4R or even pricier F4RR don’t own), the F3, at $14 large, is akin to landing a Victoria’s Secret model at Wal-Mart pricing.
Chief Editor, Kevin Duke, at a model launch earlier this year, conveyed his impression of the F3’s prowess on a closed-course circuit, but the street ride component of the event was rained out. To make up for the loss we recently procured an F3 and set about on our local roadways, including a trip to the dyno to find out exactly how much of the claimed 126 crankshaft horsepower is actually getting to the ground.
So, when subjected to the mundanities of domestic use, does the MV live up to Duke’s “scintillating” perception he wrote of the bike at the track?
If you’ve spent time aboard an MV F4 you’re familiar with its constant push-up (high seat/low clip-on) seating arrangement. The 675 demands no such exercise from its rider. Although the seat height of the F3 is less than one inch lower (32.0 vs. 32.7 inches), the rider triangle is more relaxed with a shorter reach to the handlebars and a more upright seating position. So, even prior to the ignition being keyed on, the F3 has established itself as more streetable MV due to its tolerable ergonomics.
The F3’s trinity of exhaust tips emits a distinctive note only a three-cylinder can, the decibel level of which is more tolerable than that of the F4. Like its big brothers, we found the fuel mapping to be less than perfect, especially in the lower part of the rev range. Curiously, the F3 seemed to function best in the Sport mode of the four selectable options of engine mapping (Rain, Normal, Sport, Custom), and not Normal, the more obvious selection for street use. Regardless, the severely oversquare engine (74.0 x 52.3mm) requires a lot of throttle/clutch caressing when accelerating from a dead stop.
Which leads us to the 675’s most glaring character flaw for street use — an engine whose power resides in the upper half of its rev range. “The F3 has a greater appetite for revs than the torquier Daytona 675,” says Duke in his track evaluation story. The combination of weak low-end power and questionable low-end fueling disparages the F3’s urban performance. On the upside, where the F4’s engine emits a testicle-numbing buzziness, the F3 suffers no such similarity.
The F3’s novel reverse-rotating crankshaft is purported to reduce the gyroscopic effects of its crankshaft, thereby quickening its steering responses. While that may be true when revved out on a racetrack, as Duke reported, and the F3 is surely a very nimble machine, the design seems to have only a negligible effect on the street where revs are lower.
Keep the three-cylinder on the boil when strafing your favorite canyon road and you’re rewarded with a potent combination of forward thrust and a willing chassis. The F3’s fully adjustable Marzocchi fork and Sachs shock soak up road imperfections admirably while its Nissin master cylinder, steel braided lines, two-piece Brembo calipers and dual 320mm front discs conspire to shed speed with authority and control.
The F3 leaps its F4 double R counterpart in the electronic adjustability bragging rights department. The real advantage to owning this technological trickery, however, is truly realized on the track. While both programmable engine braking and the quick-shifter help a rider to cut quicker lap times, their usefulness on the street is limited. In fact, the quick-shifter functions optimally when aggressively banging gears with the engine on song, not when riding a recreationally moderate pace on public roadways.
MV designers should be commended for attention to detail on the F3, and not just for things like the “artfully scalloped fork leg” Duke mentions in his track review, but for real world usefulness. Where the F4 pinches a rider’s thumb between handlebar and fairing at full steering lock, the F3 saves your opposable digit from bruising. However, these same designers installed mirrors that blur from the minor engine vibrations, making it hard for a rider to see his forearm that inconveniently splits the viewable area of the mirror.
The F4 models we’re alluding to in this story are of the 2012 variety, whereas the F3 is an early-release 2013 model. Rumor has it the F4R and RR will be updated for 2013, but their MSRP will remain significantly more than the F3. And while the performance components of the F3 don’t do much for the average street rider, with a price tag of only $14k, you can’t afford to overlook this very sexy, very capable motorcycle.
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