'09 Aprilia Mana 850
Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 90-degree V-twin
Valve arrangement: SOHC, 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x stroke: 88 x 69mm
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Induction: Weber/Marelli EFI, 38mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
Transmission: 7-speed Continuously Variable Transmission with Manual or Automatic mode selectable by user.
Front suspension: 43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel; non-adjustable
Rear suspension: single shock, 4.9 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, rebound damping
Front brake: 2 radial-mount/4-piston calipers, 320mm discs
Rear brake: single piston caliper, 260mm disc
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in.; forged aluminum alloy
Rear wheel: 6.00 x 17 in.; forged aluminum alloy
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Dunlop Qualifier
Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Dunlop Qualifier
Rake/trail: 24.0 deg./4.05 in. (102mm)
Wheelbase: 57.5 in. (1460mm)
Seat height: 31.4 in. (797mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.2 gal. (15.9L)
Weight: 516 lbs. (234kg) wet; 490 lbs. (222kg) dry
Instruments: Analog speedometer, LCD panel for digital, engine temperature, clock, multi-function displays for odometer, tripmeter/low-fuel tripmeter, average fuel consumption/mph, running time, etc.; warning lights for neutral, high beam, turn signal, oil pressure, fuel reserve, shift point
Quarter-mile: 13.49 sec. @ 97.72 mph
Top speed: N/A
Roll-ons: 60-80 mph/5.64 sec.; 80-100 mph/9.25 sec.
Fuel consumption: 37-42 mpg, 39 mpg avg.
OK, now go touch your tongue to that frozen flagpole.
It's hard to form an opinion about the Mana; it's such a bland motorcycle that it's hard to draw any kind of emotion from it. That's not a knock on Aprilia. Not at all. Its very existence is meant to be user friendly and it achieves that goal very well. The storage compartment is extremely convenient and despite the fact that it doesn't have a windscreen it's still a nice ride on moderately long rides. The fact that it practically sips fuel is a plus.
The CVT technology slowly grew on me, too. As much as I enjoy tearing up a racetrack or going for a canyon ride, the majority of my riding is spent sprawling the concrete jungle of Los Angeles. Being able to just stick the Mana in AutoDrive mode and twist the throttle sure is convenient. I'll tell you what didn't grow on me: the price. To pay essentially 10-large for a glorified scooter is a tall order if you ask me. I said earlier I was on the fence about it, but if I have to form an opinion about the Mana it would go like this: neat bike? Yes. Would I buy one? No.
Oh no, is his tongue really on the flagpole? I can't watch.
When I first heard that Aprilia was introducing a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift capability, I had visions of a multiple clutch pack gearbox similar to the Ferrari F1 or Audi DSG systems delivering lightning-quick upshifts and seamless downshifts at the push of a button. This was going to be cool. A motorcycle manufacturer actually deciding to step outside the box of convention and bring an auto-sequential gearbox to the two-wheel masses.
Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way. While the Mana 850 could still be categorized as unconventional, its automatic transmission is really nothing more than scaled down version of the CVT units you find in everyday automobiles. And its effect on the Mana 850 is similar in how it's transformed what could have been a really fun bike into not much more than a sterile mode of transportation. The Mana 850 has all the personality of a glorified scooter (and actually, some of the big scooters are just as quick, have as much or more storage space, and are cheaper).
I'm not so sure the American market is ready for something like this.