First impressions: Aprilia 850 Mana

1 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First impressions: Aprilia 850 Mana

First impressions: Aprilia 850 Mana

What’s a motorcycle. That’s the question begging for an answer after three Consumer Reports staffers had a chance to sample a few bikes at a recent driving event outside New York, including the Can-Am Spyder and the Piaggio MP3 (shown right). This is part one of three, focused on the Aprillia 850 Mana.

In keeping with our coverage of scooters and entry-level motorcycles. we focused on three models geared toward new riders, aiming to make it easier, and in some cases safer, for new riders to manage a bike. For instance, these three models use continuously variable transmissions to eliminate worries over shifting and the clutch. And two of these models have three wheels to alleviate possible stability concerns.

We didn’t test any of them at our test track and only had time for quick impressions on about a 10-mile driving loop. That said, here are some informal first impressions of the three staff members who rode them.

Aprilia 850 Mana

The 850 Mana is a traditional motorcycle but with a twist. Unlike most motorcycles, it has a scooter-like continuously variable transmission. The transmission has three automatic shifting modes: Sport, Touring, and Rain.

It can also be shifted manually through seven ratios, using either a traditional foot lever or buttons on the left handlebar.

Like many scooters the 850 Mana has an enclosed storage compartment where other motorcycles’ gas tank would be. It is big enough to hold a full-face helmet. The gas tank is under the seat.

The engine is an 850 cc, water-cooled V-twin producing 76 hp. The bike weighs 491 pounds. But it isn’t cheap for new riders, at $9,899.

Eric Evarts: The 850 Mana took me by surprise. I expected it to feel big, powerful, and intimidating, but my expectations couldn’t have been further from the truth. The power, brakes, and ground clearance that made it easy to lean hard into turns all made it a cinch to ride fast. The best part was the CVT, which would allow new riders to focus their full attention on the road, rather than concentrate on shifting.

Aprilia Mana 850

And it took nothing away from performance or the joy of riding. Throttle response is quick, and you can shift manually when you want. If I had one nit to pick, it would be nice to have an automatic mode a little sportier than Touring and much less aggressive than Sport.

The Mana’s helmet storage compartment and 12-volt power port are icing on the cake.

Gabe Shenhar: The Aprilia was a treat to ride. It was super agile with effortless power and great brakes. It also had a nice, compliant ride, was vibration free, and didn’t fatigue the wrists or lower back.

It was strange not having a clutch on the left, but easy to get used to. With its agile and fluid handling it reminded me of a Ducati I rode years ago–quite a compliment. Too bad the bike had no tachometer.

Jim Travers: As a rider from way back, I like that the Aprilia 850 is a real motorcycle. And a nice one at that. With balanced, predictable handling, terrific suspension, easily modulated brakes, and a comfortable riding position, I enjoyed it the most of the three on the twisty roads in and around the state park where we had an opportunity to ride. Power was adequate in the hills, although I never got used to the automatic transmission.

My left hand kept reaching for an imaginary clutch lever as I manually shifted through turns. Old habits die hard.

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

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