MV Agusta say ‘tech hurdles' remain for performance electric bikes

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High-end Italian manufacturer MV Agusta have responded cautiously to the UK Government’s plans to outlaw the sale of all non-zero-emission motorcycles by 2035.

The Varese firm’s Research and Development Director, Brian Gillen has spoken to MCN about the proposals, saying that while the technology is already there for small-capacity machines, it still has a long way to go for larger, performance-focused two-wheelers.

“The Government’s proposed plan to phase out petrol bikes by 2035 is an aggressive stance that sends a clear message,” he said.

MV Agusta Design Director Giorgio Mazzotti

“There are numerous technical hurdles that must be overcome to allow the motorcycle industry to meet the current levels of performance and range with equivalent or lower weight and cost than the current internal combustion engines.  

“Currently the technology exists for intra-city mobility lower performance motorcycles with limited range,” Gillen added, “but the battery technology for full-sized performance oriented motorcycles is not available on an industrial scale.”

MV Agusta have already produced a range of e-bikes and scooters and believe that in the long-term the key to full-size motorcycles of the future lies with electric.

He continued: ”We firmly believe that, due to the limited space available on a bike, the best solution will be full-electric rather than hybrid for performance and touring bikes.”


MV Agusta CEO hints at ultra-premium halo model bearing the firm’s iconic F4 name

First published on 30 May 2022 by Dan Sutherland

The original MV Agusta F4

MV Agusta CEO Timur Sardarov has confirmed exclusively to MCN that the Varese firm is looking to resurrect the iconic F4 name for a new high-performance motorcycle, however it might not share the same track-focussed superbike DNA as the original.

“The F4 was very unique when it came out. We want to have that uniqueness looking five years ahead, and that’s not very easy,” Sardarov told MCN. “You need to design something technologically superior – not just with what is available right now, but for what will be available in five years.”

The first F4 750 was a late ‘90s masterpiece, penned by Massimo Tamburini (the man behind the equally stunning Ducati 916). It then climbed to a litre bike for 2004 and ran until the advent of Euro5 with varying degrees of power, bling, and rarity.

Whether a new F4 would take this superbike shape once more remains to be seen, with Sardarov saying the firm is exploring a number of options.

“We’re still in the design stage and there are different technical ideas that we’re looking at,” he added. “It’s up for discussion what the F4 should be, because when the F4 appeared it was the renaissance of sportsbikes. Everyone wanted to have a hyperbike back in the day.

“Now the client is different, and the inspiration is different and what the F4 should be is not narrow-minded on just a sportsbike, but something people will see and say ‘wow, that’s exactly what I want.'”

On top of deciding exactly what shape the bike should be, MV will also have to design a new engine, which Sardarov has previously hinted at having a capacity of over 1000cc.

“The development – let’s assume of a four-cylinder high-performance F4 – has to stay above competitors. That’s a very expensive investment,” the MV boss added. “Between this crossroads of electric and combustion, I’m not worried about the regulations. You just need to choose your path really carefully and how you plan to do it.

“The market for these bikes is small because the hypothetical new F4 will cost double any close competitors. And for us it needs to outperform them, too. It needs to have electronics, propulsion, gearing and all the feel and emotions that will justify it. 

“For design, I’m not worried. We can go as crazy as we want – it’s MV Agusta. But we need to be quite careful where we choose the path because it could vary a lot what we do and how much it costs.”


MV Agusta’s new adventure: Boss confirms 9.5 and 5.5 are first of a range of globetrotting machines

First published on 16 May 2022 by Dan Sutherland

MV Agusta surprised bike fans across the globe last November, kicking off a new ‘Lucky Explorer’ project at the Eicma motorcycle show in Milan with the 9.5 and 5.5 adventure bike concepts inspired by the Dakar Rally success of the original Cagiva Elefant.

With the project made possible by Cagiva belonging to the same group as MV, company CEO Timur Sardarov has now revealed exclusively to MCN that more adventure models are on the way, with a production-ready version of the 554cc twin-pot 5.5 to make its debut at this year’s Eicma show.

“It’s something very new. MV Agusta haven’t developed a full product from scratch together with a new engine for the last 12 years,” Sardarov said, in reference to the 9.5. “We already have six prototypes in extensive testing and production will start next April.”

The MV Agusta 9.5 adventure bike concept

The 9.5 is powered by a 931cc 12-valve, liquid-cooled, triple, produces a claimed 121.4bhp and features lean-sensitive electronics. Unlike MVs that have come before it, Sardarov says the first model released will be the base spec, with more technically advanced metal following later.

“The approach to the release of this particular model is different to the rest of the MV Agusta range,” he continued. “MV Agusta used to present the product at the highest spec first and then we would make it a more scalable platform.

“We wanted to avoid that when launching this because it’s an adventure product and we wanted to work like other companies – where you produce a simplified version first and then you grow into a more advanced bike.”

MV Agusta CEO, Timur Sardarov

These more advanced models are set to follow on in six-month intervals, with the MV boss suggesting we could see more road-focused designs, as well as Tiptronic gearboxes (an auto with the option to change manually), and even radar cruise control.

“Tiptronic is not going to be launched next April. Next April is very much going to be a Lucky Explorer working machine, that focuses more on off-road, rather than on-road. 

“The on-road version will come later in the year. It will have more options, have a bit more luxury and will be a bit more expensive,” Sardarov added. “We have [radar cruise control] but it’s going to come later. We do have the space for it, and it’s all been planned. The product needs to get better and better and better, so we’ve engineered it with everything in mind already.”

MV Agusta 9.5 rear

Set to square off against Honda’s CB500X, the smaller capacity 5.5 has been produced in conjunction with Chinese partners QJ and is expected to cost between €7000-€8000, making it the cheapest model in the Varese firm’s petrol line-up. It’s set to feature a TFT dash, but will miss out on lean-sensitive electronics.

It features a similar Lucky Explorer livery and rounded LED headlights to its bigger sibling, and MV’s engineers have made tweaks to the internals of Chinese-made parallel-twin to create more of a V-twin inspired rumble.

R&D Director, Brian Gillen explains: “We have a different crankshaft with a slightly longer stroke and different positioning of the crank pins. It’s a 270° firing order crankshaft with a slightly longer stroke to get us up to 550cc.

MV Agusta 5.5 left side

“We want to be best in class in terms of torque. We want a different firing order for two reasons: One is vibration and the other is to have a specific sound. We want to have a sound more like a V-twin.”

Sardarov confirmed: “We will start production in January 2023. Full production models will be presented at Eicma.”

Elefant in the room

The MV Agusta 9.5 and 5.5 are not the only adventure bikes playing on the Cagiva Elefant’s illustrious rallying history, with the 2022 Ducati DesertX boasting styling and colour choices evidently inspired by the 750 and 900 – for which Ducati was the original engine supplier.

Speaking about the DesertX, Sardarov said: “Back in the day, Ducati was a part of the Cagiva Group and Lucky Explorer was using Ducati engines.

Cagiva 750/900 Elefant motorcycle review - Riding

“I would say Ducati need to get better with styling and need to have a bit more of its own DNA, rather than trying to pick and choose others’.

“Lucky Explorer is an MV Agusta product and Ducati decided to bank on it. Good for them, but for sure for such an important company they should have a bit more consistent styling and choose their own path – not try and blend into something that does not belong to them.

“The way it was presented, it’s very much looking back. I also think that’s quite a poor choice because our product looks forwards as an evolution,” says Sardarov.


‘I feel disgusted and ashamed’ – MV Agusta’s Russian owner decries invasion of Ukraine

First published on 25 March 2022 by Jordan Gibbons

MV Agusta CEO Timur Sardarov

The owner of MV has made it very clear that he does not believe the economic fall out of the sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will affect the business and that owners should not be concerned. 

MV is owned and run by Timur Sardarov, a Russian businessman who set up the Ocean Group International (OGI), which has offices in New York, London, Geneva and Moscow. OGI has an investment arm called Black Ocean, which invested in MV Agusta in late 2016, with Sardarov taking the reins from Giovanni Castiglioni as CEO in 2018.

With nations across the world placing sanctions on individuals, some people were concerned this could have a negative affect on MV but Sardarov wants to put everyone
at ease.

“In terms of personal sanctions I do not see why they would be applied to me or my family,” says Sardarov. “I, personally, have never done business in Russia and my father is a successful, self-made man. I know that there is a strange and unfair notion that anyone who made a fortune in Russia is either affiliated with the government there or is an oligarch…

“This idea is completely exaggerated and wrong. The Russian business community is diverse and has many talented businessman who achieved success on their own merit. That is why I don’t think that me, my family or MV are under threat.”

Timur’s father Rashid is a billionaire having made his money through his Comsar Energy Group, which is a fossil fuel producer. There’s no suggestion either Timur or his father have any connection to Putin but that might not necessarily stop PR hungry governments looking to squeeze wealthy individuals. 

Sardarov added: “The conflict will affect everyone in the world. I think we will see increases in everyday costs due to the inflation and other factors. I don’t know how far Western society will go with the current pressure to stop the conflict.

“If we make all Russian passport holders blacklisted then there will be many consequences that I can’t predict. Of course, MV will be affected, too. I don’t believe that will happen, but if it does we will be living in a more dangerous world.”

Inside MV Agusta's Varese production facility


Of the war, speaking publicly on social media Timur said that he’s, “absolutely disgusted, ashamed and betrayed by this horrific and cruel act.” 

In an open letter he published as CEO of MV he also described the invasion as “the biggest tragedy of my 40 years of existence” and that he never thought that he would feel so betrayed by the action of his own country. He also took aim at the media’s polarised reporting and pointed out that many Russians feel the same as he does about the invasion. 

“But part of the reason I want to express my opinion is that Russians are different and most of us, unfortunately, don’t have an influence on politics,” says Sardarov. “But we cannot and will not supply goods to Russia. This is not a publicity stunt, it is the current reality. I do not want MV to be seen as jumping on the badndwagon for good publicity. 

“I personally will do all I can to support my many friends in Ukraine,” stated Sardarov.


MV Agusta CEO confirms new 950 triple range plus high-performance 1000cc engine in development

First published 30 December 2021 by Dan Sutherland

Timur Sardarov at Eicma 2021

MV Agusta boss Timur Sardarov has confirmed that a new 950 range based on the existing 800 line-up is on the way and revealed plans for a new 1000cc-plus high-performance machine that looks set to arrive in the next four years.

The Varese-based CEO sat down with MCN for an exclusive interview at the 2021 Eicma Show in Milan, confirming the new 950 range would use the 931cc three-cylinder motor showcased in their latest 9.5 adventure bike concept which debuted at the event.

“The 950 product that we’re building is state-of-the-art,” Sardarov told MCN. “The 950 as an engine will also migrate into other platforms too, in a different spec. This is an adventure-spec engine, and you will see a more sporty, naked – there will be different variations.”

MV are claiming 121bhp at 10,000rpm and 75lb.ft torque at 7000rpm and a top speed of 149mph in adventure guise.

Sardarov continued: “The Superveloce, F3, and Turismo Veloce… they’re all going to migrate to 950. We will have an 800 and a 950.”

MV Agusta's CEO talks to MCN at Eicma 2021

This migration across platforms is made possible by the new engine sharing the same overall dimensions as the company’s existing 798cc triple, with every machine using that motor sharing broadly the same trellis frame and mounting points.

MV’s Technical Director, Brian Gillen, explains further: “We wanted to get to the biggest displacement we could in the existing line of MV bikes, which means attachment points.

“You’re limited by the attachment points of the swingarm, frame plates and front area of the frame.”

Sardarov added: “This is going to be a very efficient engine, with low emissions and it’s going to take this mid-size product range to a different paradigm.” 

MV Agusta 9.5 adventure bike concept

It remains unclear when this new line-up will arrive in UK dealers, however the MV chief confirmed the 9.5 adventure bike would not arrive until April 2023.

But the new model promises don’t end there, with Sardarov also teasing a new high-performance combustion engine – set to arrive before the firm have to fully commit to electric motorcycles.

“Some of the car manufacturers have stopped producing high-performance engines and they’re moving into electric,” Sardarov continued. “We’re still working on one more high-performance platform that will come before electric.

“At the same time, we are launching an initiative to start building a vision for what an MV Agusta electric motorcycle has to look like.

“We at MV categorically do not believe that the current technological accessibility will allow MV Agusta to produce anything in the performance market.”

Moving back to their petrol-powered machines, he added: “There are the 800s, 950s and then there is the next one. It will be over 1000cc.

“We will show something every year and some of the projects we have started will take a long time, but by 2024-2025 you definitely will see very special machines rolling out of MV Agusta.”


MV Agusta switch it up: Boss confirms first electric model ‘within the next six years’

First published on 5 May, 2021 by Dan Sutherland

MV AGusta CEO Timur Sardarov at the firm's Varese factory

MV Agusta CEO Timur Sardarov has confirmed to MCN that the Varese firm will begin research into electric models next year, before revealing their first plug-in by 2027.

Six years may seem a long time, especially as only last month Triumph revealed their TE-1 electric super-naked concept and Honda, KTM, Piaggio and Yamaha all signed an agreement to create a ‘swappable batteries consortium’ but Sardarov says more research is required before producing a product fit for MV’s clientele.

“We will start working on the electric products from next year onwards, but it’s going to be more of a study on how to get there,” Sardarov explained.

“According to our research, performance motorcycles are still the category we belong in and we’re still at least five to seven years away from introducing something that makes sense in terms of brand DNA, performance, weight and the power density.”

Although not yet starting the development process and refusing to be drawn on the design and genre of any proposed models, Sardarov did confirm that we would see the first bikes within the next five to six years. But how is such rapid growth possible?

Sardarov explains: “We have a lot of engineering knowledge and MV Agusta’s ratio of engineering employees is the highest in the industry,” he told MCN. “About 25% of the workforce is a part of research and development. No other company has that.”


MV Agusta boss Timur Sardarov promises 950 adventure triple for 2023

First published on 23 April, 2021 by Dan Sutherland

MV Agusta CEO, Timur Sardarov

MV Agusta CEO Timur Sardarov has confirmed the Varese brand are developing a new 950cc triple for 2023, ready to power a new adventure machine.

“Our closest [to market] product is a 950,” Sardarov told MCN in an exclusive interview last week. “It’s a brand-new platform, with a brand-new engine that is already in testing and will arrive in the last quarter of next year, with a model year of 2023.”

The platform, which would currently sit between the firm’s smallest 798cc triples and largest four-cylinder 998cc super nakeds, is set to be housed within a number of genres, also including nakeds and sportsbikes. Development is said to already be underway on the adventure model ahead of an official release towards the middle of 2023.

“It will represent all of the knowledge of MV Agusta and the pinnacle of our engineering capabilities,” he continued. “It will have a lot of smart features in terms of the way the engine performs, delivers power and its torque curve.

“For us, it’s quite a big milestone. There’s nothing like this available on the market. It will come in two variants: more power, less torque and less power, more torque.”

What if you don’t want a triple? Well, for those craving more power, Sardarov also promised a new addition to the Brutale 1000 super naked line-up in the coming months, but wouldn’t be drawn on the details at this stage.

“We started manufacturing the Brutale 1000 RR 18 months ago as a brand-new product. We will see an expansion of the line-up and the presentation will happen in May.

“From this month I think all of our products are Euro5, including the 1000,” he added. “We’re introducing another variant for the 1000cc naked bikes that you will see very soon. This platform is going to be evolved further going forward.”

Timur Sardarov in the MV Agusta factory

Although there are no details at this stage, with prices currently starting at just shy of £30,000, we’d hope the next one is slightly more affordable, to bring it in line with its mainstream rivals.

It’s not all about bigger bikes though and after pulling the plug on their 675 machines earlier this year, due to production costs, the CEO alluded to the development of yet more new models.

“We’re working on a smaller engine platform and working on one engine in particular that has a very different propulsion approach. We have three working technological platforms currently in development.”

But how is a relatively small Italian company like MV managing to devise so many new models in the midst of a global pandemic? Sardarov explains.

“MV Agusta is a company used to crisis management, so for us one crisis, another crisis is not a problem. That’s actually one of the advantages of MV Agusta because it’s quite flexible in terms of adjusting to the reality.”

He continued: “The pandemic actually played in favour of MV Agusta because it put everyone else in crisis and the bigger the company, the less flexible it is in what it can and cannot do. So, for a small company it’s a small problem and for a big company there are big problems.

“We basically grew close to 80% from 2019 to 2020 with very good retail numbers. This year, we’re going to grow another 60%.”


MV Agusta’s bold new future: Timur Sardarov interview Part 2

First published on 10 July, 2020 by Ben Clarke

MV Agusta have big plans, including electric bikes, but they’re not shying away from the machines they’re best known for. At the start of June, they unveiled a signature one-of-one special edition Brutale 1000 RR for a customer, but speaking to MCN, MV’s owner admits the future lies elsewhere.

“I completely understand that the future belongs to more environmentally friendly ways of transportation but every brand needs to choose this path in its own time,” says Timur Sardarov. “Cagiva will be back, Cagiva will be electric. It will focus on urban mobility and we will see something within the next 24 months.”

The Russian businessman, who’s been at the helm of MV since 2018, believes that electric power is ideal for commuting or nipping around a city centre but is not ready to be used in the kind of high-performance machines that carry the MV Agusta badge admitted that MV itself is five to seven years away from presenting new machines in the electric mobility market because they intend to develop everything in-house.

MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR ML

“25 per cent of our employees are engineers who work in the R&D department and we are proud of it. We have a long history of doing things first, of being on the edge of technological integration. Electric bikes are no exception… Our bikes are built from the best components and the same will happen when we choose to go electric.”

Looking slightly closer to home though, MV are keen not to immediately shed their petrol powered roots, especially after the success of the Superveloce 800.

“We will continue expanding this category with the same principle of having the best performance blended with a retro feel,” adds Sardarov. “Usually, scramblers and flattrackers are not just a retro-styled product but also perform the same way.

“We are working on this type of product but I cannot say when we’re going to bring it to our customers because we just don’t want something that’s popular, we want something to represent MV Agusta.”


New F4 coming, but not yet: MV Agusta owner Timur Sardarov on superbikes, Norton and affordable new models

First published on May 28, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Setting aside the last few months of lockdown, MV Agusta have been enjoying a period of relative stability. The company are going well under the ownership of Timur Sardarov – a finance expert with a love of hyper machines. With the brand celebrating 75 years, we spoke with him to discover what he’s got up his sleeve.

But first – the elephant in the room. Like most businesses, MV Agusta were forced to suspend activities because of the coronavirus pandemic but they were also one of the first to get going again, although Sardarov says it was their actions, rather than their small size, that saved the day.

“There is no difference between being public and being private, between small and big companies during a health crisis,” he told MCN. “We were very proactive in managing safety protocols and implementing all the right procedures for the government checks that allow us to open. We followed the safety measures and we’ve been very proactive with our unions and our employees to open quicker than everyone else.”

MV Agusta CEO, Timur Sardarov

As a brand known for building luxury models, some had MV down as a possible buyer for Norton but this was never really on the cards.

“When we heard about Norton filing for bankruptcy, we just expressed interest to see what was available from the assets, but we were never seriously interested and we never put in any bids. MV Agusta itself just came out of crisis and for us it’s very important to have a focus on our important and iconic brand.”

And part of that focus revolves around their deal with Loncin to build small capacity models for the Asian market in China. Sardarov has been critical of the way previous owner AMG failed to protect the prestige of the brand, but he says that it’s different this time around.

“Right now, MV Agusta for the first time in its history has its own plan. There’s no big industrial group or investors or a different motorcycle brand that the company belongs to.

“Due to globalisation, no one can produce small capacity performance motorcycles in Europe. We would like to do it but it’s impossible, we would be uncompetitive.”

And what about the very high performance end of motorcycling? “Our F4 platform has been discontinued and we will come back to this no sooner than in five years time. Then we will enter back into the superbike series as well.”

Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

News Editor, sportsbike nut, and racing fan.