Human perception is built on sensory information provided to the brain. Normally, the data received from five channels is analysed, evaluated and labelled before it is stored in the long-term memory. In the case of the F3, the system breaks down and flashes the warning: “System overload error!”
Visually, this MV Agusta is unlike anything that originates from Japan. The sleek body-work only partly covers the beautiful mechanicals, while the trellis frame beautifully combines with alloy castings, a single-sided swing arm and stubby, organ-like exhaust pipes that follow the radius of the rear wheel when viewed side-on. It may be an evolution of the spectacular F4, but the F3 definitely has its own character. The instrument cluster is an all-LCD display unit that keeps the user interface compact and clutter-free.
Starting the bike sends a complex sound to the ears as the rasping three-cylinder engine barks and hunts at idle, reminiscent of a highly tuned race bike. The 675 cm3 powertrain breaks the mould of the 600 cm3 inline four-cylinder formula for middleweight superbikes as permitted in the Supersport World Championship. Once the throttle is cracked open, the three cylinders harmonise to deliver a glorious exhaust note that turns from a rasp into a scream. Your brain still struggles to comprehend the unique soundtrack when a tap of the left boot on the quick-shift gearlever (enabling clutch-less, full-throttle shifts by cutting fuelling and ignition) results in the next chorus announced by a gunshot-like backfire. How is this legal?
The seating position is pure racer; your bum is high and the handlebars low, which puts a lot of weight on the wrists. Comfort therefore is sacrificed for a race-ready stance to attack your favourite mountain pass or racetrack. Although the F3 is tiny, it does allow plenty of space for the tall rider to tuck in. Handling-wise, the bike is extremely nimble owing to the low weight, short wheelbase and steeply raked front Marzocchi upside-down forks. Steering is done intuitively, while any movement of the body mid-corner upsets the bike’s equilibrium. Get it right and the MV rewards with extraordinary cornering speeds and lean angles. Get it wrong and a shake of the handlebar (without a steering damper) keeps you honest.
The F3 is the first middleweight bike that is offered with optional electronic dynamic control including traction, wheelie and launch control. Our test unit was fitted with only traction control (eight levels) and a quick-shifter, the latter working well but perhaps too sensitively at times. MV has given thought to the slightest detail to improve performance and this includes changing the normal direction of the crankshaft rotation in the engine to aid handling as employed in MotoGP. Immense stopping power is provided by twin 320 mm diameter discs grabbed by four-piston, radial-type Brembo callipers up front and a 220 mm diameter single disc with two-piston calliper at the rear.
Is this the perfect middleweight super-bike? No, the fuelling at low engine speeds and throttle openings is rough and makes town riding difficult. The clutch is grabby and it is too easy to stall the engine. That said, this motorcycle possesses an X-factor that is rare to find in modern-day, high-volume production bikes. If you want to awaken your senses, get the MV Agusta F3.
The 675 cm3, three-cylinder engine has more torque than a 600 cm3 inline four but similar power owing to a slightly lower maximum engine speed (15 000 r/min compared with the 16 000 r/min redline of the Kawasaki ZX6-R we tested in January 2013; both bikes produce 94 kW). The MV immediately felt pokier on the road than a 600, which we confirmed on our test strip. Launching the three-cylinder in anger proved tricky as the clutch was unwilling to slip excessively, while explosive power and a short wheelbase resulted in first-gear wheelies. Once on the move, however, the acceleration was relent-less and bested those of the ZX6-R.
Nicol Louw: A bike that speaks to you on so many levels. Desirability at a fairly reasonable price
Wilhelm Lutjeharms: It oozes character and is faster than a 600 cm3 superbike. One of my favourites
Peter Palm: Not just a great name, great looks and great sound, it’s also great fun to ride. And the cog swops are lightning quick
Engine: 675 cm3, three-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke
Power: 94 kW at 14 400 r/min
Torque: 71 Nm at 10 900 r/min
Frame: tubular trellis combined with aluminium alloy
Fuel capacity: 16,5 litres
Mass: 193 kg (as tested), 173 kg (dry)
Seat height: 805 mm
Price: R129 900 (R139 900 with quick-shifter)
Warranty: two years/unlimited km
|1 km||21,54 at 235,21 km/h|
Special thanks to Cayenne South Africa. Visit www.mvagusta.co.za.