MV Agusta's F4 R 312 earned its name, you'll recall, by posting a 312-kph (194-mph) top speed at Italy's Nardo Speed Bowl, making it the world's fastest production superbike. For 2008 this fearsome F4 gains an additional "R" in its name, as well as an extra 80cc displacement courtesy of the radial-valve, 1078cc inline-four from last year's exclusive, $120,000 F4 CC. Now with greater torque (almost 7 lb.-ft. more) arriving at even lower rpm, this latest 312 is even faster-and more flexible-than before.
In addition to enlarging the cylinder bore from 76 to 79mm to provide the displacement increase, the RR engine also receives 10mm longer intake funnels and smaller diameter exhaust headers to further boost low-end and midrange performance. Other engine changes include optimized fuel-injection mapping, taller ratios for the first three gears and a slipper clutch.
The chassis retains MV's familiar tubular steel/aluminum plate construction and the single-sided aluminum swingarm. The 50mm Marzocchi upside-down fork is carbon-nitride-coated and the Sachs shock provides high- and low-speed compression damping adjustments. Sachs also provides the adjustable steering damper.
Following an MV Agusta test rider through the hills surrounding the factory in Varese, Italy, the initial impression was one of restrained aggression and effortless control. The bigger pistons certainly didn't prevent the motor from revving fiercely, and performance was stunning, with even more low-rev heft than I'd expected. The RR's taller gear ratios were no handicap-the way the MV lofted its front wheel in first gear, even with my weight hauled as far forward as possible, was positively mind-blowing.
Following the late-braking test rider into blind bends was easy, thanks to the superior power of Brembo's top-line Monoblocs, while revised suspension damping circuits front and rear delivered supremely controlled yet compliant wheel movement over any surface. Exiting a tightening bend a gear high presented no problems, with such a flawlessly delivered and gloriously strong hit of torque.
Though difficult to judge on the street, the new slipper clutch-working in conjunction with MV's EBS (Engine Brake System) that fuels one cylinder at closed throttle to prevent wheel hop-will be useful at the track. The decade-old F4 chassis is far from the lightest on the market, but it hides its weight well and fine-tuned geometry lets you flick it into bends quickly and confidently.
The perfect end to my test would have been a blast down the A8 autostrada to nearby Monza for some laps. Instead I found myself back on the too-busy road to Varese, where the MV's boosted midrange, precise fueling and relatively compliant suspension made the ride more fun than frustrating. The F4 RR 312 is not only almost certainly the fastest mass-produced streetbike MV Agusta has ever built, but it's also the best yet.