The owner of this superb machine is Zach Law, a quantity surveyor. Zach is based in London for his working week, before returning to the serenity of Bewdley, near Kidderminster in the West Midlands, for the weekends. Once home he now has the enviable task of lavishing care and love upon this beautiful machine.
Having eperienced the usual biking identity crisis, Sports bikes, Blade, Monster etc, route Zach felt it was time for a change, and what a change to make. Taking that great leap of faith, from the well publicised and documented production bikes, to a one off bike virtually hand built in this country by a father and son double act. Without the usual references like magazine tests, or even a used bike valuation to go by, Zach was a very brave man indeed to commit such money, around the thirty thousand mark, to this project. He couldn’t even take a test drive to see if he liked the MV as nothing remotely similar was available for him to have a go on. Luckily the end result is far superior to any road machine that the original MV factory ever put out, often proving to be little more than poor facsimiles of their superb race hardware upon which their reputation was forged. The Kay remake of the Magni is a beautiful machine, the chain conversion providing a much less harsh power train than the shaft of the America and other MV roadsters and the hand crafted chassis holding everything in the correct order. To date 1800 trouble free miles have been completed on this “new bike” and when asked Zach could not tell me any fuel consumption figures, “I never record or think about them” he quips. Evidence, if any were really needed, of the fact that the bike is so enjoyable and rewarding that the running costs are of no consequence to him.
Looking around the bike and it is clear the care and devotion that Zach shows for it has also been reflected during the assembly processes. The paintwork is flawless throughout highlighting the curvaceous lines of the hand made tank, side panels and seat unit. The perfectly applied fire engine red is bold and loud only being held back and toned down slightly by the low key, albeit the correct, shade of silver on the fairing lower. Just to add a little fire to the proceedings however is the yellow number roundel simply crying out for a black numero uno to be applied, finishing the whole job off properly. This could well be 1973, not 2003, as the image created is every part the 70’s racer, steering the eyes carefully away from the modern fitment forks, brakes and electrics.
Being handed the key to Zach’s pride and joy was something rather special, to be trusted on a machine that obviously meant so much to him personally was quite an experience for me as well. That special feeling grew even larger as I turned the key and pressed the starter button, a raucous bark emanating from the four pipes just begging for a blip of the heavy feeling throttle. It felt almost like awakening a wild animal rather than simply pulling on a cable with four Dell’Orto carbs busy metering out the motion lotion on the other end. Once I had actually established that nothing furry and formidable was actually going to bite me from under the tank it was a simple job to rock the MV off its centre stand and off we set.
From the outset I felt truly at home on the well balanced MV, the engine is tractable and eminently usable, my usual trait of winding in the brake and clutch adjusters to where I would normally have them was, for the first time ever, completely forgotten when setting off on the throbbing, yet supremely smooth, inline four. The riding position is just about right for my abrupt stature, but would be a tight fit for the taller members of the biking community as the distance between the seat and bars is virtually set in stone with little area for movement short of redesigning the tail to facilitate moving the seat back. Of course this is all due to the compactness of the engine installation the bulk of which, with its huge sump, equally sizable cam box and wide barrel finning, somehow disappears, tardis like, behind the svelte fairing and sculpted tank, making you forget its size completely. The chassis, with its removable frame rails enables it to get in close to the power plant but as a result it is quite short and does require clip-on’s that first of all head north for a few inches before bending back toward the riders hands. Any change in this seating position would result in the rider being out of the essential mass zone with the resultant effect on the C of G and handling being all too evident.
No matter what you do with your legs, unless fully tucked in under the elbows for high speed running, the knees are always left out in the breeze courtesy of the high positioning of the rear set type footrests. The positioning of the pegs is largely dictated by the four shapely exhaust pipes, which once again are there simply because of the engine shape, so any change to them, were it possible, would loose the inherent character and looks of the machine. This is a small price indeed to pay for the overall MV experience and is only noticeable for a brief uncomfortable moment before other far more pleasurable thoughts are filling your brain.
The low speed, asthmatic gasping of the four carburettors eventually cleared their throats once well on the move, striking up into a musical, almost operatic aria, forming a sweet quartet backing for the rock and roll rhythms section of the Magni open megaphones. They don’t look open, I know, but careful inspection reveals the baffles to be totally non-existent, the internals have been ”irresponsibly” sawn off leaving just the end caps, lovely stuff. There can be no better way to wake up the neighbourhood.
Two grabs of the throttle are required from idle to full chat, but there is no rush as the engine will not let you move with any particular haste, the large crankshaft carries its mass without compromise, so only the ham fisted down shifter can ever hope to have an affect upon it. Certainly whatever one does or tries to do with the throttle it has absolutely no effect if the engine is not ready and willing. As for the hand made four-cylinder twin cam engine, this feels to be run in and completely happy, revving freely, running silkily smooth and sounding sweet too. Information wise it is useless trying to convey to your brain the data being relayed via the two clocks laid almost flat in the dash, the period looking Veglia tachometer only ever gives an approximation of the actually revs being achieved as it swings it merry way around the white facia of the instrument and the black faced speedo suffers a similar albeit less dramatic, lag in its attempt at preserving your licence. Simpler by far to just let the engine talk to you than try and chase the rev counter needle around.
Despite conjuring up evocative images of Phil Read and Giacomo Agostini, the ride is very modern, a bit like having a 1940s Spitfire fitted with a reliable technology and the entire bell and whistles that modern airliners now have, it looks the part but is completely practical for day to day use. The Forcella Italia forks, with their heavy bracing across the top joining each leg inflexibly together, as well as holding the mudguard in place, no doubt help the beautifully crafted chassis do its stuff. Having been designed and built originally for the factory Cagiva 500 GP race bike of the early 90’s, these are top specification items and now prove difficult to locate due to their limited production run. Despite looking period, they are as fully adjustable as anything one might find on today’s Moto GP grid.
On each of the magnesium sliders sit, quite unassumingly, Brembo four pot callipers that in turn grab the 300mm floating discs effortlessly hauling up the machine from high speeds down to a walking pace within the blink of an eye. The brakes are nothing short of superb with the rear brake in particular actually working better than many a modern machine thanks to the complex array of levers transferring and amplifying the foot pressure through to the single piston, low slung, Brembo mounted on the left hand side of the wheel which in turn grabs a large, iron disc. When the brakes are applied the chassis just seems to dig in and lay squat, there is little sensation of being thrust forward and over the bars, just a reassuring feeling of sure footed stopping, clever stuff there from Signore Magni, and a testament too his theories on chassis design. Even braking while cranked over is not the usual dramatic event that most bikes seem to make of it, the chassis just held its intended line and that was that, no sitting up and heading for the side of the road you aren’t paying for the use of at the present moment. The rear end is handled exceptionally well by a pair of Koni adjustable shocks that keep the hefty steel box section swing arm in check, no more to say about it other than that the set up works as well as it looks.
All of this precise, even benchmark, handling is, quite amazingly, achieved using narrow eighteen inch cross ply rubber, just like the old days. The reduced rolling friction caused by the small contact patch combines with the modern front suspension set up effectively making agility another sweet aspect of this contemporary version of the bike, certainly the original shaft drive America was not as supple around the twisty stuff as this more modern one. So here we have a machine that stops superbly, handles sweet and accurately and thrust along by an engine that is almost parental like in its operation, rather like the aged racer who has seen it all before and is telling us to just keep it all reigned in, the result will be the same. That should keep all of us bad boys in check, eh? On paper, yes, but I reality you just learn to have your fun at a more sedate pace, why would one desire to rush this experience? You can still ride with no less riotous hooliganism making the Kay MV still as satisfying as any 150bhp mega bike but with all and sundry taking a longing wishful glance at you and your Italian stallion.
It is not just when you are riding that the world takes a snap shot of you either, when we stopped for some static shots not one person passed the MV without a glance. Some of course would recognise it for exactly what it was but everyone with doubt knew it simply must be something very special indeed. For those who took a closer look would have noticed the stunning attention to detail, ever part of the MV shines and sparkles and little parts like the faux steering damper knob for example, like so much of the machine actually hand made by Mark Kay, just typifies the products uniqueness and justifies the seemingly high price.
A great job has been done all round, Zach is more than happy with his latest purchase and having also now ridden it, I can confirm that the decision to invest in the Kay’s version has been a prudent one. As for value for money, there can be no question about it, a resounding “Yes” from both of the test jockeys to date. It is normally the launch of a new ultra Sportsbike that brings on an adjective frenzy, but here we have a similar situation with something basically thirty five years of age, it really is that good.
MV Agusta 750 Kay Specifications
- Engine – Air cooled, four stroke, four cylinders DOHC
- Capacity – 847cc
- Bore/stroke – 72 x 56mm
- Power – 75bhp @ 8500rpm
- Torque – 49ft-lb @ 7000rpm
- Carburetion – 28mm Dell’Orto
- Transmission – 5-Speed wet clutch chain final drive
- Frame – Magni replica steel Tube
- Suspension – 40mm telescopic forks, Twin shock rear
- Brakes – 300mm discs 4-piston Brembo calipers, 300mm disc 2-piston caliper
- Wheels – 100/90x 18 120/90 x18
- Weight – 252kgs
- Top speed – 130mph
- Wheelbase – 1475mm
- Fuel capacity – 19lts
MV Agusta 750 Kay Gallery
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