Is The MV Agusta F4 The World’s Most Desirable Superbike?
Seeing the MV Agusta F4 in the flesh, for the first time, turned out to be a moment of incredible inner conflict. No motorcycle, super or otherwise, has looked this inviting and yet so unapproachably beautiful. You’re as compelled to drink in the aesthetic symphony that is the F4, as you are to ride it flat out. Which makes sense, because the F4 is as much of an art installation as it is a motorcycling masterpiece.
Penned by the divine hand of Massimo Tamburini — also called the Michelangelo of motorcycle design — the F4 is a more chiselled version of the original 1998 design,back when the F4 was introduced to the world, promptly reinstating MV Agusta as the poster bike manufacturer for the ages. And it’s perfectly clear how it did so — nearly 20 years down the line, it still exudes exoticism from every angle like no other contemporary superbike does. From the diamond shaped headlamp to those sharp-edged underseat tailpipes — there isn’t a line that’s out of place — you could do a lot worse than spend an afternoon just looking at it. It’s a damned sight more evocative than the clean, technical and futuristic lines enveloping most modern inline four superbikes. Unlike the marketing-speak that’s found on a lot of machines and their brochures, the ‘Motorcycle Art’ label emblazoned between the clip-ons actually best describes what we’re dealing with here.
This isn’t to say that this motorcycle is in any way an anachronism. It might seem a bit more analogue than its contemporaries, but with an 8-stage traction control system, ABS by Bosch and 4 rider settings – Rain, Sport, Normal and Custom – it feels poised, sharp and composed. Sure, you can feel that old-school superbike heft when you take control, but that only heightens the bike’s appeal. In ‘Normal’ mode, it doesn’t possess the frenzied acceleration of a hardcore, track-munching superbike – it’s a more dramatic and considered vault, almost predatory in its composure. It certainly sounds predatory as soon as the rev gauge crosses the 4000 rpm mark and, make no mistake, there is no in-line four in the world that sounds as invigorating as this. MV Agusta is famous for its particularly heady exhaust notes. I’d imagine there’s a cauldron somewhere inside their headquarters in Varese, Italy, where the war cry of dragons is mixed with alpine winds and a dash of thunder is thrown in – that’s pretty much what we have here.
What we like
Godly looks; heavenly soundtrack; power
What we don’t
Price; lack of comfort
In ‘Sport’ mode, you immediately feel sharper throttle responses, all 195 bhp and 11 kgm of torque instantly at your disposal. It’s a setting best saved for the track – which is essentially what every angle of this bike is designed for. In ‘Rain’ mode, power delivery is more restrained and the electronic aids work fiercely to maintain traction and balance. It’s a setting that works well in traffic, although no amount of tinkering with the settings can render this bike truly street friendly – it’s extreme, it’s demanding and it requires deltoids of steel to operate it for a prolonged duration.
The standard F4 is equipped with Sachs suspension, while the ‘R’ (which has been temporarily discontinued until the 2016 model arrives, and was the variant I happened to be riding) comes with Ohlins, which shine through no matter how treacherous the surface. This may not be the most flickable bike, but it does feel composed. The suspension setup can be changed with a rather rudimentary twist of a tiny knob placed below the handlebars, with a hard setting resulting in a lot of teeth grinding on cratered surfaces, but stable cornering on smooth surfaces.
At Rs 24.87 lakh (Exshowroom,Pune) the F4 costs a lot of money. But decades from now, hopefully even centuries, it’s only going to appreciate in its value as a collector’s item. Ride it, put it on a plinth, display it in the living room – there isn’t a moment you’re going to regret buying an F4, because, quite simply put, there’s just nothing as exotic, as novel and as dramatic as a full-bodied MV Agusta superbike.