Commuter Special: The 2008 Aprilia Mana 850
The 2008 Aprilia Mana 850. Nice styling, competent chassis and suspension, 76bhp v-twin, automatic gearbox. What more could you ask for?
The Mana 850, which was first shown at the 2006 EICMA in Milan, will now soon be available in Aprilia showrooms worldwide. While it seems to be a modern, smart looking and competent motorcycle overall, the Mana 850’s calling card is its electronically-controlled ‘Sportgear’ automatic transmission.
The bike does not have a clutch lever – the gearbox can either be left in the fully automatic ‘Autodrive’ mode, or the rider can choose to shift gears manually, using the clutchless, sequential shift mode. And you can flip back and forth between the two modes, via a handlebar-mounted switch, even when the bike is running.
Automatic gearboxes on motorcycles are not exactly new. The 1975 Moto Guzzi V1000 Convert and the 1978 Honda CB400A Hondamatic had automatic gearboxes, as does the current Yamaha FJR1300AE. But, of course, the Aprilia Mana 850’s auto unit, with its more advanced electronics, is in a different world altogether.
In fully automatic ‘Autodrive’ mode, the rider can choose between three settings – Touring, Sport and Rain – and power delivery is optimized accordingly.
In sequential manual shift mode, the CVT gearbox gives you seven electronically pre-defined ‘gear ratios’ to choose from, and the actual shifting can be done via a conventional left-side foot pedal, or a switch that’s mounted on the left side of the handlebar. And the best part is, in manual mode, if you do not downshift while slowing down (and/or while coming to a complete stop…), the Mana will still do it for you automatically!
A video of the Mana 850 in action!
The engine is a 90-degree, 8-valve, 839cc v-twin (developed by Aprilia themselves), which makes 76 horsepower at the crank. Yeah, sure, the Mana 850 is no GSX-R killer, but the bike’s CVT system and its engine’s Weber Marelli EFI system work hard to make sure that power delivery is smooth and consistent at all times. The Mana’s ‘fuel tank’ is actually a storage compartment that can take a full-face helmet, while fuel is stored in a tank that’s placed under the rider’s seat.
Coming to the suspension, the Mana 850 has a 43mm USD fork up front, and hydraulic monoshock at the back, that’s adjustable for preload and rebound damping. The bike is fitted with dual 320mm brake discs at the front with four-piston radial-mount calipers, and single 260mm rear disc.
To sum up, the 2008 Aprilia Mana 850 is a fresh, contemporary take on the middleweight, all-purpose motorcycle. If we had to choose, we’d probably take the high-tech, good looking Mana 850, over bikes like the BMW F800S, Honda Hornet, Suzuki GSR600, Yamaha FZ6 or Kawasaki ER-6n. For pricing and other details, visit the Aprilia Mana website here .
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