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MV AGUSTA F3 675 RC | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

The RC version of MV Agusta’s F3 675 sportsbike certainly looks the goods, but we needed to find out if its go came anywhere near matching its show

Standing there looking 14) and here I am again, staring at it, I honestly don’t know whether to boof it or ride it. If you read my column last issue (AMCN Vol 67 No 15), you’ll know I hold so-called trophy bikes in low regard – bikes are for riding, not staring at. Except, perhaps, anything which rolls out of the MV Agusta factory.

I recently had the same struggle with the boof-a-licious Brutale 800 RR (AMCN Vol 67 No down a drizzly pitlane at the mesmerising sight of a F3 675 RC, ready for a day at the track.

The raw, punch-on attitude of the Brutale is a different breed to this plastic-dipped track refugee though. Where the Brutale wanted to just fight, after blinding you with its prettiness, the F3 675 RC – the up-spec version of the, er, plain old F3 – is here to inspire you to proper race-god levels.

It does that by giving you a race number (the 37 referencing how many world titles MV has won over the years (though I can’t help thinking it’s time to get out there and win some more), even if you have never raced in your life, and backs that up with more sponsorship stickers than your average club racer. Importantly, it also includes a box of bling: the carbon fibre end can and re-calibrated ECU to suit will not stay in the box for long. Any owner not fitting this kit is really missing the point of owning such a bike.

MV Agusta has long produced beautiful bikes thanks to the late, great Mr Massimo Tamburini and this bike is no exception. But putting a race number on it calls it to face a new challenge; can a roadbike this beautiful be useful at a track? The racetrack exposes everyone and every bike, for everyone can see if a rider knows what they are on about – a scenario to which the machine itself is not immune.

Many club-spec track and racebikes are scrappy, held together with racetape and determination, the product of late hours after work from a rider who just wants to crunch corners – they give no shits
for flash. And here I was with one of the flashest- looking bikes at an overcast Sydney Motorsport Park (SMSP) for one of Stay Upright’s new Tracksmart Lapmaster courses (Ed – in the interests of transparency, Sam also works for Stay Upright).

Walking around the bike before the first session, I am wiggling and pulling on everything, I don’t want any showpony bits not doing the job. The fold-up levers from the Race Kit are solid, the exhaust sits in place like it is welded there and the footpegs – despite their potential to open your calf like a burst sausage when pushing the bike around the shed – are solid and very, very race-like.

I have ridden this bike for two weeks on the road before hitting the track. It snarls and barks like a stir-crazy Rottweiler, sounding much more  than its 675cc capacity and clearly too bitey to just spend its time on the road. It is good on the road, but it’s meant for the racetrack.

There are more comfortable ride positions out there, like most sportsbikes. The seat is better than the Brutale’s, perhaps because more weight is on the wrists and less on the actual perch, and the bike wants to go, not cruise. Throttle response is testing if you aren’t smooth in that area, which left me wondering how that would translate when trying to get off the brakes and on the gas into Turn Nine. Time to find out.

I can’t help but note, as I scan the crew in my riding group, that I am the only bloke on a roadbike – and one of the oldest (blokes, not bikes). This bike had better be good!

The drizzle has stopped as I nose out towards Turn Two, my heart leaping as I toe at the quickshifter, but I am concerned my new lid’s visor is so dark I mightn’t see the wet patches. I am ‘only’ on stock Pirelli Corsa rubber, with no tyre warmers and a patchy track, so I make a quick and conscious decision to take it easy and be the old guy, rather than that guy…

To feel comfortable, the number one thing I need from a trackbike is good front-end feel. A tucky, twitchy front end just has you thinking negatively and waiting for The Big One. Three laps in and with warm tyres, I realise I can put the RC pretty much wherever I want to. The ride position has morphed from the euro-feeling rack-treatment of older MVs, into a sensible track rider triangle. The best aspect of this is that it helps you know exactly how the bike is processing the track’s condition and grip levels – crucial on a hard-nosed sportsbike with this sort of sticker price.

As my knee starts skimming the surface, I realise the gearing is way too high for SMSP. I am only using fifth down the straight, which isn’t so bad, however I am in second and third for the rest of the track, with second gear a little off the boil when pulling out of turns Two and Nine. I guess I’ll have to ride faster to make the gearing work next session – and happily, the MV Agusta wants me to.

The drizzle has totally cleared as I run up the gearbox out of pit exit, purely so I can go back down it again, just to listen to that pop and crackle as the auto-blipper does its job. I had found the blipper less enjoyable on the road, partly due to the really tall gearing and in the lower gears reverted to old-fashioned manual downshifts for smoothness’ sake. As soon as you use the clutch, which is really light and smooth, the system disengages the power shifter/blipper, which I like – sometimes doing it manually is just better. At SMSP, though, I was only using the clutch to take off and to stop.

As I had promised the bike, I roll into corners faster than the sessions before. I can, because ground clearance is ample, the ride position is letting me feel my way into the best lines for this bike and as my confidence grows, I take myself closer to the edges of the track to make the most of this bike’s love of corners.

There’s nothing awkward about how it makes its way around a turn, it’s actually a simple thing to get the bike turned and then driving out, the chassis feels good. So I ride faster.

The head shakes on the crest over the hill and down to Turn Four – like most bikes – and it’s now I’d like a steering damper. I crawl all over the bike, hoping to find one tucked away somewhere so I can turn the bugger up, but no, there’s no steering damper on the RC, which seems a strange omission given the Brutale roadbike has one. I’d be putting one on. It’s not unstable, but whenyou get a bike with this much track potential all wound up, it will want to shake its head and a steering damper will help.

Three sessions in and I am really enjoying myself. Any concern of a weird tip-off, followed by a cap-in-hand presentation of this exquisite bike back to the distributor in a wheelbarrow are gone. It’s working with me to make the day on the track a good one and the show is matched by the go. I do suspect many owners will want more in the go department, though, and there is that option with the close-to-identical 800cc version. If a trackbike is all about wringing the throttle though, the 675 is worth looking at and putting your ego away.

Yes, you, typical Aussie bike rider who always thinks bigger is better, I am pointing at you!

This bike is light, just a claimed 165kg dry with the race kit added (which every owner will do), so the claimed 99kW (133hp) at 14,570rpm is enough. It is muted on my day, because the race kit rear sprocket is too tall to get it really screaming. First gear is too low for the slow turns, while second gear is too high, so there was 500-1200rpm of lag while I waited for the bike to really come on song at each corner exit. Life would be that bit more exciting if I could have had the standard rear chainring fitted.

Aside from that, the 675cc capacity suits the SMSP layout, letting you really yank the thing’s chain without being smacked in the back of the head by a litre-bike’s contempt for your lack of finesse. It is also one of the best-sounding bikes around, a point made to me by numerous Stay Upright staff and clients in pitlane. The downside of the glorious sound is that everyone can hear any mistakes with the throttle…

The initial crack off a closed throttle is an effort to get smooth, and the first few sessions, I was giving the bike a small squirt here and there when I didn’t really mean to. Like all things, you get used to it, and my final session was the smoothest of them all, but it is an MV quirk worth getting used to.

Luckily, the Brembo braking package is up to the task, even though I accidentally left the ABS on level three the first session, a fact I recounted as the brake lever released itself approaching Turn Two at pucker-factor nine. I turned it right off after that, the Pirellis giving me the feel I needed and the Brembos letting me brake later than I have for years into Turn Two.

Hard on those anchors, the light 675 does get lively, particularly when I hit a bump I hadn’t spotted, but almost every time I went from brake to throttle, I realised I could have braked just a little later. For that last session, I am one of only two bikes out there, and apparently the sound bouncing off the grandstand as I screamed down the straight was “pornographic”. Good. So’s the rest of the bike. The payback is surprisingly light-on.

There’s no searing heat from anywhere you didn’t expect, ground clearance is good, I haven’t been tangled up in the footpegs at any stage, the bike lets me move around easily – even in that tricky change of direction for the Corporate Hill/ Turn Nine combo – and the up-spec traction control is a great aid for your back pocket, while remaining unobtrusive.

Yes, $28,590 is a lot of money for a 675, even withstanding all that gear you get in the box (see sidebar), but if you are quibbling over the cash, you’re looking for love in all the wrong places.

For that money you get a limited- edition machine (only 500 made, made up of both the 675 and 800 variants) with a box full of goodies that will take a full week to slowly unpack and fit yourself in your garage, making it the happiest room in your house then, and for months afterwards. That money doesn’t just buy you a museum piece, it is a proper trackbike that will delight you aurally and with the way it folds into a long sweeper – just add some teeth to the rear sprocket as well as the extra grip the Supercorsas offer.

Then, when you pack it away in your shed under its custom cover and on its stand, it’s that smug smile you’re wearing as you switch off the shed light and bid the thing goodnight when it starts to really make sense. It’s boofable, sure. But astonishingly good looking and brilliantly capable. And it turned me into that guy.

TEST SAM MACLACHLAN
PHOTOGRAPHY INCITE IMAGES

As appeared in AMCN Mag 67 No 16