A beast of a bike that demands skill and suppleness
There are few better places to test a sports bike than the Isle of Man. On Manx roads the de-restriction signs mean just that: go as fast as you like. Riding that fast isn’t recommended for much of the lap – too many blind bends and hidden driveways – but once you climb out of Ramsey the mountain section is fast, open, and mostly free of traffic.
During TT week the section is one way only, which turns the nine miles from Ramsey to Cregnybaa into an unofficial racetrack for TT wannabes.
MV’s inline-four 1000cc F4RR sounds wonderful pulling up the mountain mile, loading up in the high gears, bouncing off the rev limiter at 13,500rpm. The busy mixture of induction roar, mechanical noise and four tail pipes creates a satanic sound, like beelzebub is busy grinding his coffee beans with the bones of the condemned. It must sound even scarier for the inhabitants of ageing hatchbacks struggling up the hill, devoured by the MV travelling at three times their speed.
While BMW and the Japanese factories make their 1000cc sports bikes as friendly as possible, the MV is an angry little thing and doesn’t care if you know it. The (claimed) 201 horsepower engine hunts at part throttle and is only really interested in pushing on at a proper rate. the riding position is extreme – a racetrack crouch with little concession for the real world – and demands that you make full and proper use of the taut, accurate handling. Riding round the TT course, taking the de-restriction signs at their word, the fuel light came on after 90 miles, giving us a consumption rate of 31 mpg. The F4RR is MV’s hottest sports bike and behaves like it.
MV, like most iconic bike brands, is no longer run by its original owners, in this case the aristocratic Agusta family that started making bikes in 1945 as an adjunct its more profitable helicopter business. MV (for meccanica Verghera) won 37 world championships before running out of steam in the 1970s, a victim of Japanese competition and the relentless progress of the two-stroke.
The name lay dormant for almost two decades before the castiglioni brothers – who had earlier turned around struggling Ducati – bought the name and restarted production.
The company now makes small runs of high-performance motorcycles aimed at riders with deep pockets and strong backs.