MCN reader Tony Standsfield reviews his MV Agusta F4
Let's get the downsides out of the way first.
Insurance is beyond outrageous! I could only find one company in the entire country to insure me on the thing (I wrote off my GSX-R750 and some thieving scumbag stole my R1, so bang went my no claims). Other not quite so wonderful things are the FOBBs experienced after running it in. What's a FOBB you ask? It's a F**k-Off Big Backfire that's what it is, And I can tell you, they were BIG BACKFIRES!!! The first time it happened I nearly fell off the bugger with surprise.
Anyway, a couple of trips to the dealer & some arcane changes to the CO2 in the mix (whatever that means) and the backfires now only show themselves when I'm caning the thing - which I obviously never do. Oh no, not me officer. Another not so nice thing is the £330 I was charged for the 600-mile service. No simple oil and filter change for these bikes. No, they've got to have the engine stripped. A full day job no less - unless the dealer is ripping me off. And I can't believe that. Dealers are scrupulously honest and never act in such a manner. Do they?
What else is on the down side? The mirrors are beautiful but serve no purpose whatsoever other than to look wonderful (hmmm, sounds like some women I know) and to house the indicators. The seat is about 1mm thick and made of the very, very hardest hard stuff that ever came out of the Hard stuff factory in Hardsville, Arizona (well, it felt like that after 850-ish miles sitting on it over 2 days). The back brake failed completely on the way back from a trip to John O'Groats - that happened before and the dealer just bled the thing. Oh, and it could do with more power, but then again, every bike needs MORE POWER!!! One last thing, it's got one of those really stupid flip-up side stand thingies. Who on earth thinks they are a good thing? Weird Italians! But you really do have to forgive them though, because everything else is perfect. Yes, perfect.
I probably don't need to say anything about the looks of the bike. If you've seen it, you'll know just how gob-smackingly beautiful it is. Actually, that may be one of the downsides - you can guarantee that you get lots of attention whenever you are out on it.
So, we've established just how gorgeous the bike is. It's a stunning design, lots of nice touches here and there. From the sexy four under-seat cans to the beautifully sculpted tank to the stunning dash to that curvaceous single sided swing arm. I could go on indefinitely but look at one in the flesh and you'll understand. A more beautiful bike has never graced the planet.
At odds with expectations of italian exotica, it's been reliable, well behaved and hasn't proven that much more costly to run (servicing aside) than any other bike.
The first thing you notice when you get astride the bike is just how tiny it is. It feels more like a 250 than a 750. The tank is so narrow that you feel like your knees are meeting. Riding position is a bit extreme - sort of like the GSX-R750, bum up (not a pretty sight in my case) and head down. But the stretch to the low bars is just right for getting you in that racing crouch. Switch the key to on and watch the digital speedo display 200 mph (a bit optimistic there) and the lovely tacho circle all the way up to 17,000 and back again. Funky! Press the starter and listen to those four cylinders growl into life. You can spend a while playing with the practical things like the twin trip meters or the clock (all selected by the starter button once the engine's running - how strange that is the first time you try it), but all you really want to do is get moving. Engage the clutch; lift the bike off the side stand and snick into first gear (nice box). Out with the clutch lever and you're off.
The F4's not really got a lot happening in low revs. Although it sounds great with a kinda throaty growl down low and a lovely noise coming from the air box. But as the revs climb, things start to happen. The sound changes from growl to a menacing snarl and then on up to a howling banshee wail that sends shivers down your spine as the speed increases at an alarming, but very progressive pace until the red warning light on the dash tells you it's time to change up at 12,750. Climbing through the gearbox is smooth with only the very occasional false neutral if you are hesitant with your left boot.
Riding around town, as you'd expect, is not the most wonderful experience known to man - the most wonderful experience know to man is an entirely different proposition and one not suitable for going into on a nice, clean, family publication like this one. But when you get out onto those fast twisties that Scotland is blessed with, the story changes.
I can honestly say that I've never ridden a better handling bike in my life. The MV is easy to drop into corners, is absolutely planted when you are in there and goes exactly where you want it to. Nothing seems to upset it. Bumpy roads, ripples in corners and changing line when you mess up are all taken in the F4's stride. And when you're franticaly dropping down through the gears to set up for the next tight corner, the back wheel skips about nicely under engine braking, but never feels like it's getting out of shape.
There's so much that is wonderful about riding the F4, but it's the combination of everything that makes this a very, very special machine. The performance, the handling, the noise, the looks all combine to make for the ultimate riding experience. Sell your soul; sell your wife/husband, kids, house, granny and pets. Do whatever you have to do to get yourself one of these works of art. Trust me, it's well worth it!