Obsolescence was inevitable. MV Agusta's F4 line, Massimo Tamburini's attempt to best his most famous piece-the Ducati 916-was getting a bit long in the tooth. After more than a decade of minor revisions, displacement upgrades and special limited-edition liveries named after its founder, top speed claims, and even Tamburini himself, its time had come.
But with arguably one of the best looking motorcycles of all time, improving upon that platform would be a difficult task. Obviously the challenges were many; what would be improved, how would it be improved, and at what cost? If the Ducati 999 was any indication, consumers don't respond well to a drastic change from a design that was loved by so many. On paper the objective was quite simple: go over the entire bike with a fine-tooth comb and make it lighter and more powerful. Or, as Enrico D'Onofrio, Managing Director for MV Agusta put it, "Design by the wind, judge by the clock." But to simply design a faster, lighter, more technologically advanced bike than its predecessor would have been rather easy. The challenge would be to retain the spirit and the image of the former while still meeting the performance goals.
Putting In The Hours
As you can see by these pictures, MV achieved just that. It may look the same on the outside, but look closely and the F4 is completely changed. For starters, the first thing to go on a diet is its name: the 2010 MV Agusta flagship drops any and all references to Formula One drivers, top-speed claims or important figures of the company's past, and goes back to simply being called the "F4". MV claims the only thing the new engine shares with its predecessor is the bore and stroke measurements of 76 x 55mm, respectively, giving it a total displacement of 998cc. Starting with the top end, it shares similar traits with the last generation F4 R312 like higher lift camshafts for both the intake and exhaust for more peak horsepower. Meanwhile, the intake cam is now pushing on titanium intake valves, while the exhaust side remains steel (for cost considerations, we presume). New valve springs find their way in as well.
Having pioneered the variable-length intake tracts first seen on the F4 Tamburini in 2005 (and now imitated very closely by Yamaha on the YZF-R1 and R6 and Aprilia RSV4 Factory), the F4 also utilizes the same technology called TSS, or Torque Shift System. Activated between 10,500 and 10,700 rpm, the intake tract shortens by 23mm for better top-end power while sacrificing nothing in terms of midrange horsepower. Of course with more air there needs to be more fuel, and the F4 meets those demands with a set of secondary fuel injectors not seen on the 990 or 1090 Brutale launched just a few months ago. The secondary injectors begin activation between 4000-6000 rpm, depending on throttle position. Seeing as how previous F4 models were plagued with inconsistent and choppy fueling, we think this is a measure-along with the Marelli ECU-used by Andrea Goggi, lead engine designer, to cure this problem.
Another complaint raised about the previous model F4 was its difficulty to ride in slow-speed corners as the engine had a tendency to spin quickly at the slightest touch of the throttle-not a good thing when leaned over to the max. The fix? To actually increase the weight of the crankshaft, adding 47 percent more inertia to the crank compared to the older model. The weight gain helps to make the bike feel less nervous mid-corner and aids in corner exit. The added weight is slightly offset by the lighter and stronger connecting rods. There are a host of other bits that received some updating, some of which we'll cover later, but most of which will be featured in the accompanying sidebar.