MV-AGUSTA SUPERVELOCE 800 (2020 - on) Review
- Fast but not overpowering
- Easy to manage
- Tasty styling
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Style, speed and Chainsaw Massacre soundtracks have always been MV trademarks. The new Superveloce 800 is all those things and more because underneath the 1970s-meets-21st century curves is a rather good road-going sportsbike.
It might be just an F3 800 in a posh frock, but the Superveloce 800 is the most unlikely of useable road-going sportsbikes. Its riding position isn’t too extreme and there’s lots of midrange grunt surging from its raucous three-cylinder motor.
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It’s the kind of money you’d expect to pay for a posh 1000 but the 800 triple is beautifully equipped, finished and packed with tech and tasty equipment, but you’d expect higher quality or even electronic suspension for the price.
There’s no question the new Superveloce 800 is all about style and sound and if that floats your boat and the price doesn’t faze you, it won’t disappoint. But for the first time in years an MV is more than just a shouty Italian in an expensive suit, it’s a very capable machine in its own right. They’ve really turned a corner (once you’ve adjusted the shock).
Watch our in-depth Superveloce 800 video review here:
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
In basic terms it’s an F3 800 in fancy clothes – a machine designed to dissect backroads and glide around racetracks, but MV have made the Superveloce 800 roomier. Its wide clip-ons are slightly raised and the pegs are lower, which is good news for the road, especially for taller riders. Its short, thin and firm suede-covered old school racing seat isn’t the last word in comfort, but it’s padded enough to get you from one coffee shop to the next.
Spend a bit of time on the Superveloce 800 and you quickly realise it’s actually a sportsbike that’s halfway practical and one you can joyfully spend time with. Even the bar end mirrors give a better view than stalks and wind protection isn’t too bad, although the screen could do with being taller. A big bubble screen to match its '70s snout would look great.
Chassis-wise it’s all-F3 800, too, from its tubular steel frame and aluminium single-sided swingarm, to the fully adjustable Marzocchi forks, Sachs shock, Brembo monoblocs and Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II rubber.
Strangely there’s minimal rear shock damping out of the box, so it’s easy to get the Superveloce 800 out of shape, bouncing off bumps like a Zebedee on the sauce with bars wagging in your hands. Happily, a couple of turns of compression and a turn of rebound slows the damping down enough to give the MV back its poise, but it’s rare you need to go anywhere near a suspension adjuster on a new bike nowadays.
Those damping screws (they’re not even clickers) give the shock a cheap feel that’s at odds with the rest of the bike. You’d expect higher quality suspension and even semi-active for the price.
Once set up with a more controlled back end, the ride quality suffers slightly, but you’re rewarded with crisper handling. The MV isn’t a fast-steerer, but it’s nimble enough in the slow stuff and what it really loves is fast sweepers, where the harder you push, the more it digs in and makes you smile.
Tyres never lack feel or grip. Brembos are never short of power, but the ABS eventually intrudes under extreme braking and robs them of the feel you’d expect. That’s more to do with the way ABS has to act for Euro5 now than any failing on MV’s part.
EngineNext up: Reliability
MV hasn’t dumbed its F3 800 motor down to create the Superveloce 800. The 798cc inline three-cylinder (which has been around since 2013) is a 'stroked' 675 supersport unit with titanium valves and a counter rotating crank, making 146bhp. Best of all, it’s finally been given the throttle manners it’s always deserved.
The Varese boffins have smoothed-off most of its niggly, rough edges and honed its ride-by-wire for more fluid power, especially at low revs. But it’s still an MV and still slightly raw, spikey and aggressive.
It’s also the perfect capacity for a sportsbike. It loves to rev like a supersport racer, so it never lacks excitement, but there’s a nice dollop of midrange grunt, so you don’t have to go around banging the engine up against the redline the whole time. Cut from the same cloth as the Suzuki GSX-R750, Ducati Panigale V2 and Triumph Daytona 765 the Superveloce is powerful, manageable and never intimidating, especially when the added safety net of lean-tastic electronic rider aids.
MV Agustas have always sounded sensational and the Superveloce 800 sails along the same sonic ear canal. Admittedly it sounds pretty rough low down, but as the revs sour its pure mechanical anger, punctuated by savage electronic shifter stabs.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Paint finishes and attention to design and detail are textbook exotica. Fairing screws are hidden, the satin finished magnesium coloured wheels look fantastic and the Superveloce 800 is so posh it even wears a tiara. Even more usefully, the MV comes with a three-year warranty and two years roadside assistance.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
You’re getting a lot of speed, character tech, design and all-round handsomeness for the money, but whichever way you slice it the Superveloce 800 isn’t cheap for sub-litre sportsbike that doesn’t have top drawer suspension.
The MV is sort of in a class of its own in terms of a truly devoted sportsbike with retro styling. It's closest rival is the Triumph Thruxton RS (£13,000), but the 103bhp 1200cc parallel-twin in the Triumph can't match the MV for outright performance.
The Honda CB1000R (£11,649) is a closer match in terms of power and speed, but Honda's neo-café styling is a more modern take on retro than the MV, and it's a naked bike with flat bars, too.
Similarly, the 2019 Suzuki Katana (£10,499) takes its styling cues from the past but with a retro-futurist vibe like the Honda. The 148bhp power output from the Suzuki's K5 GSX-R1000 engine is in line with that of the MV, but the finish can't match the stylish Italian.
MV Agusta Superveloce vs Triumph Thruxton RS
We took the MV Agusta around the UK’s toughest test route, the MCN250 with one of its closest retro-racer rivals, the Triumph Thruxton RS to see how the two compare on UK roads.
Starting an MCN250 with rain already falling is never a good thing but on a bike like the Superveloce 800 it is even worse news. Glamorous Italians never like to venture out in their best attire when the heavens have opened and, true to form, the MV’s bottom lip was most certainly protruding as we set off on the A-road section.
The Triumph, on the other hand, felt more akin to a no-nonsense Yorkshire lass who just stuck on a pair of wellies and got on with the job in hand. Which in this case was battling busy traffic on the roads leading to Boston.
The A1175 and A10 that lead to Boston are full of roundabouts, lorries, speed cameras and farm traffic. This slow pace highlighted all the reasons you wouldn’t want to buy the Superveloce: its vibey engine sends your fingers numb, its rock hard seat destroys your rear end and its low clip-ons play havoc with your wrists.
When the traffic was lighter there were hints of what was to come as at 60mph on flowing bends the MV’s character was transformed, but these moments were few and far between.
The Triumph is much more comfortable than the MV in these conditions with taller bars and sumptuous (relatively...) seat but its OE tyres are easily overcome by the torquey 1200cc engine in the wet with the traction control stepping in regularly.
But, with the afternoon’s B-road route now dry, the MV takes on a completely different character. It needs you to put some effort in but on engaging roads with more grip, it feels like a totally different bike. The suspension is quite harsh but it responds to some rider input and the bike feels light and eager to tip into bends. It feels like a sportsbike in the way it responds, and the engine, when you let it rev, is amazing, full of grunt, quick-revving and sounds incredible.
The same run on the Triumph will also get you buzzing with excitement, although maybe not quite as much as the MV. The Triumph is so much fun to ride, so easy-going and relaxed thanks to its gutsy parallel twin engine that it flows through bends with speed and poise. It’s one of those bikes that you simply can’t help but enjoy riding. Is it as thrilling as the MV? Probably not. But the updates that Triumph have made enhance the package.
The Superveloce is a stunning bike that easily puts the Thruxton RS in the shade. The attention to detail, the styling, everything about the MV is beautiful – but you pay for this in terms of its ride. This is a bike for sunny days, light traffic and smooth roads as its suspension is harsh, the riding position uncomfortable at anything under 60mph and the motor aggressive and angry. However, when the moment is right it is fantastic to ride and makes you feel a million dollars.
Calling the Thruxton utilitarian would be harsh but the truth is that this is a good-looking day-to-day café racer that is easy to ride whatever the conditions.
The single LED headlight and slim seat unit all tip a nod to the Ago years, the tail unit has a hint of Stoner Desmosedici to it and the colour dash is pure 21st century, as are its rider modes, launch, wheelie, cruise and traction control, ABS and up/down shifter.
Purely for show, the Superveloce 800’s decorative leather fuel tank and nattily designed fuel cap 'buckle' mimics those found on old racing bikes and while those 70s racers had to make do with just a tacho, but the MV has a 5" multifunction TFT dash with colour graphics, but its warning lights are too dull to see in bright light.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 12v, inline triple|
|Frame type||Tubular steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||16.5 litres|
|Front suspension||Marzocchi 43mm forks, fully adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single Sachs shock, fully adjustable|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm front discs with four-piston Brembo radial calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||220mm rear disc with twin-piston Brembo caliper ABS|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||180/55 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||41 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||-|
17 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Three years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||146 bhp|
|Max torque||65 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||149 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2020: MV Agusta Superveloce 800 released.
- Superveloce 800 Serie Oro: Limited edition version with carbon fibre panels and styling tweaks including machined ali components (including headlight and taillight surrounds), dual race exhaust and tracker.
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