Road Test: Tornado RS V Ducati 999S V MV F4 1000 — Road Tests — Visordown

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Road Test: Tornado RS V 999S V MV F4 1000

True exotica normally lives way of what most riders, included, could ever With a new price tag that easily secure you a decent car or even the deposit on a house, virtually impossible for most of us to the expense on what is simply a toy.

But four years is a time in the fast-moving world of and depreciation has hammered huge out of the starting price of each one of three bikes. Dripping in Italian paint, all with engines, incredible exhaust and the ability to turn heads at 100 these bikes are suddenly, close to the reach of normal For the same money, you could buy an MV F4 1000 or a Suzuki GSX-R600. A 999S or a BMW F800.

Or how about a Tornado RS for the price of a Yamaha 600? Believe it or not, the you see here can be had for as little as £6,000

These are highly-strung machines and one second-hand will never be But do your sums, get it right and be the owner of one of the sexiest bikes built.


is there to say about the 999’s that hasn’t already said? If you like Pierre quirky, futuristic and slightly challenged design then the door to owning one of the best built in recent time has to you. If not then you won’t consider owning a 999S and the is locked, bolted and nailed So, presuming you like, or at least can with the looks, what is so about the 999S?

Just everything, it’s a fantastic

There was no way that Ducati make its flagship sportsbike well. It simply couldn’t. A with the experience to win six World titles on what is essentially a road bike wouldn’t up in such a catastrophic fashion it came to a key model.

And they

To ride the 999s is sublime. The is incredible slender to sit on, so much so it feels like your are going to touch together the waisted fuel tank. The is extraordinarily long due to the nose jutting out way beyond the front spindle, and along with the side-spoilers helps give the 999 unique silhouette.

The first comes from the starter Ducati added a weird whereby you only touch the once, rather than it down, and the starter automatically until the bike fires up. confuses most first 999 riders as the bike merrily away below them they panic and assume electrical has jammed on.

It hasn’t and you will be rewarded with wonderful Ducati sound.

is something very mechanical a Ducati’s engine. The rattle the dry clutch, the whirr of the motor, it all how an engine should, unsanitised, and engineered by human hand. hand if the mystical rumours the factory are to be believed.

All the more then.

If you are looking at a first 999 (more cut outs in the nose grey frame and swingarm) get the ‘S’ here as it has by far the best engine of the bikes. When Ducati the 999 in 2004 it used this in the base model 999 and it was only at point their power justified the inflated price tag the Japanese. Ride it and you’ll why: it’s a truly motor.

Like most V-twin the Ducati’s acceleration is best as lazy. It doesn’t feel doesn’t have a real of power and doesn’t really sound like it is breaking a sweat, but it is going like Change gear early the precise gearbox, use the midrange and the absolutely flies. This has a genuine 160mph top end, and at speeds the motor makes a mechanical howling through the

But there’s none of the savage or vicious kick that an four has when you ride it. a gear, stay in it and on a flowing, road nothing comes And it’s even fairly

You should avoid crowded streets like the plague on the it’s absolutely horrible in The engine overheats and cooks legs, the clutch is heavy and the uselessness are only matched by the lock’s 15-point turns, but get on the road and it’s a jewel.

The position is sporty and slightly on the wrists, but only when you moving. When you are in motion all evaporates away as the ÷hlins lets you know exactly the tyres are doing through the chassis while the Brembo offer a level of feel and that few of the current sportsbikes can

Hopping directly from a bike to the Ducati the 999 feels and low and does take more when it comes to the initial in, but the rewards for this are a mid-corner and balance that is second to It’s this feature Ducati built its considerable WSB around, and if ever there was a that made you feel a racer on the road, this is it.

So are the pitfalls of 999S owership? from your friends spiteful comments about the a few chunky service bills and the that town riding is to torture, not much. The 999S is value. A genuine Italian with racing heritage, top chassis components and a wonderful for £6,000.

Bloody hell.


Ducati is no longer the wallet-emptying headache it to be. A regularly-used, properly serviced should be nearly as dependable as a sportsbike. Old problems like cam wearing (which dogged the family and saw some hefty seem to have been There’s still the odd case of the retaining nut coming loose, but only on bikes that’ve hard track use.

the occasional electrical gremlin as the FI light coming on for no reason. One to watch out for is malfunctioning clocks; getting inside can wreck – and if you replace them you have to the ECU and all the locks/keys too, which is pricey.

In general they’re but they still need the care from someone who what they’re doing, and not cheap. Buying a bike full service history is a gamble. There are plenty of Ducati dealers about and even some very informed independents (such as respected Leeds based John’ (0113 2880921).

Servicing at a main agent can be pricey – a good independent be cheaper and may well be as competent or than some official Cam belts should be changed two years or 12,000 miles and whole service means a big £400 at an independent, £700 at a dealer.

With any non-base Ducati it’s crucial to sure it’s not the cheaper masquerading as the flashier one; in case make sure it is a and not the basic 999 with some stickers. The ‘S’ has a single seat with no pillion pegs and a ‘race plate’ on the back. bikes come with suspension front and rear as as an ÷hlins steering damper is easy to identify.

The engine’s in a state of tune with an 12 claimed bhp. It’s an unscrupulous seller could the chassis parts onto a 999 so check the logbook or phone UK on (0845) 1222996 with the chassis and frame number and can let you know.


Okay, talk time. A 2002 999 cost around £5,300 in a £4,000 private, with the ‘S’ £6,500 in a dealer or £5,500 Deals can be had, but pay more or dependent on condition.

The next (2004) costs around more both private and a dealer.


at the Benelli is a deeply moving The angular styling, sharp and funky underseat fans look as cool and fresh as when it was first unveiled as a bike eight years Yes, can you believe it, the Tornado Tre was designed in 1999.

And by a Brit. And you what? Adrian Morton’s has stood the test of time, the RS with its uprated suspension, wheels, tweaked motor and red paint.

Unfortunately as good as it is to at, sitting on the Benelli is less The sculptured tank has a bulge at its that digs you right in the bone when you slip the deeply sculpted seat I use the term compartment because you really sit on a Benelli, you more right into it.

Initially it odd and uncomfortable, but this isn’t a designed for long-distance riding, it was to win on the track. Like all good sportsbikes the Benelli was designed to an ill-fated World Superbike By the time it actually hit the roads the WSB had long ran out of money and been (the word ‘homologation’ really translate into but nobody cared.

The bike looked great and went

Hit the starter and the Benelli still fantastic today. Triples a lovely raw rasping sound them and the RS is the best of the bunch. the throttle and it sounds rough and pull away and the engine to run properly until it gets heat in it, but when it does, it rips.

The sound of a triple being thrashed is stunning. I could spend all day simply the RS through its range in a straight simply for the aural pleasure it It’s indescribable, sends down your spine time and makes anyone earshot turn and stare.

The performance at the end of all this noise that stunning, it only a genuine 123bhp, which a hell of a lot more than A 600, and the bike is much but that’s not the point. Riding an sportsbike like this is emotions, feeling and personal and the RS gives off plenty of all of them.

And it is a bike to ride. The awkward position soon starts to more natural when the ups and you have to move around on the The angular tank transforms a jagged rock face to a positioned gripping point to your leg into when off. Although slightly the handling on the Benelli is very especially on the road. It’s balanced and the brakes still sharp and responsive when to modern tackle.

Italians always done brakes well and the Benelli is no exception to rule.

And as it sounds so good no massive hardship that you to rev the engine to make it work. It until 6,000rpm that the starts to make an entrance and by 10,000rpm it’s all over, is a bit short and sweet in comparison to triples. It doesn’t really very fast, either. not fast in a ‘rip your off’ way like the MV.

Although not as as twins, triples always slightly ponderous when to inline fours. In a lot of ways is part of their charm, but on a such as the Tornado you are often feeling like there be more of a rush.

So is the Benelli a punt? If you currently own a sports 600 and something that looks turns heads and sounds then yes. Just expect to be stunned by the engine’s it won’t feel that faster to ride than a 600. But like we say around it’s not what you ride, how you ride it.

And ridden properly, a RS is fast, seriously stylish fun will definitely set you apart the crowd. The only real with ownership is the spare backup. Like, is there

Benelli will say yes and dealers it is all sorted out, but remember is a company that managed to the WSB bosses that it had produced 200 bikes when it hadn’t!


A few years ago had a bad name. They introduced the looking, £12,000 Tornado Tre but it had problems. Owners faced a spectrum of grief from falling off to water leaks to failing. There were It wasn’t that long the brand’s image was tarnished and were selling new Tres for £6,000.

Recently Benelli a new importer (KJM) and they’ve updates which they say the Tre and the Tre RS much better bikes. lots of these updates from making sure have the latest re-map to sensor positioning spot-on. A updated RS is a comparatively reliable

Mitch Mosely from dealers Red Dog Motorcycles (who us the bike for the shoot) raced one for two with no reliability problems, though he lobbed it into the more than once. If buying a bike that’s than 18 months old, KJM on (0870) 8506525 and they can let you if it’s had the updates; if it hasn’t a dealer can carry them If the bike’s less than 18 old the updates should have done at the PDi stage.

Like the 999S, make you’re getting a genuine RS, not a Tre as one. A genuine RS has radial brake callipers, forged OZ wheels, a race can (Arrow or which should have a baffle, adjustable steering and carbon mudguard. The RS was only in yellow or red with a black pan.

As well as none of the problems of the standard Tre it’s got an 15bhp as well, so you really want to get fobbed off with the bike. As with the F4 1000, a bike that needs the care and buying one without the service history is nothing of Russian Roulette: you may get lucky or it blow your head

You should also check your nearest official is as it’s not a bike to trust to with a bike lift and a set of Servicing costs are not cheap. 4,000 miles the labour is five hours and every it’s valve check and eight hours’ labour in total. Expect big bills and when any used bike was serviced.

As with all these the RS is in the highest insurance group so get a before you buy. Some may require an approved alarm or a garage before they’ll you.


Hard time again, although a Benelli the blow is softened because the overall prices are low. A 2002 Tre should £4,000 from a dealer, private. The RS was introduced in 2004 and be much more than from a dealer, or just £5,000 private.

MV F4 1000

no mistake about it, the F4 1000 is Proper fast. Suzuki fast. After the limp-wristed excuse for a bike that was the F4 750 the version took us all by surprise in

This wasn’t some 750, oh no, this was a totally new (well 70% new) with than a touch of Latin built in.

Nail the throttle in and the front wheel kicks up in the Not a gentle, civilised, almost rise like a Japanese the MV rips the tyre from its with the ground and catapults it It’s intimidating, raucous and not for the inexperienced.

And it does it all while drop-… gorgeous and as if butter melt in its mouth. What a

When I first rode the F4 in late 2004 it was both and a crushing disappointment. At last the had created a bike to truly the Japanese in the performance stakes still trumping them it came to style and sophistication. like all too many Italian the first ones in the UK weren’t finished. The fuel injection was and with a bike churning out a 153bhp this was less ideal.

Mid-corner I remember the MV pausing I opened the throttle a little waiting about half a then delivering a thud of Bearing in mind it was doing while I was on a wet Alpine pass, lead to less than motoring. Then it broke.


Fast forwarding to the day and I’m glad to report the fuelling on F4 1000 is considerably improved. The key to it is a properly set up machine. Once set up properly it stays set-up and the F4’s fuelling still up to the smoothness of manufacturers such as or Ducati it’s certainly if still a little jerky. spinning you have to keep wits about you on the MV.

Like the of the 1000s things happen and if you aren’t on the ball its sheer can easily surprise. It’s all too to let the bike run away from control, and there isn’t the edge that many 1,000s have. But that’s all of the fun of riding a proper sportsbike, the MV most certainly is.

The chassis, is virtually unchanged from the is very good. The MV feels than other inline and more compact. Like the it’s a little bit cramped you aren’t hopping all over the but unlike the Tornado you don’t a lump of metal digging your nether regions.

In the the MV impresses. Factory suspension are somewhat on the firm side, but isn’t a huge issue and is easy to alter to suit the crumbling road surfaces. The 50mm forks are stiffer iron girders and when it to the racetrack the MV is right up there the top performers in terms of feedback.

the Benelli is cheap due to the Tornado not well and the 1098 has kicked the out of 999’s resale value, the MV is holding its price due to the fact it and still is, a very good But spend that extra and you get a superbike that will hold Japan’s best at bay – should the need arise.


The good is that these are reliable with no major gremlins to We’ve heard of some MVs up 60,000-70,000 miles with no at all, not what you might from such gorgeous exotica. The 1000 hasn’t had any recalls.

But if you do buy one, you’ll an experienced dealer and relatively pockets at service time. plenty of bikes that any monkey can service but an MV needs the from someone who knows the For example if the bike’s not set-up on the correct diagnostic machine the throttle position sensor and all spot-on, the result can be a horrendously power delivery.

So before you out, check where nearest MV dealer is with 3X Motorcycles on (01202) 823344.

itself is quite involved. 4,000 miles it needs hours of skilled labour and 8,000 it’s a valve and you’re looking at eight labour. MV dealers tend to be places and £50-plus an hour charges aren’t unheard of – so main service could be at £400 plus parts, vat, plus sundries, swamp insurance or whatever always appears on the bill.

Like the 999S, the F4 1000 is a machine so you should make all the you would with any bike may have spent much of its on a circuit. Be suspicious if anyone’s got the down – it needs serious angle. It is a slightly awkward for low speed manoeuvres so check for from a low speed drop as


You pay for what you get. An 2003 F4 1000 still £7,000, and not much less


Italian bikes are all emotion. If you want the fastest, trickest bike on the market at the price then buy Japanese and the crowd. But if you want a bike to you deep inside every you open the garage door, a that you will spend cleaning just for the sake of it, a that will make you every time you hit the starter and like a fool behind dark visor on the open then there is none

Each one of these machines had an asking price of around but someone else has taken hit for you and you shouldn’t lose much on now. Buy a new GSX-R600 for £7,000 and in two time it will be worth £4,000 if you are lucky. Buy the MV for the same and in two years it will still close to £6000.

Now you can almost ownership as an investment.

But which The Benelli is the cheapest for a reason. the factory has sorted itself out now the isn’t a very successful and will always be on the edges of the

It doesn’t really have the to justify much of a price which is why even the RS is less £6,000. It’s visually extremely rare, but don’t a performance thrill. Which is the MV delivers. The F4 1000 is the most bike here, but it offers the A hell of an engine, excellent and stunning looks.

In a few years the MV will still be considered 153bhp doesn’t go out of fashion, and does Massimo Tamburini’s A modern masterpiece.

Which the 999S. A modern classic? In ways, yes. This won two WSB titles and was talked about for of its life.

A proper track-developed its angular looks are actually with age. But just the heritage – what a bike.



Engine: 998cc, liquid-cooled, 8-valve V-twin


Torque: 75.9lb.ft@8,000rpm

Benelli Tornado Tre RS
Benelli Tornado Tre RS
Benelli Tornado Tre RS
Benelli Tornado Tre RS


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