A clap of thunder that might upset many achievements! The Aprilia 850 Mana is not content to highlight its automatic transmission or practical aspects: it also offers a real driving fun! Unexpected and surprising a time…
Almost all major manufacturers have at one time or another imagined a motorcycle with an automatic transmission. But past achievements or Honda Moto Guzzi for example, have never known a success, possibly because of mechanical systems too complicated or simply because the rider never thought to do without the clutch torque / selector.
The drive on the other hand, one finds the greatest mechanical genius in the history of two-wheelers, has found its place only within the mopeds and scooters small displacement. With advances in electronics, but also thanks to new materials and alloys that make up the straps, it has subsequently refined the system and the ability of controllers to “absorb” the power has almost tenfold. The big scooters like the Suzuki Burgman 650, Yamaha T-Max 500 or Gilera GP 800 the recent example that are sufficient to measure this progress. But back to the new Aprilia, which itself has nothing to do with scooters, despite the presence of the drive.
A bike primarily
The Aprilia 850 Mana is a motorcycle built as such, with a weight, brakes, suspensions and a motorcycle chassis. His behavior has nothing to do with that of a scooter, both in the riding position that’s road holding. To avoid confusion, Aprilia has even kept control of the rear brake pedal (as there is no clutch, it could very well place this command at the lever left), we used a final drive by chain and … saved the switch! Practical side, however, engineers have not embarrassed to be guided by certain features of scooters.
The most obvious, but also the most brilliant, is undoubtedly placed the trunk in place of the fuel tank that can hold a full face helmet, tools, and documents even includes a small site for mobile phone. This chest can be opened electrically via a small button on the front of the handle left or mechanically with the ignition key. Opening of the hatch, this can be done even while driving is hampered by a small hydro pneumatic damper. Admittedly, this is not a first, BMW had already used this solution with the Sarver, but the result is really successful and very practical.
As a result, the gas tank of sixteen liters (built by Acerbic) is placed under the seat and the air filter (and box) displaced as the Harley-Davidson, left the two cylinders. In this regard, compared to the model exhibited at Milan last year, the work of Miguel Galluzzi proved remarkable, as we went from a big box air filter bulky and ugly in an integrating perfectly in line with the bike. Under the seat, however, nothing can be placed and to access the gas cap, lift it by turning the ignition key anticlockwise.
Sequential automatic transmission and
As we said a little earlier, the Aprilia 850 Mana is built like a real motorcycle with a twin engine of 839 cm3 of 76 c., A steel trellis frame, a front fork diameter. 43 mm, 17-inch rims or radial brake calipers (see “learned”).
The big difference compared to any other motorcycle market, is at the gearbox. Exit then a complete set of gears, shafts, shift forks and other bearings, simple way to a drive consisting of two pulleys connected by a belt, the gear ratio that varies as a function of the speed of rotation of the motor … But, and this is the difference, this mechanical simplicity is “assisted” by an electric motor that can intervene at will on the gearing, or in a semi-automatic or sequential mode with seven-speed disposal. Clearly, this is a real transmission without gears because the drive of Mana does not use centrifugal force and the side plates are no longer driven by rollers. There is a principle similar to the Suzuki Burgman 650 (SECVT system), with the difference that here the system is more complete and that the Mana has nothing to do with a scooter!
Main advantage of this concept, it can have a true engine braking. It’s not all: always thanks to electronics, the driver can intervene on the timing curve and on a range of parameters for three different power curves in automatic mode (Rain, Touring and Sport)! The opportunity to play on the power curve of the engine, Suzuki is still making the request on standard machines with the GSX-R 1000 and then the B-King, but again, with the Aprilia 850 Mana system is more successful. To summarize, the Mana can choose between a fully automatic modes, with three different power curves, a semi-automatic mode where the driver can manually downshifting and a sequential mode where the seven-speed manually happen through two buttons placed at the left handle or through the footswitch. It all seems a bit complicated at first, but as discussed in the essay, it is a matter of choice and we will eventually zap a lot of functions to finally focus on auto, just great in town as on the road!
Easy and intuitive
At first glance, the Mana appears as a roadster like any other. Final drive is by chain, the “fake” tank is perfectly designed, all the components meets … Aprilia announces a seat height of 800 mm, but in reality for a person of average height, the saddle is much higher and the foot pegs are placed exactly on the calves. As for the mirrors, they offer a field of view unworthy of a modern motorcycle. With a saddle-handlebar distance and ideal footrest quite low, the driving position is excellent, however, for conduct “touring”. The controls are well placed and feel more than good overall.
The need to brake with the right lever is the only constraint to start the Aprilia twin. To start, it is sufficient to choose the mode of transmission (and yet, you can do while driving) and speed: a manual easy and intuitive. In town, we only focus on traffic. In automatic mode (Auto drive) and choosing the power curve through (Touring) and linear accelerations are much more effective than one can imagine if one relies solely on the muffled sound of the exhaust. Starting a green light for example, is left far behind many cars and scooters that circulate in Turin, Italian city where the trial took place, all in about ten meters.
In fact, without realizing it, you will not lose time with the shifting and the engine speed is changing him consistently and effectively. Only the speedometer will remind you to order, because in just over four seconds (according to Aprilia), we can go from 0 to 100 km / h! During deceleration, the large displacement of the twin and the drive system of Aprilia 850 Mana offer a good engine braking and, always with the automatic Touring mode, it picks up only 30 km / h.
With a center of gravity low enough, the handling is very good despite a relatively large turning radius. Suspensions, a non-adjustable Showa forks and a Sachs mono shock adjustable for preload and rebound are adjusted sufficiently flexible home and offer a good level of comfort over the cobbles Turin. The only criticism that could be done, especially at the fork, it is to sink a little too firmly when seeking the powerful front brake.
In this regard, as the Shiver 750, Aprilia has not seen fit to present the Apriia 850 Mana immediately with an ABS system, preferring to defer to next year the development of this essential element in our view, given the orientation of the bike. We also tried the automatic mode in Sports City and the sequential mode (manual shift mode), but the first run the engine faster, which is useless in town. On the second, it really does not see the utility to “distract” in an urban environment that requires great vigilance.
A real motorcycle!
During this brief initial contact, we certainly found “flaws” on the Mana. Vibration, for example, are present at high rpm, the fork is set a bit too soft, the exhaust noise can be improved, the seat height is relatively large and we regret the arrival of ABS discount next year. We do not have either made measurements of consumption, a term borrowed or highway roll duo. But overall, recognize that the Aprilia 850 Mana surprised by its versatility and the culmination of the technical solutions it presents, the automatic transmission in the first place.
During the thirty months of the development of this machine, two testers have traveled countless kilometers of road, ensuring a successful outcome. Even with all the reluctance imaginable, its automation has nothing to do with those dictated by the philosophy of a scooter. The Aprilia 850 Mana is a real motorcycle! A bike that brings a large number of technical solutions with it, in order to make driving easier and more enjoyable, without detracting from the pleasure that a motorcycle can provide.
Performance (acceleration, top speed and times) proved more than up to a modern roadster and nobody will complain that it offers the practical aspects (helmet, handbrake …). We were seduced by this beautiful Italian character of the fire and we can only encourage you to give it a try at a dealership of the brand.