In spite of the slumping middleweight market here in the States, MV Agusta is pushing into new territory with its F3 supersport ($13,499). Powered by a 675cc Triple-cylinder engine, the MV is the latest addition to the middleweight sportbike class borrowing lessons learned from Triumph’s successful Daytona platform as well as its own unique ingredients.
The F3 is stunning, especially in its Pastel White colorway. It looks more modern than the long-in-the-tooth Daytona and even more contemporary than the recently updated Gixxer. We especially love the triple organ-style exhaust pipes, single-sided swingarm and its angular, shark-like nose.
Swing a leg over the MV and it’s clear that the Italians did a terrific job with the motorcycle’s ergonomics. Initially it feels wider than the Triumph and comparable to the Suzuki. The top of the fuel tank/airbox cover is wide and flat but it slants inward through the bike’s mid-section, and at the crotch it’s narrower allowing a more direct route to the ground for rider’s legs. Seat height is just a hair higher than the GSX-R750 but nearly an inch shorter than the lofty Triumph.
Tucked in behind the windscreen the MV is fairly accommodating even for a taller rider. The footpegs are positioned just right and the spacing of the handlebar allows for plenty of leverage when turning. Although you can’t adjust the position of the foot controls, like the GSX-R, it was never an issue.
Rolling the F3 onto the scale proved that it is the heaviest bike at 423 pounds with a full 4.22-gallon load of fuel (smallest capacity). Though for reference that’s only four pounds heavier than the GSX-R and two pounds over the Triumph. In motion the F3 felt every bit as maneuverable as the sharp-steering Triumph and steered with less effort than the featherweight Suzuki. And the best part is its handling remains nimble on-and-off the throttles proving the benefits of its counter-rotating crankshaft (see Powertrain, paragraph three, in the 2013 MV Agusta F3 First Ride).
) The MV’s turning characteristics are fantastic. It steers in sharply with minimal effort. (Center
) Engine exhaust exit from these attractive triple pipes. (Low
) You’ll be hard pressed to find a more exciting production street bike to ride on the track than the MV.
On the street the suspension glides over bumps well and delivers a soft, supple ride. But when pushed, even at a fast street pace the chassis can get overwhelmed. We added both preload and damping fore and aft and while it had some effect it wasn’t enough to alleviate the fast weight transfer when loading the chassis with the throttle or brakes.
“It squatted down hard when you got on the gas,” explains test rider Brian Steeves. “And normally that would disrupt handling—but the F3 still worked really great in spite of that. Once you got use to it see-sawing it ended up being a really great handling bike.”
Although the F3 employs lesser spec two-piece Brembo front brake calipers, the set-up performs marvelously. There is plenty of power and feel at the lever and the pinchers are friendlier to use than the Triumph’s as they aren’t quite as sharp when the lever is initially pulled. In the stopping test, the MV actually stopped a few feet earlier than the Brembo monobloc-equipped Triumph but was just over a foot behind the Suzuki (also equipped with monoblocs).
Once the suspension settles mid-corner the F3 is stable and delivers a high degree of road feel for a street bike. Some of the credit goes to MV’s decision to fit Pirelli’s track-grade Diablo Corsa Rossi II tires which work great on all road surfaces.
Around a flowing race circuit like Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, the MV’s motor shines, offering a punchy mid-range and screaming, rev-happy top-end that never stops pulling. Results from repeated dyno pulls demonstrate that the MV has the most linear top-end power, building steam from 12,000 revs all the way to its 14,700 soft limiter. Peak power arrives 700 rpm shy of redline with 119 ponies. That’s nearly eight more than the Triumph but still over six down on the 750-powered GSX-R. However with the crazy, rip-roaring high-rpm engine scream it feels like it pulls harder than the others.
But on the street, it’s a different story. Here the engine’s flat bottom-end is uninspiring. Pair that with the awkward, poorly calibrated throttle response at lower revs and it becomes challenging to ride at anything but an eight-tenths level. Another minus is how much the engine vibrates at cruising speeds.
“Out at Chuckwalla the MV’s engine is awesome—it’s almost perfect actually with lots of power up top and over-rev for days,” shares our Associate Editor, Frankie Garcia. “But on the street—especially through tighter corners where you don’t have the engine screaming—it gets a little sketchy.”
“It was like a light switch,” tells pro stunt rider, flat track racer and all-around-everything-rider, Aaron Colton. “It has like no power whatsoever and then you reach a certain threshold and it’s like bam—everything. It almost felt like a two-stroke in how hard and fast it hit.”
Indeed the F3 generates the most moderate spread of torque at anything below three-quarter engine speeds. Maximum torque arrives at 11,000 revs with just under 48 lb-ft. That’s on par with the Daytona but down almost seven points on the Suzuki 750. Pair this with the F3’s grabby, rudimentary-feeling clutch and abrupt at times throttle and it becomes a downright challenge to launch, hence the back of the pack numbers in the zero-to-60 and quarter-mile acceleration tests. Another strike is the clutch’s lack of a slipper functionality making it prone to rear wheel hop during deceleration.
) The F3 offers the most sophisticated electronics package. For once, it’s fairly easy to use, too. (Center
) The Pirelli tires offered good amount of grip even on the track. (Bottom
) The inverted fork is sourced from Sachs. Two-piece Brembo brake calipers work surprisingly well even compared to the premium monobloc set-ups on the others.
Compared to the other bikes the F3 has a very advanced electronics package that allows the rider the option of building a custom map by modifying various characteristics of the powerband including throttle response, engine braking, rev-limiter, and more. The rider can also select from three default maps including Normal, Sport, and Rain. Adjustment is made via buttons on the handlebar and is fairly straight forward and easy to use, however the bike must be stationary to make the changes. Setting up our own Custom map netted the best powerband feel, yet we could never totally sort out the funky throttle response.
Further electronics wizardry comes in the form of a quickshifter and traction control. The shifter performed as advertised allowing for seamless, full throttle upshifts aiding acceleration off corners. It’s a great benefit considering the gearbox has exceptionally close ratios between each of the six gears, equating to more time working the shift lever. It’s a small price to pay for the added acceleration benefit, especially on track.
The functionality of the F3’s rate-of-change traction control system however was less impressive. Although it provides eight levels of intervention the electronics felt awkward—similar to what we experienced with the F3’s big brother in the 2012 MV Agusta F4R Traction Control Comparison. While we applaud MV for being the first to market with TC in the middleweight class it is simply too crude to be deemed useful.
Despite under sprung suspension the F3 still cracked the fastest outright lap time during Superpole, lapping Chuckwalla in a time of 1’59.56 seconds—just over a second faster than the Suzuki and Triumph. High scores in a number of subjective categories boosted it on the scorecard but it came up a bit short in many of the performance categories. When the dust settled the MV tied for the runner-up spot in its maiden shootout. Not bad for an all-new machine. And with a little more refinement there is no question this bike could soon nab a victory in its class.