The MV Agusta F3 finally arrives.

2013 MV Agusta F3It seems like we’ve been waiting years for it, though it’s been less than two, but MV Agusta’s new 3-cylinder, 675cc supersport bike has finally appeared in production form. You can catch the initial impressions from the guys at Motorcycle USA and Motorcycle.Com, if you’d like, or I can tell you that they all seem to like it. The one thing of note that needs to be addressed is apparently the chassis, which still needs some sorting out.

Still, a 129HP torquey triple, and a MV Agusta design that’s sex on wheels is a good start. That rear wheel, and stubby triple straight-pipe exhaust have me swooning. On the other hand, the bike’s diminutive size, and the contorted riding position would probably soon have me groaning.

What to do with a spare $33,000

Buy one of these: the 2012 MV Agusta F4 RR.

2012 MV Agusta F4 RR
2012 MV Agusta F4 RR

It doesn’t look much changed from last year, but under the plastic, it’s a new beast with an ultra-short-stroke 1000cc Inline-4 that MV says will release 201HP.  No top-speed-limiting governors for the Italian chaps at MV. The engine puts at the top of the superbike heap in terms of power.

Supporting the new bike are top-shelf Öhlins suspension components, and forged aluminum wheels.

Everything is top-of-the line on this bike. Sadly, that includes the price.

Quick Hits

Motorcycle Daily joins the list of motojournalists who’ve tested the BMW K1600GT/GTL. They like it.

The Icon waterproof Patrol jacket seems very nice, if a bit pricey.

The Hyosung GT650 seems like a decent naked standard, considering its price.

Another decent photoshop rendering of the upcoming MV Agusta Brutale B3 675 triple.

Talk about electric vehicles all you want, but they aren’t ready for prime time, if the sales figures are any clue.

Wes Siler thinks the 200-ish horsepower BMW S1000RR would be a great first bike.  For beginners. Who just started riding.

For 2011, Suzuki gave the Gixxer 600–one of the most popular sportbikes ever produced– a complete overhaul. How good an overhaul is it? Motorcycle.Com’s Pete Brissette took it out on the track to see.

2011 MV Agusta F3

Hell For Leather has what they say is the first full photo of the new MV Agusta F3, the long-awaited 675cc triple that expands MV’s product line into supersport bikes.

2011 MV Agusta F3
2011 MV Agusta F3

HFL’s Wes Siler writes that the price is a relatively lofty €11,500, but MV is planning on giving you 140HP at the crank, in return.

The official unveiling of the F3 is scheduled for Tuesday at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

2011 MV Agusta F3 begins to go public

For the past few months, MV fans have been waiting for something concrete about the new 675cc triple, the F3, from MV Agusta.  There’s been lots of spy shots, though mostly those were of a bike with F4 fairings, preventing us from getting a good look at the bike’s final appearance.  That’s changing now, as MV begins releasing some images of what appears to be the final pre-production version.

We’re still short of performance specs for the F3, but Motociclismo, in Italy, is reporting the bike will have radial valves like the F4, a cassette transmission, and will weigh in, dry, at 354 lbs. As a 675 triple, this bike’s obvious performance comparison will be with the Triumph Daytona 675. The Daytona is 407 lbs., wet, with an engine output of 124HP at 12600 rpm and 53 ft.lbs of torque at 11700 RPM making for a pretty revvy bike, although not unusually so for a SuperSport.

So, the real question is whether MV is going to be satisfied with simply matching those specs…or try to better them. A 10% increase in power would give the F3 an output of 136HP. That would be…fun. How they’d get that much of an increase is a bit problematic, though.

The Daytona 675 already has a compression ratio of 12.65:1, so there’s not a lot of room to grow there, and a compression ratio of 20:1 to get to 136 HP is right out. An increase to a race-spec compression ratio of 14:1 yields an output of 127HP, so I think we’re pretty much done, there. Exhaust restrictions are probably going to limit any increase by preventing a freer-breathing–hence more polluting–system from being implemented. We’re already at 4 valves per cylinder, too.  So, we’re pretty much down to really hot cams, I guess.

I can hardly wait to see what the final specs look like.

Is this the bike that saves MV Agusta?

Italians seem to be pretty happy that MV Agusta is back in Italian hands, “where it belongs” according to Italian motorsport enthusiasts. Sadly, though, while Harley-Davidson gave MV a reprieve from an untimely death, it remains to be seen whether that temporary reprieve turns into a permanent salvation.  Hiring Massimo Bordi, who did fantastic work making Ducati successful, as MV’s new CEO is a good first step, but some of MV’s old problems are still there. Before the Harley purchase, MV produced fantastically expensive bikes in very small numbers.  Reliability problems were an issue, and troublesome one, as MV Agusta dealers were few and far between.  The slightest mechanical problem might keep an MV off the road for weeks or months while some arcane part was produced and shipped from Italy.

2011 MV Agusta F3 Spy Shot
2011 MV Agusta F3 Spy Shot

But that may be changing.  In an interview with the Italian web site Il Solo 24 Ore (Italian), MV’s new owner–or is that re-owner–Claudio Castiglioni, opens up about the bike he hopes will save the company.

Pictured at left is the brand new MV Agusta F3.  According to Castiglione, the F3 is powered by a 675cc triple, just like the Triumph Daytona 675.  This bike will come in a base model, as well as an upgraded “sport” model.

Where things get really interesting is that Castiglioni quotes a base model price of €9,000 ($11,520 at today’s exchange rate), and a price of around €10,500 ($13.440) for the sport edition. The actual price in US terms probably won’t reflect straight exchange rate calculations, however, so, we might see a price of around $10,000 here in the US.  They’re also planning an as yet unnamed Brutale-like model of this bike, which will probably go for somewhere in the vicinity of $9,000, pleasing the fans of naked bikes.

At that price point, the F3 seriously undercuts the $12,995 sticker price for the base model of the Ducati 848, and even puts it in direct competition with the Triumph Daytona’s MSRP of $10,000. With pricing at that level, Castiglioni hopes that MV can sell 10,000 of these bikes next year.

Having said that, it’s still an open question whether MV even has the capacity to produce 10,000 supersports in the next year. If they can–and they can sell them–then MV stands a good chance of not returning to it’s pre-2009 state of slowly running into the ground.

MV Agusta really DID screw Harley

When Harley-Davidson announced that MV would be sold back to Castiglioni, they didn’t mention the price of the sale. As a publicly traded company, however, you can’t actually keep that a secret.

Via the Wall Street Journal, according to the company’s 8-K filing, the sale price was 3 Euros. But get this:

In the filing Harley said it “contributed 20 million Euros to MV as operating capital” that was put in escrow and is available to the buyer over a 12-month period. The buyer is Claudio Castiglioni, who, with his brother Gianfranco, ran MV Agusta for years before selling it to Harley two years ago for about $109 million.

So, H-D paid $109 million for MV, they then had to pay $162.6 million in write-downs to cover MV’s bad debts, and then they had to pay Castiglioni another $20 million to take it back.

I’m sorry, but that’s just hilarious!

But, of course, I’m not a Harley shareholder. They probably aren’t as amused to learn this.

Castiglioni completes his rape of Harley-Davidson

It seems like only yesterday that Carlo Castiglioni sold the iconic MV Agusta brand to Harley Davidson.  Now, two years later, he’s bought it back–for less than he sold it to Harley-Davidson.

Along with Giovanni Castiglioni, the company will be headed by Mr. Massimo Bordi, a well known Italian manager. A 62-year-old engineer, Bordi took Ducati to success during the years when that company was owned by the Castiglionis and continued to manage it successfully under the ownership of Texas Pacific Group. Since 2003 Massimo Bordi has been the CEO of Same Deutz Fahr, contributing largely to the success of the company. Massimo Bordi commented that “MV Agusta has full capacity to once again become a major player in the high luxury brand motor bikes, this brand is one of the most recognized worldwide. We will implement a number of reorganization and managerial actions in the near future.

So, essentially, Castiglioni pawned off MV on Harley, so they could dump money into it for a few years, then bought it back as a stronger company for less than he sold it. Why H-D bought it in the first place is still an unanswered question.

Oh, and how hard did Castiglioni screw H-D?  Pretty hard.

Harley-Davidson bought MV Agusta for $109 million back in 2008 (most of which was bad debt), and now just a little over two years later is making a tidy profit of…well, nothing. After wiping the books clean, investing in new infrastructre, and getting MV Agusta back on track with an all new model line-up (with a bike on the way), Harley-Davidson saw a paltry sum of €1 cross its desks.

€1 is about $1.25.

So, Harley paid for the privilege of getting MV back on its feet, paying off the debt, bankrolling a new product line, then essentially gave it back to Castiglioni.  Who is, after all, the guy who was running MV into the ground before Harley-Davidson rescued it.

So, now we’ll get to find out if Castiglioni will run it into the ground again.

Along with Giovanni Castiglioni, the company will be headed by Mr. Massimo Bordi, a well known Italian manager. A 62-year-old engineer, Bordi took Ducati to success during the years when that company was owned by the Castiglionis and continued to manage it successfully under the ownership of Texas Pacific Group. Since 2003 Massimo Bordi has been the CEO of Same Deutz Fahr, contributing largely to the success of the company. Massimo Bordi commented that “MV Agusta has full capacity to once again become a major player in the high luxury brand motor bikes, this brand is one of the most recognized worldwide. We will implement a number of reorganization and managerial actions in the near future.

First Ride: 2010 MV Agusta F4

2010 MV Agusta F4
2010 MV Agusta F4

MCN’s Michael Neeves has gotten his hands on the all-new MV AGusta F4, and his ride impressions are posted at Motorcycle USA.  He really likes it.  Really.

F4s were always lightning-fast, but never that friendly to actually ride and live with, but the new F4 is different – it’s the best superbike MV has ever made.

Taking the F4 for a spin on the heavenly roads surrounding Almeria race circuit in southern Spain to start our test day, it’s a pleasant surprise to feel how easy it is to get on with. Gone is the harsh throttle, rough ride and a seat that trapped you resolutely between the tank and tail unit of the old bike. In its place is a seat you can move around in, spaciously-set clip-ons, a flawless throttle response, smooth gearbox, light controls and tactile brakes…

The Italian firm has smoothed out all the old F4’s rough edges and created a thoroughly usable superbike for the road. Relatively, it’s still not as soft or cuddly as a Japanese 1000 and probably not as easy to get on and ride, but it has considerably sharper teeth and is a thousand times more exclusive and handsome.

The F4 was always wicked fast, but it was a difficult beast in just about every other area.  But, now, it looks like MV Agusta may have finally found the F4’s stride.

EICMA Goodies

The new bikes are now being officially unveiled at the EICMA show in Milan, and it’s a nice crop so far.  Ducati and MV Agusta have made the big splashes today, with MV showing off the 2010 F4, and Ducati releasing the long-awaited Multistrada, as well as the Hypermotard 1100 EVO.

Click on any of the pics below to enlarge.

2010 MV Agusta F4
2010 MV Agusta F4

Let’s start with the 2010 MV Agusta F4.  MV Agusta  says that they’ve updated the Tamburini design to a more modern look.  If by modern, you mean “acutely angled and sort of ugly”, well, I guess they did.  There’s lots of improvements under the fairing though, getting an additional 3 HP out of a 3cc smaller 998cc engine, and shedding 22lbs of dead weight.  It also comes with a 8-level traction control system, a new chassis, swingarm, and 4-1 exhaust system.

2010 Ducati Multistrada
2010 Ducati Multistrada

The 2010 Ducati Multistrada has a new 150HP engine pushing 417lbs down the road.  The new powerplant is called the Testastretta 11° engine, and comes with a nice slipper clutch, because while a slipper clutch might not be a usual requirement for an on-road enduro bike, it should be for a Ducati.

There will be three variants of the Multistrada:

  • The 1200 base model with ABS brakes,
  • The 1200S with the new Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) system and Öhlins suspension components,
  • And, the 1200S Touring with all the above and hard bags.
2010 Ducati Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP
2010 Ducati Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP

“Hypermotard” always seems like some sort of non-PC epithet you’d call a developmentally disabled dirt-biker,  But the Europeans seem to disagree, so we’ll use their unflattering word for the Ducati Hypermotard 1100 EVO. It’s got 95HP and weighs 379lbs, which is 15.5 less than last year.  There’s also an EVO SP model. It’s got an upgraded suspension, with an Öhlins setup in back and Marzocchi forks up front.

2010 Ducati 848 Dark
2010 Ducati 848 Dark

Finally, Ducati released a poor man’s 848, called the 848 Dark.  It should retail for about $1,000 less than the base model of the 848.  Nobody seems sure yet how they’ve downgraded it from the “base” model.  But if you want a cheap, black Ducati 848, here you go.

[ad#1]

2010 MV Agusta F4

The EICMA show must getting really close (10 November, 2009, actually), because everybody is giving tantalizing little glimpses of their 2010 motorcycles before heading out to Milan.

2010 MV Agusta F4
2010 MV Agusta F4

Today it’s MV Agusta, with their new F4 sporting its saucy little derriere for the camera.

The first thing that hits me is the angularity of the design.  It looks like they’ve sharpened the curves of the classic Tambourini design.  The same elements are there, lik the flared top of the gas tank, but you can see that the curves have been noticeably narrowed.  Even the tail pipes have been squared off.

It has LED taillights and blinkers.

Oh, yeah, and it’ll come in at least the classic red and silver color scheme at the very least.

And…that’s about all we can see.  It’s not all we know, however, thanks to a press release from MV Agusta describing the new bike, which says, in part:

The engine has been revolutionized: the ultra compact in-line 4-cylinder 998cc engine is capable of reaching 186 hp at 12900 rpm. The highest level of engineering technology have been coupled with the most advanced electronic controls including: twin fuel injectors per cylinder, variable length intake system, slipper clutch and the TC MK II traction control system which has 8 levels of adjustment.

These advancements along with the uniqueness of the radial valve system attribute to the fact that this engine is the most sophisticated and evolved on the market.

The chassis has also been engineered to unheard of levels of compactness, the new single sided rear swingarm has been lengthened while at the same time its weight has been reduced along with the fully adjustable suspension which are all factors that contribute to making the new F4 unique.

The bike that originally revolutionized the world of supersport motorcycles has become even more beautiful, sleeker and modern while maintaining the unmistakable design “Made in MV”. The new xenon headlight and the new super light fairing are factors that contribute to the incredibly narrow cross-sectional area and the new pipe organ exhaust system with a restyled 4-in-1 silencer are all distinctive elements identifying F4 as the most exclusive motorcycle in the world.

It sure sounds neat.  But I’m curious to see what the first post-Tambourini F4 actually looks like.

[ad#1]

EICMA 2009

The big motorcycle show, Italy’s EICMA, will be happening in 20 days. Traditionally, this is a show that always brings some surprises for the new year.  So, what’s up this year?

Obviously, Aprilia will be rolling out the RSV4 and RSV4-R.  That’s a no-brainer.

BMW might be an interesting presence this year.  The rumors of what is going to happen with the R-Series bikes has been rampant, with everything from a new 1300cc boxer, to the 1200cc boxer getting an update with the 130HP DOHC motor ported from the HP2.  I’ve written about the GS getting that motor, but there are rumors that the whole R-series will be getting that upgrade as well, which would make both the GS and RT extremely attractive.  And with 130HP, the lighter-weight RT would approach the performance of the FJR, making it a true sport-tourer.  The 1300cc K bikes and the S1000RR are old news already, so the only conceivable surprise would come from a revamping of the R Bikes.

Ducati’s new 1200cc Multistrada and Hypermotard 796 will be there.  We’ve already seen the Hypermotard.  And we’ve seen the new Multistrada, too, except with lots of duct tape hiding the fairing.  The removal of the duct tape will be Ducati’s big event.

MV Agusta has had the same model lineup of two bikes–the F4 and Brutale–for the last decade.  This year looks to be a little different, however.  We’ve already seen the two new Brutale models, so, while they’ll no doubt be there, no one will care.  What we haven’t seen is the revamped F4, other than the teaser image MV released several days ago, So I expect that to be unveiled.  But what we really haven’t seen are the two entirely new models that have been rumored over the last month or so.  The 675cc triple that has shown up is spy shots, and the company’s new Superbike, which is expected to lead MV Agusta back to participation in WSS or WSBK racing.  We don’t even know if it’s a completely new model, or WSBK-compliant F4 model.  But, after a decade with the same old line-up, MV might be the surprise of the show this year.

Neither Honda now Yamaha will be there, which, in Honda’s case seems a bit odd, since their new VFR1200F has just debuted, and it’s supposed to be the basis for a whole new line of motorcycles from Big Red.  So, it seems strange that they won’t be at EICMA so show it off.

Triumph will be there, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the new Street Triple R show up, with its new black and gold paint scheme, reminiscent of the John Player Special motorsports paint scheme of beloved memory.

But, surprises aside, with thingsas bad in the motorcycle manufacturing and sales world as they are, it seems that this year will mostly be a low-key affair, which the absence of two of the Big Four won’t help.

BTW, I wonder if Harley-Davidson will be pulling the Buell 1125R from the show?