This being an automotive website, you may not have paid our regular riding impressions much attention. But, now you should. What you see here is one of the most exotic superbikes available, and currently the world's most powerful, the MV Agusta F4 RR Corsa Corta.
The F4 RR is to MV Agusta what the 997 Mk2 GT3 RS 4.0 is to Porsche, the W204 C63 AMG Coupé Black Series to Mercedes-Benz and the E92 M3 GTS to BMW. It's a track-focused machine for the road and the best bike the company offers. Yes, you could opt for the MV Agusta F4 and the F4 R, but for R70 000 more than the basic F4’s R169 900 price, you could have that two additional letters.
Design and performance are the RR’s core ingredients. Dig into MV Agusta’s history and you'll realise that the late Claudio Castiglioni – who acquired the company in 1991 and was responsible for the F4 and the Ducati 916 – had a thing for fast, beautiful bikes. Turn the key and the welcome message on the screen displays Castiglioni’s philosophy “Motorcycle Art”.
The compact xenon lamp allows a smaller part of the nose section to be taken up by the cluster, while you'll spot the bike's internals through the fairings. The rear features the now-signature four-pipe exhaust, which has carbon-fibre tips, while MV Agusta’s emblem is neatly embossed halfway down the pipe.
It's enough to make you weak at the knees.
If you ever encounter an MV Agusta, spend some time with the ‘cycle and appreciate the meticulate attention to detail. Although the RR has a number of styling add-ons that could potentially have added weight, it is surprisingly close to its rivals in terms of mass.
Launching the world’s most powerful superbike smoothly but quickly from a standstill is tricky. The sticky Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tyres (190/55 at the rear) help, though. They offer improved traction from the get-go, but it takes some practice to know how much you should twist your wrist, especially in first gear. The best 0-100 km/h acceleration time I achieved was 3,8 seconds. But, with more guts and practice, and a smaller, lighter rider, this figure could tumble to around 3,5 seconds in similar conditions to the ones in which we tested the bike. However, the MV’s pace above 100 km/h felt even faster compared to its acceleration below the three-figure mark.
At just over 200 km/h, a flex of the left foot selects fourth gear. You clamp the bike with your legs and tuck in your knees underneath the petrol tank’s wings. Your helmet is centimetres from the fuel tank’s surface, your arms are perpendicular with the road and your elbows clamp your knees. If there is a more intimate way of riding a motorcycle, I still need to find it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to keep your eyes on the revs as they approach 14 000 r/min because a small orange light blinks just in time to hook the next gear. Pulling the clutch at 270 km/h for the final time, the RR soon after hits its sixth-gear limiter between 300 and 303 km/h. This verifies MV Agusta’s top-speed figure of 298 km/h.
On the road
Corsa Corta refers to the new short-stroke engine. This amazing powertrain features a new cylinder head, large-diameter titanium intake and exhaust valves, and lightweight forged pistons. In order to raise the rev limit, the piston diameter was increased and the stroke reduced.
Although we haven’t ridden a standard F4, we have been on BMW’s S 1000 RR. The MV is in the same league, but it feels sufficiently different thanks to a harsher note from the engine and exhaust compared with the high-pitch sound of the BMW.
With close to 148 kW on tap at 13 400 r/min (the rev limiter is at 13 700 r/min) and 114 N.m at 9 200 r/min, acceleration at any speed – and in any gear – is never an issue. Twist the throttle in sixth gear at an indicated 120 km/h and you'll leave traffic behind faster than most sportscars.
As can be expected, the suspension is stiff, but on the smooth mountain passes that we test bikes, the MV performed effortlessly. Don’t take it on a bumpy pass, though; you will only be frustrated. The adjustable suspension gives experienced riders the opportunity to set up the bike in accordance with their requirements.
It is easy to move round on the bike and the little lip behind the rider’s seat keeps you in place as you position yourself for a corner, or when you accelerate hard in a straight line.
Leaning through and exiting corners, the RR grips well, while the sensitive throttle (as well as the impressive brakes) allows you to perfectly ease out of corners. Use the entire rev range as you centre yourself and you can feel the bike’s intention to lift its front wheel. It's scary at first, but a sensation you need to get used to if you want to use all the available power.
As mentioned, the tyres are extremely soft, so doing long-distance (150-200 km) riding will see them flatten out quickly. After all, these tyres are manufactured for track use or very fast – and twisty – road riding.
There are several superbike manufacturers, especially from Europe and Japan. But in terms of visual design, Ducati is the only one that comes close to this MV Agusta. Few superbikes have such an alluring design that forces you to look at it again and again. Plus, it has shattering performance and technology. It's been a while since I had the urge to park a motorcycle in my living room. With the MV, this urge reared its head … constantly.
Nicol Louw: Exotic dream machine. Perfect if you own a private race track!
Peter Palm: Built for two extremes – beauty while standing still and excitement at 300 km/h.
Wilhelm Lutjeharms: Can’t afford a Pagani Zonda 760? Get one of these.
Engine: 998 cm3, four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC
Power: 148 kW at 13 400 r/min
Torque: 114 Nm at 9 200 r/min
Suspension front: Upside-down telescopic hydraulic fork with adjustable rebound-compression damping and external spring reload
Suspension rear: Single shock absorber with rebound and compression damping and spring preload adjustment
Fuel capacity: 17 litres
Dry weight: 185-192 kg
0-100km/h: 3,8 secs**
Price: R239 900
Warranty: two years/unlimited km
**Tested figure (see article)
This demo we tested is for sale at R219 900. Special thanks to Cayenne (a multi-brand dealer) for supplying the test unit.