Details: Aprilia Mana 850

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Think manumatic transmissions and motorcycles and the first thing that pops into your head is likely the $15,599 Honda DN-01. But that’s not the best use of a no-clutch transmission in a motorcycle, that honor goes to the Aprilia Mana 850. Instead of trying to change the world with a feet-forward riding position and bizarre styling, it concentrates on delivering the performance of a sports v-twin and the practicality of a scooter. Neat solutions abound; check out the parking brake, the button-operated trunk, the underseat fuel tank, the shift buttons and the shift lever. Our favorite part, however, is one we added; it’s the Hell For Leather-branded LeoVince SBK exhaust that makes the Mana roar like a proper twin. Which it is, just one that won’t kill your left hand in town.

Make sure you check out the Aprilia Mana 850 Vs. Flatbush Ave feature. 

  • Marshall

    I dig the HFL exhaust

  • Nick Goddard

    Was there one before Honda’s Hondamatic? Or is that an “automatic”, while this one is a “no clutch” mechanically-shifted sequential manual (a la Ferrari’s F1 gearboxes)?

    I know the original Ferrari F1 gearboxes in the 355 were not sequential, so the 2-3 shift took longer, for instance, than the 3-4 shift, but surely the latest gearboxes in Ferrari’s roadcars are sequential, no?

  • http://muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Aprilia has some good looking headlights, if you know what I mean. Also, a button-operated trunk? Genius!

  • Nick Goddard

    In any case, this is pretty cool for someone who wants to drive an automatic motorcycle. I guess if you were injured or were a delivery person it could be nice- it would certainly make it easier to talk on the phone in a state without helmet laws.

  • http://phil.pantsonacat.com Phil

    Yamaha beat Aprilia to a “manumatic” bike by several years – the FJR1300-AE debuted in 2006 with the left controls set completely devoid of a clutch lever.

    Much like an F1 car, you hit the foot lever (or a toggle paddle at your left index finger & thumb) to initiate a shift and Yamaha’s electronic clutch control system (YCCS) handles it from there.

    On the FJR, YCCS ignores the request if it decides that it’d over-rev the engine or cause some wheel-spin. The clutch automatically disengages the drivetrain when you come to a stop so you’re always in 1st and ready to go, but not tiring out your hand keeping a clutch engaged.

    It’s a pretty nice feature in the rain when you’ve got your legs all nice and tucked up behind the fairing and still need to shift.

  • NotSteve

    it’s a good looking bike but I’m just not a fan of the manumatic transmission, kinda takes away from the ride (for me)

  • Kerry

    I have ridden one of these slushbox Manas and the bike is a pretty fun and honest motorcycle for a twist and go. You can be hooligan on it if you like, or you can just putt to work.

    I did find a few things frustrating:

    - there is no dummy clutch lever similar to the dummy clutch pedal in an auto car. I found my self grabbing fistfulls of air instinctivly.

    - You can no longer dump the clutch to do a wheelie either as this thing takes off so smooth that whacking the throttle open means you motor away from the stoplight/correctional facility/ illegal street racing meeting spot/ex-grilfriend’s house with decidly less drama than you had hoped. One might be able to “load the converter” (if there is even a converter) like you did in your dad’s Chevy when first learning to be cool behind the wheel but something tells me that will only anger the electronic Nun with the ruler that lives inside this machine.

    - gear control is an illusion. The gearshift lever does not have that “I have several spinning cogs attached to my shaft” feeling. Overall it has about the same amount of feedback as a computer keyboard. It is firm but smooth, and somehow feels like there is no weight behind it. Furthermore the shifts are sooooo slow. There was a moment, a small moment, between when I toed the lever and when it changed gears that I had time to contemplate the social significance of Led Zepplin’s “in through the out door” and resolve my feelings on whether the fictional game show Estrada or Nada form NBC’s “My Name is EARL” (now calcelled)is a viable concept.

    Same with the thumb shifter but my only frame of comparison on that is the air shifter on a drag bike and the right trigger button on the x-box and project Gotham Racing. Soon, someone will come out with a patch to fix this and the thing will shift like that clapped out ’67 Skylark I had with the shift kit and slapper bars.

    - Massive credit does go to aprilla for a storage area that actually holds a real helmet. Massive bummer it makes me feel like all the new vespas I have ridden and robs me of the anti-social grand entrance where I walk into fine restaurant/ business meeting/parole board hearing and place my fullface with 3/4 nekkid pinup girl and retro WWII warbird art right on the table in full view of all in attendence who are now going sterile with secret desire. Seriously though, cool feature. Aprilla don’y you dare take this one away.

    All in all, it was a fun little ride for someone who is convinced a motorcycle needs to be in his/her life but can’t be bothered with all that messy shifting stuff. It is not quite the gearhead dream where you will press a button and it shifts gears in the blink of an eye with all the force of hells fury and the slickness of a used car dealer in rural Missouri. We are not there yet but it is a start.

    I will say this, I have heard the LeoVince pipe in person and it is a must have for this bike. Really, Aprilla should just buy out Mr. Vince and keep him chained in the basement making exhausts that alone improve their product’s sound 10-fold.

  • fmonk

    Video of the bike/exhaust in action please!

  • David

    This, that, and every other Maxiscooter ever made — the same things can be said for them all, and the DN-01 was hardly the first.

    Face it: the scooter/motorcycle divide is blurred beyond recognition at this point.

  • Jon

    It really is Almost the perfect bike for someone who needs a practical commuter but also wants to be able to do some fun riding with it as well. It makes a very decent short-tourer, and it’s credible enough to shake-and bake for some spirited riding.

    It NEEDS ABS badly though, a commuter without ABS is a silly proposition as they deal with traffic and poor road conditions comparitively more then any other type of bike and thats exactly where you want ABS.

    • Kerry

      Needs ABS? A Commuter without ABS is a silly proposition? Really? Somebody needs to put down the BMW/Honda Kool-Aid. I am sure the thousands upon thousands of us who commute on bikes without ABS will disagree that it is “silly proposition”. My 1977 GS750 daily rider would not improve one shred as a commuter bike (which is what I do with it every single day) with ABS.

      A quick scan of the commuter bikes I see every day parked on the East side of Manhattan and out of about 20 only one has ABS – a BMW 1150RT. The rest are a motly crew of 1970′s superbikes, ninja 250s, shadows, vulcans, and SV650s (the older ones without ABS). Something tells me they would disagree with you about it being silly as well.

      Does ABS help? sure. Is it a wonderful invention? you bet. Is it a necessity? no. Is riding without it a silly proposition? – maybe for those who are willing to admit their motorcycle skill set is seriously lacking but if that is the case I hear Can-Am is giving discounts on spyders….and there is also the option of a nice cheap used convertible cage.

      Why does the Mana need ABS? because you should feel like you are getting value for your money. Don’t get me wrong, the bike is gorgeous, reasonably quick, and handles well – but it rides you more than you ride it. As long as you are going to let it saddle up you might as well get all the bells and whistles. I mean they make the Mana ABS overseas – is it really that hard to slip a few on a boat to America?