Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
That said, due to the limitations of Monza's straights, the biggest number I saw was 288 km/h (179 mph) before having to brake for (and almost missing, as I was watching the speedo for too long) the tight, first-gear chicane at the end of the start/finish straight.
But what is certain is that the MV engine is a diamond of a thing and its spread of power from low revs to the 13,000-rpm redline impressive. But it does have a few rough edges. The fuelling at low rpm isn't great, and trying to accelerate smoothly out of the first-gear chicane, especially on a damp track in our first session on the bike was a tricky, jerky affair. The gearbox is quite harsh and slow, too, causing crashing through the gears and missing them completely if you're too quick with the lever. On some down changes false neutrals appeared, one notable time braking from sixth to third at the end of the fast straight that leads to the fast Parabolica corner - an early morning eye-opener if there ever was one.
I rode three different R312s and some had better or worse fuelling and gearboxes than others. Some testers had the same problems as me and some didn't - let's hope the set-up of the production models will be more consistent.
Going through corners has always been one of the F4's trump cards. All these MVs have a thoroughbred racebike-feel to them. They're cramped, stiffly sprung and are definitely more suited to the track as they're uncomfortable to ride at slow speeds, but they do get better and better the harder you push them. At a track they're really in their element, as that fastest lap at Masterbike on the F4 1000R proves.
But here at Monza all was not well with the R312 simply because of the way it had been set-up. During our first session the suspension was softened right off and the pressures in the Pirelli Super Corsa tires dropped to cope with the cold, damp track. On these settings the MV gave me a fair amount of confidence to go quickly. But for our second session on a dry track the settings were the left the same and the MV wobbled and weaved in the high-speed corners and needed a Herculean effort to steer through the chicanes - it was like riding on flat tires, which in effect is what I was almost doing.
at 5:56 PM