Name some dominating MotoGP stars: Rossi. Marquez. Stoner. Lawson. Phil Read. Kenny Roberts. All familiar names to most riders that appreciate racing, but back in the 1960s, just about no one could beat Giacomo “Ago” Agostini when he was astride a howling MV Agusta triple.
The winning streak is almost beyond belief: In 1968, he won every single race he was in on 350cc and 500cc bikes. 1969? Same thing. 1970? He did it again. Only an engine failure at the Isle of Man stopped the streak at an amazing 58 straight wins in 1971, and by the end of the 1972 season he had only lost two races in five years. TWO. In all, over 14 years in the top tier, Ago entered 223 races, and landed on the podium 159 times with 122 wins – a feat never equaled since. For comparison, Rossi is a close second with 115 wins but over 20-plus years, and Marquez is still a ways back with 85 wins. Across his entire career, Ago won 311 races on an MV, and also spent time at the controls for Yamaha.
In recognition of Ago’s immense talent, dedication and plain loyalty, a newly revitalized MV Agusta is producing a stunning tribute bike, thankfully and rightfully yet another howling 800cc triple they call the Superveloce Ago. Basically a breathed-on and restyled Superveloce, only 311 will be produced, each one signed by the man himself, who is now 79 years young, still rides, and still fits in his leathers. Here he is with the new bike:
Tech-wise, the $35,000 Ago tribute sports all the expected tech and touches: Big Brembos all around, Öhlins NIX/TTX legs, 5.5-inch TFT screen, riders aids including launch, traction and wheelie control, ABS, six-axis inertial sensor kit, and a new high-pressure EFI system. The stock exhaust is a bit over-stylized, but buyers can opt for a lighter, simpler and more sonorous triplet of Arrow “race” pipes (plus an ECU), an option we’d definitely tick as it pops power output from 147 to 151 horses at 13,000 revs. Torque at 10,000rpm peaks in the mid-60s, and it’s all Euro 5 compliant.
Body panels are carbon fiber of course, and painted in classic white/grey, red and yellow MV livery. A single round LED headlight nacelle fringed in yellow-gold paint sits where Ago’s racing number (often 2 or 6) resided on his race bikes. Of note, the wheels are an impressive and super-stylish melding of spokes and cast rims that allows for modern tubeless rubber and strikes a clever and cool balance between old and new. The seat gets an Alcantara cover and billet and bespoke pieces catch the eye all over the bike. MV has really put the time in for Ago, the bike looks just stunning in photos. Best of all, Ago is signing them.
It’s been a rough road for MV until recently. Classic road-going MVs from the Ago era often sell for six figures now and the bikes were the exotica of their time, with inline fours being produced well ahead of Honda’s seminal CB750. But while modern times have seen MV struggle with QC issues, poor sales numbers and a dim future, new bikes (and also escoots and ebikes) are now being produced with a better focus on performance and finish that have boosted the company’s fortunes, and the Ago tribute seems like a fitting halo machine for the latest iteration of the storied brand.