There’s only one motorcycle company that could produce a bike looking like the Superveloce 800 and get away with it.
Photography by Jose Gallina
After more than a few years in the wilderness, MV Agusta is making a concerted push back into North America under the guise of Russian CEO, Timur Sardarov.
From the shores of the staggeringly beautiful Lake Varese in Northern Italy, under Sardarov’s watch MV Agusta has renewed vigor and engineering prowess that will no doubt be welcome news to the 37 dealers currently serving the United States market.
Focusing on a dizzying array of limited-edition specials (so many I’ve lost count, and so many they may indeed stop becoming special) to prop up the bottom line, MV Agusta is at least back in the black and under Sardarov has restored some much-needed credibility on the world stage.
A slew of new MV Agusta models have come and will continue to do so in the near future, but none have caused quite the stir of the Superveloce 800.
Unveiled in stunning Serie Oro form at the 2018 EICMA Show in Milan, the base (read: cheaper) Superveloce has finally made it to North American shores and is as much a head-turner as it looks on paper.
Resplendent in MV Agusta silver and red with a beautiful gold tubular steel chassis and gold wheels (there’s also a black version with gold wheels), the $20,998 MSRP Superveloce is a firm tip of the cap to the marque’s own demi-god Giacomo Agostini and the machines on which he used to dominate 1960s grand prix racing. However, the Superveloce retains all the modern technology and traits that have been a cornerstone in the brand’s resurgence.
Under the very fancy dress sits an F3 800 supersport machine, its three-cylinder, 798cc motor pumping out a claimed 148 hp 13,000 rpm and 65 lb-ft of torque at 10,600 rpm. You also get four riding modes, ABS, cruise control, and the new five-inch TFT dash that features the MVride app for navigation mirroring.
The Superveloce is more an exercise in style than straight-up performance, as can be seen from the does-nothing-but-looks-lovely leather strap for the gas tank (back in the day, tanks were secured by straps—we’ve moved on from there); cute bar-end mirrors that sort-of work when you’re not high in the revs and they buzz to a blur; and the screen that’s so low you’d need to be Dani Pedrosa for it to have any real effect.
The aesthetic cues don’t stop there. Like the F3, the Superveloce comes with a beautiful triplet of exhaust mufflers that exit just above the rear wheel on the right. Mercifully, these pipes are just on the right side of loud and don’t rattle the rider’s eardrums to bits like some of the other models in the MV lineup—especially the ones that come standard with the SC Project exhaust. The Superveloce sounds fantastic, giving that lovely wail we’ve come to expect from three-cylinder MV’s but never tire of hearing.
The sound is accompanied by torque for days, so you won’t have to go jumping up and down on the ultra-smooth quickshifter—just keep the revs above 3000 rpm, and crack the throttle. MV has the ride-by-wire system dialed on the Superveloce—they’ve had years of practice considering this is basically an F3 800 in drag—but it’s amazing how good the company’s RBW mapping has become.
There was a time when MV’s used to spit and splutter, especially on slight throttle openings. Not anymore. There are four riding modes to choose from in Sport, Race, Rain, and the Custom map you can build with your PC (I feel you should be able to do this solely through the dash, but that’s not the case). Sport is where I spent most of my time, as the Race mode’s torque delivery is a little abrupt for general road use, especially if the surfaces are dodgy.
Still, I didn’t find I was lacking in any sort of forward momentum with the Sport map. MV was one of the first to fit the MotoGP-style counter-rotating crankshaft (a few years before Ducati did it with the Panigale V4 range), and the go from the inline-three is seamlessly transitioned to the rear wheel without undue wheelies.
This is a good thing because despite being on the wrong side of $19k, the Superveloce does not come with a nearly standard sportbike-class six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). As such, the motorcycle relies more on mechanical grip rather than electronic intervention, so no IMU-fitted wheelie or traction control.
The traction-control system is by all accounts pretty rudimentary, but it does the job well enough and you have to either be really hauling the mail or crack-handed with the throttle to get the system firing when on level one or two. The only bummer is you can’t switch the system off.
On the Cycle News scales, we weighed the Superveloce with a full 4.36 gallons of gas at 237.5 pounds for the front and 220.7 pounds at the rear, for a total of 458.2 pounds and a front-to-rear ratio of 51.7:48.3. This makes it pretty nose heavy and, in true MV Agusta style, it feels better the faster you go.
VIDEO | 2021 MV Agusta Superveloce Ride Review
The seat, which looks like it’s styled from Casey Stoner’s Ducati Desmosedici GP9, is wafer thin and the Marzocchi fork and Sachs shock combination is, to put it politely, on the stiff side. Get moving fast and allow the Superveloce to max out its sweeping-corner speed and the ride will be a thoroughly enjoyable one, but bad surfaces or, worse, slow-speed city potholes will have you clenching your teeth as the seat tries to insert itself directly up your ass.
The fork action is progressive enough, but it still lacks the optimum high-speed compression damping a bike this expensive and exclusive deserves. MV has had a long association with Marzocchi suspension and the Superveloce’s fork feels a lot like the F3’s and F4’s of the past, but having a better damped fork would be a thoroughly welcome addition to such a sexy machine.
That said, when the speed is high and the road twisty, the Superveloce is a gem. It even wills you to ride in the old-school knees-in style, much like Ago himself did half a century ago. The shape and width of the seat doesn’t really like the rider hanging off and scraping elbows—it’s a neat little trick pulled by the designers: a classically styled machine that needs to be ridden in a classic style. Nice.
When hauling the Superveloce up from those speeds, you’re graced with twin 320mm discs gripped by four-piston Brembo monobloc calipers, which, in turn, are squeezed by a conventional Nissin master-cylinder, with the Bosch 9 Plus ABS system that comes with its own Race mode. This combination works well in general braking, but I feel the ABS kicks in far too early when you really hammer the brakes for an emergency stop (again, the lack of IMU is a factor here). As such, there’s no Cornering ABS fitted to Superveloce, so this is something to be mindful of when cracked over and you grab a handful of lever.
A black mark must be given to the rear brake. It’s next to useless unless you’ve been riding for less than five minutes. The cause of this is the master cylinder is mounted at the bottom of the engine, right above where the hottest part of the bike—the catalytic convertor—is situated. The result means the fluid boils super quickly and when you go for the rear brake, all you get is fade and a meek attempt at slowing the rear wheel from the two-piston Brembo caliper. On a bike costing this much, that’s not good enough.
Like so many goods emanating from the birthplace of pizza and pasta, the Superveloce commands a pretty hefty price tag. You’re looking at $20,998 MSRP to park one of these in your garage, which is certainly on the steep side.
You can buy a base-model Yamaha YZF-R1, Kawasaki ZX-10R or Suzuki GSX-R1000R with change for that money, but it’s not really fair to compare the Superveloce to the superbike master-blasters. It’s a different animal.
It’s got performance more in line with machines like the $16,795 Ducati Panigale V2, or the limited-edition Triumph Daytona Moto2 765 at $17,500, all of which cost significantly less. It’s even about 20 percent more expensive than the bike it’s based off in the $16,798 F3 800, which is something owners will most certainly have to reconcile with at purchase.
Let’s be honest. You’re paying a premium for the styling, and that’s totally fine. The performance of the Superveloce is more than enough for most riders, especially in this age of ever-decreasing speed limits and increased radar presence.
In my eyes, it’s nothing short of gorgeous. There’s been a lot of effort and thought put into the design and for a few moments I seriously envisioned having one of these permanently in my garage to take out for the occasional Sunday coffee ride.
That’s where the Superveloce belongs. It’s a fashion accessory, and the older (and slower) I get, the more this sort of thing appeals to me. We all know sportbikes have been in decline for years, so MV should be congratulated for creating a bike that’s capable of giving you some weekend jollies while looking damn fine in the process.
If you want an MV and you’re only concerned with performance, you’re going straight to the F3 800, or the 675, or the plainly bonkers Brutale 1000RR range (can’t wait to try those ones!).
However, none will get the attention of the Superveloce, and that’s the point. CN
2021 MV Agusta Superveloce Specifications
||DOHC, 12 valves
|Bore x stroke:
||79 x 54.3mm
||148 hp at 13,000 rpm
||65 lb-ft at 10,600 rpm
||3 into 3
||6-speed with quickshift
||Multi-plate wet clutch with mechanical slip system
||Eight-level traction control, ABS with race mode, cruise control, four engine maps (Rain, Road, Sport, Race)
||Tubular steel trellis
||Marzocchi 43mm inverted fork, fully adjustable
||Sachs monoshock, fully adjustable
|Front wheel travel:
|Rear wheel travel:
||Brembo radial 4-piston calipers, dual 320mm discs, Bosch 9 Plus with Race Mode and RLM (Rear wheel Lift-up Mitigation)
||2-piston Brembo caliper, single 220mm, Bosch 9 Plus with Race Mode and RLM (Rear wheel Lift-up Mitigation)
||120/70 – ZR 17 M/C (58 W) Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II
||180/55 – ZR 17 M/C (73 W) Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II
|Weight (wet, measured):