What is it?
‘Motorcycle art’, if you ask MV Agusta. We’re inclined to agree, too – meet the MV Agusta F4R, the ‘mid-spec’ variant in the F4 range. Not as expensive as the F4RR, mind, but just as capable. This isn’t available any more, but there isn’t much of a difference between the F4 and F4R other than a graphics job and the more expensive one getting an easily-adjustable rear Ohlins shock.
How does it ride?
Like an old-school litre-class supersports motorcycle. It puts you arse-over-tits, and on a racetrack that is a great thing. We weren’t on a racetrack, and so were less than amused by it. That said, the easily adjustable suspension does wonders for its ride quality. The seat is the narrowest one we’ve seen on an inline-four motorcycle, a function of the narrowest four-pot motor in the business. There are electronics to ostensibly help you, but you get a switchable quickshifter, two levels of ABS and eight levels of traction control. You’re supposed to know the rest.
The engine is creamy smooth and lugs hard from nearly the bottom of the rev range. There is a step at 10,000rpm, and of course throttle response is way too aggressive in Sport mode (it wheelies in third if you sneeze, believe you me), but that said, it is very easy to get into trouble with the amount of speed this motorcycle can work up to. The perks of having 192bhp on tap, eh? The brakes are fantastic, though, so shedding speed is equally easy.
Anything else I should know?
Attention to detail, thy name is MV Agusta. They’ve made the cylinder head red, then covered it with the fairing so you don’t notice it unless you’re at the perfect angle to the engine. There are running lamps in the lip of the fairing as well as in the headlamp unit itself which you won’t notice except at night. However, it looks like MV got so carried away with the details that they forgot to step back and look at the motorcycle in its entirety, the way they did with the F3. I know I’m badmouthing what is widely accepted to be the most beautiful motorcycle in the business, but remember that the design has been essentially unchanged for two entire decades. They’ve updated it, with the projector headlamp and the square exhaust tips, but the updation has also made it an ever-so-slightly confused design. MV forgot to update the display, though; it has graphics that took me back to the reign of Nokia in the Indian mobile phone space.
It also has the turning radius of an aircraft carrier, thanks to the handlebars that make your thumb hit the fairing when you turn it. Oh, and you need to be at least six feet tall to ride it around. I’m six feet tall, and there were a fair number of times when I needed help to back up the motorcycle because of the seat height. The seat height also contributes to the nervousness when you take those U turns, and there’s always the reminder that you’re riding an exotic to take the nervousness a level higher.
The seat and tank are too slippery to leave you comfortable for anything other than a short ride – this slipperiness is wonderful when you’re sliding from side to side for the corners, but on a regular ride, it is very uncomfortable.
Should I buy one?
This is a demanding motorcycle – you need to have Rs 35 lakh or so handy to buy it. You also need the leg length of a supermodel and the muscle of an athlete to ride it in traffic. But you’ll be an instant celebrity with it, too, because you’ll be on bonafide exotica.
Where does it fit in?
Right on the line that divides ‘motorcycles’ and ‘art’, like MV says. There is no real competition – the Ducati Panigale 1299 runs it close, and any of the Japanese 1000cc supersport motorcycles (special mention: Ninja) can outmanoeuvre it around a track, but you don’t pay this much money for a motorcycle. Where the F4 distinguishes itself is in the fact that whether you’re riding it or not, whether it is parked in your garage or in your living room, you and everyone around you will appreciate it.
1. Arai Astro-IQ Second in the Arai street models hierarchy, the Astro-IQ is a comfortable, stable helmet at any speed. Price: 50,000
2. Alpinestars T-GP R Air A textile jacket that is a good middle ground between the protection of a textile jacket with the cooling of a mesh jacket thanks to the well-designed airflow, the T-GP Plus is one of the better jackets for an Indian summer. Price: Rs 16,500 (T-GP Plus Air)
3. Cortech by Tour Master Injector gloves These full-length gloves are a cross between a touring glove and a racing glove. Has moulded plastic for knuckle protection, a leather back and perforated leather in between the fingers for ventilation. A fleece liner will keep you warm during the winter - but is surprisingly good during the summer as well. Price: Rs 8700 before shipping and duties (Impulse RR)
4. Joe Rocket Phoenix 2.0 pants Mesh is a wonderful thing in our heat, and the Joe Rocket Phoenix mesh pants manage an ideal combination of protection via the removable armour and airflow. Price: 9600 (Phoenix Ion)
5. Alpinestars SMX-6 boots A full-length road-going boot, the SMX-6 has perforations all along the front of the boot, giving it great ventilation. It is comfortable enough to wear all day long. Price: Rs 21,500
Photography by Kapil Angane