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2013 MV Agusta F3 First Ride

Monday, July 23, 2012


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2013 MV Agusta F3 - Flying Lap around New Jersey Motorsports Park
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Take a ride at the controls of MV Agusta’s F3 supersport motorcycle in the 2013 MV Agusta F3 - Flying Lap around New Jersey Motorsports Park
In the face of the global sportbike sales slump, boutique Italian motorcycle brand MV Agusta is aiming to revitalize the stagnant middleweight supersport market with its recently released F3. Powered by an ultra-compact 675cc three-cylinder engine, the F3 ($13,999) is another European take on the best way to arrive from apex to apex.

VISION BECOMES REALITY

Born four years earlier, the F3 is the dream of MV’s late president, Claudio Castiglioni, who commissioned a three-cylinder sportbike before passing away last summer from cancer. Considering its deeply rooted history in road racing, the machine was designed for competition and the demands of World Supersport - a global racing series that MV plans to compete in as early as next season. In excess of 20 million Euros was funneled into the project with the entire design undertaken in house at MV’s headquarters in northern Italy.

POWERTRAIN
The F3s engine is one of the cleanest looking motors weve seen on a sportbike. Note the large upper radiator and lower oil cooler.
The cockpit of the F3 is more forgiving that what we expected and works well for street and trackday riding.
The MV Agusta F3 features an water-cooled 675cc Inline-Three engine.
The MV Agusta F3s two-piece Brembo calipers perform much better than the set-ups employed by its rivals.
The shock absorber is sourced from Sachs and features three-way adjustment for spring preload  compression and rebound damping.
(Top) The F3’s engine is one of the cleanest looking motors we’ve seen on a sportbike. Note the large upper radiator and lower oil cooler. (Bottom) The shock absorber is sourced from Sachs and features four-way adjustment for spring preload, compression and rebound damping.

The core of the F3 is a liquid-cooled, Inline Triple with a 12-valve head (all valves are fabricated from titanium) spun by twin chain-driven camshafts. Each cylinder uses a relatively over-square bore and stroke dimension of 79.0 x 45.9mm, squeezing fuel charge to a ratio of 13:1. The engine’s bottom-end employs a unique design in which the crankshaft spins backwards. This helps neutralize the forward inertia of the motorcycle in motion making it more maneuverable at high engine speeds, MV says.

Like most things Italian, form follows function and the profile of the motor is one of sleekest and minimalist we’ve seen on a street bike to date. Both the water and oil pumps are integrated into the engine block, as is the cooling passages, so the only external fittings are for connecting the stacked radiators (one water and one oil). A cable-actuated wet-style clutch (without mechanical back torque functionality, more on that later...) and a six-speed gearbox (with quickshifter) gets the power to the back wheel. Exhaust gasses are purged via an elegant low-slung exhaust that terminates into three slash-cut pipes behind the rider’s right foot.

ELECTRONICS

The engine is controlled by a sophisticated electronic ride-by-wire management system that does away with the physical cable connection between the throttle and intake. The system monitors a number of atmospheric and engine-operating factors that allow for near perfect running conditions. The nearly vertical intake tract uses a pair of fuel injectors and a 50mm throttle body for each cylinder. There’s also a lean-angle sensor and rear-wheel-speed sensor to supplement the traction/wheelie/launch control.

Additional functionality comes in the form of engine/throttle mode adjustment. Four settings are offered: Rain, Normal, Sport and a Custom map that allows the rider to configure Gas Sensitivity (throttle response), Engine Braking (Sport or Normal), Maximum Torque (Sport or Rain), Engine Response (Fast or Slow), and rpm Limiter (Sport or Normal), all independently of one another.

CHASSIS

Weight distribution and packaging was a key design concept and engineers were tasked with cramming components within the smallest area possible. The main frame is fabricated from steel tubes that merge to aluminum spars where the swingarm attaches (also fabricated from aluminum and single-sided). Wheelbase measures 54.23 inches, which is right inline with many of the Japanese 600s. A 43mm Marzocchi inverted fork takes care of front suspension duties while a Sachs gas-charged shock provides rear damping. The 4.22-gallon fuel tank is positioned above the airbox but stretches beneath the rider’s seat - further enhancing center of gravity. Braking components consist of Brembo two-piece radial-mount calipers paired to a pair of 320mm discs. The calipers are powered by a Nissin radial-pump master cylinder. A 220mm disc and twin-piston Brembo caliper control rear wheel speed during deceleration. No ABS option is available. MV claims that the F3 weighs around 420 pounds ready to ride.

RIDING IMPRESSION

MV Agusta F3 Suspension Settings:
(From full stiff)
Fork
Preload: 5
Compression: 1
Rebound: 1.25
Shock
Preload: 9mm
Compression: 1
Rebound: 2.25
Swing a leg over the F3 and the riding position proves to be relatively forgiving for a bike designed for competition. It feels a bit long from front-to-back, but the seating position isn’t as stretched out as other bikes in its class. With a seat height just under 32 inches it’s also low to the ground. Indeed it’s narrow, but not overly so and the size of the fuel tank is still substantial enough to give the rider area to squeeze and hold on to during braking and cornering maneuvers. The windscreen isn’t the tallest but does an acceptable job of deflecting air around the rider. However, tall riders will encounter difficulty getting a clean tuck as the seat is so short that you can’t scoot far enough back to get completely behind the bubble.
MV Agusta aims to challenge the middleweight sportbike market with its F3   13 498 .
It was difficult to get an accurate read on the F3s mid-corner handling due to its awkward chassis set-up.
The only flaw in the F3s otherwise excellent ergonomics is the short rider seat which makes it more difficult during tucking exercises on straightaways for tall riders.
Even with a poor baseline set-up the F3 takes very little effort to change directions out on track.
The fork felt responsive and had minimal stiction when the front brakes are applied.
The MV Agusta F3 has some serious acceleration for a middleweight class sportbike.
(Top) MV Agusta aims to challenge the middleweight sportbike market with its F3 ($13,498). (Bottom) The MV Agusta F3 has some serious acceleration for a middleweight class sportbike.

Getting rolling from a stop requires a bit of clutch finesse as first gear is tall but after the quickshifter makes it simple to upshift into the next gear. The clutch lever offers a light pull and also a decent amount of engagement feel.

Right off the bottom the F3 isn’t the fastest thing on the road but the engine revs quick and by 10,000 rpm it’s producing some serious thrust. With the throttle pinned, power steadily builds all the way to its 15,000-rpm redline, which equates to a relatively wide powerband for a middleweight. There’s no surge or heavy hit of top-end power that typically defines the Supersport class, but that’s all right by us. Having not ridden a Supersport in quite some time, probably the biggest testament to the F3’s engine performance is that it never felt slow, which is dang impressive. Due to time and machinery limitations we never got to play with the eight-way adjustable traction control, wheelie control or launch control systems.

The character and overall sound of the engine is excellent, delivering a deeper howl than expected with its engine displacement. The engine also felt balanced with minimal vibration at all rpm. With Sport mode selected the throttle did feel jerky and overly responsive, which will make it more challenging to control. Normal mode offered a more standard-feeling calibration, but with a soft rev-limit interruption near redline.

The transmission gear ratios and final drive gearing felt spot-on and we were surprised by how much attention the gearshift lever needed. Not a bad thing at all and a testament to how well optimized the powertrain is to maximize acceleration force. Even though the F3 doesn’t employ a mechanical slipper clutch, its electronic Engine Braking functionality is so well dialed under deceleration that we didn’t even know that it was lacking the hard part until they told us after the test.

While we loved the F3’s engine and drivetrain performance its handling proved to be more difficult to read. It steers into high- and low-speed corners with minimal effort and it’s predictable. The problem for our test was that MV chose to run Dunlop Sportmax Q2 tires instead of the OE-fitted Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tire – and the change affected the chassis geometry, which made the bike handle awkwardly mid-corner. It also had a tendency to headshake at certain points on the track.

In spite of its awkward handling, the F3’s suspension surprised us by how well it functions. Under braking the fork is very responsive and offers minimal stiction initially in its stroke. It also has a very progressive feel with no weird spikes or hang-ups as it was loaded with the front brake. Conversely the rear suspension also performed well and we were taken back by how well the back end of the bike ‘hooked up’ under heavy throttle loads.

We also had mixed results with the brakes. When the bikes were fresh in the morning the brakes performed without flaw, delivering a high amount of lever feel and stopping power. I was actually surprised by how much more effective its two-piece Brembo calipers were as compared to other bikes with similar set-ups. But as the day went on the brakes on the red bike I was riding developed a shutter that made it unnerving to operate.

For its first foray into the world of modern middleweight sportbikes, MV has done an admirable job considering its limited resources. For sure it’s got a strong, well-sorted powertrain package that can run with the best from Japan and Europe. The ergonomics are functional as well - for all but us taller folks. But the thing that really holds the MV back at this point is a bit of chassis refinement. Get that dialed-in and there’s little doubt that it could be a true contender in the class.
2013 MV Agusta F3 Photos
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2013 MV Agusta F3 Specs
The MV Agusta F3 comes in three flavors: Pastel White  Red Silver and Pastel Black Metallic Anthracite  not pictured .
Engine: Liquid-cooled 675cc Inline Three, 12-valves Bore and Stroke: 79.0 x 45.9mm
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Fuel Delivery: Dual Stage Fuel Injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate; Cable actuation
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain 16F/43R
Frame: Steel/Aluminum
Front Suspension: 43mm inverted fork; three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound; 4.92 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Gas-charged shock absorber; three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound; 4.84 in. travel
Front Brakes: 320mm discs with radial-mount Brembo two-piece calipers
Rear Brake: 220mm disc with double-piston caliper Curb Weight: 420 lbs..
Wheelbase: 54.23 in.
Rake: 23.6 deg. Trail: 3.89 in.
Seat Height: 31.96 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.22 gal.
MSRP: $13999
Colors: Pastel White; Red/Silver; Pastel Black/Metallic Anthracite
Warranty: Two year
MV Agusta F3 Highs & Lows
Highs
  • Strong, wide powerband
  • Nimble handling
  • Gorgeous!
Lows
  • Needs handling refinement (better set-up)
  • Inconsistent front brakes
  • Incompatible with taller riders
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Comments
pacman52   January 20, 2013 01:38 PM
A friend of mine has one, very nice & unique bike. I guess that's the price to pay for an Italian motorcycle. My only concern, not too many dealerships...and if you need parts?
Superlight   October 2, 2012 05:40 PM
As always, looks are subjective, but may I suggest parking another bike next to this one are doing an aesthetic comparison? I think you'll quickly see the design magic in the F3. The Japanese (and British) competitors look crude next to this one.
j0seph   August 27, 2012 01:02 AM
For $13,000, it needs to look a lot cooler. It looks exactly like a toy I played with when I was a kid (in the mid-90s). The silver-gray and single diamond headlight look really outdated.
Superlight   July 26, 2012 04:54 AM
Each of us is unique and we have different needs in bikes as well. Doesn't make us "wrong" in our choices, just different.
Piglet2010   July 25, 2012 08:30 PM
For me, the cost of the F3 is about the same as my used F4i plus about 25-30 track days (including an allowance for tires, bike maintenance, running the pick-em-up truck, motel, etc). I guess exclusivity and Euro-style is not that valuable to me.
Superlight   July 25, 2012 08:53 AM
"Reading between the lines". OK, from what I've read so far the F3 is not a HonkawaYasuki, free of every faults, but those who own them (in Europe) seem happy so far. You have to know what to expect from this brand. MV seems to be in the position Ducati was about 15 years ago - limited dealers, riding "quirks", but with plenty of performance, character and style. If you are put off by this, buy another brand, preferably Japanese.
On the other hand, no current brand (including Ducati) has put a bike together with this much style at this price. The Triumph 675R, good as it is, is not even close. It all depends on what you're looking for, as always.
motousa_adam   July 25, 2012 07:56 AM
@superlight: +1 on no posing
  July 25, 2012 05:19 AM
Reading between the lines, although it looks great it's a POS to ride. Phrases such as "awkward handling" and "its handling proved to be more difficult to read" make me feel a little wary. Also, when I see somebody say that "MV has done an admirable job considering its limited resources" it sounds like damnation by faint praise. Honestly, for the price and the kudos of brand "MV", I expect rave reviews. Anything less smacks of a mediocre product which we feel embarrassed about criticizing. The emperor's new clothes, anybody?
Superlight   July 24, 2012 01:32 PM
Piglet, I raced a Ducati 750 in the old AMA "Battle of the Twins" series in the mid-'80s. Even though it was a dedicated race bike I made sure it looked professional as well, with a show-quality paint job and a general "factory" presentation.
I will most likely do some track days with my new F3 and I'm not worried about crashing it anymore than I did my old Duck 750. I don't know about others, but I'm no poseur.
Piglet2010   July 24, 2012 01:22 PM
@ Superlight - My track day bike is a CBR600F4i that had a scraped up fairing and exhaust can when I bought it; substantial discount in price off book compared to a "clean" bike of the same age and mileage. And to me, owning a bike like the MV Agusta F3 and not taking it to the track (or at least using it as a "canyon runner") is stupid, since comfort and practicality have been sacrificed for performance. But I suppose to some people, looking good parked in front of the coffee shop is most important.
Allworld   July 24, 2012 08:58 AM
I do love the looks of the F3 and MV has been doing sexy long before Hollywood. I am more of a Street fighter type and look forward to the Brutale 675 (B3), I currently ride a Triumph Striple R and know a few who ride the Daytona 675R, and while sexy counts performance trumps. For now I don't plan a trade, but give MV Agusta time to establish a better dealer network and put their new 675-3 Power plant to the test of durability and I maybe be saying “Chow Triumph”. For now I am staying with the Union Jack.
Superlight   July 24, 2012 02:57 AM
Piglet, that's an interesting comment. First, just a fraction of F3 owners will ever take their machine to a track day. Second, if crashing is a concern there are companies who specialize in crash protection for forks and bodywork; R&G in the UK are working on this model right now. Finally, if you are really concerned about crashing maybe you should buy an older Japanese 600 to play with, where you wouldn't have much money invested. I've never purchased a bike worried about crashing costs; have you? I focus on looks, handling and performance.
Piglet2010   July 23, 2012 10:06 PM
How much does the F3 cost to repair relative to a Japanese Super-Sport after you low-side it on the track?
Superlight   July 23, 2012 03:50 PM
This is the bike I was waiting for - stunning looks, smaller size/weight, "enough" motor and loads of character eminating from Europe. I was serious about a 675R...until I saw one of these in the flesh. I like the Triumph a lot, but this is on another, higher plateau altogether. I should have mine in a few weeks time.
mi2tom   July 23, 2012 11:22 AM
Even though I've never like italian bikes but this one looks great.