Ever since the golden era of Hailwood and Agostini, the name MV Agusta has been one to conjure with. The company is no longer involved in MotoGP, but has forged just as iconic a reputation as a builder of cutting-edge sports bikes.
And now that edge just got sharper with the announcement of the F4 RR, an all-new litre-class four, created using the most exotic materials, ultra-sophisticated suspension and a short-stroke 1000cc engine, making it, according to MV, "the world's most advanced and powerful sports bike".
The engine has been developed from MV Agusta's experience in Superbike racing and, apart from the casings and some ancillary components, it's all new. Cylinder bore has been increased from 76 to 79mm, the stroke has been reduced from 55 to 50.9mm and a low-inertia crank allows the F4 RR to rev to a screaming 13 700rpm while still reducing maximum piston speed from 24.7m/s to a more reliable 22.9m/s.
The new cylinder head has larger ports and, for the first time on a MV Agusta, all the valves are titanium to reduce reciprocating weight while increasing their diameter - from 30 to 31.8mm for the inlet valves and from 25 to 26mm for the exhausts.
The engine is fed by four 49mm throttle bodies with variable-length intake tracts and brathers out through a new 4-into-2-into-1-into-4 exhaust system with large-diameter, tapered headers that gives the F4 RR. a distinctive engine note.
Two engine maps are available, managed via new switchgear on the left handlebar, and MV Agusta quotes maximum power as 150kW at 13400rpm.
The standard F4 frame has been updated to allow for steering-head angle and swing-arm pivot height adjustment by means of interchangeable inserts.
Front suspension is by Ohlins NIX 43mm inverted forks with titanium nitride coating; the axle carriers are machined from billet aluminium and the forks are adjustable for preload, compression (on the left lag) and rebound damping (on the right leg). The Ohlins Racing TTX 36 rear is adjustable for preload, compression, rebound and ride height.
New forged-aluminium rims are 1kg lighter than on the F4, reducing unsprung weight and suspension inertia, and Brembo monobloc brake callipers are paired with radial master cylinders - including the clutch! - for improved feel and modulation.
A true superbike, says MV Agusta, is defined by attention to detail. The F4 RR has new, lighter adjustable rearsets so you can set it up to feel like it was made for you. The dashboard functions - including traction control - can be remotely monitored and there's even a new aerodynamic flap under the lower triple clamp to improve aerodynamics and engine cooling.
Expect to see the MV Agusta F4 RR released in South Africa during the third quarter of 2011, priced from about R250 000, depending on the exchange rate.