On paper, the 2014 MV Agusta F3 800 is a spectacular machine. The specifications look every bit as gorgeous as the bike does in the flesh. Promising 600 class handling with open class power, the new MV triple makes a claimed 148 hp at the crank at 13,000 rpm from a displacement of 798cc. Inside the cases that hold the 675cc F3, the 800 carries the same bore, but added stroke. This gives the 800 nearly 20 additional hp over the already healthy 675, and gobs more torque.
In our announcement of the F3 800, we provided several studio photos that you can refer back to. In this article, we have photos from the track test we conducted two days ago at Chuckwalla Raceway in Southern California. On board at Chuckwalla was MD test rider Tommy Aquino (currently racing for Team WD-40/GR Motorsports), who has years of experience racing 600s both in the United States and Europe.
With the same narrow engine cases as the 675, and essentially the same dry weight of 381 pounds, the F3 800 promises to be a very nimble mount. MV’s use of a reverse rotation of the crank shaft effectively cancels some of the inertia created by the wheel rotation, which further reduces the effort necessary to change direction.
The F3 800 is loaded with top shelf components and electronic assist mechanisms. The Marzocchi forks measure 43 mm in diameter and are fully adjustable for spring preload, as well as compression and rebound damping. The Sachs shock features a separate nitrogen reservoir, and is also fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound.
The brakes are a fantastic spec, including particularly the Brembo monobloc, radially-mounted front calipers and 320 mm discs, controlled by a Nissin radial master cylinder. Acceleration and braking forces are transferred through Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tires (including a rear-sized 180/55-17). For our track testing, Pirelli DOT racing tires were fitted.
The electronics package is about as sophisticated as you can find on a showroom floor. MV calls the system MVICS (Motor and Vehicle Integrated Control System) and, according to MV, the ride-by-wire throttle “makes it possible for the ideal throttle body aperture to be defined at any moment in time, so it is not dependent on the angular rotation of the twist grip.” Utilizing an ECU from Eldor (supplier to Ferrari and Lamborghini, among others), MV claims it has made the throttle twist completely linear with regard to torque creation, i.e., 50% throttle results in 50% of the torque available from the engine at the current rpm given the current load factors. Four maps are available for rider selection in the MVICS system, including Sport, Standard, Rain and Custom. Within the Custom setting, the rider can fine tune several variables to his liking, including but not limited to throttle sensitivity and engine braking level. Tommy adjusted both of these settings to great effect on the track (more about that later).
Traction control is also available, of course, and can be set at any one of 8 levels (from least intrusive to most intrusive), as well as turned off entirely. In 3 of the 4 maps, the rider can choose any one of the TC settings, while in Rain mode, the TC setting defaults to level 8.
Upshifts are aided by an electronic ignition cut, and corner entry benefits from a slipper clutch. For added strength (given the added torque), the F3 800 clutch has an additional 2 plates in comparison with the F3 675.
MV Agusta readily admits that, in the past, it has struggled somewhat with fuel injection mapping, something that has become increasingly more complicated as ECUs have become more sophisticated. We remember Hinkley Triumph having the same problems for several years before ironing them out. MV says it has worked extremely hard at fine-tuning the maps available on the F3 800, and continues to update maps to “state-of-the-art” from time-to-time. Notifications on the MV web site allow owners to determine when new maps are available, and your MV dealer will update your maps free of charge.
During our track testing, it was immediately clear MV’s claim that the F3 800 changes directions easily was accurate. Despite all the added power and torque, together with the heavier crank, the F3 800 changes direction as easily as a 600 on the track. In fact, the bike feels lighter than the claimed 381 pounds likely as a result of the counter-rotating crank shaft uniquely employed by MV in its production machine. Very impressive stuff!
Together with the nimble handling, the F3 800 delivers big power in a smooth, linear fashion. Our test rider is used to highly tuned race 600s, and he felt peak power was similar from the stock F3, while torque represented a substantial increase over the supersport class machines.
Three cylinder engines can combine some of the best traits from both twins and in-line fours, and the F3 800 is no exception. We were able to exit corners a gear higher than peaky 600s, and drive hard through a broad powerband straight through to the 13,000 rpm power peak. A very flexible motor that is deceptive in its smoothness and linearity, but very quick.
Back to the subject of handling. The F3 800 feels extremely light and agile, allowing you to put it anywhere you like on the track, but at the same time offers excellent stability. It also allows you to hold the line you select through bumpy corners.
The brakes provide exceptional power and feel, on par with well set-up race brakes. Suspension is firm and damped well for track use, feeling well-balanced front-to-rear.
MV Agusta seems to have cured any problems with abrupt throttle response found on some of its earlier models. Using the custom mapping feature, we were able to dial in a very smooth, progressive power delivery coming out of corners at a large lean angle. Exactly what you need from a race bike or a track day weapon.
After becoming comfortable on the bike, Tommy turned off the traction control and played with some big power slides coming out of slower corners … reporting that the throttle and engine response made these maneuvers easy to control, due to their predictable nature.
The electronically controlled speed shifter worked well even though the ignition cuts seemed a bit longer than necessary. We had no problems with the transmission while shifting either up or down. With the Custom map feature, we were able to reduce engine braking to provide more control, and maintain rear wheel traction, during aggressive corner entries. This is a very useful feature for the track.
After making some minor suspension adjustments, tire pressure adjustments and tuning the Custom map, it was hard to fault the performance of the MV Agusta F3 800 on a race track. This is probably the best bone stock, street legal bike we have yet tested on a race track.
Criticisms are few and minor. The footpegs are a bit slippery, and the wind screen offers a blurry view when tucked in tight at the track.
MV Agusta is a relatively small manufacturer, for sure, with only 212 employees. Its bike line-up has expanded rapidly, however, from 3 models in 2010 to 14 models for 2014. MV sales have grown 130% during the same period, despite a significant reduction in the total, relevant motorcycle market these past few years.
With so much going on, it seems MV Agusta nevertheless has the resources to sweat the details. The F3 800 is an excellent motorcycle, and given its styling, exclusivity and components, is reasonably priced in the United States at an MSRP of $15,798. Visit MV Agusta’s web site for additional information.