2009 Aprilia Mana 850 Road Test Rider Magazine

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Aprilia Mana 850

2009 Aprilia Mana 850 Test

The 2009 Aprilia 850 stands apart from the crowd by virtue of its Sportgear It is a continuously variable transmission just like on a scooter.

Credit: Scott Darough


January 12, 2009

2009 Aprilia Mana 850 Test was originally published in the 2009 issue of Rider

If you judge this book by its it is clearly a winner. Red, and stylish, with a rumbling engine. Factor in the comfortable, riding position, optional cases and one of the coolest features ever seen on a motorcycle-a locking storage area the “tank”-and you’ve got what to be a well-mixed cocktail of flair, fun and

But the 2009 Mana 850 stands from the motorcycling crowd by of its Sportgear transmission. It is a continuously transmission (CVT), just on a scooter. That shouldn’t as much of a surprise for Aprilia, is owned by Piaggio, the Italian best known for its Vespa

When introducing a model at new riders and ease of use, with a clutch lever sense. Following the U.S. in Monterey during MotoGP in 2008, Rider was among the to receive a Mana for in-depth

Perhaps wanting to appeal to motorcyclists, the Mana’s Sportgear can be switched from Autodrive to mode. Firmly, but briefly, the gear mode button on the side of the handlebar and it will through each of three mappings (Touring, Sport and in automatic mode. Hold the mode button a few moments and it will switch into mode, with “Sport and a large numeric gear displayed on the LED screen.

With a wheelbase, wide, upright and sharp steering geometry, the turns quickly. But it is a heavy with too-soft suspension, when on its firmest setting in the (front is nonadjustable).

Like a scooter, in Autodrive the Mana’s CVT shifts gears without the need to roll off the Same goes for sequential where clutchless pushbutton or gear changes can be made the throttle wide open. change buttons are on the left of the handlebar, near the hand

Use your index finger to and your thumb to upshift, to a mountain bike. Be careful, as it is easy to accidentally tap the sensitive or shift lever and change Or, when you intend to shift, likely to honk the horn (sorry!).

Oh, and two more things. to NOT blip the throttle at stoplights, or you could end up plowing into the car in of you. Twist the throttle and game on!

And when you park the get in the habit of setting the parking lever on the left side of the At a stop, the CVT is always in neutral so it easily on hills.

Yamaha’s which debuted in 2006 ( . August 2006), offers clutchless shifting via push or a traditional foot lever. makes the Mana unique motorcycles (though not among is the option to shift into automatic Autodrive mode. downshifts can be done in Autodrive but not upshifts, which is called mode.

And when decelerating in mode, if you don’t downshift, the CVT do it for you to avoid the unpleasantness (stall) of speed falling below a

The Mana’s 90-degree V-twin is a stressed member of the steel frame. Rear shock is with no linkage. CVT can be shifted foot lever or buttons in Sportgear mode.

Recently been riding a modern bike, which, with brakes and fully adjustable front and rear, is a lot more a motorcycle than what I to ride in high school. And the shifting is much slicker it used to be, too.

On the left handlebar I can easily levers to change the front with similar levers on the for the rear. With 27 gears on my bike, hopping on the Mana and shifting through only gears was cake.

It’s what you can get used to with a practice. At first, the fingers on my hand wiggled in the breeze in of the clutch lever. Within a few I had completely forgotten about the and was happily toe or finger tapping my way the gears like a semi-auto Then I went through a for a few hundred miles where I left it in the automatic Sport

If you don’t have to go through the of shifting, why bother?

Analog is paired to an LED display showing and engine temp, time, mode, gear position (in mode) and one of various fuel and functions.

Don’t make the mistake I did and think that the 850′s engine is a bigger of the 90-degree V-twin from the 750 we recently tested ( Rider . 2008). The Shiver’s highly engine (92mm bore x …, 749.9cc) has dual cams, an 11:1 compression and, according to the Jett Dynojet dyno, cranks out horsepower and 46.2 lb-ft of at the rear wheel.

In contrast, the engine is less oversquare bore x 69mm …, has a single overhead cam, compression ratio and spun the to a tune of 56.5 horsepower and lb-ft of torque. With power pushing a heavier Mana’s wet weight is 538 pounds vs. 486 for the riding experience is less

As if to underscore the apples-to-oranges nature of comparison, our Mana test is Passion Red (also available in Gray) and our Shiver was orange.

belies comparison are mappings on the Shiver and Mana that the same names: Touring fuel consumption), Sport and acceleration) and Rain (soft response for slippery situations). are ride-by-wire throttle control on the Shiver, but the Mana does not the same throttle technology. On the the mappings are available only in Autodrive mode (in sequential the Sport mapping is used).

the Shiver, they are accessible via gear mode button than the starter button, and you can between mappings (and mode) with the throttle rather than closed.

Monokey side cases are a addition to this commuting/touring The cases sit high for cornering so mounting and dismounting requires

When we ran the Mana on the dyno, it was in mode in fourth gear typically optimize power in because it is the most commonly gear). Aprilia claims the horsepower and torque curves are the in Sport and Touring modes. from Touring to Sport, the noticeably increase even throttle position is unchanged, like switching out of overdrive. the Sportgear transmission drops to a ratio to optimize engine for economy.

In Rain mode, and fueling are altered to reduce and soften throttle response.

The transmission is nicely engineered and very well. It shifts smoothly, if lazily. Missed are nonexistent. The transmission won’t let you the engine when downshifting, nor you experience rear wheel But, by the very nature of a the Sportgear transmission makes the feel less powerful it actually is.

This perception from a combination of smoothness and speed optimization. When an runs at peak efficiency, and fuel consumption decline. But you roll on the Mana’s throttle the doesn’t rev up as quickly as on other which makes it feel

It’s moving, but the feeling is High-rpm buzziness in the rubber-covered provided some unwelcome whereas the well-placed mirrors clear at all times.

The dyno tells the story of butter-smooth delivery with almost no After climbing out of a small dip above 3,000 rpm, increases along a straight peaking at 56.5 just redline. Torque remains to 40 lb-ft over most of the rev Since the Mana does not a tachometer, in sequential mode have to shift by feel.

cranking hard on the throttle, a of three orange shift illuminate as you approach redline. a fourth red light comes on, banging into the rev limiter. the Mana’s engine rumbles than any scooter, by V-twin standards it is muted, especially to the addictive exhaust note of the

2009 Aprilia Mana 850

I kept the Mana’s throttle to the stop much of the time, buyers probably won’t my aggressive riding style. its scooter brethren, the Mana is primarily for usability and efficiency, not As a commuter or a lightweight touring the Mana excels.

Aprilia Mana 850

Don’t it to be something it isn’t and you won’t be

Although heavy, the Mana is not a motorcycle, with a 57.6-inch and 31.5-inch seat height. my knees tucked in around the sculpted “tank” and a comfortable to the upright handlebars, my 6-foot, frame is a net fit. The wide, seat allows plenty of which comes in handy its firmness takes a toll about an hour.

Passenger are adequate and comfortable, though the rails are replaced by mounting when the optional side are installed (our test held onto the handles of the cases instead). For cornering those cases sit up high, requires dexterity and a high to mount and dismount the bike.

With 24 degrees of rake and 4.1 of trail, the Mana has quick geometry. The wide, upright provide good leverage in Riding the Mana solo on canyon roads is good, fun.

Steering is predictable, are strong and easy to modulate, and the power keeps you out of trouble. the side cases with and/or add a passenger and the lack of becomes more problematic, when you need it for passing or pace on steep inclines. need to be more judicious and ahead rather than a sudden burst of roll-on

Dual, radial-mounted, four-piston squeeze 320mm discs. feel and power make a high point on this new

While the radial-mounted, four-piston calipers provide excellent power and feel, ably by the single-piston rear caliper, the weak link is its suspension. The male-slider fork, which 4.7 inches of travel, is nonadjustable. For riding and casual touring, it fine.

But wick up the pace and it too easily under hard and feels too soft. With set and rebound on its firmest setting, the shock-a linkage-less unit connects directly to the swingarm and 4.9 inches of travel-still wallows Hitting a few dips while over at speed in tight resulted in scraping noises and from the kickstand (which down before the peg feelers on the side) as the back of the bike around like Tigger on his

The Mana is a very capable With modern styling, ergonomics, excellent brakes and a fuel-efficient engine, there is to praise. Having a built-in, storage compartment under the is incredibly convenient. It ended up a catch-all space like the compartment in my truck.

Whereas I struggled to close the lid a medium-sized full-face helmet a six-pack fits easily! It includes a 12V socket and cell-phone I wouldn’t be without the optional side cases, which are and easy to open, close, and remove.

Needing to lift the seat to access the fuel is troublesome when carrying or a passenger (fuel is stored the rider for better mass

My new favorite feature! I hope becames the next thing in because a spacious, lockable is very practical and convenient.

My list is fairly standard: power, less weight and suspension. These improvements surely be made as the Mana is over time. For now, is a solid effort for a new model.

the convenience and fuel efficiency of a the cache of Italian design and storage capacity for a trip to the store or another state, the delivers the goods.

2009 Mana 850 Motorcycle Review Chart

Base Price:

With comfortable ergonomics, storage, a fuel-efficient V-twin and a CVT, covering long is easy on Aprilia’s Mana

Suspension, Front: 43mm fork, non adj. with of travel

Rear: 180/55-ZR17

Wet 538 lbs. (as tested, incl. side cases)


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