MV Agusta F3: How it could have looked, how it does sound

MV Agusta’s radically small, sexy and advanced new triple – which is heard for the first time in this video from an MV owners group event in Italy – started life in even more extreme form, its British designer has revealed.

How the new F3 sounds

Speaking for the first time about the 140bhp, 675cc machine – which looks set to wrest the title of world’s best supersport machine from Triumph’s hands – Adrian Morton told MCN he was reined in by MV boss Claudio Castiglioni during the design process. Though the fundamental shape and style of the finished bike is clearly visible in Morton’s first sketch, there are several touches which aren’t – from rim-mounted brakes to the self-supporting tail unit.

In an exclusive interview with MCN, Morton went on to speak about what he’s working on next, what the F3 is like to ride and his working relationship with the charismatic Castiglioni.
MCN: What was it like working on the F3?
AdrianMorton: Claudio Castiglioni [MV boss] gave clear indications about what he wanted from this bike and I interpreted and elaborated on them. Lots of times I’d get phone calls from Claudio at 7.00 in the morning when I got the impression he’d been up all night evaluating the sketches I’d sent him the day before. He tends to ‘draw me back’. I enjoy pushing the creative envelope but more often than not it’s too much for Claudio’s sophisticated taste. The first F3 designs were a lot more outlandish. But he’s the boss and understands what the MV Agusta brand should represent. All the time I was focusing on the fact I want people to fall in love with this bike. You buy an MV with your heart whether that be for the compact proportions, slinky three-exit exhaust, single-sided swingarm – which is a first on a super sports bike – or the red and silver colour scheme that distinguishes MV’s racing heritage. The biggest risk was losing the perceived quality of the final product with the considerably tighter product costs compared to that of the F4.
What parts define the bike for you?
Without question the frame plates. The engineer [Alessandro Benedettini] was working on the initial layout. I wanted to reduce the physical width below the rider’s seat to keep it manageable for shorter riders like myself. We brought the two sides closer and closer, until they eventually met in the centre of the bike. This lack of volume under the seat highlights the compact, lightweight feel to the bike.
What could anyone get off a Daytona 675 thinking they want more of?
Dynamically the F3 promises to have the edge. On an emotive level MV offers unique exclusivity. We looked at all the current supersport bikes, particularly regarding the quality of componentry associated with this market segment. For me the Triumph is a great looking bike but the MV F3 has its own unique identity. Triumph places priority on other aspects of a bike’s DNA makeup.
Are the extraordinary claims (size of a 125, 140bhp etc) going to stand up?
The proportions are within the levels of 125/250 cc class products and in terms of power, we are just under 140bhp on the standard configuration bike – 135bhp to be precise. It will be stunning!
How important is it for you to really want this type of bike yourself?
110% I haven’t ever owned one of my own designs. I will definitely be buying an F3. Even when sitting on the clay model this bike felt right. If it doesn’t seduce me why should it seduce and convince anybody else? Having one person overseeing the entire project retains continuity. If there are ‘visual conflicts’ or solutions forced upon the designer by “unqualified” marketing bods, or managers you will notice it consciously or subconsciously.
How much does MV’s heritage shape your design work?
Totally. In Benelli [where Morton designed the Tornado] the brand was not particularly strong so I had to make it stand out amongst the crowd at all costs. With MV the brand is so strong that the respect for retaining the exclusivity, and individualism is paramount whilst retaining a subdued palatable package. Italians are great at repackaging ‘over the top’ ideas in palatable forms. Look at fashion. Italy is renowned for perception of quality of execution not necessarily creative flair.
Is a beautiful bike male or female?
Both! If you’re male it’s a sexy, curvy female. If you’re female its a sculpted, toned male.
Two of the hardest briefs in the world must have been ‘Update Tamburini’s F4’ and ‘Design a successor to the F4 [in the F3] that looks just as good’. How did it make you feel?
Without sounding arrogant, no problem. I studied for six years and have been designing motorcycles in Italy for 16 years now. Of course it was a challenge, but I felt confident that I was in a good position to continue the tradition. I see Tamburini as ‘fortunate’ in having had the unwavering support from Claudio Castiglioni for many years. Unheard creative freedom, unlimited time and a highly talented team dedicated to fulfil his every request permitted him tocreate legendary bikes. He has a good eye for style, and is good at taking other peoples ideas and manipulating them into beautiful final solutions.
Have you ever consulted Tamburini since his retirement?
10 of MV’s 37 world championships were won on inline triples, but now everyone thinks triples are Triumph’s thing. Problem?
Three cylinder bikes are a Triumph thing! But that’s okay. When we presented the F3 to the importers and dealers we presented it next to Agostini’s GP three cylinder bike. It made the hairs on the back of my arms stand up. I treasure the photo of me with Giacomo Agostini next to the F3. This connection is essential to create a link to our glorious racing heritage for younger riders that this more affordable bike will inevitably appeal to.
How does working in MV compare with Benelli?
I like my own independence within the structure and I had that for seven years in Benelli. But that said creating a motorcycle is a team effort, and CRC has a team of highly talented engineers, model makers, and machinists. They trust my opinion and are willing to accept sketch proposals. It’s very satisfying toconclude a component and achieve a balance retaining a technical ‘feel’ without seeming crude, over styled, or unstyled. In Benelli I tended to overstyle the technical components.

This story was published in MCN on 4 May 2011. Get MCN from only £1 an issue when you subscribe today

Guy Procter

By Guy Procter