Most importantly however, lead designer Adrian Morton and his CRC team knew not to mess with success and purposely kept certain aspects to maintain the classic F4 image. While largely the same, the fairing now features larger outlets for better heat dissipation. To relieve the rider of the torturous seating position of its predecessor, the fuel tank is now moved forward and the seat was given a larger profile. All told, the F4 loses none of its signature beauty and is now relatively comfortable for six-footers.
The Fruits Of Labor
MV decided to break from tradition and invite journalists somewhere other than Italy to put the new F4 through its paces. The location would be in the south of Spain at the tight and technical Circuito de Almeria, where outright power takes a backseat to a motorcycle that can handle and drive out of a corner. But the first thing I noticed once I threw a leg over the F4 was how close my heels were to the seat in the riding position. Rearsets are just that, wedged close to the rider's bum and set far back as well. Thankfully, clip-on position is moderately high compared to, say, a Ducati 1198, so the riding position isn't completely torturous. Although the low windscreen was barely able to deflect wind over my five-foot, eight-inch frame while in a tuck.
I had my work cut out for me trying to learn an unfamiliar track while evaluating the F4, but the bike's eagerness to change direction was apparent by the second turn of the first lap, making the learning process that much easier. This is no doubt due to the weight loss program MV put it through; in total the F4 lost 22 pounds. Biggest contributors include wheels, which shed 2.6 pounds, headlamp (3.3 pounds), fuel tank (9.4 pounds), and bodywork which alone shed 10.8 pounds.
The F4's distinctive "organ...
The F4's distinctive "organ pipe" exhaust remains, now only slightly tweaked to square exits instead of round. Catalyst for the four-into-one pipes is closer to the combustion chamber for quicker "light off" of the catalyzer.
No ride-by-wire here. Traditional...
No ride-by-wire here. Traditional throttle cables are still employed by the F4 and even include a choke feature. Changing the fuel maps is a matter of fiddling with the starter button. In the background is the streamlined LCD gauge cluster showing engine speed, wheel speed, odometer, tripmeter, engine temperature, drive mode and traction control setting.
The F4 is heralded to be an easy motorcycle to ride quickly-quite the opposite from its predecessors. This would be proven true during corner exits, where the old F4 would require a steady hand to prevent the bike from running off line or spinning the tire madly. I'm glad to report that the improvements have paid off as the extra crankshaft inertia allows the rider to carry more corner speed, while the slower-spinning engine gives a more precise feel between the throttle hand and the rear tire. And while there wasn't a dyno handy to test the 184-horsepower claim, Almeria's long back straight lets the engine sing at full song, and according to the trusty "butt dyno," power to the wheel feels to be in the 150 to 160 range-about average for today's current crop of literbikes.
The fully adjustable Sachs...
The fully adjustable Sachs rear shock coupled with the 20mm longer swingarm provided a stable ride in the back with very little squat under acceleration. Note the suspension link that allows ride height to be altered.
But the straights aren't what the F4 is about. If the new F4 strives to be "judged by the clock" then that'll come down to the bits between the straights. Fortunately, that's an area where the F4 thrives. Using the Honda CBR1000RR as its benchmark, the F4's forward weight bias (52 percent front, 48 percent rear) is complemented by a relatively steep 23.5-degree rake angle (which is adjustable via an eccentric insert in the steering stem) that allows it to steer seemingly on par-if not better than-the Honda. Once on its side the 50mm Marzocchi inverted fork (which offers full adjustability) provides great feedback that inspires gobs of confidence. Elbow-dragging levels of confidence, to be precise. Out back lies a fully adjustable Sachs rear shock, complete with linkage to change ride height. This coupled with the 20mm longer swingarm played a large part in the bike's stability both leaned over and under acceleration.
Brembo four-piston monobloc calipers are mated to 320mm discs, but strangely the steel-braided lines are fed fluid via a Nissin master cylinder-not that there's anything wrong with that. Braking power is strong with a gentle initial bite and progressive feel at the lever.
Brembo monobloc four-piston calipers bite on 320mm discs. Braking power is strong with good feedback. Marzocchi forks measure 50mm and provide excellent damping. A feature that returns on the F4 is the quick-change front axle. After removing the brake calipers and axle pinch bolts, the lower portion of the fork tube assembly pivots away and the front wheel drops straight down.