Riding the MV Agusta Superveloce In The Sunshine State
Italian women are often portrayed in pop culture as sophisticated, sensuous, and svelte. They are also frequently portrayed as hot-headed and mercurial, quick to slap the crap out of you should you press your luck. And yet who among us guys, at some point in our lives weren’t gobsmacked at some Italian beauty we beheld, on screen or in print? We desired her, dreamed of her, even if we knew we might never have her.
Such is often our reaction to the sleek Italian motorcycle brands, and their exotic models. Beautiful yet volatile, alluring yet threatening, they beckon us to take them for a ride, dare us really, and yet are more than prepared to smack us down should we misbehave with them.
The first time I laid eyes on the MV Agusta Superveloce… I was smitten.
The first time I laid eyes on the MV Agusta Superveloce at the North American unveiling last fall, I was smitten. Her curvy shape, exquisite adornments, modern tech with tasteful nods to MV’s race pedigree, struck me as one of the most beautiful blendings of classic and modern I’d seen on a motorcycle in quite some time. Think Sophia Loren meets Giusy Buscemi. She’s utterly beautiful.
After meeting Doug McCloskey, CEO of MV Agusta USA at Barber Motorsports last year, I was offered the chance to “dance with an Italian” around Coastal West Florida for several days, an opportunity I simply could not resist. Flying into Tampa, my friend Art picked me up, rode me around to scout some great locales to shoot and record the bike, then we made our way over to Next Ride, the city’s MV Agusta dealership where a gleaming new black/gold Superveloce awaited my acquaintance.
The 2021 MV Agusta Superveloce I would ride, and two shots of her legendary ancestor. MV Tre photos by MV Agusta
From single headlight to single taillight, the Superveloce drips of sexy and speed, like the Ferraris that dominated Le Mans in the 1960s. She specifically shares styling cues with the famed MV Agusta 500 Tre motorcycles that Giacomo Agostini won consecutive world championships aboard from 1966-1972. The MVA Tre is considered by many to be the most successful race bike in motorcycle racing history. The Superveloce certainly tips her hat to the legendary GP beast that is her ancestor.
Strolling around the Superveloce, admiring her lines, I’m drawn to the beautifully arched single-sided swingarm, revealing her gold rear rim to the right, six spokes paired and angled like Lola Pagnani dancing in the Cirque du Soleil. The 800cc triple exhales via a triple stack of menacing black and brushed aluminum pipes. Juxtaposed with that sexy rear wheel, and you’ve got Lola brandishing a triple-barreled scatter gun. The gold trellis frame tastefully reveals just enough of her powerplant, beckoning you to peer (leer?) a little deeper, a bit closer, while trying not to be obvious. Eyes up here, young man.
Geez, this bike is hot.
The bodywork design can be viewed as a beautifully flowing blend of 1960s-70s race retro up top, from the nostalgic single round headlight and sexy “bikini top” windscreen, to a more modern profile down low, utilizing lateral air intakes and a spoiler. I love the shape of the SV’s tank- magnificently contoured, yet looking lean and muscular, with a leather tank strap/bra. Classic MV Agusta styling. The bodywork flows around a small but nicely shaped solo seat, past a tapered rear cowling back to a single round taillight, completing the “modern retro racer” motif. Oh, and I so dig the round bar-end mirrors. Geez, this bike is hot. I need a drink…
Trever Varney and crew at Next Ride Tampa gave me a rundown of the bike’s features, offered some nice suggestions for rides and roads around and outside the Tampa/St. Pete area, then turned me loose with her. I stalled the bike before even leaving the parking lot. “Not making a great first impression here Brooks,” I thought to myself. The wet, multi-plate slipper clutch engagement was almost immediate, and with revs not quite matched, I’d pulled a novice move, not once but twice, embarrassingly. Once I acclimated myself to the clutch, the shifting and matching the revs, I think she liked me better. Those Italians can be a fickle lot.
The beauty is more than skin deep.
Developed from MVA’s F3 800 track beast, the more elegant and comfortable Superveloce runs a six-cog gearbox, and comes standard equipped with a trick quickshifter for seamless upshifting and down. The SV sports an array of tech gizmos we’ve come to appreciate on our modern two-wheeled lovers, such as ABS with RLM (Rear Wheel Lift Mitigation) and cornering feature, an eight-level (!) traction control, four-map torque control, launch control, cruise control, and four ride modes- Rain, Sport, and Race, then a Custom mode to set up and suit the rider’s preferences. The 5.5” TFT color display shows MPH, RPM, ride mode, ABS mode, ODO, trip, outside ambient temps, as well as several ride time and lap time counters. The menu toggle is on the upper left clip-on grip, scrolling between menu screens and customizable settings. The right side holds buttons for cruise control and onboard navigation. MV has really stepped up their tech features game in recent years, and what’s available on the Superveloce nicely showcases the mastery of their digital craft.
Okay, here’s a few specs that are also quite fun to discuss. Actual displacement for the triple is 798cc, she makes 148 ponies at 13k rpm, 65 ft pounds at 10,600, with a 3.1 in. x 2.1 in. bore/stroke, a 13.3:1 compression ratio, and last but not least, has clocked 150 mph officially. Not by me, I should point out. The SV pinches on Brembo brakes for scrubbing all that speed off when required, with 4-piston radial monobloc types on double floating discs up front, and a single steel disc with 2-piston binder in the rear. She is well proportioned, with a wheelbase of 54.3”, overall length of 79.92”, seat height of 32.68”, and a dry weight of 381.4 lbs., so I’m guessing she tips the scales fully lubed and fueled at around 400 lbs. Speaking of fuel, the SV’s tank capacity is an admirable 4.36 US gallons, so reasonably ridden, the girl’s got decent legs. I think I’m falling in love. Infatuation, at least.
Hitting the highways and byways around greater Tampa Bay, Clearwater and St. Petersburg, the Superveloce begs to be revved. But, being the careful chap that I am, I spent much of my first day feeling the bike out, learning her ways and behavior, and shooting photos/footage at scenic locales and drives, as the forecast was calling for increasing chances of thundershowers in the days ahead. I found “Rain” mode to resemble “Road” or “Street” mode on other bikes we’ve sampled, so I rode the whole first day in that. The tune and spread suited me well, riding an unfamiliar bike on unfamiliar roads in an unfamiliar city.
She howled in delight through her triple throats as I fed her rpms in each gear.
I throttled out across Florida SR-60 West, which crosses the northern portion of Tampa Bay, with many turnouts across the small harbor islands for swimming, fishing, boating, picnicking, or in my case, photos and footage. It’s a pleasant 10-mile ride across the water, and with room to stretch, I throttled her through the gears each time I pulled back up onto the causeway. She howled in delight through her triple throats as I fed her rpms in each gear, even as I resisted temptation to pull a “Trinity in the Matrix Reloaded” highway sequence. Might be frowned upon by the Florida HP. I did have a tad bit of fun, though. We’ll leave it at that.
Safety Harbor is a quaint little coastal town on the northwestern shores of Tampa Bay, with abundant old Florida architecture, charm and a laid back vibe. Art and I had feasted on fish and shrimp tacos at the Whistle Stop Grill there after he fetched me from the airport, and I decided a dinner trip back to the hamlet beside the bay was worth another visit. The SV handled easily among the small streets, and at 5’8”, 155 lbs, I was able to flat foot at stop signs, flick her onto side streets and into parking spaces with ease. She’s smoking hot out on the open roads, yet chill puttering through the little coastal communities that dot the bay. We were settling into a nice dance groove by the end of our first day together.
Scenes from around the North Tampa Bay area.
Sunday commenced with cool morning breezes and partly sunny skies, and the chance of rain diminished. I suited up and we lit out for I-275 North past downtown Tampa, pointing towards Ocala. That wasn’t my destination, I just wanted to stretch the Superveloce’s legs on open Sunday tarmac for a few. Aside from several off/on ramps and highway forks, there’s not much in the way of curvy roads in coastal Florida, but there’s plenty of long, relatively straight stretches for throttle therapy. I took the occasion to put the quickshifter to the test, having not ridden many bikes standard-equipped with the feature. I found it quite seamless and effective, both in upshifts and downshifting. Dang, more bikes should be outfitted with this. I eventually made my way back to the Bay area, in time to meet my Uncle Larry and Aunt Judy for lunch at a harborside Bahama Breeze for, you guessed it, fish tacos. I can’t seem to get enough of them. After an enjoyable lunch and visit, I rolled back north up SR-60 again, to ride and explore more of the North Tampa Bay region. I can see why my friend Art, as well as my aunt and uncle, love the Tampa/St. Pete part of the state. Southern hospitality blended with a relaxed “Margaritaville” type state of mind.
After a full day of riding (no rain amazingly), I meandered back to my hotel, chilled for a bit, then by 7pm decided to go grab a burger nearby. Upon returning, I impulsively swung back up on I-275 North, just to rip on the Superveloce once more. Her howling acceleration in each gear is addictive. No cameras, no commentary, just wringing the SV’s throttle up a relatively untrafficked interstate again, before Monday’s 90% chance of rain could throw cold water on my ride plans. This time, I did pull a “Trinity”, switching the SV into Sport mode. “Cracking the ton” with ease on several open stretches, she screamed for more, and the often media-panned windshield actually served me well, creating a buffet-free pocket I was nestled into during my (brief) stints in the triple digits. No vibrations, no wind issues, just smooth, solid power and stability at speed, even as she was howling at me to wring her throttle even more. By the way, MVA sells an Arrow race exhaust system for the Superveloce line that resembles the brand’s World GP bikes of yesteryear, with two blacked out pipes on the right side, and the third crossing over to the other. Bad-@$$ looking, and sounding, from what Trever told me.
I am loving this fast lady. She’s addicting to dance with.
Monday brought soaking showers overnight and into the morning, but by noon the forecast showed the rain would let up enough to venture out. About this time, my friend Art called, informing me, “Hey man, the rains have passed here. Come on over to St. Pete, and we’ll go get pizza at a little downtown joint I know about.” I didn’t need more convincing. Still drizzling on the Tampa side, I rain-suited, uncovered the SV, fired her up and we lit out down I-275 South to the larger interstate bridge that crosses into Pinellas County out on the peninsula. 10 miles of 90+ mph across the causeway, still in light rain, winds off the bay trying to push me around in my lane. I’d already switched to Rain mode just to be safe, and she tracked true, smoothing out the power and torque delivery to the rear wheel as we rapidly rolled over wet pavement. The SV’s electronics package indeed works as a package, every system feeling fully integrated with every other. She’s a very confidence-inspiring sport to ride.
Rain had departed by the time I made landfall on the peninsula, and after spending the afternoon with my friend in St. Petersburg’s eclectic downtown district, I turned the SV back towards the big bay causeway and my hotel in Tampa. I’d avoided the morning rush-hour and now found myself running just ahead of the 5pm rush, as traffic was steady but moving (fast) across the long bridge. I was doing 80-85 in the outside left lane, when this punk in a jacked up pickup came up on my tail. “Seriously, dude?” I thought to myself. When a car or two cleared right up ahead of me, my lane was wide-open, so I fed the SV a heeping helping of revs and she squealed in delight as we made said punk a mere dot in her mirrors. The end of the causeway thus arrived rather rapidly, and soon man and machine were rolling softly back into the hotel parking lot, still flush with the rush of another stint out across open water. I’ve discovered that the Superveloce thrives as the revs climb above 4500-5000 rpm and the thrills only increase, as does the scream from the triple “scattergun” exhaust, when she’s pushed past 10K. Stupid-grin inspiring, I must say.
Pick your elixir. Photos by MV Agusta
If there are any caveats for me with the Superveloce (and every bike has them), first and foremost I’d have to finger the low clip-on bars. They’re not as low as other mainstream superbikes and supersports, but for me personally (I’d undergone a cervical spinal surgery several years back), I found my neck and shoulders began to hurt after about 30 mins out on the roads. For riders without my knackered neck, the bars won’t be a problem. I did find the SV emitted some heat through both sides of the trellis frame, felt in my thighs, and I actually felt heat radiated through the seat, even though the pipes aren’t underseat exhausts. Strange. There’s also an exposed black fusebox on the right side of the engine, and two fuses visible and accessible just above and to the left of the fuse box. I feel the designers could have found a better place for these, or at least a less conspicuous location on the bike, for aesthetics and for bike security. Cranking up the bike, the engine turns over several times before firing, like a carbureted bike might on cold start. These were really my only negatives to an otherwise pleasurable motorcycle.
The Superveloce is a definite looker, as one would expect from her designers and craftsmen at MV Agusta in Italy. Everywhere I stopped, I mean everywhere, passersby would gaze then offer, “Beautiful motorcycle!” Often many would stop and ask questions, strolling around, snapping selfies, and marveling at the rolling #MotorcycleArt that the bike is. I understand. I’ve accumulated way more photos of her than I’ll ever be able to use. I don’t care. The Superveloce is that beautiful to me. I’m captivated by this motorcycle. Writers and mags that have reviewed MV Agusta’s Superveloce pen stale stats, opine in platonic tech-speak, offer a word or two about her styling, and miss entirely the visceral, emotional attraction the bike can elicit. Am I just a quirky, sentimental sap when it comes to motorcycles? Or do certain bikes, in design and performance, truly move others as they move me? I know riders who call their motorcycle their two-wheeled “lover” or “mistress”. I totally get that. I’ve felt that way about the Superveloce from the first day I laid eyes on one at Barber Museum’s unveiling last fall. And this black/gold beauty has stolen my moto heart.
My last night with the Superveloce, around 9pm, I glanced out my hotel window to the lot below and beheld her sitting there, almost begging, “Take me out tonight!” So I obliged. With barely a fading pink of dusk left to the west across the waters of Tampa Bay, the SV and I blasted up SR-60 toward Clearwater again, this time a nearly deserted Monday night 10-mile causeway crossing. With U2’s “Mysterious Ways” echoing in my Cardo Packtalk Slim headset, the Superveloce and I danced one last tango together across the dark waters of the bay, up and back twice, about 50 miles all total. With the lights of Tampa visible to the east and those of St. Pete to the west, coastal communities all in between, the ride was magical. Almost, dare I say, romantic? I felt so in tune with the Superveloce, it indeed felt like a spirited dance across the waves, some moments pushing the pace, others just enjoying the ride and 360 degree twinkling coastal lights. Have you ever just felt like giving a bike a hug after a ride? I about did that, in the hotel parking lot upon return. She called, we danced once more, and it was glorious.
What a dance it has been.
I remanded the Superveloce back into the capable hands of Next Ride the following morning, saying my goodbyes to the dream bike I’d enjoyed these past, too few days. A touch of sadness came over me, as I reminisced about the miles and hours I’d spent astride the modern retro MV. I nicknamed her “Sophia”, by the way. There certainly seems to be something ethereal about Italian motorcycles, something deeply emotional about riding one. Maybe it’s the rich history and legacy in these brands, maybe the proud personal craftsmanship that goes into each machine. Maybe it’s all in my head. But there’s a distinct aura, certainly surrounding this model. I hope to taste of it again someday, to savor the Italian flavor, it’s historic and modern flair rolled up in a breathtaking package called the MV Agusta Superveloce.
Huge thanks to MV Agusta USA CEO Doug McCloskey for offering me the opportunity, Nathon Verdugo and Jose Gallina of MV for making the arrangements, then Trever Varney and Next Ride Tampa for prepping both bike and rider. It was pure joy both riding the Superveloce, and working with all you fine folks.
For more on the MV Agusta Superveloce, and all the incredible bikes in their 2021 lineup, click here:
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*Be sure to check out our video ride/review below, without ever leaving this page!