Prima Donna…

In true Italian motorcycle style, they let you know when they’re not happy and require continuous pampering. After draining the old fuel out and filling with fresh SUL, a month later she’s grumpy to start again. I take the opportunity to order a new fuel filter (even though this was done 20 months prior and not even a full tank ago).

Masking the tank and airbox up to protect the paintwork…

A thing of beauty, the more you delve in the more you discover. From the intelligent way it all comes apart easily to the quirky design touches that you just don’t see on mainstream bikes. These are typical Tamburini traits, a design genius; combining the aesthetic beauty with mechanical thoughtfulness.

Like most Italian bikes, the MV is fitted with quick release CPC plastic fuel quick release connectors. These are known to embrittle with age where they can break and lead to an inferno as fuel sprays all over a hot engine.

With the tank off it’s time to swap these out for the more reliable metal bodied CPC units. The fuel hoses should also be replaced every three years according to the workshop manual, so once again, I’ll take the opportunity to upgrade. Plastic connectors below…

Typically, what should be a 5 minute job of unscrewing the plastic and replacing with metal turns into a mini marathon…one of the connectors snaps, albeit somewhat predictably…fortunately it came out cleanly enough with a splined extractor…

The offending plastic items…

Replacement metal bodied CPC connectors with Viton seals…

I take the opportunity to re-align the wiring to the correct orientation where they should exit towards the front of the pump housing to make tank wire routing and removal easier.

With the pump out, it’s time to clean out the debris from the inside of the fuel tank…

There’s a surprising amount of debris in there. It all cleans up easily enough though.

Fuel pump/filter assembly…I’ve checked all the internal tank lines that were renewed 20 months ago, I haven’t replaced them this time, but have ordered some new Cohline in tank hosing for next time. The fuel filter looks newish, but with the debris in the tank I decide to take it apart to check…

It actually looks in pretty good order…

Everything gets a thorough cleaning, including the pre filter

And re-assembled as per the workshop manual with a new fuel filter installed…

The gasket is smeared with silicone grease and the fuel pump base eased back in…note the breather hoses which don’t have much lenghth on them and require reconnecting in situ…

That takes care of the tank side for now. Next time in I’ll be replacing the internal tank hoses with this item…

I’ve taken reference dimensions while everything was out so I can cut it all down to length in readiness for next time!

On to the fuel rail and hoses. Once again, the hoses are fitted with plastic CPC connectors and one of the hoses has a surface nick in it.

I have some custom hoses made up. These are XRP Pro Plus XKS -6 Plus hoses. They are a 3/8 equivalent with -6 fittings at either end. The hose itself consists of an anti static PTFE smooth bore inner hose with external convolutions for tight bend flexibility with an Aramid fibre with silicone outer braid for easy cleaning.

These are mated to the corresponding valved metal CPC’s with dry breaks on the fuel pump plate and at the hose end.

At the fuel rail end are some plastic SAE J2044 quick connectors which replicate the originals.

Peace of mind!!

Once again she fires up on the button, but she seems to be quite finicky with fuel. Having eliminated the fuel, pump, filter, hoses, it’s time to look elsewhere at the fussy cold starts with anything other than fresh fuel.

Manufacturer labels on the fuel tank show it was painted in the 23rd January 2009, including the painters signature!!

Hoses in position and in place under the tank…no more fears of them snapping on disconnection!!

Black, round, Pirelli’s…

After 20 years it’s time for the RS and the original fitment Dunlops to part ways…it’s an Italian bike, so Italian tyres will be going on this time…in the words of Juha Kankunnen, I have opted for black, round Pirellis. Diablo Rosso III’s to be precise, which are my favoured road tyre of the moment.

The original Dunlops still rode well, however the history showed the rear one had been plugged, and so it was, on removal the plug was still there!

Of course, while the wheels are off it would be rude not to inspect the front calipers and pads and also deep clean the swingarm area.

There’s not much wrong with the calipers. I have bought a replacement Brembo caliper seal kit but this will have to wait a bit longer, along with the new front brake master cylinder as I’m itching to get this on the road now. For today it’s just a clean up of the pads/gubbins and clean and regrease the pistons.

The rear comes up nice and shiny…

The gearbox

The gearbox oil was last changed about 400 miles ago, and about 20 years!! So despite looking reasonably clean I drain it out for replacement. I drain out over 800ml.

The oil plug is also relatively clean.

Cleaned off and ready to reinsert!

On the advice of the tuning works, I go for Silkolene light gear oil, and fill it to the correct 700ml measure.

However after consulting the manual, it looks like Medium gear oil would be the correct choice! As a result I shall probably drain this out and replace with medium soon!!

From reading the Silkolene data sheets, Gear oil ‘medium’ is the equivalent weight to engine oil SAE 20W/50 as called out in the manual. Gear oil ‘light’ is a 10W/40.

The original crush washer was clearly reused previously and crushed to nothing! I fit a new washer to the correct torque setting.

Edit:

Gear oil light I feel is too thin, so it has been replaced with medium, a mere 40 miles later!!

Testing, testing…

While everything is apart I decide to do a compression test. These can vary widely depending on gauge used etc. My gauge set is designed for car engines and therefore the hose itself is about 10mm diameter. This means that a motorcycle specific meter (Kawasaki gauges have a 3mm diameter hose) would likely yield a higher figure. The more important metric is to check that both cylinders are reading a similar amount rather than the outright figure. With this in mind, the reading looks a little on the low side for the lower cylinder.

However on checking the upper cylinder, the result is much the same, in fact, it’s identical đŸ™‚

The above test was taking with a cold engine. On a hot engine and some more vivid application of the kick starter, both yield 105psi.

The spark plugs are also looking a nice healthy shade after a run.

Although I’ve purchased some Iridium plugs, I haven’t fitted them yet, preferring to make sure it is all running perfectly first as is, then hopefully I can measure (albeit subjectively) any perceived improvements when I swap to iridium.

Beauty is more than skin deep

As part of the deep clean down, I marvel at the way this bike comes apart. The design Genius creator that was Massimo Tamburini has a unique style which is evident in all his motorcycles. My 907ie also designed by him has so many design similarities and little elements of intricate attention to detail that cannot help but leave you shaking your head in admiration and wonder.

The bodywork features quick release Dzus fasteners allowing the side fairings to be removed in seconds…

The rear tail fairing hinges forward and removal of two pins and the loom connector allows the entire tail to lift off. The fuel tank lifts off after removing two side locating brackets and one centre bolt along with unclipping the two quick release fuel connectors and loom connector. The whole bike takes minutes to strip down to its beautiful chassis.

Stunning details everywhere include MV monograms all over,

Lest we forget…

Other neat touches such as this rubber elbow on the water pipe so it doesn’t rub on the fairing…

Or these rubber bracelets around the wiring loom…

And these remote vacuum ports for synching throttle bodies…

The quick release front nose cone is another revelation featuring spring loaded electrical contacts for the front indicators housed in the mirrors…

WTF!

It’s time to bleed the front brakes, the fluid smells vinegary and there is some dirt around the cap to clean up. I flush the system through and put fresh fluid in.

While bleeding the front brakes I have another WTF moment, as I spot another problem!

This time, it isn’t something menial that has the potential to ruin the engine like the previous carb issues or potential oil feed blockage, no, this time, it’s the brake hose banjo bolts! I’m bleeding the brakes and I see leakage from the banjo.

I barely touch the hose end and the fitting spins. The same on the other side. Both hoses are barely finger tight!!!

Once again a reminder of why I do my own maintenance, it’s frightening to think in the last 200 miles this bike has had a service, a sales preparation and an MOT by a reputable bike specialist that even sponsors a race series! Between the nick in the rear brake hose covered by tape and the loose front hoses, coupled with the failed rear master cylinder, any one of these could have been very dangerous but all at the same time wouldn’t bear thinking about! I ordered some new copper washers for the banjo’s and fitted them.

We have ignition…

I’m getting to the end of the preparation now and I’m itching to go out for a ride. All of the Blogs for this bike up until now have involved thoroughly checking the bike over to preempt as many problems as possible by ensuring that this is running as it should be following it’s lengthy lay up and it’s increasingly apparent sub standard recommissioning.

Back to the invoice of the last works that were carried out, when the carbs were done, there was mention of a new plug for the ignition. I looked around at the coils and plugs and could find no evidence of any plugs having been replaced. However while working on the oil reservoir, I came across the ‘Wurth 3 pin connector’ that was shown on the invoice. I noticed it purely because it looked out of place to all the other connectors and looked uncharacteristically large. On closer inspection, the bad workmanship that I’d come to expect from the dealer revealed a wire that was ready to fall out. With no effort it does.

I re-crimp this wire with a new terminal (fortunately I find one of the same size that fits) but then notice the white wire is also similarly badly crimped.

So with this re-crimped and the brown wire checked, this block connector is good to go…or is it?

It turns out that this plug is the ignition signal feedback circuit. One of the checks I was going to do is plug in a Zeeltronic ignition controller (bought specifically for this job) to set up the power valves. Ideally the exhausts need to come off for this check so the valves can be seen in their respective positions. I have bought all the exhaust gaskets to do this work however for now I’m going to get a couple of runs in first! The power valves appear to be operating fine and even the markings line up where they should. However a quick test run with the zeeltronic unit is thwarted because this Wurth connector, happens to be the same plug that the zeeltronic connects to…

This means that the Wurth connector will need to be replaced for an OE block connector which I have now bought.

Happily, this will put the bike completely back to stock and is the last of the hashed items for me to remedy!!

More to follow once the connector is replaced!!

Oil be back!!

Yes, here we are again, this time, having topped off the 2T oil tank, I discover a leak from the level sensor. This will explain the out of place looking jubilee clip!

I take the opportunity to start fresh. Fully strip, remove, clean and refill with my chosen 2T oil, Silkolene Comp 2 Plus.

The oil filter is in a bit of a mess, and in cleaning the tank, I find the remnants of the seal tab of a previous 2T oil container.

This could have easily of blocked up the oil supply so once again, it has paid dividends to go the thorough approach and strip it all down. Also in evidence was silicone sealant that had been gummed around the level sensor, remnants of which had also made it into the tank…

I put some diesel in the tank and slosh it around to capture the final bits of debris…

New filter fitted…the old one cleaned up ok so I’ve kept it as a spare.

To cure the leaking oil level sensor, I place 2Nr 16mm x 1.5mm O ring seals on the level sensor to seal it correctly. This works perfectly.

I test this by topping the tank up to the brim and tilting the bike forward on the Abba stand into the stoppie position. Oil leaks out of the overflow/breather hole, but not the level sensor!

That’s one more thing ticked off the list. No more oil leaking down over the rear of the bike.

The final check, is to open up the purge screw to bleed the oil pump and ensure there is no air in the system…

Bad Carbs…

No, we’re not talking about too much sugar!! Rather, bad carburettors to be precise!

So the Carburettors were rebuilt 8 miles ago when the previous owner had the bike recommissioned in 2018 at a non Aprilia motorcycle dealership. The invoice shows 6 hours labour and a carb overhaul kit. I was hoping that they had just been cleaned out and new seals fitted. It turns out I was wrong and my worst fears were confirmed.

One of the carbs (the l/h) had been removed from the fuel delivery hose as this was now secured by a cable tie rather than the proprietary Aprilia click clamp. The fuel filter sits at the entrance to the carb, this one had come away from itself and would allow unfiltered fuel through.

The other looked to have never been removed.

The fuel filter shows some residue/sediment.

Unfortunately both carbs had been opened up, evidenced by some rounded off screw heads at the base of the carbs and further by some of the original (and very expensive) Mikuni parts having been junked in favour of Chinesium, one of the many Chinese full overhaul kits available on ebay, which include everything for both carbs for £32. I was dreading this! My view was the least done the better, unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

So it was time to identify what was original and what had been done. It’s not a great sight as I open the first carb, the fuel filter is split (this could have happened during the removal process) and the float looks eaten away on one side. This would be from the bike leaning on it’s side stand and probably came from being eaten away by ethanol which is corrosive.

The fuel had lots of black specs in it which had come from the corroded float, of course this is after the fuel filter so the muck could have found its way into the engine regardless. As with the air filter, I’m very glad that I’ve taken the bike apart first before being tempted to thrash it down the road. It seems like this approach is paying dividends in disaster avoidance. Curiously, this float does not ‘seem’ to have any oem markings on it, however the markings would have been on the corroded area so perhaps it is original after all! It would seem like a lot of damage for 2 years otherwise! The float furthest from the side stand is not marked despite being in the same float bowl suggesting it was not sitting in fuel.

Of even more concern is the power jet circuit which performance 2 strokes are equipped with. According to Mikuni, this can provide extra fuel at high rpm full throttle. On removing the float bowl, the elbow to the hose connecting the power jet to the carb body snaps.

There was no force applied, it just came away with no effort. The hose was completely gummed up, I had to use a drill bit to clear the hose, clearly ethanol fuel had been sat here and had corroded the metal weakening it. Thankfully this is the left hand bowl which is still available, the r/h one is no longer available. The power jet circuit on this carb would have been totally ineffective potentially leaning out the mix at high revs/full power applications which is when you need it most, again I’m thankful I hadn’t been down the road with it. Sadly I’ll never know how bad it was suffering or not as I never rode it but better this way I think.

On to the r/h carb.

This would appear to have oem markings on the float, and was also rusty, suggesting it wasn’t sitting in fuel when the bike was standing. I guess if the fuel tap was shut off and the bike allowed to run until it stalled while on its side stand, it would have run out in the r/h carb first. This would have stalled the engine leaving some fuel in the left carb bowl with only one float dipped in the remnants of fuel, which is also where the power jet pick up was, explaining the corroded elbow.

The needle has some congealed fuel on it and the throttle valves could use a clean.

I strip the carbs down, on further examination, some of the jets are not original. Both pilot jets, one air jet, both needle jets as well as both float valves and needle valves are non oem.

I lay out the parts which need replacing for oem, as well as the float bowl itself which will need renewing on the l/h carb. This little lot in the picture below represents £438 as a replacement value. Junking the Mikuni parts for Chinesium was an expensive exercise and probably an unnecessary one, I find it hard to believe they couldn’t have been restored with a little TLC. That figure includes obtaining parts from Suzuki where required as they are the same Mikuni carbs as used on the RGV and cheaper than sourcing them from Aprilia. I’m replacing the vacuum lines as they contain a jet, I have no way of knowing if they have the correct jet so decide to replace them as a matter of course. The unknown unbranded Chinesium items have no markings on them so I cannot even verify if they are the correct size.

In the meantime, after stripping the carbs, they go in the ultrasound tank for cleaning.

Before and after…

They clean up as new/

I pack them up respectively while awaiting for new parts!

The new parts duly arrive. There is a marked difference between them and the non original items. Not least they all have the official Mikuni markings and sizings on them. The float valve and needle valve in particular are very much more robust and precise.

The carb rebuild process begins. New parts and cleaned up originals now installed.

The Main jets, needles, power jets, spacers and float pin are the only originally retained parts, everything else is new. Pictured below is the new float valve and needle valve.

The float height needs to be set. As they are installed out of the box, the measurement is 10.6mm from the measuring point to the gasket surface. According to the manual this figure needs to be 8.1 +or- 1mm.

I adjust the float to the recommended height. There is a further test which is to measure the fuel level through a clear tube. The manual also provides this information, this is actually the more test and is the one I will be targeting for accuracy.

For this test, the tube should show a dimension of 7.1 + or – 1mm from the indicated points. To achieve this, I find the left carb requires a float setting of 8.65mm.

The right hand carb required a setting of 9.02mm.

The carb needs to be carefully setup at the right angle and centricity for this test. My fuel level is within the tolerance of 7.1mm + or – 1mm.

With both carb float levels correctly setup and checked, it’s time to finally fit them and reconnect the chokes, fuel lines and throttle cables.

The throttle slides need setting up next to ensure that they are in sync with eachother. The throttle cable is adjusted so both are on the same mid marking together at half throttle.

The idle position is also adjusted to a 0.7mm gap, this was pre adjusted off the bike using a cable tie that was conveniently 0.7mm thick!! This must be done off the bike as the measuring cable tie meeds to be inserted in the back of the mouth of the carb (engine side).

The new air filter is inserted, air box cover back on and all ready to go!!!

Edited to add, I have since been back and renewed all the fuel lines with new as well as replaced the carb drain hoses.

Meanwhile back at the Batcave…

Now with the MV sitting safely in the garage, it’s time to see what we have!

Having sat in a showroom for the last few months she’s looking a little unloved…so it’s time for a deep clean first of all to get rid of all the accumulated dust in all the nooks and crannies…

These stick on peripheral mirrors will be coming off!

Out with a bucket and sponge on a nice summer’s day has her looking her true self in no time….

The seat is custom made, a nod to the Claudio Castiglioni 1078 with the black leather/suede and red stitching but with the further addition of the MV logo…

The Ohlins 9.5kg spring fitted by Xbikes…

Along with +3mm swingarm anti squat pivot plates, Waltermoto adjustable rearsets….

Powdercoated silver finish rims…

MV Agusta F4 Folding levers…

An X-bikes re-cored exhaust mimics the RG3 setup, with the addition of ceramic coating for better thermal management…

DNA Air filter element…

and a fully mappable Microtec M226 ECU mapped by X-Bikes.

With her all cleaned up it’s time to look for any obvious problems…

First up, the battery positive connector was mounted diagonally instead of horizontally meaning the lovely CRC red rubber fitting was ill fitting. This gets remedied and a new charge lead is fitted so that I can charge the battery back up to full health.

Next up, she’s rather unwilling to start…the fuel it turns out has been in there for about 19 months…so this gets siphoned out and replaced with SUL. With fresh fuel she fires straight off on the button…

The throttle cables have rubber seals underneath them to keep the pivots tensioned, the seal has split under the retaining plate resulting in some movement…

The split seal is duly replaced…

The bike came to me with a Bursig stand, however it didn’t fit. It turns out that the stand was for a 1000cc bike not the 1078, I recall the owner telling me his previous F4 1000 was written off, clearly this stand was off that and therefore the fitting must have been attached to that bike. No matter, some correspondence with Bursig in Germany who were extremely helpful and pointed me in the right direction meant I ordered the correct fitting but also a couple of minor modifications needed to be made to the stand as the fittings for the 1078 are ever so different. The top one was new specifically for the 1078 now and was ordered in black as pictured below. The new fitting replacing the oem bolt.

The lower fitting required a spacing washer fitting to it to prevent the stand from catching on the frame.

The Bursig allows both wheels to be lifted off the floor and the bike to be manoeuvred around while leaving the other side free from any fittings…

The chain tension is checked and found to be ok…just needs a full clean and re-lubing…

A rattling side panel was tracked down to a rubber cushion missing on the inside of the under tank removeable panels. With a new one fitted the panel is solid once again…

A birthday present from the wife who managed to track down an original genuine F4 cover in perfect condition tops it all off!!