Throwback Thursday – 2004 MV Agusta F4 1000 vs Yamaha R1

The MV Agusta F4 1000 is ten years old this year, hurray! So we’re back to the early noughties today, with a fancy-pants Italian road and track test of the then-new MV Agusta F4 1000 and the benchmark of the day, the 2004 Yamaha R1.

2004 MV Agusta F4 1000, Misano

2005 MV Agusta F4 1000, Misano

We flew out to Milan and hooked up with the guys from SuperBike Italia, who’d already tapped up the F4 from the Agusta factory, and grabbed an R1 to go with it. Then we hot-footed it to Rimini, and Misano Circuit for a (very) hot trackday.

2004 MV Agusta F4 1000 at Misano

2005 MV Agusta F4 1000 at Misano

The F4 was spot-on at the Italian track, hardly a surprise, since it’s probably the closest top-level track to the factory, and we daresay the test riders had it round there a few times during development. The chassis, based on the 750, was sublime, with superlative brakes, suspension and tyre performance all round.

2004 R1 Misano

2004 R1 Misano

The R1 weren’t so bad either of course! Our top choice in the litre bike tests of the time, the Japanese champ was a fair bit easier to get on with round the track, with a gentler riding position, and smoother power delivery out of Misano’s slower bends.

2004 MV Agusta F4 1000

2005 MV Agusta F4 1000

Trackday over, we headed back north, and next day spent some time on the roads. It’s fair to say the F4 wasn’t at its best here – MV was still working at the fuelling of the litre bike back then, and that, combined with hard suspension and a no-compromise riding position made it a bit of a trial, especially as the mercury rose on a hot Italian late-summer’s day. Having said that, in the gorgeous Lombardy countryside, with the four tailpipes on song, the niggles melted away…

2004 R1 wheelie

2004 R1 wheelie

 

No such problems with the R1 of course – its impeccable road manners meant it was as much of a joy on the road as on the track, and while it lacked a bit of the magic of the MV, it was still a fine-looking (and sounding) superbike…

2004 MV Agusta F4 1000

2005 MV Agusta F4 1000

In the ten years since, the R1 has waxed and waned, with the GSX-R1000 K5, then the Kawasaki ZX-10R and BMW S1000RR all challenging its title. But with the 2015 bike, Yamaha looks to be properly on the pace.

Meanwhile, the F4 1000 had an even tougher time, with upheaval at the factory and financial woes stymieing its development in the early years. But MV’s been back on track for a few years now, and the F4 is better than ever, racing in WSB under Leon Camier, and offering a refined road package, as well as the super-exclusive exotic touch only an MV brings…

 

@alandowds. Pics: A. Cervetti

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