MV Agusta more than measures up to sportbiking's best in the transmission department. Even with just 400 miles on our test bike, the Strada always clicked through the gears with little effort and perfect accuracy. We're even going to praise the hydraulically actuated clutch for its seamless behavior. What's this, then? A true-blue Italian exotic without a notchy gearchange and a grip-master clutch pull? It's the end of the world as we know it.
True to form, though, the MV did let us down partway into our testing. With one of our testers aboard (not McQuide), one of the high-pressure fuel lines ruptured and hosed down the rear wheel. The MV high-sided itself, breaking up the rear bodywork, bending the left footpeg and carrier, and nipping the adjustable end of the shift lever. Rolling it out of the van the next morning, our test-bike coordinator opined that, "It doesn't crash well." You can't say we don't thoroughly test motorcycles, can you?
With the damage fixed, we trundled the MV off to our secret top-speed test site, where-under the baleful glances of the California Highway Patrol-the Strada clicked off a 162-mph run. Previously, we committed high sacrilege by hammering the bike down the quarter-mile, with a best corrected run of 11.09 seconds and 128.0 mph.
You will note that these numbers are not equal to the Suzuki GSX-R750's. We point this out purely as a matter of tangential interest. You know (and we know) by taking your pulse and looking at your bank account if this bike is for you. And if it is, you'll have no interest in the plastic-fantastic Suzuki. Next to the current Kings of Cred-the Ducati 748 and 996-the MV seems entirely more exotic and desirable. Because while the Ducatis work well and have been developed into fast and reliable sportbikes, they've become victims of their own successes. They're nearly a dime a dozen. No way will you see yourself coming and going on the Strada, which may well be the primary reason to want one. That MV Agusta has produced a bike that also works well is just the added incentive to kick that slacker 996 or has-been Mille out of your garage.
Cheers & Jeers
|MV AGUSTA F4 STRADA |
|Engine ||8 ||Well-mannered and smooth |
|Drivetrain ||9 ||Progressive clutch, snick-snick gearbox |
|Handling ||8 ||Modest effort required, precise |
|Braking ||9 ||Perfectly developed six-piston Nissins |
|Ride ||8 ||Firm but not punishing |
|Ergonomics ||5 ||Same neighborhood as a 996 |
|Features ||7 ||No place for a passenger |
|Refinement ||9 ||Good for first-time, low-volume specialist |
|Value ||8 ||Close to the norm and collectible, too |
|Fun Factor ||7 ||In the back of your mind, "Don't drop it..." |
Verdict: Beautiful and stunningly well-built, the MV is by lucky coincidence on the pace with other supersports.