Traditional middleweight title bouts pit the major Japanese 600cc fours against each other, with Triumph’s charismatic 675cc triple hurling insults from ringside. And when the Daytona gets invited to the ring and has a chance to throw a few punches, it’s rarely a fair fight. The 675’s extra displacement compared to the Japanese mainstays moves it forward more than its lack of a cylinder holds it back—in fact, it was Motorcycle of the Year in 2006, and last year the somewhat spicier 675R defeated both the Ducati 848 EVO and the Suzuki GSX-R750 in our “Middle Ground” comparison (MC, Sept. 2011). Even so, it looked like the Daytona 675 was destined to jab away inside a displacement class of one.
Now, however, thanks to the new MV Agusta F3 the 675R has a fight on its hands. The F3 made a splash when it debuted at the EICMA show in 2010, being voted “Most Beautiful Bike,” and what started as anticipatory hype has been building momentum ever since. MV Agusta fueled it by saying that this three-cylinder middleweight is a tribute to the company’s championship-winning triples of the 1960s and ‘70s. The implied expectation is that it will be just as glorious.
That was then. Now we have the actual machine. From an art-appreciation standpoint, the F3 lives up to its billing. MV prides itself in creating exquisite machinery, something for the eye and the heart; it’s sleek, purposeful, and the pipe-organ triple-outlet exhaust adds unique Continental flair. Fortunately, MV has also given the F3 credible hardware, including huge 320mm rotors up front squeezed by four-pot Brembo calipers, a fully adjustable Marzocchi fork, and a similarly variable Sachs shock. The frame is a composite of aluminum and steel, like all current MVs. And since no modern sportbike is complete without an extensive array of electronics, the F3 gets complex throttle-by-wire engine management (including multiple ride modes), standard traction control, and a quick shifter.
Thumbing the starter brings to life a 675cc inline triple, just like the Triumph, but the MV mill has a couple extra shakes of pepper. Bore and stroke numbers are almost Panigale-level oversquare, with 79mm of bore and 45.9mm of stroke leading to a 1.72:1 bore-to-stroke ratio (the Panigale is 1.84). The Triumph 675R has a much more conventional 1.41 ratio (from 74mm x 52.3mm). If you think that the F3 will pack a fearsome high-rpm burst of power while the Triumph spreads the thrust around, you’d be right. (See the dyno charts on Page 64.)
A few more tricks lurk within the MV’s shapely engine cases. The F3 also employs a counter-rotating crank—the crankshaft spins opposite the wheels—a tactic intended to quicken the bike’s responses through reduced gyroscopic effect. Moreover, MV’s engineers admit to spending time making the F3 sound special—efforts that paid off with a lusty moan from the airbox and a skin-tingling wail from the exhaust. Is it quiet enough to be legal? If not, we don’t care.
With all of that bark comes significant bite, in the form of 112 horsepower at 14,500 rpm and 47 lb.-ft. of torque at 10,600 rpm delivered to the rear wheel. The F3 splits the horsepower/torque battle with the Daytona, which “only” makes 108.5 bhp at 12,500 rpm but grinds out 48.8 lb.-ft. of torque at 10,200 rpm. This Triumph is slightly down on power compared with other Daytona 675s we’ve tested, but the MV Agusta is comfortably clear of both its primary rival and the 600cc fours snarling at its feet.