MV Agusta, or Meccanica Verghera Agusta, is one of the most iconic motorcycle manufacturers of the last century. Originally founded in 1945 in the town of Samarate in Italy by the Counts Vincenzo and Domenico Agusta, MV Agusta was built on top of a legacy of engineering and mechanical excellence in the aviation industry that the brothers seamlessly transposed into a mighty two-wheeled form. Within the space of a few short years, MV Agusta managed to evolve from a small brand into a championship winning outfit that would go on to dominate the Grand Prix circuit in ways that have never been seen before or since. Despite numerous financial ups and downs, an unprecedented number of ownership changes, and an almost constant threat of bankruptcy, MV Agusta is still with us today and looking stronger than ever in the capable hands of CEO Giovanni Castiglioni. Today, MV Agusta is known for its exclusive, exotic machinery that fuse together the best elements of sports performance and opulent design principles to produce what is best summed by in the company’s slogan: “Motorcycle Art.”
A Brief History Of MV Agusta
Meccanica Verghera Agusta
MV Agusta was first founded back in 1945 by Count Vincenzo Agusta and his brother Domenico Agusta in Samarate, Italy, as a means of saving the employees from their late father’s Agusta aviation company whilst capitalizing on Italy’s need for cheap and economical transport in the post-War era. The late Count Giovanni Agusta had established an aviation firm in 1923 that specialized in building lightweight aircraft, but unfortunately the war effort hadn’t been kind on the company’s finances, so the Count’s sons took decisive action to shift production into the motorcycle arena. The new branch of the Agusta company was called “MV Agusta” or Meccanica Verghera Agusta, and the company unveiled its first working prototype in 1945.
Count Vincenzo and Domenico Agusta had a very clear idea of the direction that they wanted to take their company in. Both brothers were passionate about mechanics, the pursuit of speed, and most importantly, racing. Similar to fellow countryman Enzo Ferrari, the Agusta brothers built and sold motorcycles as a means to fund their racing passion, with a goal to produce the greatest motorcycle on the Grand Prix circuit at the time. To get the ball rolling they produced their first prototype, which was dubbed the “Vespa 98” but unfortunately, another Italian company named Piaggio had just registered the Vespa name, so the first MV Agusta motorcycle was simply referred to as the “98.” By 1948, the humble 98 had evolved into a powerful 125cc, single-cylinder, two-stroke racer and the Agusta brothers decided to enter it into the Italian Grand Prix, piloted by Franco Bertoni. Bertoni managed to win the Monza race, firmly putting MV Agusta on the path to greatness and writing the company name into the racing history books in one fell swoop.
MV Agusta’s Racing Success
Despite MV Agusta’s impressive arrival, the next couple of years weren’t as successful. The 125cc racing class attracted more competition and the likes of Mondial with their 125cc DOHC racer were proving to be the most competitive. Still, MV Agusta persevered and managed to attract some serious engineering talent too, with former Gilera engineers Arturo Magni and Piero Remor joining the cause. After a couple of years of experimenting with new engine configurations and four-stoke technology, MV Agusta returned to racing seriously in 1952. 1952 brought telescopic forks, stronger brakes, and streamlined bodywork to the MV Agusta racing effort. The MV 125 was able to produce an impressive 15 horsepower, and in the hands of British racer Cecil Sandford, it was unstoppable. MV Agusta easily claimed the 1952 World Championships, marking the first of a long run of Championship trophies for the Italian manufacturer.
MV Agusta’s sales began to boom after their championship success, on the road and on track as many privateer teams wanted MV Agusta customer motorcycles. These early Sports Competizione “Boy Racer” motorcycles included multi-plate clutch assemblies, gear-driven oil pumps, Dell’Orto carburetors and a rear float chamber. For MV Agusta’s own Grand Prix efforts, the 1953 race machine was treated with Earles-type front forks for better handling, and MV Agusta also introduced larger capacity models for the street and for racing, with riders competing in the 350cc and 500cc class as well as the 125cc class.
Capitalizing on their enduring racing success, MV Agusta began releasing more models for the public, such as a 175cc overhead cam model that spawned the 175 CST and Turismo Lusso CSTL models, complete with a bigger carb, a larger cylinder head, broader fins, and aluminum wheel rims. A “Super Sport” model was also available for race enthusiasts but by 1955, it was replaced by an updated MV Agusta 175 Super Sport that history will better remember as the machine that racers such as Derek Minter, Bob Keeler, and Michael O’Rourke raced around the European circuits during the mid to late 50s. A variant of the same model was ridden by David Schuler who won the 175 race at the Catalina Island GP in California back in 1958.
From 1957 onward, MV Agusta dominated the Grand Prix races, partly due to the fact that other manufacturers such as Gilera, Mondial, and Moto Guzzi agreed to withdraw from racing due to rising competition costs and poor sales. MV Agusta had originally agreed to follow suit with the other manufacturers but they had a last minute change of heart. This change of heart would allow MV Agusta to secure 17 consecutive 500cc World Championship titles and become one of the most iconic motorcycling brands of the 20th century. These amazing victories were secured by some of the world’s most revered riders, such as John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Carlo Ubbiali, Phil Read, and of course, Giacomo Agostini. MV Agusta’s racing success continued through the 1960s, however, the arrival of Japanese motorcycles on the racing scene saw MV Agusta’s fortunes decline.
In 1971, Count Domenico Agusta died, and without their energetic driving force, the companies success began to wane both on and off the track. After winning their last Grand Prix in 1976, MV Agusta withdrew from Grand Prix racing entirely, citing financial issues as the main reason for their retirement. Money troubles rocked the company until 1980, and during that time production ground to a halt, and public factory closures forced MV Agusta into stagnation. The last MV Agusta motorcycle of the era was sold in 1980, and MV Agusta would have been finished for good if not for the Castiglioni family.
In 1991, Eleven years after what appeared to be the end of MV Agusta, Giovanni Castiglioni of Cagiva bought the MV Agusta trademark and everything that went with it. Cagiva had been a prominent name in the motorcycle industry since it was first established in 1950, and now with MV Agusta under the Castiglioni family’s control, the potential of the two companies became limitless. A few years later, Cagiva introduced the first new MV Agusta motorcycles in almost twenty years: the four-cylinder MV Agusta F4 750 range. Thanks to the exotic appeal, features in blockbuster Hollywood movies, and special edition models, MV Agusta was once again a force to be reckoned with.
By 2004, MV Agusta had introduced 1000cc versions of the now legendary F4, with limited-edition models that oozed exclusivity, such as the special 300 SR units and highly-collectible Ayrton Senna tribute bikes. The Brutale line also arrived in 750cc and 910cc configurations, proving that MV Agusta could also build practical roadsters as well as sophisticated racing motorcycles. Unfortunately, innovation and design costs money, and Cagiva and MV Agusta were in serious debt, and the brand was sold, over and over again, to help stay afloat.
First, the brand was sold to Malaysian car manufacturer Proton for €70 million. A year later in 2005, Proton sold MV Agusta to a Genoa-based financial company called GEVI S.p.A for the princely sum of one Euro (yes, €1 only). GEVI’s interest allowed MV Agusta to continue operating in Italy, but it still didn’t solve the firm’s problems. MV Agusta was forced to sell its Husqvarna subsidiary to BMW Motorrad in 2007, but it wasn’t enough to keep MV Agusta’s financial issues at bay.
In 2008, Harley-Davidson declared that they had agreed to purchase the MV Agusta Group for a total of $109 million. Unfortunately, the new partnership didn’t go well and just over a year later, Harley-Davidson announced that it would divest its interest in the Italian marque. In 2010, Harley-Davidson successfully sold MV Agusta to the MV Agusta Motor Holding S.r.l – a holding company owned by none other than Claudio Castiglioni, returning Cagiva and MV Agusta back to the Castiglioni family.
Claudio Castiglioni worked hard to keep MV Agusta alive and within the first quarter of 2010, MV Agusta was proud to report that bikes sales had increased by a staggering 50%. Unfortunately, Claudio Castiglioni would not live to see the fruits of his labor, since he passed away in 2011 at the age of 64. His son, Giovanni Castiglioni was named as the company’s successor. Over the next few years, it was clear that MV Agusta would fall into financial troubles, so MV Agusta went into partnership with Mercedes-AMG, who purchased a 25% minority stake in the company. Sadly, the partnership with Mercedes-AMG wasn’t ideal and failed to truly benefit either company. With mounting financial pressures and little money to design and produce new models, it was clear that MV Agusta had to find a new solution to a recurring problem.
The Company’s Future
Fortunately, Giovanni Castiglioni and MV Agusta were able to find a solution. In 2016, it was announced that MV Agusta and Mercedes-AMG would part ways, with MV Agusta Motor Holding buying back the 25% stake, returning full control of the company back to the Castiglioni family. To buy back the shares, MV Agusta went into partnership with the Anglo-Russian investment firm, the Black Ocean Group, who supplied the funds. In return, the Black Ocean Group would become a minority shareholder in the MV Agusta Motor Holding company.
This fresh injection of investment has breathed new life into MV Agusta, and in a recent press release CEO Giovanni Castiglioni announced that MV Agusta is currently working on three new models based around an all-new 1000cc powerplant: a naked roadster, a café-racer inspired roadster, and a much needed replacement for the venerable F4 superbike. Early reports have indicated that the superbike replacement could be an electric and gas hybrid, will produce more than 300 horsepower and should be in production by 2021. These plans are ambitious, but if any company can do it – and survive the effort – it’s MV Agusta.
MV Agusta Reliability
The reliability of MV Agusta motorcycles is always a constant topic for debate. On one hand, the company is often tarred with the same “Italian” brush alongside Ducati, with many owners reporting that Italian motorcycles aren’t as reliable as Japanese or German made models. On the other hand, some owners report very few issues thanks to the small batch numbers of MV Agusta motorcycles made, and the loving attention to detail of the artisans that build their bikes. Anecdotal evidence aside, it can be argued that MV Agusta has had a tough time with reliability thanks to changing hands and direction so often, often without enough time between ownership changes to streamline the quality of their products or provide a strong and stable dealership network to provide MV Agusta owners with the support required. However, any reliability gremlins seem to have become a thing of the past ever since the Castiglioni family regained the marque in 2010.
Unfortunately, the latest reliability survey from Consumer Reports – a survey that ranks motorcycles by their reliability based on the testimony of more than 11,000 motorcyclists and over 12,000 motorcycles – didn’t include any MV Agusta models in the study. While we can’t rank MV Agusta up against the competition from the Consumer Reports survey, we can take a look at MV Agusta’s recall numbers over the last ten years.
Since the new Castiglioni era began in 2010, MV Agusta has only issued a total of four recalls in the United States. The largest of these recalls affected a total of 223 units from the Brutale RR, Rivale 800, Brutale 800 Dragster, Brutale 675, F3 800, and F3 675 lines, thanks to a faulty bolt thread on the swing arm. The second largest recall concerned 211 F4 models which suffered from a weak fixture on the sub frame. The remaining two recalls only affected 66 and 45 models, due to an air filter issue and loose spokes respectively. None of these issues affected the overall reliability of the motorcycles, or can be classed as major problems. In any case, MV Agusta promptly remedied the problems and repaired the faulty motorcycles quickly and free of charge.
Though MV Agusta have a very low instance of recalls, it can be argued that since their production volume is so low, it’s to be expected and doesn’t give an accurate snapshot of the company’s overall reliability – however, thanks to better quality assurance, modern assembly methods, and more financial security, MV Agusta motorcycles are now better equipped, safer, and more reliable than ever before.
The Castiglioni Research Center
The secret to the success of the new breed of MV Agusta motorcycles lies in the Castiglioni Research Center, the Research and Development arm of the MV Agusta family. The Castiglioni Research Center, or CRC, was founded in San Marino in 1993, and ever since then this industrial facility has been designing, developing, and refining the company’s award-winning motorcycles and pushing the boundaries of what a luxury motorcycle can do year after year. Claudio Castiglioni founded the CRC to encourage and oversee the development of MV Agusta’s most famous machines, such as the MV Agusta F4 and Brutale, and the CRC has also been responsible for dreaming up groundbreaking motorcycles from other brands too, such as the legendary Ducati 916.
The Castiglioni Research Center is staffed by a team of 40 talented researchers and engineers, and over the past decade the Center has developed the brand new and iconic 3-cylinder MV Agusta engine that the company has become famous for, implemented in bold models such as the F3 and Brutale, the iconic Rivale and Dragster, and the fantastic Turismo Veloce.
Unlike many other manufacturer’s in-house design bureaus, the MV Agusta Castiglioni Research Center is responsible for every single detail of the development of their products, developing them all the way from the initial concept sketches to the fully realized working prototypes, whilst working on the best way to efficiently manufacture and industrialize these new projects at the same time.
While developing new production models is the prime concern of the CRC facility, the design workshop also specializes in developing interesting custom and concept models to challenge the way we look at motorcycle design. Key examples of this include the MV Agusta F4 RC Blue, which was a high-spec custom machine developed for the Beasts Beirut Events & Street Show, and the now legendary MV Agusta and Zagato developed F4, which took a stock MV Agusta F4 and transformed it into the first atelier superbike from MV Agusta.
Featured MV Agusta Models
The culmination of the design efforts from the Castiglioni Research Center is present in MV Agusta’s current line-up of new bikes. While the company doesn’t have the largest selection of models on the market, MV Agusta prides itself on small lines of quality machines, with a less-is-more mentality. Here’s a snapshot of the company’s current offerings.
The Brutale Line
MV Agusta’s flagship naked motorcycle, the Brutale, comes in a variety of exciting flavors. The Brutale is currently available in the 800, 800 RR, 800 RC, 1090, and 1090 RR, as well as in three special edition models, the 800 RR Pirelli, America, and LHRR model. The Brutale line also boasts four higher-spec Brutale “Dragster” models: the Brutale Dragster 800, Brutale Dragster 800 RR, Brutale Dragster 800 RR Limited, and Brutale Dragster RC.
The Stradale Line
In essence, the MV Agusta Stradale is an 800cc touring model that boasts incredible sports performance, unparalleled comfort, and a unique ride experience that can only be rivaled by the likes of Ducati’s Hyperstrada, or Triumph’s 800cc Tiger. At present, there’s only one Stradale model in the range, but for those who want the comfortable ride experience of the Stradale but with a little extra pep, MV Agusta have another model on offer: the Turismo Veloce.
The Turismo Veloce Line
For a top-flight sports touring machine, MV Agusta’s Turismo Veloce may seem underpowered compared to the likes of Ducati’s Multistrada 1200, Triumph’s Tiger Explorer 1200, or KTM 1290 Adventure, but the smaller 798cc triple-cylinder powered Turismo Veloce offers superior handling. With 110 hp and 63 lb-ft of torque on tap, enough performance to provide sporty thrills and a luxurious and comfortable ride experience, the Turismo Veloce is an incredibly versatile addition to the MV Agusta family. There are three models in the line-up, the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800, Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso, and Turismo Veloce RC.
The F3 Line
MV Agusta’s celebrated F3 motorcycle is arguably one of the most desirable supersport motorcycles on the market. Coming in two different engine configurations, 675cc and 798cc, the F3 is a testament to MV Agusta’s passion and enthusiasm for building high-quality racing motorcycles. Equipped with an advanced chassis, MV Agusta’s innovative Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System (MVICS), and a whole host of top-shelf parts, the F3 is the perfect sports machine for those looking for the perfect balance of performance and style. The F3 comes in four styles, the F3 675, F3 675 RC, F3 800, and F3 800 RC.
The F4 Line
Unlike the rest of MV Agusta’s models, the company’s top-flight flagship superbike bucks the triple-cylinder trend. The MV Agusta F4 is powered by a 998cc inline-four cylinder engine that produces 195 horsepower and can reach a top speed of 180 mph, all wrapped in an aggressive yet elegant body that takes its inspiration directly from MV Agusta’s golden years of racing, when the likes of Giacomo Agostini ruled supreme on the world’s racing stage. Packed with technology and high-quality parts, the MV Agusta F4 is available in four distinct models: the MV Agusta F4, the F4 RR, F4 RC, and the limited edition Lewis Hamilton inspired F4 LH 44.
While MV Agusta’s current motorcycles are exciting, the company built their reputation for excellence off the back of many a great model produced during the 20th century. There are no shortage of MV Agusta bikes that are worthy of note, however there are a few that are a cut above the rest. From the 1940s, MV Agusta’s 125 Turismo, 125 Zefiro, and 98 Motocarro three-wheeler are instantly recognizable MV Agusta models. The 50s brought the 125 Pullman, 125 TR Centomila, 125 Turismo Rapido Sport, 175 Sport Monoalbero, and much larger 500 Turismo R19. Notable models from the 1960s include the 125 Turismo GTL, the 250 Bicilindrico B, 125 Scrambler, and the large 600 Turismo 4C 6. The last great decade for heritage MV Agusta models was the 1970s, and that decade produced iconic models such as the MV Agusta 350 B Sport, 350 BE Turismo, the 750 America, and of course, the beautiful 1971 MV Agusta 750 Super Sport.
MV Agusta: US Company Snapshot
MV Agusta is headquartered in Varese, Italy, but the company’s US interests are managed from offices in Pennsylvania and California. MV Agusta’s American operations also include distribution centers in New Jersey and California, as well as a network of staff based out of Atlanta, Wisconsin, and New York to help provide the country with the best support coverage as possible. It’s no secret that MV Agusta has struggled to capture the imaginations of the American market largely thanks to its poor dealership and parts supply network, but MV Agusta has ambitious plans to make those worries a thing of the past.
In 2017, MV Agusta S.p.A went into a partnership with the Urban Motor Group Pty Ltd, with the latter helping to support MV Agusta’s development and expansion in North America. The Urban Motor Group has already successfully marketed the brand in Australia, and the company boss Joseph Elasmar is confident that the company can grow to new heights in the USA. With over 14 years of experience in the industry importing and distributing for brands such as Royal Enfield, Benelli, and Gas Gas, Elasmar plans to improve MV Agusta’s company image in the USA by ushering in big improvements to the companies after sales department in Italy, strengthening marketing, and of course, working hard to introduce a strong parts supply and the addition of new showrooms and dealerships.
Where Are MV Agusta Bikes Made?
MV Agusta is famous for its “Made In Italy” mentality and it has remained true to its ideals. Every single MV Agusta motorcycle is built and assembled at the company’s facility on the shores of Lake Varese in Schiranna, Northern Italy. In truth, the factory is more of an assembly plant. Since MV Agusta prides itself on the use of precision engineered parts and top-shelf parts, many of the bike’s components are provided by specialist suppliers, allowing the staff at the assembly plant to focus on putting each model together by hand. At present, MV Agusta only allows itself to work to a maximum volume of units, roughly around 10,000 units per year, so it allows the firm’s staff size to remain small and intimate. Though there are plans for production to increase to up to 20,000 bikes over the next few years, MV Agusta currently employs approximately 260 employees, with 90 focused on research and development, and the remaining 170 focused on manufacture, assembly, and management. Are MV Agusta motorcycles made in Italy? Most certainly. Are MV Agusta motorcycles all handmade? Absolutely.
MV Agusta Dealer Info
Currently, there are 44 official MV Agusta dealerships in the United States. As mentioned above, the new partnership with the Urban Motor Group will hopefully see that figure expand. In fact, MV Agusta has plans to increase that number to 55 dealers in the USA, with a further 10 in Canada, over the next few years in a bid to improve customer accessibility and service, provide better parts supply and servicing programs, and generally improve the brand’s reputation in North America.
Until then, prospective (and existing) MV Agusta customers have to make do with the dealership network that’s currently in place. While MV Agusta gets a lot of bad press because of its part supply and service centers, the firm actually provides good deals for their customers. For example, motorcycles purchased from official MV Agusta dealerships that meet certain buying criteria come with a minimum of two years of exclusive roadside assistance that offers reliable and secure roadside assistance for new models, which is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year anywhere in the United States. Similarly, new triple cylinder motorcycles bought through authorized MV Agusta dealerships are automatically given an extensive three year warranty, to make sure that your luxury machine keeps on rolling no matter what.
Pied Piper Dealership Rankings
For the vast majority of the world’s major motorcycle manufacturers, we’ve been assessing the quality of their dealership networks by using the Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index survey from 2017. Unfortunately, MV Agusta was not included in the 2017 study. However, the Italian firm was featured on a similar study from Pied Piper in 2012. For 2012, MV Agusta’s dealerships were ranked in 8th place out of 16 – which is nicely in the middle, but still below the industry’s average expectations. The PSI index ranks dealerships and their staff on their ability to attract buyers, promote the benefits of buying their products, answering specific questions, and the likelihood that the staff would go out of their way to help the customers – all of this is measured and assessed by mystery shoppers and somehow formulated into a measurable metric. The most recent Pied Piper PSI survey ranks BMW Motorrad with the best dealerships in the country, followed by Harley-Davidson, and then Ducati. The worst ranked dealerships were found to be from Yamaha, KTM, and Husqvarna respectively. Despite the absence on the 2017 table, MV Agusta’s new plans for their dealerships are an indication of good things to come in the near future.
MV Agusta Financial Info & Services
Due to MV Agusta’s small presence in the United States, its recent history of poor financial management, and the fact that it only has a small product output, MV Agusta doesn’t offer many official financial incentives or authorized payment plans in the conventional sense. Currently, MV Agusta does offer low percentage ARP for their entire current range, zero rate financing options on selected models, and other incentives – but only to the Italian market, thanks to a collaboration with Findomestic Banca. If you’re interested in purchasing an MV Agusta motorcycle via a payment plan, it can still be done. Most of MV Agusta’s authorized dealerships in the United States offer their own in-house financing plans with their own deals and incentives, along with their own qualification requirements. For the most up-to-date information, we recommend that you contact your nearest MV Agusta dealership and ask them for details.
The MV Agusta Group
Unlike many other motorcycle manufacturers, MV Agusta possesses very few assets and oversees hardly any subsidiaries. This is largely down to the financial turmoil that has rocked the company over the past two decades. Ever since the marque was bought by Cagiva, and subsequently sold to Malaysian car manufacturer Proton, MV Agusta had been set on a downward financial spiral. In 2004, Proton sold MV Agusta to the Italian company GEVI S.p.A for the grand total of one Euro. To keep the brand afloat, MV Agusta was forced to sell one of its main subsidiaries, Husqvarna, to BMW Motorrad in 2007.
A year later in 2008, Harley-Davidson acquired the MV Agusta group for the sum of $109 million, however the American manufacturer was unable to make the most of its new purchase and eventually sold the marque back to the Castiglioni family via the MV Agusta Motor Holding S.r.l company. Back under Castiglioni leadership, the firm was able to increase bike sales considerably by 2010 but it wasn’t enough. To keep things afloat, MV Agusta went into partnership with Mercedes-AMG in 2014, with Mercedes purchasing a 25% minority share in the company. Similarly, the new relationship mirrored the current partnership between Ducati and Audi.
The trouble wasn’t over for MV Agusta, and by 2016 it was reported that the firm was up to €40 million in debt. Despite the issues, a decree from the Italian government protected MV Agusta while it searched for new capital. Shortly after, crack began to show in the business relationship between Mercedes-AMG and MV Agusta, and by 2016 MV Agusta was able to buy back Mercedes-AMG’s 25% stake, thanks to a new partnership with Anglo-Russian investment firm, the Black Ocean Group.
The Black Ocean Group
In 2017, MV Agusta finalized a deal with the Anglo-Russian investment company called the Black Ocean Group. One of Black Ocean’s investment funds, ComSar Invest, became a strong minority shareholder in MV Agusta Holding, which controls the interests of the MV Agusta Motor S.p.A. Black Ocean is a technology company that nurtures and develops “next generation” digital businesses, focusing on mobile technologies, media companies, and investment. Together, MV Agusta and Black Ocean have managed to re-organize the marque and are putting MV Agusta back on the path to success.
Thanks to the new cash injection, MV Agusta has been able to kick start the development and production of new models. According to MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni, three new models are currently in the pipeline based around an all-new 1000cc engine: a naked roadster, a café racer inspired roadster, and a much needed replacement for the F4 sports machine. Despite Black Ocean’s cash injection and stake, MV Agusta is not a subsidiary of the Anglo-Russion company, and MV Agusta remains in full control of itself.
In 1991, MV Agusta was actually purchased by Cagiva – a motorcycle manufacturer that was originally established by Giovanni Castiglioni in 1978. Rather than Cagiva being a subsidiary of MV Agusta, MV Agusta is technically more of a subsidiary of Cagiva instead. However, after a series of company restructurings in the late 1990s, it was decided that MV Agusta would become the main division of the company rather than Cagiva – this was largely down to the popularity and success of several MV Agusta models of the day, such as the new and exciting four-cylinder 750cc F4 range. Today, Cagiva is referred to as a subsidiary of MV Agusta, and an inactive subsidiary at that.
MV Agusta’s Racing Legacy
Grand Prix Success
No manufacturer has a more celebrated racing history than MV Agusta. Ever since the company’s first Grand Prix win in the 125cc class at the 1948 Italian Grand Prix thanks to Franco Bertoni, MV Agusta has been synonymous with the racing scene, even adopting the slogan “Racing experience at the service of mass production” to highlight their vast experience.
MV Agusta won its first Grand Prix World Championship in 1952 when rider Cecil Sandford dominated the field in the 125cc class, a feat that sparked a series of incredible success stories from MV Agusta and eventually evolved into the absolute domination of all Grand Prix racing classes throughout the following decade. Between 1956 and 1974, MV Agusta won no less than 18 World Championships in the 500cc class. Similarly, MV Agusta garnered incredible success in the 350cc division, winning a total of 10 World Championships between 1958 and 1973. With a further four titles in the 250cc class between 1956 and 1960, and 6 more in the 125cc class between 1953 and 1960, it was clear that MV Agusta were the brand to beat during the golden age of racing.
Unfortunately, due to financial constraints (and the arrival of competitive Japanese manufacturers) MV Agusta was forced to withdraw from racing in 1976, leaving behind a record of 270 Grand Prix victories, 38 Rider’s Championship titles, and 37 Constructors’ Championships in the wake of the firm’s retirement. Thanks to the efforts of MV Agusta, motorcycle racing legends such as Giacomo Agostini, Mike Hailwood, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, and Phil Read became household names on the racing scene.
Isle Of Man TT
While MV Agusta enjoyed unprecedented success on the GP circuits, it also proved its ability to dominate the legendary Isle of Man Tourist Trophy course as well. Over the years, MV Agusta competed in a wide range of racing classes at the competition, fielding some of the most celebrated riders of the day, including Giacomo Agostini, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood and Carlo Ubbiali. Between 1952 and 1960, MV Agusta won the 125cc TT a total of 7 times. The company also won 5 TTs in the 250cc class between 1955 and 1960. The 350cc class brought an impressive 9 victories for MV Agusta between 1958 and 1972, a feat only beaten by MV Agusta’s even more impressive 13 victories in the 500cc TT between 1956 and 1972. In total, MV Agusta won an impressive 34 trophies at the world famous racing event. Like their Grand Prix racing efforts, MV Agusta scaled down their TT efforts until they eventually withdrew from the competition altogether.
Return To Racing
Since 1976, MV Agusta’s racing presence has been largely thanks to privateer teams independently racing MV Agusta motorcycles without any direct help from the firm. For example, Big Show Racing entered an MV Agusta F4 750 into the 2003 Formula USA Daytona 200 Mile Team Challenge event, earning an impressive second place. In 2004, a semi-backed MV Agusta Deutschland team entered into the IDM German Superbike Championship, clocking up two victories. 2005 saw the return of MV Agusta into the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup with independent teams. Other victories include the winning of the Italian Superstock Championship in 2006 and 2008.
Following the success of these semi-independent teams, MV Agusta established the MV Agusta Reparto Corse works team, a division that would oversee MV Agusta’s interests in the World Superbike and World Supersport Championships. Thanks to the steadily growing racing success of MV Agusta machinery in the WSBK, in 2018 MV Agusta announced that they would be returning to Grand Prix racing for the first time since 1976, working in partnership with the already established Forward Racing team, entering into the prestigious Moto2 Championship. MV Agusta plans to enter field two riders for the 2019 season.
MV Agusta Museum & Factory Tours
The Museo Agusta
Dedicated MV Agusta fans can book themselves on a special tour of the Agusta Museum that offers visitors a unique experience, allowing them to get up close and personal with some of the most legendary motorcycles ever created, and observing the MV Agusta was of bringing one of their renowned machines from concept to production. The Museo Agusta is more than just a motorcycle museum too – it’s also features a comprehensive collection of aircraft, from early airplanes to Agusta helicopters.
The Museo Agusta was originally headed up by a number of senior MV Agusta employees who dreamed of preserving and promoting the MV Agusta story. Today, the museum is actively supported by the MV Agusta company and has become such a success that it has gained recognition from the Italian region of Lombardy. The museum itself comprises of two floors and an outdoor area, with exhibits ranging from sketches, photos, and early documentation to motorcycle prototypes, iconic models, scale models of aircraft, and even a flight simulator. One of the most exciting exhibits is the actual MV500 triple-cylinder motorcycle that Giacomo Agostini rode to win seven world championships on.
The Museo Agusta is located at Via Giovanni Agusta 506, in Samarate, Italy. The museum operates at odd times, with opening hours beginning at 2pm to 6pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9.30am to 12pm on Saturdays, and from 9.30am until 12.30pm on Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays – so we urge you to contact the museum in advance to check their opening hours before you schedule a visit.
MV Agusta Factory Tour
If you’re looking at taking a tour right into the heart of the MV Agusta factory in Varese, you’ll be pleased to know that it is possible. Unlike many other manufactures that run scheduled tours that can easily be booked online, potential visitors should contact their nearest MV Agusta dealership for help on booking a factory visit. Generally, your local dealer can book you on a tour or put you in contact with the relevant parties. These tours come complete with a passionate guide who will take a small number of guests on a comprehensive tour of one of them most well-respected factories on the planet.
5 Facts That You Didn’t Know About MV Agusta
#01. A 2004 MV Agusta F4-SPR, a limited edition model and one of only 300 ever produced worldwide, once starred in the hit 2004 sci-fi movie I, Robot alongside the likes of Will Smith and Aland Tudyk. That special model of MV Agusta F4 boasts a powerful 750cc inline-four cylinder engine that can produce up to 147 horsepower and hit top speeds in excess of 175 mph.
#02. In fact, MV Agusta motorcycles have appeared in loads of movies, with excellent appearances in films such as Gone In 60 Seconds, The Dark Knight, The Expendables 2, G.I Joe, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Zookeeper, and XXX to name but a few. MV Agusta motorcycles have also appeared in TV shows such as CSI: Miami and Entourage, too.
#03. With such a long and illustrious history it might come as a surprise to learn that the MV Agusta logo is one of the few in the industry to have gone remarkably unchanged throughout its lifetime. The original logo from 1945 was a gear with the “MV” letters inscribed within the circle. 1948 saw the addition of a set of aviation inspired wings to reflect the company’s aerospace heritage. The colors on the logo have always been the same, right from the very beginning. The most modern iteration of the logo appeared in 2015, and the only differences include bulkier lettering. Sadly, MV Agusta’s logo has been one of the very few things that you could depend on over the past century.
#04. At one point MV Agusta was the owner of Swedish off-road motorcycle manufacturer Husqvarna. In 1991, the marque was purchased by Cagiva, which went on to become a part of MV Agusta. Interestingly, many of Husqvarna’s workers refused to move to Italy and began their own company: Husaberg AB. After a period of financial uncertainty, MV Agusta sold Husqvarna to BMW Motorrad in 2007, who again sold the marque to KTM in 2013. KTM acquired the rights to Husaberg in 1995, thus reuniting the two brands together once more.
#05. MV Agusta’s luxurious nature attracts some of the most refined motorcyclists to the brand. Celebrity MV Agusta owners include Formula 1 racing legend Lewis Hamilton, who owns his very own custom model that inspired a limited edition production run, and Angelina Jolie, who has an MV Agusta Brutale in her collection, which she received as a gift from her ex-partner Brad Pitt.
MV Agusta: FAQ
#01. Who Owns MV Agusta? After being founded by Count Vincenzo and Domenico Agusta to help support the Agusta aviation company, the MV Agusta brand has been bought and sold numerous times over the years. It was bought by Cagiva in 1991, before being sold to Proton, then GEVI S.p.A, followed by BMW Motorrad, and then Harley-Davidson, before Claudio Castiglioni, the son of Cagiva founder Giovanni Castiglioni, bought the rights back in 2010. MV Agusta is now owned by the Castiglioni family’s MV Agusta Holding S.r.l company.
#02. Where Is The MV Agusta Factory? Although MV Agusta was first founded in the Italian town of Samarate, in the province of Varese, the current MV Agusta factory is located in the city of Varese itself, on the banks of Lake Varese, which is approximately twenty miles north of the company’s original birthplace.
#03. What Does The “MV” In MV Agusta Stand For? The classic “MV” initials from MV Agusta stand for Meccanica Vergera. “Meccanica” translates as mechanics and “Verghera” refers to the hamlet of Verghera where the first MV Agusta motorcycles were made. The “Agusta” name comes directly from the surname of the company founders, Count Vincenzo and Domenico Agusta.
#04. Are MV Agusta Motorcycles Good Bikes? In 2015, MV Agusta posted a global sales increase of 30% up on the previous year, which they followed up with steady positive growth over the next couple of years too. Despite having been close to death so many times, MV Agusta always manages to return to production, bringing out better quality machines every time. Over the past few years, MV Agusta has worked hard to improve the quality of their sales outlets and parts supply lines, so it seems like those sales figures are only going to improve further – and if sales figures are an indication of a brand’s quality, then MV Agusta motorcycles are certainly quality machines.
#05. Does Agusta Still Make Helicopters? Unfortunately, the Agusta company no longer exists in its original form. In 2000, the Agusta aviation firm merged with the British aerospace company Westland Helicopters to form AgustaWestland. In 2016, the AgustaWestland firm re-branded itself and now trades under the Leonardo-Helicopters name – and they still make helicopters.