2010 Aprilia Mana 850 GT

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Aprilia Mana 850

2010 Aprilia Mana 850 GT

5, 2010 Posted in 2010 Tests | Comments: 0

Photos: and “Burn”


The Aprilia 850 GT has an easy-to-live-with CVT transmission, excellent and braking and good fuel So is it a city bike?  An upgraded

  Or a basic all-around street


Who would refuse the of a brand-spanking-new motorcycle for a month?  Not me.

So Kenn Stamp, the Editor of recruited me for another, the answer was before the sentence left his I’m on call 24/7, ready any to review a new motorcycle…all in the interest of our visitors, of course.

This it was the Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS.  of a mouthful and isn’t “mana” the that came down heaven to feed the Israelites they were hanging out in the There were no Golden back then, you know.

  wait — actually, that was now that I think about it.

is supposed to be a word to describe the or “juice” that resides in spiritual or powerful people.  I’m not if that’s what the Aprilians had in for this bike; if so, it’s a example of hyperbole.  But…there been stranger names for

Besides the name, this is different, that’s for sure.  I agreed to run up to Allentown, Pennsylvania to it up, I figured I’d better take a at the specs and do a quick read of Mana 850 review (the model) from 2009.  when I remembered about the

Aprilia seems a bit reticent at the transmission a CVT.  They refer to it as a “sportgear transmission” and as a “sequential/automatic transmission”.  But peel the layers of marketing propaganda and they call it a CVT.

I rode a bike with a CVT and I wondered if I’d be reaching for a clutch and coming up with air every I thought for sure I’d be flubbing left and right — after the left side of my body has programmed for umpty-ump years to ‘n’ shift.  It’s difficult to what life would be without it.

What a surprise!  Not — not one single time did I reach for the or shifter.  But an even bigger was this: not once did I miss either.

  One ride on the Mana 850 GT and wonder why all motorcycles aren’t this.  At least I did…

OK, so the CVT is the feature of the Mana 850 GT — but what the bike that surrounds Well, let’s take a

Mana For the Masses

I get the sense Aprilia’s marketing strategy for the 850 is a bit schizophrenic.  Actually, so is the bike.  I if Aprilia knows what have in the GT version of the Mana 850 — what is the target market for bike and what would someone to buy it.

Aprilia uses marketing-speak phrases when to the GT, using phrases referring to it as “a new motorcycling concept” and “the new the missing link in an evolution makes the world of motorcycling and its accessible to all types of users”.

That one’s definitely a with the beer and peanuts

This is a problem.  The Mana 850 GT have a few unique benefits, but everything else in today’s marketplace, the ability to sell one a laser-focused strategy targeted to a specific market segment and a explanation of the features and benefits.  All in 10 seconds or less.


So here’s my tip to Aprilia: about trying to sell bike as a motorcycle replacement for owners or as an urbanite fad bike.  the “all things to all people” too.  And definitely can those that are “accessible to all types of

After living with the 850 GT for a month, I see something different.  The CVT is a gem and the is, oh, about 85 percent of the way to being a interesting and unique sport-tourer.  If I in charge, that’s where the would be.

Give it an adjustable (and a couple of windscreen a nice set of bags with mounting points and a top box and maybe replace the chain with a drive.  Do all that and I think end up with one of the sweetest sport-tourers on the

But I’m getting ahead of myself So let me take you through a recap of my after living with very cool and very bike for a month or so…

Mana 850 GT and Design

The build quality of thing literally felt it was carved from a steel — and all of the other Aprilias I have feel just as good.

too bad the retail network — at least in the — is so thin.  If more people had an dealer nearby (and if I have to drive all the way up to Allentown PA to a dealer), I bet Piaggio would a lot more bikes, especially the potential customer could one handlebar-to-handlebar in a showroom with makes.

Aprilia build reminds me of early Hinckley — overbuild it to completely bury any notions of British (or Italian) For example, little items braided stainless steel lines, machined rather stamped brackets hidden in you’d never find and high-quality hardware make a big and add to the solid presence of this

The styling of the Mana GT variant help a potential owner the bike either, unfortunately.  a combination of 21st Century with a touch of 1980′s in the fairing, which looks out of with the character of the bike.  The headlight is the problem; it doesn’t with the sharp lines dominate everything aft of the triple

  Style me up a pair of cool-looking headlights up front and you’d it.

And speaking of the fairing, that has to go.  Aprilia told me are no optional windscreens, which is too because the stock screen turbulent air where it’s wanted — right smack dab on the This causes a huge of wind noise, starting at a low 20 MPH and worse from there.

  At 60+ it’s nearly unbearable wearing any type of helmet.

The screen is adjustable, more or (less).  Two bolts on either are loosened to move the windscreen up or about 25 mm total, but it’s not to smooth the air flow by any means.

would be an easy problem to for an owner, however.  If the bike mine, the first order of would be to break out the Dremel, cut the in half and sand and polish the top Done and booming gone.

  I didn’t think Aprilia care much for testing theory on a brand-new loaner though, so the Dremel stayed in the

The CVT and Me

Since the transmission is the raison for the Mana 850 series, I will it first.  I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to adapt to it — or if I’d be able to at all.  But on the very first I quickly realized it would not be a

In fact, about 1 kilometer it, I had a head-smacking moment.  Shifting is Who needs it?!

I never I’d feel this way; in I’d guess that many would have the same of skepticism for an “automatic” bike.  things would be different if the of the technology wasn’t as good.  all, Aprilia has years of with this type of in building their extensive of “twist and go” scooters.

There are a of minor differences to note heading out on the Mana 850 GT.  It just like any other motorcycle — turn on the ignition, for the sweep of the speedometer indicator and for all of the to blink on and off as the computer boots Then press the start to engage.

The nicely-mapped fuel gets the GT started and idling with no problems.  But here’s the differences begin.  With the stand down, blip the and…the engine dies.

  designed to to that, because is no “neutral” or its equivalent.

With the up, remember that the bike is a — if you twist, you’re going.  no standing next to the bike in the to blip the throttle; in fact, you blip the throttle at all, you’re riding or not.  a bike that’s always in and you’ll get the picture.

If you think it, that’s no different than a car an automatic transmission.  There is one however.  With the Aprilia’s at idle and no brake applied, the makes sure that the doesn’t creep forward it might in a car.

The CVT Stress Plan?

When you’re to go, simply twist the throttle and the starts moving.  The first is a very unique and liberating and gets even easier that.

Aprilia has done a job in mapping the fuel injection to the characteristics of the CVT.  There is a difference from a normal in that it takes a larger of throttle than one might to get the CVT engaged, but that’s actually a thing.  The fuel delivery has made especially soft for and the first few miles-per-hour to avoid any in the driveline.

I quickly realized not having to deal with and clutch work reduces the stress levels and work if you can call it that, on the rider.  is where the concept of a CVT transmission on a really comes into its No worrying about which is correct and no decisions about or upshifting.

  Simply enjoy the and focus on throttle control and

I immediately found myself a smoother rider and I also had a lot of which is another reason why system would make an sport tourer, especially riding with a passenger.  No helmet-knocking in the stop-and-go’s because the application of power and the CVT makes for a fluid and seamless ride.

It’s also an excellent for slow speeds, like your way through a national at a 10 MPH speed limit while at the flora and fauna.  No jerking and forth, no throttle on/off and no worries about having to up and down to keep in the correct RPM

Missing Bits

Speaking of one of the very big nits I have to with this bike is the of a tachometer.  I think this was a big by Aprilia.  I actually called the technical person to confirm and the answer was “Yes, we have no

It’s not like there’s no room on the dashboard; in fact, the binnacle looks a bit lonesome the big fairing, with only the and computer display.  And the bike has a lap timer (a lap timer?) but no tach.

a sport-tourer out of the Mana 850 GT could plugging in some optional like water temperature than the simple thermometer that shows up on the monochromatic screen), a Voltmeter, outside gauge or more.  But I’m dreaming

The absence of a tach means I tell you how the bike performed at RPMs, because I have no how many R’s, P’s or M’s we were in the various CVT settings.

Riding the 850 GT

The bike starts up in the CVT “Touring” which is equivalent to a smooth with a good compromise of torque and speed.  There’s a “Sport” mode; a “Rain” and a “Sport Gear” mode.

The Mode” button on the right (see photos above) the transmission through each and it can be pressed any time the engine is whether the bike is in motion or

From Touring mode, and hold the Gear Mode for about 1 second to change to This mode is the equivalent of down about 2 gears in the but I rarely used it because it the bike feel too frenetic and it to the fore one of the problems with the 839 cc, V-twin engine: it’s a ….

Using Sport means putting the engine in the of the vibe range, effectively any fun one might have by the lower so in this case, Sport not equal fun.

Ditto for the Gear” mode, which is at any time by pressing and holding the Mode button for 2 seconds or Sport Gear puts the CVT a faux gear mode and the rider to choose one of 7 different just like a “normal”

The gears are selected by pushing the paddles on the left handgrip or by the vestigial shift lever at the foot.  The foot lever is an on this bike and after it once to see what it did, I used it again.

Besides the Sport Gear mode kind of silly; after it’s more fun not to shift, so why do I to start concentrating on that And the absence of a tach doesn’t add to the fun

There’s one more mode in the “Rain”.  I’m not really sure this one does; apparently, supposed to temper the fueling and for riding on wet roads, but to me it felt like it placed the CVT half-way Sport mode and Touring.  trying it once or twice, I use the Rain mode at all, during a long homeward in am actual rain storm.

Another feature hidden in the is a semi-manual “gear” selection.  The and Sport modes have an and the bike can be downshifted by pressing the button on the left grip (or the shift lever).  But the override allow the transmission to shift up, down, which seems to me.

  Why not allow it to override up or down, and allow a quick tap of the Gear button to cancel and return to

One quirk about the location of the paddles is that they can be activated by accident if the rider’s hand is choked up on the inner of the hand grip.  On quick of acceleration, tightening my grip sometimes trigger a downshift.

The signal lever on the left grip is a bit of a reach also; the sticks out too far for my thumb, so I had to take my off the grip to reach for the turn button every time I to use it.  Same on the right-hand with the Gear Mode These are minor irritants, but nonetheless.

Handling, Brakes and

I’d have to say that the Aprilia 850 GT is the sweetest handling motorcycle ever had the pleasure to ride.  It has no bad habits and it feels perfectly The word “neutral” is used frequently to describe motorcycle but very few bikes really it.

Tell the GT where to go and it does it without fuss and without the tiniest hint of oversteer or neither feeling ponderous or This makes a huge in comfort levels and in the feeling of The combination of the superb build and the perfectly neutral handling the bike feel rock-solid any condition.

The front suspension has no so what you see is what you get.  was fine by me, although the front on Aprilia could probably use a less compression stiffness for short jolts.  I once days messing about a fully adjustable Suzuki and never really noticed a and I’ll pretty much the vast majority of street feel the same.

  So not having an front end is a benefit, as far as I’m concerned.

The suspension is easily adjustable via the seen in the photos.  It was set pretty when I got the bike (with 200 on the odometer) and I loosened it up a bit.  not much of a difference other a touch more plushness those same short bumps.

The big 180/55 mm Dunlop Qualifier rear tire good and works even It feels very secure and the road with noticeably grip.  I haven’t been on for some time and these are terrific, so they will be on my shopping list next I need tires.

The brakes are outstanding feature of the Mana 850 The big 320 mm floating discs up front radial-mounted calipers that like they might come right from Max RSV4.  They are very but very easy to use and also progressive.

  The rear brake the same kudos, with a 260 mm and stainless steel brake front and rear.

The Mana 850 GT has ABS, with a dual-channel system.  It works seamlessly and it this bike down in a with no muss or fuss.  I it on a variety of surfaces, including gravel and sand on some of the farm roads you can see in the photos and it me a true believer in ABS for street

Picks and Pans

The other useful scooter-like feature of the 850 GT is the fuel tank that What looks like a tank is really a decent-sized compartment, big enough to hold a lot of but not a full-sized helmet.  I’m not sure want to carry a full helmet in there anyway, but as you can see in the show photos, an XL-sized Quantum doesn’t fit.

But the area is very handy and it has a little night light turns on when the lid is popped.  the pick; here’s the pan: the compartment opens by pushing a on the back of the left-hand grip But the ignition has to be on for it to work.

So every I wanted to open the compartment, is every time I got on the bike, I had to the ignition on, press the button to pop the compartment lid, then the key off.  This is a real I think Aprilia should the design so the button opens the at any time but it can be locked if desired or it functional whenever the key is in the ignition.

Aprilia Mana 850

is one other way to open the storage There’s a key hole in the tail of the just above the stop to open the pillion seat.  The tank lives under Take the key out of the ignition, open the and a manual lever can be operated to pop the

  But that’s even more of a

Fuel, Mileage and Computing

the bike means pulling the key the ignition, putting it in the tail and the back seat.  It isn’t big of a problem for refueling, and having the tank opening at lower-than-waist makes it easy to use and to see what’s on.

Speaking of fuel, I got a consistent 42 to 44 MPG the Mana, no matter what of road, fast or slow, or byway.  I guess that’s mileage for a bike that’s a on the heavy side (Aprilia list a weight, but it feels pushing around the garage) a CVT.

Besides the absence of a the LCD computer screen would be a of a lot nicer if it were in color.  I that’s asking too much, but the screen can get washed out, not when the sun is shining on it, but when I’m into the sun.  The sun reflects off my and puts a lot of glare on the semi-gloss

The computer can be cycled through a few showing the real-time MPG, MPG, speed (not because it’s also on the analog speedometer), average and the time.

When Sport is chosen, the current “gear” on the display.  It’s not really a but the CVT is programmed to mimic a gear.  The goes up to 7 and switching from one to the next happens nearly

Some customization can be done by the menu with the “Mode” Lap times, strangely enough, can be But no tachometer can be displayed.

More stuff includes the seating which is a bit cramped for anyone 6 ft. and over but perfect for shorter The handlebars are also perfectly for a bike of this type, for a controlled and relaxed ride.


I had a lot of fun during my month the Aprilia Mana 850 GT.  I to the CVT transmission like a duck to the build quality is superb; the is rock-solid and the brakes should be an for every other motorcycle.

I care for the windscreen and the round seems at odds with the angular styling.  The bike desperately needs a tach and I’m not what type of luggage are available and I do think a belt suit the bike better a chain.

I do think that could and should focus the 850 GT on sport touring or light It would be an easy step to it would help put a focus on the market; and I think it would put the on the wish list of a much audience.

One thing’s for sure: you owe it to to take that trip to nearest Aprilia dealer to out their 2010 lineup.  I sat on the the RSV 4 and the Tuono 1000 R at the dealership and was impressed.

► 2010 Aprilia 850 GT – Specifications ◄

  Engine: 90° V-twin, 4 liquid cooled, single cam with chain drive, valves per cylinder.

Displacement: cc

Bore/Stroke: 88 x 69 mm

Engine Torque: 73 Nm at RPM

Horsepower:  56 kW at 8,000 RPM

Fueling: electronic engine management Weber Marelli electronic with 38-mm throttle

Ignition: Digital electronic, two plugs per cylinder, integrated fuel injection system.

Ratio: 10.0:1

Exhaust: 2 1; 100% stainless steel three-way catalytic converter and probe.

Lubrication: Dry sump with separate oil tank.

450W a 6000 RPM


  box: Sequential with or automatic mode selectable by the 7 ratios in manual mode. 3 (Touring – Sport – Rain) in mode. Gear change by or handlebar control.

The user can from automatic to sequential and vice versa at any time.


Primary drive:

Final drive: Chain

Tires, Chassis 

  Frame: steel trellis.

Front Upside-down fork with 43 mm Wheel travel 120 mm.

Rear Single- piece aluminum swingarm.  Shock absorber adjustable spring preload and damping.  Wheel travel 125 mm.

Cast Aluminum

Tires: tubeless.  Front: 120/70 ZR Rear: 180/55 ZR 17.

Wheels: alloy Front: 3.50 X 17″ 6.00 x 17″

  ABS:  2-channel ABS system.

Front Brakes: 320 mm diameter stainless steel discs.  Radial calipers four pistons.

Rear 260 mm stainless steel disc. piston caliper.

Dimensions, and Capacities 

  Maximum Length: mm

Aprilia Mana 850
Aprilia Mana 850
Aprilia Mana 850
Aprilia Mana 850

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