MV Agusta F3 800

Fast Bikes - - CORE TEST -


If chas­ing lap times and out­right pace is your thing, don’t look any fur­ther than the F3 800. Thanks to its flu­id­ity, the MV is hun­gry for cor­ner speed and it’s easy to pre­serve its mo­men­tum. Its con­trols are light and easy on the dig­its in com­par­i­son with the Du­cati’s heavy levers. With a de­tectably shorter wheel­base and more rad­i­cal ge­om­e­try, it dances far more lightly on its springs than the 959 and is more will­ing and re­spon­sive with a sportier out­look that ab­so­lutely chews the Du­cati in the bends. The for­mula is a sim­ple one: a 600 chas­sis hous­ing a claimed 144bhp triple, draped in MV’s sexy lines. It’s no won­der the F3 800 rides like a 600 on ’roids.

Ev­ery­thing aboard the MV comes more in­tu­itively. From search­ing for grip to nav­i­gat­ing bends at staunch speeds and sniff­ing out work­ing pa­ram­e­ters, the F3 boo­gies with an in­stinc­tive de­sire for per­for­mance. The en­gine brak­ing is per­ma­nently suited to any cor­ner you throw at the front wheel and, even if you be­come op­ti­mistic with cor­ner en­try, the F3 re­sponds with un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment as the front-end’s abil­ity to ab­sorb off-the-throt­tle loads con­stantly amazes. It’s one of the sweet­est han­dling bikes ever built so long as the sur­face is suit­ably ripe.

A dank win­ter’s day isn’t the ideal test­ing place to sam­ple such fine tweaks, and I’d be ly­ing if I said the new en­gine frame mount – which ap­par­ently in­creases tor­sional and lon­gi­tu­di­nal rigid­ity – was a tan­gi­ble up­grade.

You’re still treated to su­per­nat­u­rally tele­pathic steer­ing and the F3’s short, stubby chas­sis feel­ing which only brings con­fi­dence. Gone are the days of ap­palling F3 sta­bil­ity (the ’bars do get flighty now and then) but I’d still love to ride an MV with pukka sus­pen­sion in­stalled, not that its Mar­zoc­chi/ Sachs com­bi­na­tion is a lim­it­ing fac­tor. Re­main­ing un­changed for what seems like an age, it does, how­ever, suit lighter rid­ers and damp­ing can oc­ca­sion­ally feel like it’s been set-up for my seven-year-old.

Own­ing a counter-ro­tat­ing crank, the F3’s throt­tle has al­ways been a lively one as the mo­tor spins freely. But it wasn’t that long ago that we were lament­ing MV’s in­abil­ity to pro­vide any us­able throt­tle, with a sketchy ride-by-wire ex­e­cu­tion that ru­ined the ride. Over the years, the throt­tle con­nec­tion has slowly been re­fined and the lat­est de­vel­op­ment is an­other gi­ant pro­gres­sion. The MVICS (Mo­tor & Ve­hi­cle In­te­grated Con­trol Sys­tem) has been treated to an up­grade for 2018, and MV has worked on the con­nec­tion it­self to pro­vide a sweeter wrist-to-wheel link and ban­ish that ar­cade sen­sa­tion. It ac­tu­ally feels like a throt­tle now. And not a lot beats open­ing the F3’s

throt­tle as every sense ab­sorbs that triple. While Du­cati got even more cheaty and upped the lil’ Pani­gale’s cubes to 955cc, MV Agusta re­tained the triple’s 798cc but took the op­por­tu­nity to ren­o­vate the lump and pre­serve its claimed 144bhp.

There’s no doubt the MV has lost some of its im­pres­sive midrange through Euro 4 com­pli­ance, although only a morsel reck­ons my botty dyno, and it still punches hard thanks to that crank set-up. More pal­pa­ble is the for­fei­ture of its fa­bled sound­track: not sur­pris­ing given that MV had to re­duce the F3’s noise by 48%. Even in Euro 3 guise, you could sense this was a mo­tor deeply af­fected by emis­sion sapping as it wheezed and panted to the red­line. Now, with even sterner min­is­tra­tion, the F3 sounds se­verely cas­trated at idle; like a dog that’s lost his bark.

But more poignant are the changes to the gear­box, which is the most per­cep­ti­ble of the me­chan­i­cal up­grades. Thanks to a slick quick­shifter and blip­per, the notchy gear­box was well masked by elec­tron­ics. For 2018, the whole shift­ing ex­er­cise has been trans­formed with a beau­ti­fully crisp and pre­cise, yet still lu­di­crously light, ac­tion. Whether this was all car­ried out in the name of Euro 4, we don’t care. It’s stun­ning.

Could do with a tad less he­lium in that front wheel...

Beauty is in the hands of this be­holder...

As lithe as they come.

The dash is un­changed.

Where’s a pan flute player when you need one?

Big-ass Brem­bos!

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