It’s no secret, when it comes to low-RPM fueling MV Agusta’s been literally stumbling over itself. The company’s premiere F4 and F4 RR models have also been berated for throttle lag and intrusive traction control. All unacceptable characteristics of an ill-programmed ECU on an exotic motorcycle commanding a lavish ownership fee.
In this more brawn than brains scenario – where the F4 RR outputs 172 rear wheel horsepower but the bike’s ECU doesn’t apply that power properly – the F4 RR is as fast as it is pretty, but kind of dumb.
The unified disdain from magazine journos and F4 owners over MV’s maligned ECU algorithms hasn’t gone unnoticed by the boutique brand’s brass. For 2013 MV traded the F4’s Magnetti Marelli ECUs for Eldor units, but that wasn’t the immediate fix the company was hoping for, so MV and Eldor went to work tweaking MV’s Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System (MVICS).
“We went back and did a complete revision of the strategy inside the engine’s ECU,” says Brian Gillen, MV’s 3- & 4-Cylinder Platform Manager and Team Principal for MV Agusta Corse.
A recent track outing confirms that MV has successfully upgraded the arrangement of 1s and 0s in the bike’s Eldor ECU, resulting in an F4 and F4 RR with now Mensa-level functionality.
The forthcoming F3 800 was the first production bike to receive the upgrade, then it was applied to all F4 models. F3 675 updates will be available September 10. New ECU maps are available for free to MV owners. Check the MV website under your specific model to see if there are updates available. If so, schedule an appointment with your MV dealer to have the update installed.
Although ECU upgrades weren’t available for the F3 675, MV brought a couple for comparative purposes and the differences were night and day. Where the F3 sputtered its low-RPM way out of the garage, only to have throttle inputs met with inconsistent engine response, and traction control interference overwhelmingly noticeable during corner exits, the F4 provided clean bottom-end acceleration, crisp engine response from throttle inputs and minimal traction control interference.
“As we move forward we’re continually developing not only maps but programs and algorithms such as the blipper downshift for models equipped with a quickshifter,” says Gillen.
Gillen also explained that MV is now developing regionally specific ECU mappings for domestic markets around the world, including the ethanol blends common in America.
“Fuels are changing worldwide with differing ethanol contents,” says Gillen. “Until January of this year Italy had no ethanol content.”
Of course this doesn’t explain why companies such as Aprilia and BMW have no such low-RPM fueling problems, but, regardless, MV Agusta is now purchasing regionally-specific fuel to create ECU maps that will deliver the kind of performance North American MV owners expect.
Gillen went as far to say that we may expect other regionally specific changes such as higher or lower suspension spring rates depending on what their research uncovers about the riding habits and expectations of its North American customers.
Which brings us to what’s happening with MV Agusta stateside. According Rob Keith, Managing Director for MV Agusta USA, after importing only 28 bikes in 2011, the company brought over 400 last year and is on track to double that to 800 units for 2013.
New personnel have recently been added to help with the growing amount of responsibilities associated with doubling year-over-year sales. “We went from a three-person team to a seven-person team, so we’re adjusting to the growth,” says Keith.
The new team will soon be travelling to Europe to work with their Italian counterparts. “We’ll bring back what we learn to the US, disseminate that information to our dealers, and in turn the consumer will be much better taken care of,” says Keith. “We want the consumer to have a really positive experience and now we’re better equipped to do that.”
Twelve new MV dealers have been added in the last two years bringing the total of North American dealers to 45. Keith plans to add another 10 to 15 dealers.
“After we get around 60 dealers it will be time to reevaluate where we want to go and how we want to position ourselves in the market,” says Keith.
Considering the recent global financial turmoil and the implosion of sportbike sales it’s reassuring to hear such positive news from MV Agusta regarding its expanding North American presence. A large part of MV’s bettering fortunes are the new, relatively affordable three-cylinder models – the F3 being MV USA’s best-selling bike.
With the F3 800 set for arrival in North American MV dealers in October of this year, followed by the 675cc Rivale in early Spring of 2014, motorcycle enthusiasts will have even more MV models from which to choose.
Stay tuned for reviews of future models such as the forthcoming F3 800 as well as updated reviews of current models incorporating the new ECU strategies.