The MV Agusta F4 is a textbook example of timeless beauty, but behind all of its splendour, there’s a monster waiting to be unleashed.
Us motorcyclists are dreamers, and, more often than not, we dream big! While most of these dreams remain just that – dreams – some do come to life. This is one such story – my encounter with one of the greatest legends in the world of motorcycling, the MV Agusta F4. In the world of motorcycling, there are two kinds of superbikes – those that can be tamed, and those that simply can’t be meddled with. The MV Agusta F4R falls firmly under the category of the latter.
When geniuses are hard at work, the end result is usually a masterpiece – as is the case with Massimo Tamburini and the F4. While this iteration only came into existence in 2013, it has its roots in the original F4 penned in the late ‘90s. Don’t be misled by the timeline though, this motorcycle was way ahead of its time.
From desktop wallpapers, to scale models on the mantelpiece, and, in fact, even today as I look at the latest avatar in the flesh, I can’t help but think that the MV Agusta F4 is simply drop-dead gorgeous. Your attraction towards it only multiplies when you realise that it was penned before the turn of this century – despite that, even today, it looks positively futuristic. The angular front fascia that houses the single projector headlamp, the front intakes flanked by LED strips, the aerodynamically designed mirror casing, the muscular tank, and those beautifully designed quad-exhausts all come together in flawless union. In addition, the closer you look, the more intrigued you’ll be at how every part has been designed to serve a purpose. Case in point being the quick release fasteners on the fairing for hasty weight reduction while on track (as though the power-to-weight ratio isn’t mental enough as is) and the single sided swing arm, which saves time when changing the tyre. In fact, elements like these not only keep the F4 firmly entrenched in MV Agusta’s racing heritage but also make it a timeless package. Simply put, if designing a motorcycle is art, then Massimo Tamburini is da Vinci and the MV Agusta F4 is the Mona Lisa.
Swing a leg on the F4, and it feels taller than it appears in pictures. A saddle height of 830mm means I could just about tiptoe it while parking. When compared to the seat height, the handlebars feel low and the rear-set foot pegs put you in a super aggressive riding posture – making you all-set to take on the track. That being said, it isn’t the most comfortable posture to ride around in the city and the heavy clutch action doesn’t help either. But, while it puts you through this misery, it has the potential to generate an equal amount of joy on a racetrack.
The engine of the MV Agusta F4 is as much a work of art as the rest of the bike. But before we delve into its disposition, let’s get the specifications out of the way. The F4 gets a short stroke 998cc inline four-cylinder engine that churns out an insane 192bhp and 110.8Nm. And, it weighs just 191kgs, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of… wait for it… 1,005bhp/ton – which takes it from a standstill to 100km/h in less than 3 seconds.
Thumb the starter and the F4 comes to life with a livid tone that gives you a glimpse of the madness that awaits you. The F4’s torque is surprisingly well distributed throughout the rev range, allowing it to be easily ridden in higher cogs at low rpms. In its mid-range, the bike feels relatively civilised, but as the revs climb it becomes as mad as a hatter. The fun begins once you get the needle past the 9,000rpm mark, at which point the graph jumps like it’s on a trampoline. The exhaust note gets louder and angrier, as the bike blitzes past with acceleration akin to a naturally aspirated V10. It keeps you engaged and on your toes at all times, and you simply can’t risk taking it for granted.
With such savage acceleration, at first it’s difficult to trust the electronics – not because they’re inept, but simply because of the frantic energy that the bike is bursting with. But after spending a little more time on the saddle, I came to realise that they manage to keep the F4 on a tight leash and prevent it from turning schizophrenic. The F4R comes with four riding modes – Normal, Rain, Sport and Custom. Rain is the mildest of the lot, as it restricts peak power output. It becomes increasingly liberal as you toggle from Normal to Sport. Custom mode, however, allows you to adjust the setup as per your requirement. The gearbox, meanwhile, is buttery smooth – as the quick shifter ensures that as the 6-speed gearbox shifts at even the slightest nudge.
But it isn’t all smooth sailing for the F4, especially if you’re riding through bad roads in the city. The firmly setup suspension means that the bike sends an angry message to your back each time you put it through a pothole. Yes, you can adjust the suspension and the steering damper to a softer setup, but don’t expect it to change the dynamics drastically to offer supple ride quality. The bike we tested was the F4R, which came fitted with Ohlins dampers at the back. But the bike on sale in India is the standard version, with the Sachs dampers and cast alloy wheels. The good news is that the F4 comes loaded with gadgetry that includes lean angle sensors, 8-stage traction control, a Bosch-sourced 9 Plus ABS System with Race mode, and much more.
Some might argue that a starting price of Rs. 26.87 lakhs (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for the MV Agusta F4 may be a bit steep – especially when offerings like the latest Kawasaki ZX-10R, which makes as much power and torque as the MV Agusta F4, cost considerably less. But then the price you pay isn’t just for the engine. It’s for the complete package, which combines exclusivity, new-age technology, and ownership of a brand that has a long and epic racing heritage – and that’s to say nothing of the sheer joy of riding a pure Italian stallion. Of course, you could also choose to buy the F4 and never ride it. And no one could blame you – because, frankly, it’s a perfectly formed piece of industrial sculpture to add to your art collection to simply to ogle at and drool over!
Massimo Tamburini, the artist who sketched the MV Agusta F4, is one of the most celebrated designers of all time – known for his engineering excellence, advanced chassis design and ultramodern styling. When asked to define his ideal motorcycle, he said “a 750cc with the power of 1,000cc and the weight of a 500cc.” The Italian motorcycle designer followed this mantra to the T, and the result reflects in each of the motorcycles he ever created. While each motorcycle that he penned was more droolworthy than the last, the Ducati 916 is arguably his most gorgeous. Introduced in 1994, the 916 was the bike that made underseat exhausts popular. The twin headlights, the single sided swing-arm, the three-spoke alloy wheels, all blended perfectly to give the Ducati 916 a purposeful, aggressive, yet sexy, design. Interestingly, some of the design innovations that were born on the 916 can be seen on the Panigale even today. However, Tamburini himself claimed the MV Agusta F4 to be his most satisfying motorcycle. Tamburini got what is every designer’s dream – a blank canvas to let his imagination run wild, and the result is a motorcycle that looks stunning nearly two decades after it was first sketched. Massimo Tamburini retired in 2008, and left this world for a better place in 2014. We stand and salute this maestro for all his designs that make us go weak in the knees even today.
- MV Agusta F4R
Engine: 998cc / Inline 4-Cylinders / Liquid Cooled / 16 Valves
Power: 192bhp @ 13,400rpm
Torque: 110.8Nm @ 9,600rpm
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Price (MV Agusta F4): Rs. 26.87 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Mumbai)
X-FACTOR: A piece of perfectly formed industrial sculpture, which also happens to be loaded with cutting-edge tech and offers menacing performance.
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