Although it has been a while since MV Agusta
was a true player in the motorcycle road racing game, it has used its engineering know-how and relationship with nearby electronics manufacturer Magnetti Marelli to develop its own proprietary form of traction control as used on the 2012 MV Agusta F4R.
Contrary to the other more popular wheel speed sensor-equipped systems, the F4R utilizes a more basic rate-of-change approach in which the computer monitors the speed of the crankshaft in relation to throttle and gear position. If it senses a spike, or sudden increase in crankshaft velocity beyond the allowed parameters (wheel spin), the ECU retards ignition timing to one or more of the engine’s four cylinders (curtailing engine torque). On paper MV’s set-up is similar to the commercially available unit from American company Bazzaz (read more in the Bazzaz Performance Z-Fi Traction Control Unit
review) only without any form of internal tune-ability. Wheelie and launch control is absent from the package.
The F4R’s traction control offers eight -levels of adjustment (one being the least intrusive and eight being the most) and can also be disabled. A series of red lights atop the instrument display let you know the system is intervening; however the lights are small and difficult to see when focused on the track ahead. Toggling through its eight levels isn't the easiest process and the motorcycle has to be at a standstill in order to make adjustments. Furthermore, the button doesn’t offer the best tactile feel or response and the numeric value on the dash board which indicates TC sensitivity is inconspicuous.
The traction control system in the MV Agusta F4R offers eight levels of adjustment. However it can only be adjusted with the motorcycle at a standstill.
It proved difficult to get an accurate read on the MV electronics as the machine we rode experienced a strange ignition glitch that made the engine randomly cut out at high rpm. At first we thought it was the TC intruding but the condition occurred with it disabled, too. The few occasions where we could feel it working, the system came in aggressively and didn’t seem to react accurately to what was happening at the business end of the back tire. Combine that with the MV’s extremely hard-hitting top-end power and the electronics felt crude — as if it was fitted as an afterthought rather than an integrated piece of hardware.
In spite of this Siglin registered the second and third-highest acceleration force in Turn 6 and Turn 15 (middle of the road TC Level 4 setting) while Waheed also recorded the third-highest out of the same turns with TC in the least
MV Agusta F4R Suspension Settings:
(From full stiff)
Preload: +5mm from stock
Low-Speed Compression: 6
High-Speed Compression: 12
restrictive mode (Level 1). However max speed down either straightaway was at or near the bottom of the time sheet.
In terms of lap times, Siglin recorded a 2’08.04. Unfortunately, this also took place during treacherous mixed wet conditions caused by sporadic rain showers that blew through in the middle of our test. The result was a lap 11.14 seconds off his Superbike Smackdown Superpole time (TC off). His corner speed in all three sectors (Turns 2, 8 and 10) were also way off. It was a similar story for Waheed with him recording a time of 2’04.24 versus 1’59.56 without during the Smackdown test.
The MV Agusta’s traction control proved to be too inconsistent to provide any real safety or performance advantages on the racetrack.
While the data shows that the F4R’s electronics provide some level of favorable traction management it didn’t equate to faster laps due in part to the unfavorable track conditions caused by weather. Pair that with how intrusive it felt on the throttle and it was the least favorable electronics on our note pads.
CHRIS SIGLIN: “The MV’s set-up gave the bike a really funky feel. It was hard to tell if it was engaging or not — it was probably the most awkward feeling electronics I’ve ever experienced on a sportbike. The bike’s aggressive powerband certainly didn’t help much either. The package definitely needs a lot of refinement to truly be deemed useful.”
ADAM WAHEED: "I had a hard time understanding how the MV’s TC functioned. It was for sure the most inconsistent feeling of all the bikes. Even in the lowest setting (Level 1) it seemed to intrude a bit aggressively. Strangely it worked reasonably well through Thunderhill’s Turn 8 allowing you to feed in maximum throttle at the apex of the corner without having to worry about the bike doing anything crazy. But at other points on track it seemed confused.”