Look at these two beautiful, beautiful bastards.
And no. One “beautiful” is not adequate. That is why I put two there.
To my eye, Massimo Tamburini (quite correctly called the Michelangelo of motorcycle design) created an ageless masterpiece when he designed the resurgent MV Agusta F4 back in 1996.
The great man had been diagnosed with prostate cancer at the time but declared himself unwilling to die until he had finished the design that would “save” MV Agusta.
And so it came to pass. The MV Agusta he created, the F4 750 Serie Oro – and which was subsequently placed in the Guggenheim Museum as bona fide “art” – did indeed save MV Agusta from oblivion.
After all, how could a company that now produced the most beautiful motorcycle ever built simply cease to exist?
Quite obviously it couldn’t.
This is the bike of Agostini and Hailwood. This is the bike of Read, Surtees and Ubbiali.
This is the bike that won 270 Grand Prix races, 38 World Riders’ Championships, and 37 World Constructors’ Championships.
The company may never be hugely profitable. It may never delight its shareholders. It may change owners time and again. It may never produce motorcycles free of quirks and foibles. And it is unlikely it will ever add another motorcycle grand prix title to its massive haul.
But none of that matters. As long as MV Agusta produces the most beautiful motorcycles on earth, and while ever there exist riders who love them passionately for what they are rather than what detractors think they should be, MV will carry on.
Tamburini eventually succumbed to lung cancer instead of prostate cancer and passed away in 2014, aged 70.
The MV Agusta F4 in all of its subsequent incarnations, is just one of his many motorcycle legacies, but it is his greatest creation. And it has remained stylistically virtually unchanged since 1996.
After all, how could one presume to improve on its appearance?
You would no more put a pair of horns on the statue of David or add a few more saints to the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.
Yes, I know MVs have issues and I do not care.
I was one of the first people in Australia to ride one of the 300 stunning F4 750 Sennas, with an Arrows race system no less. And I was certainly the first person in Australia to put more than 25,000kms on an F4 1000S when the then MV importer Paul Feeney felt I was exactly the correct type of lunatic to have one as a long-termer.
Since then I have ridden most of the model line-up, except for the most exclusive models which only the owners ride (and MV Agusta produces more limited editions than any other manufacturer), and pretty much every one of them had an issue, and at no time did I give a rat’s arse.
The number plate would vibrate off the Brutale.
A blinker would fill with water and stop working on the Dragster.
The number plate fell off and the stop-light stopped working on another Dragster.
The handguard on the Lusso came loose.
I did not then and I do not now give a shit about any of that. It did not then and does not now change how I feel about MV Agusta. It does not make them any less beautiful, special or desirable.
And maybe I’m that way because I come from a time when a bike’s reliability was directly related to its ineffable magnificence. I made my bones on Harley Shovels, Ducatis, Triumphs and Nortons. I know all about motorcycles with issues.
Did any of these issues prevent any of those bikes from being objects of passionate desire and veneration?
Of course not. What kind of motorcyclist even thinks like that?
The exact same unreasonable desire drives my passion for MV Agustas.
No possible issue could ever detract from the…well, sense of absolute occasion you get when you throw a leg over an MV, thumb the starter button, hear it bark into life, smile at its snarling idle, and accept that everyone in the carpark is looking at you and your MV.
You just need to make your peace with the fact that owning an MV is like going out with a Victoria’s Secret supermodel.
Most of the time you feel divinely blessed and god-like to have such a physically perfect female on your arm or in your bed.
But there will be occasions when she will make you insane and miserable, because that is the nature of imponderably beautiful things.
Does that fact make her any less desirable?
Don’t be silly.
A Victoria’s Secret supermodel is beyond even the best exotic dancer in terms of sheer corporeal beauty – which is why she is a being paid $1000 a second to walk around in expensive underpants while the stripper has to swing around a pole for eight long hours on a good night for that kind of money.
Yes, of course she poos and wees. And burps and farts. And is probably a total bitch with the brains of a curtain rod.
But you don’t care.
And entirely unlike an MV, you can also imagine she would be very hard work to maintain. Her twice-weekly manicures alone would ensure you ate nothing but old bread dipped in bin-juice.
Does that mean we don’t aspire to having them anyway?
Does that mean we wouldn’t indulge such a stunning creature if we could actually afford it?
Does that mean we wouldn’t be installing high-resolution mirrors on every ceiling and wall in our homes if she lived with us?
I’m sure some you would say “Nah, not interested. Give me a plain, comfy old mummy to cook me roasts, raise my kids and keep my house.”
And that’s fine. I wish you and your missus and whatever blanc mange motorcycle she’s permitted you to buy, every happiness.
Because I know there will always be blokes who want the supermodel, and are prepared to pay the price for what they see in the mirror each time she’s necked half a bottle of vodka, put on her party panties and heels and started calling you “Daddy.”
Those are the blokes who want that sense of occasion.
Those are the blokes who want to fly too close to the sun.
Those are the blokes who understand how short life is and how important it is to maybe not always make sensible decisions, or walk the safe and practical path.
Those are the blokes MV builds bikes for – and make no mistake, these limited edition, individually numbered, Reparto Corse MVs are, just like those Victoria’s Secret supermodels, not for everyone.
And rightly so.
So step this way, good sir, and let me show you two very, very special and very, very beautiful weapons. There’s quite a lot of motorcycle pornography going on here, so you might want to bring a box of tissues…
2017 MV AGUSTA F3 REPARTO CORSE
You can get the F3RC in two engine configurations. There’s an 675cc version and an 800cc version (they are identical in size and weight), and there were only 350 units produced world-wide in 2017, but there will be 500 available in 2018. And that’s a combination of both capacities, not 350 or 500 of each capacity.
I rode the 800cc version. And because it’s an MV, and MV puts very angry engines in its bikes, it feels like a 1000cc bike. That engine…man, that glorious demon of a donk, it just keeps on giving, revving…hell, shrieking its way up the rev-range. It is a very willing accomplice to any trashing of the Motor Traffic Act you’ve a mind to commit.
Of course, when you get on the bigger F4RC, you’ll soon understand an 800cc MV does not feel like a 1000cc MV. The 800 feels like a 1000cc bike someone else makes, because the race-ready and race-kit-fitted 212bhp F4RC actually feels like nothing else on this earth except maybe a full race-spec superbike. But I’ll get to that in a sec.
The F3RC is very different to its bigger brother, despite weighing only 10kg less at 165kg dry.
It feels more agile and nimble, and is physically a smaller bike with different steering geometry, so I’m guessing that’s why.
It produces 148 horsies (at 13,000rpm) and 88Nm of torque (at 10,600rpm), so while it’s nowhere near as terrifying as the F4RC, it is certainly an unalloyed hoot to ride.
It responds best to precise rider inputs rather than extravagant gestures driven by fear or uncertainly. The ratio of swingarm length to wheelbase (576.5mm to 1380mm) ensures superb weight distribution and adds to the great and most engaging feel the bike offers when you decide to push on a little harder.
It was far less ergonomically compromising than I thought it would be, but it’s still not a bike overly concerned with your comfort.
It will, in fact, disembowel your calves (as will the F4RC) with its adjustable-for-height footpegs when you sit on it and try and waddle it around. It’s one of those MV things. It’s like the designer put the pegs where he put them so they’re ergonomically correct for certain people when they are riding the bike, and not when they’re shuffling it about. It’s the same principle as Mexican horse-riding boots. They are not designed to be walked in, but are great to ride horses with.
And I will not speak ill of the dead. You put them where you put them, Massimo. Who am I to take issue with that? Has Michelangelo’s rendering of the Last Judgement got too much blue in it?
This is a bike fundamentally designed to be all about emotion – and this is probably why the dash is so busy, hard to read and somewhat challenging to navigate. I yell at it very emotionally.
But it’s challenging in the same way the placement of the calf-gouging footpegs is challenging.
It’s challenging in the same way a Victoria’s Secret model’s temper tantrums are challenging.
You adapt, and you overcome, and you accept, and you look at her and shake your head in wonder at how gorgeous she is. So what if she has a little tanty now and then?
So what if the MV’s dash menus and display are overly complex?
So what if the backs of your calves are scarred? You some kind of weird leg model?
And this is not about you, anyway.
This is about the F3RC, which in every way, feels exactly like a very exclusive motorcycle should feel.
It handles with sublime integrity – but you do have to set it up.
If anyone ever tells you MV’s don’t handle, it’s because they haven’t set the bike up to suit their weight or riding style. All the equipment is there – Brembos with race ABS, USD Marzocchi forks, Sachs monoshock up the back, slipper clutch, quickshifter (up only), twin-texture high-grip race seat, Ergal folding race brake and clutch levers, laser-etched anodised mirror blanking plugs, a solo seat cowl, four engine maps, eight levels of traction control and a level of finish that defies belief.
The race-replica paint is stunning. It’s a criminal shame to cover it up with the tricolore indoor display cover it comes with while it sits on its MV Agusta Corse paddock stand, so I would make a cape for myself out of the cover. Or maybe some lingerie for all the girls this thing attracts.
And it certainly does do that.
Even girls who know nothing about bikes will stare open-mouthed in admiration at one of these.
But if you’re over girls, or not into them, then the same is true for all the other genders.
People admire MVs because they are objectively beautiful. Like Victoria’s Secret models.
Like Michelangelo’s sculptures and paintings.
Like a tropical sunset.
You don’t need to be into motorcycles, supermodels, art or even sunsets to acknowledge beauty when it is arrayed before you.
Riders admire them and also aspire to own them because not only are they beautiful, but because no other motorcycle is quite as evocative as an MV.
They are special.
Over the last few years they have been refined and improved and MV’s stated aim is to offer people the finest and most exclusive sportsbikes on the planet.
A most praiseworthy goal and one which it’s obvious the factory is working diligently towards.
The fueling is now top-notch, and the ride on a properly set-up MV is second to none. And that engine…well, there’s nothing in that capacity class remotely like that screaming, howling, eye-watering 800. Nothing.
Is it practical? Nope.
Is it sensible? Nope.
And thank the Road Gods it’s not.
Instead, the F3RC is everything a bike should be – impractical, nonsensical, but achingly beautiful to behold, savagely satisfying to ride, and completely and utterly an act of passion and purity.
2017 MV AGUSTA F4 REPARTO CORSE
There you go.
That’s my review of the F4RC.
What else do you want?
I could add swear words, but they would be superfluous.
Wow. Just wow.
That is sufficient.
What else could I possibly tell you?
Very few people would ever consider buying an F4RC.
Fewer still would actually buy one.
Most would be like me – impoverished aspirants with their faces smeared against showroom glass foggy from panting and wet from drooling.
But make no mistake. If I had the money, or if I could raise the money (and I’m not yet entirely sure I can’t because I have guns), I would have a F4 Reparto Corse in my garage.
A lot of the time I would just look at it. I would look at it emanating its insane beauty like a beacon of desire – and I would desire it. Park a fully loaded Panigale V4 next to it and watch the Ducati disappear beside the MV Agusta – which is a pretty neat trick for a bike aesthetically more than two decades old.
Now and again I would ride it. On those occasions I would tape up the back of my calves against the gouging kisses of the fully adjustable Valtermoto rearsets. Then I would thumb the starter button, fold my aging limbs into the cruel but required position, and go for a bit of a ride.
It would not be a long ride because this is not my first rodeo.
But it would be a great ride for precisely the same reason.
Wherever I parked the F4RC crowds of people would gather to admire it. They would not even see me beside its otherworldly gorgeousness, but I would be the envy of all of them nonetheless.
When I would start the F4RC to leave, even more people would gather at a respectful distance and listen to its savage, raucous bark – like simpletons hearing the sound of God for the first time. This is a 212 horsepower in-line four snarling through a titanium race-pipe. That kinda raving crazy is always worth listening to.
And over that amazing noise, not one of them would have heard the whimpering coming from me as I waddled the F4RC out of its parking spot and allowed its footpegs to destroy the backs of my calves.
And then it would be just me and it, and whatever winding road I happened to be on.
Everything after that would be atavistic fulfilment.
Even though you can (and the dark perversity in me thinks you should) tour and commute on an F4, it’s unlikely a typical owner would do that. In all likelihood, the bike would be used sparingly on weekends and high holy days, and maybe the occasional trackday. The rest of the time the F4RC would be like a pampered thoroughbred. Or a pampered Victoria’s Secret model.
There would be lots of grooming. There would be lots of longing stares and self-satisfied smirks.
And there would of course be the unalloyed pleasure of owning the world’s most beautiful bike.
So I guess you wanna know how it goes, huh?
The only thing I can compare it to is a full-spec ASBK bike. It’s about as comfortable, certainly as responsive, and clearly just as uncompromising.
It is of course eminently civilised, which I cannot say is true of the two ASBK bikes I have ridden. By that I mean you can certainly bumble around I traffic on it. But that will not make you or it happy. It’s nowhere near as satanically hot to ride in traffic as the F4 I rode years ago – I would actually have to get off that bastard at long-lasting sets of lights lest my thigh-meat began to blister – but it’s still a harsh thing to commute on.
Perfectly understandable. Having the statue of Michelangelo’s David in your front yard is kinda stupid too. It belongs in a museum, just as the MV belongs on a winding road or a racetrack.
And those are the places where all its electronic wizardy would combine with its crazy torque and horsepower numbers. Suddenly all its top-end premium fittings, its luscious finish, its watchmaker-like details, its unique engine, and its superbike-spec brakes and suspension would all come together. The goods will be delivered.
And such amazing goods they are.
This is one of those bikes you will never find the measure of. You will never wish for more power, better brakes, or finer handling. The up-and-down quickshifter is in a class of its own, and as much as I enjoyed blipping the throttle on the downchange, letting it do it for me was just as fine.
So that’s kind of how it goes.
I only rode it for a day. It belonged to a very generous man called Andrew, and so I treated it with the kind of kid-gloves I’d expect someone to treat my $60K bike with if I was to give it to them. So I cannot tell you how hard it hammers, or if it actually does hit the claimed top-speed of 302km/h. But I have no reason to think it wouldn’t.
What I can tell you is it is still the most beautiful bike ever made.
But it’s also so much more than just something to look at. It’s a 212-horsepower MV Agusta with every conceivable bit of technology, bling and bastardry enhancing and completing it.
It rides better than it ever did in the past, and I have no doubt the factory will keep on improving and developing its flagship weapon.
That said, let’s all understand the MV Agusta F4RC is not for everyone.
There are lots of magnificent sportsbikes bikes out there directly aimed at “everyone”. They are all good bikes and some of them are great bikes.
But not one of them is an MV Agusta.
And that makes all the difference.
I must once again thank David Wooju Sung, the dealer principal at Parramatta MV Agusta, who made this whole review possible. There are no F4RCs available for the media to ride anywhere, and it is unlikely there ever will be. David got in touch with a customer, Andrew Vasiliou, who very generously offered his fully loaded F4RC up for a day. Thankyou, Andrew. The Greeks are a great people. Your selfless gesture will ensure you will one day sit upon the right hand of the Road Gods and your name will live forever. Efharisto.
The 2017 F3 675RC will be around $24,490 ride-away and the 800 is $26,990 ride-away. For 2018, MV is making 500 of them, you now get the Race Kit included (and an up-and-down quickshifter) and the ride-away prices vary accordingly, ie. The 675 is $28,590 and the 800 is $30,880. If you wish to see a 2018 model, there is one on display at the Parramatta store.
The F4RC kicks off at a shade over $62K, and offers a whole other level of exclusivity. Only 250 of these are built each year.
Not exclusive enough? If you have $95K, you can get yourself one of only 44-ever-made Lewis Hamilton F4RC jobbies. And a Victoria’s Secret model. I’m pretty sure they get thrown into the deal.
WHAT ELSE? For 2018 and Euro 4 (the 2017 bikes are Euro 3), each individually numbered F3RC bike comes with three years of roadside assist and a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Also for 2018, your ‘Racing Kit’ (Reparto Corse, remember) is a lovely wooden chest that arrives with the bike and contains the SC Project exhaust and ECU with special mapping and traction control for Race Mode, the billet footpegs, race levers, mirrors caps, rear-seat cowl, tail tidy, race stand, bike cover and a certificate of origin.
MORE F3RC DETAILS HERE
The F4RC has all of that and so much more. After all, it is so much more motorcycle than the F3. Actually, it’s so much more motorcycle than 99 per cent of other motorcycles.
You will understand this as you’re sipping beer and looking at it in your garage, possibly fondling the laser-etched numbered display plaque each owner gets.
Your money bought you 212 horses (at 13,600rpm), and 115Nm of torque (at 9300rpm) pushing 175kg of Italian bike-porn. That magnificent engine has titanium conrods and a lightened crank and sits inside a hand-welded (saldato a mano) red frame. The engine has 11 magnesium covers, and there are 333 titanium bolts assisting weight reduction, and all the coolant hoses are red silicone by Samco.
Apart from the normal four-mode engine mapping, the race kit offers you a custom mode where you can fiddle with and set throttle sensitivity, engine response, rev limit, engine braking, maximum power and maximum torque. The ECU is updatable as new maps come along. Oh, and yes, there is rear-wheel-lift mitigation in case that was crucial to your decision-making process. It didn’t kick in even once for me.
The quickshifter works up and down and auto-blips. I used it like a mad-man. It made me grin.
Brakes are lightweight Brembo M50 monoblocs, with Brembo master cylinders for both brakes and clutch, and the levers are all adjustable of course. The ABS is switchable and has a Race Mode.
Öhlins is the mechanical suspension front (NIX30) and back (TTX36 twin tubes), as well as taking care of steering damper duties.
No. We’re not done.
The fully adjustable Valtermoto rear-sets are laser-etched with the F4RC logo. The seat is a high-grip twin-texture race unit with white stitching, which compliments the black-and-red-with-white-stitching pillion seat.
The headlight is a projector type and you have LED running lights, and the wheels are forged WSBK replicas sporting Pirelli Super Corsa SP rubber.
Interestingly, you get a trickle-charger with the bike. Make of that what you will, but I’m thinking not a many F4RCs will see a lot of miles, so it may be wise to buy two. One to ride and one to display.
And then there’s the wooden Reparto Corse chest that you’ll get with the bike – and it’s a bigger chest than the 2018 F3 one. Inside that chest is the SC Projects titanium single-exit exhaust system (replacing the twin-exit Termignoni system provided on earlier bikes). You will also find carbon-fibre in-fill panels to suit the SC Projects exhaust, the racing ECU already tuned to the pipes, red anodised and laser-etched mirror blanking plates, a quick-release keyless racing fuel cap, a carbon-fibre colour-coded seat cowl, and the indoor display cover which you can make lingerie for supermodels out of.
MORE F4RC DETAILS ARE HERE
Full spec sheets:
FAQ ABOUT MV AGUSTAS
Can I tour on one?
Will my pillion be comfortable?
Should this bother me?
Can I fit a rack to it?
No. It’s against the law.
Can it beat a Gixxer, R1 or an S1000RR?
What does the number on the front of the bike mean?
On the F3RC the number 37 stands for the number of world titles the marque has won. The number 2 on the F4RC is WSBK racer Leon Camier’s racing number.
What does “Reparto Corse” mean?
It’s Italian for “Racing Department”, and it’s also the name of the MV Agusta team competing in the WSBK and WSS.
Will they really give me a Victoria’s Secret model if I buy a Lewis Hamilton replica?
Words by Boris Mihailovic
Images by Nick Edards/ Half Light Photography