MV Agusta debuts its sleek-looking F3 in MotoUSA's 2013 Supersport testing. See if the MV holds up as a real-world street bike in the F3 Supersport Street video.
MV Agusta won over many a rider when it released teaser pics of its sultry F3 675. The Italian marque’s inaugural Supersport entry sources a 675cc Inline Triple – the same configuration as Triumph’s Daytona 675. Our MV test bike took the Triumph similitude one step further, with a nearly identical colorway of white bodywork and red accents. But when the rubber met the road, the two bikes parted ways on the scoresheet – with the refined British brawler getting the better of its raw Italian rival.
The F3’s Inline Triple isn’t an exact copy of the Triumph engine formula. Only the 675cc displacement is the same, with the MV design more oversquare, sporting a 3mm wider bore (79mm) and 3.7mm shorter stroke (45.9mm). The F3 Triple’s 114.31 hp edged out the Daytona for peak horsepower on the dyno, but only by 0.63 hp. The MV’s advantage came from a high-revving gasp at 14,800 rpm – the Triumph peaking 1800 revs earlier. A glance at the torque curve reveals the stroked out Daytona has the F3 covered all the way until 13,500 rpm.
Dyno performance can’t convey the character of MV’s Triple, which crushes the Triumph. The rich tones from the three-pipe exhaust makes the Daytona sound plain by comparison – a staggering feat considering the effusive praise we’ve granted the Triumph Triple over the years. Every test rider fawned over the MV’s distinctive sound.
“The sound alone of this bike makes me giggle,” gushes Adam. “It’s so raw that it’s crazy to me that a company would even build such a thing. In a world of over-sanitization and making everything so easy and friendly to use the MV is loud and it’s quirky – yet it’s totally beautiful.”
Now for the bad news, as fueling issues plague the MV engine. Call it glitches, gremlins or ghosts in the machine, the F3 lurches and stutters from its unpredictable ride-by-wire throttle. The most frightening effect came when rolling off throttle and our test bike continuing to feed the gas for a moment, on occasion – with the inconsistency the most troubling aspect.
“Ugh, the F3’s power delivery was soooo sketchy,” bemoans Adey. “I can’t imagine a new model bike coming from MV Agusta feeling so unrefined in the power delivery department. But there we were, riding a bike that made you feel like you have some strange death wish because you wanted to ride this beautiful machine.”
“That bike is crazy – crazy in a good way, but crazy in a couple bad ways too,” agrees Steeves. “The fly-by-wire throttle needs more tuning and refinement. When you let off the gas, it’s not ready yet – it still wants to party, even though I’ve tried to cancel it. On the plus side, the MV sound is unique, inspiring you to go faster and charge through its problems.”
The MV engine has the rider at turns praising and cursing its nature – sometimes at the same time… It’s the lynchpin of the whole F3 package. The Triple’s character and performance, once it is in sync with the rider’s wrist, enraptures. But it’s just too inconsistent and unrefined to forgive or ride around the problem.
Frustrations for the fickle F3 can best be summed up by our first pit stop on the street ride. After charging up to the top of Ortega Highway, all of us gathered round to admire its lines. But closer examination revealed an overflow of coolant – forcing us to jury-rig a water-bottle coolant refill.
Transmission woes further reduce our confidence in the F3 performance package. On the plus side is an electronic quickshifter, which makes for smooth upshifts. But riders found the wet clutch requires extra work when feathering out from a full stop, and the six-speed transmission is rougher than the super-smooth competition. As the day wore on, the MV clutch started slipping too, casting further doubts on the bike.
“One feature that I absolutely hate on this motorcycle, aside from its glitchy ride-by-wire, is the function of its clutch,” deems Adam. “It’s so grabby that makes the F3 impossible to launch aggressively.”
Troubled launches help explain the F3’s poor acceleration data down the Chuckwalla airstrip. Adam piloted the MV to a 4-second 0-60 time, worst in class, and 12.25 quarter-mile, beating only the GSX-R600.
Coming to a stop from those speeds is better news, as the MV’s two-piece Brembo brakes provide ample power. The initial bite isn’t as stout as the one-finger monoblocs, however, the less grabby lever is preferable for street duty – depending on test rider tastes.
“You get good feel and stopping power from the non-monobloc brembo calipers,” agrees Adey. “The levers provide a progressive feel which won’t alarm your senses if grabbed too hard.
Handling proves less consistent on the F3. A slender and compact ride, compared to the wider Japanese Fours, the MV turns quick and is agile enough. At times it feels akin to the refined Triumph, but its suspension calibration is unbalanced by comparison. The bike faced similar complaints during track testing, but the see-saw effect is more pronounced on the street.
Says Adey: “Initially the steering is light and quick. But the front and rear of the bike felt they were set up for two different people. It was seesawing in the tight twisty sections making for some serious butt clenching. In the faster sections, where you’re on the gas and the rear is loaded, the bike felt extremely light and nimble.”
The Marzocchi fork offers three-way adjustment, while a Sachs shock in the rear affords four-way setup with high- and low-speed compression. Given the wide range of test rider heights and weights (6’3” to 5’6” and 145 to 205 pounds) and limited ride time, our crew didn’t fuss with the clickers – and fine-tuning the setup will be required.
Our tallest rider, Adey, found the ergos of the compact F3 surprisingly comfy. A fact made more impressive considering he’s still tender from a recent knee injury. Adam (6’) agreed, somewhat, saying: “I actually like the ergonomics on the bike a lot but the suspension beats you up a lot making it not a very comfortable bike to ride for extended periods.”
Massimo (5’6”) recorded the most miles aboard the MV at the end of the test ride, and offers a more comprehensive assessment of the F3’s ergonomic package: “It feels comfortable at first and when you ride canyons or track, where you move a lot. I rode back on the freeway for an hour or so and couldn’t wait to take my ass off of her. My wrists were gone and I had a sharp pain on my lower neck, something that did not happen on our way to Palomar with the Kawi and Yamaha. There are too many vibrations, and the seat was not the best one in her class, but it did feel good while tucked in, and the windscreen provided a lot of protection with the bubble profile.”
There is no disagreement in the looks department, where all test riders rate the F3 the most fetching bike of the Supersport brood by far. The F3 manages to showcase all-new traits, like the staggered three-pipe exhaust, while carrying over Tamburini’s legacy lines from the F4. It is, quite simply, a beautiful bike.
- Sound of MV's Inline Triple shames the Triumph
- Gorgeous styling stands apart in this class
- Glimpses of engine potential show powerplant that could replace Daytona as best in class
- Ride-by-wire fueling terrible compared to the bulletproof smooth throttles in this class
- See-sawing suspension not dialed
- Needs refinement before it can challenge
It is expensive too, at $13,999. That’s $500 more than the super-refined Daytona, but a grand less than the long-in-the-tooth Ducati ($14,995). Disparity to the Japanese bikes is more pronounced, and comparable to the Inline Four literbikes than the 600s.
The F3 is like the Daytona’s evil twin, more rambunctious and enticing – but also flawed and expensive. Where the Triumph distinguishes itself as one of the most refined Supersport platforms, the MV is the polar opposite. However, the F3’s upside is potentially class-leading, provided it sorts out its issues. It shocks the Triumph with its engine character. And we caught fleeting glimpses of the MV’s promise on both the track and street. As it stands, the F3 is a gorgeous ride, but too temperamental – placing sixth in our 2011 Supersport Street Shootout.
“The F3 just needs a little more refinement and this bike could be right atop the group,” says Adam, reflecting the sentiment of many in our test. “If MV could sort out the ride-by-wire, suspension and grabby clutch I would buy one for the street-no question.”
The MV Agusta F3 takes on the Supersport field at Chuckwalla Raceway, read where it stacked up on the track in the 2013 MV Agusta F3 675 Supersport Comparison.