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2013 MV Agusta F4 and F4RR First Ride

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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2013 MV Agusta F4 and F4RR - First Ride
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MV Agusta issues an iOS-like software update to address engine management bugs and to increase ride-ability. Learn more in the 2013 MV Agusta F4 and RR First Ride Video.
While other European motorcycle brands make noise with the introduction of cutting edge (but slightly unproven) technology, MV Agusta prefers to go about the business of Superbike development through carefully crafted enhancements. This time MV offers an incremental half year, 2013.5 update to the F4’s electronics suite with fresh engine and traction control coding. Available free of charge, the software update is available from MV Agusta dealers worldwide.

The updated programming is in response to ride-ability issues including abrupt throttle response and inconsistent wheel spin intervention; both things that hampered the bike’s performance as noted during our last big Superbike Smackdown test (read about it in the 2012 MV Agusta F4R Track Comparison and 2012 MV Agusta F4R Traction Control Comparison). Since the 2013-plus MV’s now source electronics from Eldor, the update is not compatible on older Magneti Marelli-equipped F4s.

The new Eldor MVICS (motor and vehicle integrated control system) allowed MV engineers to better synergize the function of the motorcycle through integration of the powertrain and chassis. The MVICS system is comprised of a tiny black box that manages the bike’s eight fuel injectors, variable-length intake trumpets, ride-by-wire controller, quickshifter and traction control. It is fed data through a number of sensors including a lean angle measuring device and accelerometer.

This paints a more accurate picture of the bike’s position relative to the pavement allowing the electronics to respond with enhanced accuracy to wheelspin, especially at lean on roads with any degree of camber. Furthermore, the F4 is now outfitted with a pair of wheelspeed sensors for improved traction control functionality. The up-spec F4RR ($24,998) includes manually adjustable electronic suspension damping control a la the Ducati Panigale 1199S. The F4 continues to offer three preset engine (and suspension on the RR) maps including Normal, Sport and Rain. Additionally a Custom setting can be selected allowing the rider to tailor five other parameters.
MV Agusta F4 Settings
Preload: 2 (Turns in)
Compression: 13 (Turns out)
Rebound: 14
Preload: Stock
Ride Height: Stock
Low-Speed Compression: 28 (Turns out)
High-Speed: 25 
Rebound: 12
Power Mode: Custom
Traction Control: Level 1
Gas Sensitivity: Rain
Engine Brake: Sport
Maximum Torque: Sport
Engine Response: Fast
RPM Limiter: Normal

Labeled ‘Gas Sensitivity,’ a more apt name for the first parameter of adjustment would be throttle response. This setting controls the reaction of the twist grip when pulled. Although both Sport and Normal modes offer better calibration than before it’s still too anxious-feeling making it tricky to control, especially when you hit small bumps that can transfer to the rider’s wrist which in turn causes the bike to surge if you’re not extra careful. We prefer the Rain setting (even on a dry, high-grip track) as it allows for added control particularly during maintenance throttle settings mid-corner. It would be nice if engineers could build another map that is between the slightly slow-to-respond Rain setting and the punchy Normal setting.

The ‘Max Torque’ setting controls the Inline Four’s peak torque output. The Sport setting gives the rider access to maximum engine torque while the Rain mode mutes it for use on wet roads or traction-limited surfaces. ‘Engine Brake’ offers two levels of adjustment (Normal and Sport) with the Sport mode feeding extra fuel into the engine after the throttle is let off allowing the F4 to freewheel into a turn with less engine braking effect.

Now here is where it gets tricky. Easily confused with ‘Gas Sensitivity,’ the ‘Engine Response’ alters the throttle body’s response time when the throttle is cracked open. Fast mode gives a more direct feel while the Slow setting offers a slightly delayed response, which may be preferable for less experienced riders.

MV Agusta F4 & F4RR Highs & Lows
  • Excellent top-end power
  • Close ratio gearing, fast and effective quickshifter
  • Easier to ride than ever before
  • Normal and Sport maps still need to be smoother
  • Not enough traction control sensitivity levels
  • Menu system and tactile feel of controls could be better
The final customizable setting is ‘RPM Limiter.’ In Sport, the engine accelerates at its maximum value up to redline. The caveat is that it’s hard to know when to upshift until it’s too late and you’re wasting precious time with the engine stumbling off the rev limiter. The Normal mode gives soft-limiter feeling that comes in less abruptly, helping the rider understand precisely when to upshift for better overall acceleration.

Each setting is accessed via buttons on the left clip-on, however the motorcycle must be stationary with the ignition switched on (the engine doesn’t have to be running). Navigating the menu remains a little complicated and we’re still not big fans of the way the buttons feel, as it’s difficult to know if you’ve depressed it or not due to its vague physical feel. But after you fumble around with it for five minutes or so it becomes easier to master.
MV Agusta F4RR Settings
Preload: 9 (Turns in)
Compression: 8
Rebound: 12
Preload: 2 (Turns in from stock)
Ride Height: +5mm
Swingarm Pivot: 2.5mm
Compression: 6
Rebound: 13
Power Mode: Custom
Traction Control: Level 1
Gas Sensitivity: Rain
Engine Brake: Sport
Maximum Torque: Sport
Engine Response: Fast
RPM Limiter: Normal

The Big Track at Southern California’s Willow Springs International Raceway is all about speed and as usual the F4 definitely doesn’t disappoint. The engine isn’t lacking in terms of peak horsepower. Another plus is its lower final drive gearing. Paired with the much improved function and speed of the electronic quickshifter, it really helps the bike accelerate when the throttle is twisted to the stop.

The TC also responds with greater accuracy. While the higher settings (Level 3 to 8) still feels like it restricts the bike from accelerating, even on the center of the tire, it is much more consistent-feeling and easier to get acclimated to. Although we didn’t get comfortable enough to truly lean on the electronics and dial in full throttle as the rear tire was spinning off some turns, MV is moving in the right direction with the F4 being the most friendly MV Agusta superbike we’ve ridden.

It’s nice to see MV committed to its customers by proactively releasing Apple iOS-like software updates to address some of the ride-ability issues. MV says it has more enhancements in the works including a MotoGP-style auto-blip downshift feature opening up an exciting new world of digital opportunities for sportbike riders.

2014 MV Agusta F4 and RR Photos
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2013 MV Agusta F4 and RR Specs
For 2013  MV Agusta imports its  17 498 F4 and  24 998 F4RR. Both bikes now use electronics sourced from Eldor rather than Magnetti Marelli.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 998cc Inline Four, 16-valves
Bore and Stroke: 79.0 x 50.9mm
Compression Ratio: 13.4:1
Fuel Delivery: Dual Stage Fuel Injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch; hydraulic actuation
Transmission: Six-speed with electronic quickshifter
Final Drive: Chain; 15/41 gearing
Frame: Steel-Trellis
Front Suspension: 50mm inverted fork; adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound; 4.72 in. travel / Ohlins 43mm EC NIX with electronic compression and rebound damping control; manual spring preload adjustment
Rear Suspension: Gas-charged shock absorber; adjustable for spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound; 4.72 in. travel / Ohlins TTX with electronic compression and rebound damping control; manual spring preload 
Front Brakes: 320mm discs with radial-mount Brembo M50 monoblocs
Rear Brake: 210mm disc with double-piston Nissin caliper
Wheelbase: 56.27 in.
Rake: 23.0 deg. Trail: 3.93 in.
Seat Height: 32.66 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.49 gal.
MSRP: $17,498 / $24,998 RR
Colors: White/Anthracite Grey; Red/Titanium Grey
Warranty: Two year
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motousa_adam   October 1, 2013 05:16 PM
Hi MattD, I anticipate we will be doing a test ride of these motorcycle in the next two months or so. Feel free to give us a shout on Twitter @motousa for an update in the next few weeks...Adam
MattD   October 1, 2013 04:58 PM
Hi Adam, just wondering if you guys will be writing up a review on the new MV F3 800?
BakedorFried   September 10, 2013 12:39 AM
...the thing that has always intrigued me about motorcycles, combined with the concept of track-testing...how easy it is to destroy a motorcycle just by running off-road combined with the price of a bike...that requires a new term other than "astronomically nonsensical". Running a car off-track can easily result in its destruction as well. But bikes...ah...it's like letting a bull loose in a china shop. So let's talk about lap-times...what else is the Internet good for? LOL "His test was brought to a premature end when he suffered a relatively minor crash. Reports say that the bike was damaged too badly to be repaired at the track. That phrase is usually something of a euphemism: in this case, it means the bike caught fire and burned itself to a crisp." that would be a $26k "crisp", mate...
xfactory   September 9, 2013 09:14 AM
25 to 26's to be honest is a bit disappointing to me. I'm sure the bike makes more than 109hp at the wheel. I was at Willow 2 years ago watching 2 kids (16years old) run their R6's there for the very first time on the bike track and both ran mid 1:24's. I was hoping that 1000 especially with Toye on it run quicker that a near stock R6. Maybe next time out it'll be different. I think posting times going forward would be good for us hard core ol farts. Cheers Xfactory
motousa_adam   September 9, 2013 08:59 AM
@ForSure, I think lap times would have been nice to state here in this article. And you are correct, the new Eldor electronics are NOT compataible with the 2012 and older machines.
motousa_adam   September 9, 2013 08:57 AM
Hey xFactory, I did not record my lap times nor did the MV guys when I asked them. But next time I will bring along a lap timer just for good measure because I am curious now too. My good pal and ripper Jeremy Toye was doing 1'25-26s on that motorcycle which is pretty good for a bone stock street bike. I assume I was probably four or five seconds off of him. I wasn't really pushing that hard for an entire lap. Instead I was just giving er' some heat it in certain segments of the track to see how the bike reacted. I will try and record and post lap times next time. Thanks for your input. Adam
ForSure   September 8, 2013 02:40 PM
The message here is that there are so MANY variables that it's pointless to talk about the laptimes. I wonder if the new electronics hardware can be installed on the old bikes? What, nothing whatsoever to make all this new gear backwards-compatible with the older $26K bikes? I read this and I say the same thing that I said about the S1000RR. This is not a good thing. This just gives the rider more settings to play with and more settings to be disappointed with and complain about instead of simply riding the bike. Rather than having 50000 settings in the electronics it needs maybe two settings, at most, that are user-tunable. I'm not even sure it makes sense to have 22 different settings for damping adjustments. You spend more time tweaking the bike than riding it, then conditions change and all your adjustments need to be tweaked again.
xfactory   September 6, 2013 03:50 PM
Waaaaaaahhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed!!!! Don't tell us your afraid to post your times!!!! =<
xfactory   September 4, 2013 10:46 AM
Another good write up Adam but what were your lap times on both since you went through great detail in dialing in the suspension.