2013 MV Agusta F4 and F4RR First Ride

September 4, 2013
Adam Waheed
By Adam Waheed
Road Test Editor|Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS

His insatiable thirst for life is only surpassed by his monthly fuel bill. Whether rocketing on land, flying through the air, or jumping the seas, our Road Test Editor does it all and has the scars to prove it.

Videos Our Sponsor

MV Agusta issues an iOS-like software update to address engine management bugs and to increase ride-ability. Learn more in the 2013 MV Agusta F4 and RR First Ride Video.

While other European motorcycle brands make noise with the introduction of cutting edge (but slightly unproven) technology, MV Agusta prefers to go about the business of Superbike development through carefully crafted enhancements. This time MV offers an incremental half year, 2013.5 update to the F4’s electronics suite with fresh engine and traction control coding. Available free of charge, the software update is available from MV Agusta dealers worldwide.

The updated programming is in response to ride-ability issues including abrupt throttle response and inconsistent wheel spin intervention; both things that hampered the bike’s performance as noted during our last big Superbike Smackdown test (read about it in the 2012 MV Agusta F4R Track Comparison and 2012 MV Agusta F4R Traction Control Comparison). Since the 2013-plus MV’s now source electronics from Eldor, the update is not compatible on older Magneti Marelli-equipped F4s.

The new Eldor MVICS (motor and vehicle integrated control system) allowed MV engineers to better synergize the function of the motorcycle through integration of the powertrain and chassis. The MVICS system is comprised of a tiny black box that manages the bike’s eight fuel injectors, variable-length intake trumpets, ride-by-wire controller, quickshifter and traction control. It is fed data through a number of sensors including a lean angle measuring device and accelerometer.

This paints a more accurate picture of the bike’s position relative to the pavement allowing the electronics to respond with enhanced accuracy to wheelspin, especially at lean on roads with any degree of camber. Furthermore, the F4 is now outfitted with a pair of wheelspeed sensors for improved traction control functionality. The up-spec F4RR ($24,998) includes manually adjustable electronic suspension damping control a la the Ducati Panigale 1199S. The F4 continues to offer three preset engine (and suspension on the RR) maps including Normal, Sport and Rain. Additionally a Custom setting can be selected allowing the rider to tailor five other parameters.

MV Agusta F4 Settings
Suspension
Fork
Preload: 2 (Turns in)
Compression: 13 (Turns out)
Rebound: 14
Shock
Preload: Stock
Ride Height: Stock
Low-Speed Compression: 28 (Turns out)
High-Speed: 25 
Rebound: 12
Drivetrain
Power Mode: Custom
Traction Control: Level 1
Gas Sensitivity: Rain
Engine Brake: Sport
Maximum Torque: Sport
Engine Response: Fast
RPM Limiter: Normal

Labeled ‘Gas Sensitivity,’ a more apt name for the first parameter of adjustment would be throttle response. This setting controls the reaction of the twist grip when pulled. Although both Sport and Normal modes offer better calibration than before it’s still too anxious-feeling making it tricky to control, especially when you hit small bumps that can transfer to the rider’s wrist which in turn causes the bike to surge if you’re not extra careful. We prefer the Rain setting (even on a dry, high-grip track) as it allows for added control particularly during maintenance throttle settings mid-corner. It would be nice if engineers could build another map that is between the slightly slow-to-respond Rain setting and the punchy Normal setting.

The ‘Max Torque’ setting controls the Inline Four’s peak torque output. The Sport setting gives the rider access to maximum engine torque while the Rain mode mutes it for use on wet roads or traction-limited surfaces. ‘Engine Brake’ offers two levels of adjustment (Normal and Sport) with the Sport mode feeding extra fuel into the engine after the throttle is let off allowing the F4 to freewheel into a turn with less engine braking effect.

Now here is where it gets tricky. Easily confused with ‘Gas Sensitivity,’ the ‘Engine Response’ alters the throttle body’s response time when the throttle is cracked open. Fast mode gives a more direct feel while the Slow setting offers a slightly delayed response, which may be preferable for less experienced riders.

MV Agusta F4 & F4RR Highs & Lows
Highs
  • Excellent top-end power
  • Close ratio gearing, fast and effective quickshifter
  • Easier to ride than ever before
Lows
  • Normal and Sport maps still need to be smoother
  • Not enough traction control sensitivity levels
  • Menu system and tactile feel of controls could be better

The final customizable setting is ‘RPM Limiter.’ In Sport, the engine accelerates at its maximum value up to redline. The caveat is that it’s hard to know when to upshift until it’s too late and you’re wasting precious time with the engine stumbling off the rev limiter. The Normal mode gives soft-limiter feeling that comes in less abruptly, helping the rider understand precisely when to upshift for better overall acceleration.

Each setting is accessed via buttons on the left clip-on, however the motorcycle must be stationary with the ignition switched on (the engine doesn’t have to be running). Navigating the menu remains a little complicated and we’re still not big fans of the way the buttons feel, as it’s difficult to know if you’ve depressed it or not due to its vague physical feel. But after you fumble around with it for five minutes or so it becomes easier to master.

MV Agusta F4RR Settings
Suspension
Fork
Preload: 9 (Turns in)
Compression: 8
Rebound: 12
Shock
Preload: 2 (Turns in from stock)
Ride Height: +5mm
Swingarm Pivot: 2.5mm
Compression: 6
Rebound: 13
Drivetrain
Power Mode: Custom
Traction Control: Level 1
Gas Sensitivity: Rain
Engine Brake: Sport
Maximum Torque: Sport
Engine Response: Fast
RPM Limiter: Normal

The Big Track at Southern California’s Willow Springs International Raceway is all about speed and as usual the F4 definitely doesn’t disappoint. The engine isn’t lacking in terms of peak horsepower. Another plus is its lower final drive gearing. Paired with the much improved function and speed of the electronic quickshifter, it really helps the bike accelerate when the throttle is twisted to the stop.

The TC also responds with greater accuracy. While the higher settings (Level 3 to 8) still feels like it restricts the bike from accelerating, even on the center of the tire, it is much more consistent-feeling and easier to get acclimated to. Although we didn’t get comfortable enough to truly lean on the electronics and dial in full throttle as the rear tire was spinning off some turns, MV is moving in the right direction with the F4 being the most friendly MV Agusta superbike we’ve ridden.

It’s nice to see MV committed to its customers by proactively releasing Apple iOS-like software updates to address some of the ride-ability issues. MV says it has more enhancements in the works including a MotoGP-style auto-blip downshift feature opening up an exciting new world of digital opportunities for sportbike riders.

Facebook comments