Photos: Grant Ray

When the 2010 MV Agusta F4 was announced, we criticized it for being a little heavier and a little less powerful than the outgoing model. The official line at the time was that numbers lie, or a least MV's old numbers did and the new one's didn't. Now that we've ridden it on the road and on the track we believe that. We'll be bringing you a Vs. feature next week, but for the time being, here's a glimpse at what it's like to ride MV's new superbike.

The good:

-  It looks great in black. Gloss on top, matte on the bottom. Understated and classy.

-  NACA ducts. FTW.

-  It's incredibly fast. I remember thinking the 155bhp on my old CBR954RR was scary. 186bhp is a whole new world.

-  But it's flexible. I was putting in respectable laps of Monticello using only third gear. That included a 20mph hairpin and 131mph on the back straight as it bounced off the 13,500rpm limiter. Sure it bogged a bit in the hairpin, but once it hits 5,000rpm, it takes off. That's over a 100mph effective range in a single gear. Wow.

-  It's smooth. No vibes, no power troughs, just easy drive everywhere.

-  It sounds amazing. Like an inline-four on steroids, deeper and stronger than most liter bikes.

-  It's all-day comfortable on the track. No crick in the neck, no sore hamstrings, nothing.

-  The details are stunning. Swoopy single-sided swingarm, the red cylinder head peaking out from the black frame, the square exhausts, the LED lights, the generator cover in the left fairing.

-  But it's not blingy. You get the feeling the engineers had to choose between what worked and what was flashy. They went with what worked.

-  DZUS fasteners. Why doesn't everyone use them?

-  The brakes. Like all Brembo Monoblocks, powerful and progressive.

-  It's easy to ride fast. There's nothing weird going on here, just get on and ride.

-  The traction control works. Thank god.

-  The price. MV will only sell a couple hundred of these in the US. With that in mind, $18,500 buys a lot of exclusivity.

The bad:

-  The levers don't rotate up or down. The brake and hydraulic fluid reservoirs are in the way, so the brake and clutch levers are stuck just south of horizontal. They need to rotate down at least 10 more degrees for comfort.

-  The hydraulic clutch is very heavy, no fun around town.

-  It's really, really uncomfortable on the road. It's not the height of the bars, which aren't abnormally low for a sportsbike, but the shape and lack of padding in the seat. It's like sitting on a wide, flat board. My butt hurt after 20 miles.

-  It cooks your butt. Thank the underseat pipes for that.

-  You look like an asshole. Or at least it makes me look like one. People can't really tell it's the new model, but they know the "MV" badges make it expensive. 29-year olds really shouldn't ride around on bikes most people think are unattainable.

-  It looks exactly like the old one. It even took a guy on an old model about five minutes to realize I was riding the 2010.

-  The mirrors are blurry. At all speeds, under all circumstances. Also, they're so narrow that you have to lift your arms up to see stuff in them, which makes it look like you're doing the funky chicken when you change lanes.

-  It doesn't need the standard steering damper. It's completely stable, so why fit one?

-  The dash is hard to use and read. Just try adjusting the traction control level without consulting the manual, go one, we dare you.

-  The paint marks easily. Swing a leg over the seat unit. Oops, yeah, that's not coming out.

-  There's no defining characteristic or unique selling point. It's an MV. What's that mean? It's like a GSX-R but nicer looking.

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