MV AGUSTA is renowned for producing exquisite, expensive and often temperamental motorcycles but that’s all changing with the introduction of a more affordable platform of bikes.
The F3 800 may not be the most powerful or expensive motorcycle to come from the Italian manufacturer, but it is still utterly exquisite.
Judging from the F3 800’s sharp lines, tapered rear end and sharp facial features, this bike clearly hasn’t been designed to be quite as versatile as Suzuki’s GSX-R750 or even Ducati’s 848 Evo. It’s not an everyday sportsbike for everyday people but a proper tool for track junkies – or a stunning ornament for your garage (or living room).
After a frankly terrible first outing on track I slide into pit lane feeling as deflated as a week-old balloon. I could probably run faster with my trainers on the wrong feet. The mechanic is more attentive than a first date and he’s keen to understand why I’m uncomfortable. He suggests suspension modifications and keeping my toes well away from the gear lever until I really need it so that changes are more precise.
The combination of me being more aware of the bike’s sensitive nature and his subtle suspension changes improves the ride experience and I can feel the fun starting to bubble under the F3’s skin. The gear changing does improve, but it’s not totally faultless and some bikes appear to be smoother than others.
The engine is a delicious mix of heady power and useable torque and as the day progresses, so does my understanding and appreciation of what the bike has to offer. It’s flexible enough to handle a whole lap in one gear, forgiving enough to grumble along in the wrong one and it’s highly capable of generating deceptively fast speeds.
But it’s the handling that I’m most smitten with. It steers beautifully and is stable and precise in high speed turns. The more committed I am, the more rewarding the ride becomes.
It falls into corners with immediate obedience and any sort of chicane is just a rush, it feels that good. While the F3 800 appears to be a typical MV in that it doesn’t appreciate you pussy-footing around, it’s also relatively comfortable and it feels more accessible to mere mortals.
Considering its sporty riding position, it’s probably not the ideal choice for the road, but certainly on track, the supersport-sized dimensions and complimentary blend of a fine chassis and superb handling is impressive.
ABS isn’t available yet, but there is an eight stage traction control system and four riding maps; Sport, Rain, Normal and Custom, which as the name suggests, offers you the chance to set your own parameters. Unlike most riding modes, there isn’t a huge difference in power and torque between these options, but throttle sensitivity, torque acceleration, engine braking and how abruptly the rev limiter cuts in are all factors that are redefined, with an inconsequential 3-4 lb.ft drop in torque in
Sport is clearly the more aggressive option. The bike pounces with increased intensity and yet it’s not intimidating or difficult to control. The ‘ride by wire’ facilitates these modes but in turn, the throttle response feels super-light. There is tiny circle of eight lines in the top right hand corner of the dash to indicate the traction control level but there is no flashing light to indicate that it’s been activated and the sensation is so subtle, I’m not even sure if it’s working – which I guess can only be a good thing.
The display is cluttered and overly busy. I’m sure that once you’re used to it, you’ll be able to locate the information you need in an instant – but it’s not intuitive.
MV Agusta is continuing where Suzuki left off in re-creating ‘the best of both worlds’, albeit sportier ones. So although you can always teach an old dog new tricks, you can also teach old tricks to a new dog.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: MV Agusta F3 800, £11,499 on the road.
Engine: 798cc liquid cooled 3-cylinder producing 146bhp @ 13,000rpm and 65lb.ft @ 10.600rpm.
Transmission: six speed sequential manual gearbox, chain drive.
Weight (dry): 173 kg.
Seat height: 805 mm.
Fuel capacity: 16.5 litres.