2014 MV Agusta F3 800 First Ride

November 18, 2013
Adam Waheed
By Adam Waheed
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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.

MV Agusta is making the most out of its recently introduced Triple-powered F3 675 Supersport by boosting piston stroke, netting an entirely new model: the 2014 MV Agusta F3 800 ($15,798). The Italian brand’s latest sportbike is designed to go head-to-head with middleweight competition from Japan and Europe.

The F3 800s engine is virtually identical to the 675cc Triple except for an extra 123cc of displacement via longer stroke.
The extra 8.4mms of piston stroke equate to big gains in terms of both torque and horsepower at the rear wheel of the F3 800.


(Top) The extra 8.4mm’s of piston stroke equate to big gains in terms of both torque and horsepower at the rear wheel of the F3 800. (Center) The MV’s brakes have the optimum caliper/pad/rotor combination for strong power with plenty of feel at the lever. (Bottom) The electronics have been massively overhauled on the F3. The set-up is generally much improved however we’d still like to see more finite traction control adjustability.

TECHNICAL BRIEFING

As the nomenclature suggests, the F3 800 gets its model designation via its long-stroke engine. Specifically, the cylinders get an additional 8.4mm of piston travel (54.3mm total vs. the 675’s 45.9mm). That nets a 123cc engine displacement increase to 798cc. It also results in a compression ratio boost to 13.3:1 (up 0.2 from the 675). Because piston velocity increased, redline had to be reduced 1500 rpm to 13,500 revs (RPM Limiter set to ‘Sport’ mode) in order to maintain day-to-day reliability.

At the back tire the 800’s engine delivers nearly 23% more torque than the 675 with a peak figure of 58.9 lb-ft arriving at 10,600 revs (400 rpm earlier than the 675). The torque curve is exceptionally flat with upwards of 50 lb-ft generated from 7400 rpm to redline. This is right where you want it on track and the F3 pulls off corners with a similar voracity to an early generation liter-class Inline Four.

Horsepower-wise the 800 Triple is an absolute screamer, belting out nearly 14 more ponies than the 675 with a peak figure of 132.82 hp arriving as the rev-limiter chirps in at 13,500 rpm. It’s worth noting however that the RPM Limiter must be manually set to ‘Sport’ or else the soft-limiter shuts things down at 13,200 rpm.

Inside the engine’s sleek-looking aluminum case, which integrates both water and oil cooling/lubrication passages, there is an updated clutch with two extra clutch plates and slipper functionality which helps maintain chassis stability during hard braking (the slipper clutch will also be standard on the ’14 F3 675, too). The clutch continues to be cooled with engine oil and is actuated manually via cable.

The rest of the drivetrain, including the transmission’s six forward ratios and the final drive gearing (16/43), is unchanged. The 800 also employs a ‘smart’ electronic quickshifter that calculates engine rpm, throttle and gear position to make the most efficient upshift power cut, thereby maximizing acceleration. Other important changes include the fitment of a new throttle tube and updated electronics in the form of fresh ride-by-wire coding, fuel/ignition and traction control mapping.

Chassis-wise the F3 800 is identical to its little brother except for different damping settings inside the Marzocchi inverted fork and Sachs gas-charged shock. Higher-specification Brembo monobloc calipers also replace the two-piece units used on the ’13 F3 675. The brakes continue to be operated full manual-style with no anti-lock feature. On the scales the 800 weighs the same as the 675 with a fully fueled running weight of 427 pounds.

BEHIND THE WINDSCREEN

Seated at the controls the 800 offers a snug, but well thought-out cockpit. The clip-ons are low and wide giving the rider a high degree of leverage during steering maneuvers. The height of the seat is short (31.69 in.) and those of average height will have no problems planting their feet on the ground. The fuel tank has deep cutouts for the rider’s legs giving it V-Twin-like thinness and also providing an optimum surface to grip the bike with your knees during hard braking. Although the footpegs lack adjustment they are positioned high enough that it takes considerable degree of lean to get them to drag (we never did).

The clutch lever offers a light but responsive pull and the clutch no longer shutters when launched at an elevated rpm. This will be a big plus during road race starts or quarter-mile drag races.





(Top) The F3 800 didn’t feel any heavier than its 675 brother in motion. On the scales it weighed in identically at 427 pounds. (Center) The F3 800 offers a very wide and smooth powerband which helps it leap off corners. (Bottom) Stability is one area where the F3 800 comes up short. It has a propensity to headshake, sometimes violently, during full throttle acceleration over bumpy pavement.

MV has made great strides with its ride-by-wire throttle. And the beauty of the F3 lies in the engine and throttle’s range of adjustment. Three standard settings are offered: Sport, Normal and Rain. There is also a Custom setting in which each of the engine’s five parameters can be modified (Gas Sensitivity, Engine Brake, Maximum Torque, Engine Response, and RPM Limiter).

Riders that want the most responsive and direct connection with the engine will appreciate the engine’s Sport setting. However the throttle’s first 1/8 turn is so sensitive that it can make the motorcycle more challenging to control, especially over bumps. The Normal setting reduces throttle sensitivity slightly but the engine’s power still feels like it comes on a bit too snappy, so we set-up a Custom setting to fine-tune the powerband to our exact liking.

Termed Gas Sensitivity, a more accurate description would be throttle response, which we set to ‘Normal’, as the ‘Rain’ setting mutes it just a hair too much. The Brake Setting allows for more or less compression braking during deceleration. Since we were riding at the track, we prefer ‘Sport’ mode as it allows for the least amount of engine braking effect. Maximum Torque was set on ‘Sport’ thereby giving the rider access to the engine’s maximum power output.

The Engine Response setting works in unison with Gas Sensitivity. It allows the rider to modify the ‘snappiness’ of the motor. In the ‘Fast’ setting it lets the engine spool up as fast as it can mechanically. Conversely, the ‘Slow’ mode acts as a larger flywheel thereby increasing the engine’s tractability. We preferred the latter setting at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway as it not only made the F3 easier to ride but it helped to moderate the speed of weight transfer onto the rear tire/suspension during off/on throttle. Lastly, the RPM Limiter adjusts how the engine responds as you approach redline. In the ‘Sport’ mode the engine spins all the way to its 13,500 rpm redline. The problem is that you really have to pay attention to your shift points—if you don’t the engine stalls slightly as it waits for an upshift to the following cog. That’s why we preferred the softer 13,200 rpm ‘Normal’ limiter as it gives you some warning when it’s time to upshift.

With the engine parameters adjusted we were astounded by how easy the F3 is to control. The F3 rewards smooth riding as the chassis has a propensity to pitch under braking and acceleration. Despite this, the damping settings responded with greater accuracy to the road and control input than ever before.

At lean we’re simply in awe of how much road feel the F3’s chassis gives. For sure the Pirelli Diablo Supercrosa racing tires had something to do with it, but the chassis offers just the right amount of flex giving the rider the type of feel he or she needs to exploit the bike’s cornering potential. Equally as impressive is its high degree of maneuverability as well as its pinpoint accuracy in terms of line selection. Make no mistake about it: this is a superb handling motorcycle.

MV Agusta F3 800 Settings
Suspension
Fork
Preload: 9 (Turns in)
Compression: 1.5 (Turns out)
Rebound: 2.5
Shock
Preload: 3 (Turns in from stock)
Compression: 2
Rebound: 2 
Drivetrain
Power Mode: Custom
Traction Control: Off
Gas Sensitivity: Normal
Engine Brake: Sport
Maximum Torque: Sport
Engine Response: Slow
RPM Limiter: Normal

But it’s high-level of agility does come at a price: stability. Over bumps the F3 can get a little skittish and exhibits, at times, excessive amounts of headshake. Careful riding and the ability to physically prepare for the wiggles make it safer, but the 800 could benefit from a race-grade steering damper.

Although the eight-way adjustable traction control fitted on the F3 isn’t the same generation as the more premium F4R Superbike, we’re pleased to report that it offers more precise calibration than before. The system incorporates a single rear wheel speed sensor and rate-of-change algorithms inside the ECU to cut power when it calculates wheel spin. On high-grip tires the electronics curtail acceleration too much to truly be effective but on its OE-fitted Diablo Rosso Corsa street tires we’d have no problem running it in its Level 1 (least intrusive setting).

MV Agusta F3 800 Highs & Lows
Highs
  • Smooth, wide spread of engine torque
  • Nimble, predicable, and accurate handling 
  • Excellent ergos and strong brakes
Lows
  • Can headshake under acceleration over bumps
  • Traction control could have more finite adjustment range
  • Gearshifter has long throw between upshifts

The higher-spec Brembo monoblocs offer superb stopping power. The brake pad/caliper/rotor set-up offers just the right amount of progressive feel, making them easy to apply with confidence. Although it lacks an anti-lock functionality, we never missed it while riding on a dry circuit.

Beyond sporting a more powerful motor, the F3 800 is a considerable evolution of the F3 platform. MV addressed every issue we had with the 675, and then some. Though the functionality of the quickshifter and traction control could be improved, not to mention calming down the chassis’ hyper-ness over bumps, MV has closed the performance gap and the F3 is close to running with the best-of-the-best sportbikes out of Japan and Europe.

 

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