Twelve years is an eon in sportbike time, when it's not unusual for manufacturers to completely overhaul their performance machinery every two to three years. Even the most beautiful motorcycle in the world-as many regard the MV Agusta F4-begins to look stale after a decade-plus. MV has finally wised up to this reality, and given the iconic F4 superbike the first complete overhaul since its 1998 debut. It's a conservative update, barely straying from the original style or specifications that now-retired design legend Massimo Tamburini indelibly imparted on the original. Most will agree that's a good thing.
Styling differences are especially subtle, and more related to scale than shape. The upper fairing is lower, slimmer and fitted with a smaller headlamp, resulting in the smallest frontal area of any inline-four sportbike, the company says. The fuel tank is shorter both in terms of length and height, to give the rider more room, and a slimmer tailsection shows more of the quad-tipped exhaust, now with square outlets.
Fairing vents are larger, and provide a better view of the red-painted valve cover that conceals the 998cc four's radial-arranged valvetrain. MV's pioneering Torque Shift System variable-length intake tract remains intact, though the EFI system is all-new, built around dual injector-equipped, 49mm throttle bodies. An upgraded Magneti Marelli 7 SM ECU manages two-mode engine mapping (choose between sport or rain settings), as well as the MK II traction control system, offering eight levels of sensitivity.
Like the styling and specs, power and weight figures remain in the same neighborhood as before, with 186 (claimed) horsepower arriving at 12,900 rpm, and a dry weight of 424 pounds. As MV Agusta boss Claudio Castiglioni said at the new model's Milan Show introduction, "It's hard to improve on perfection"-even when you take 12 years to do the job."