Motorcyclists tend to be control freaks – at least when it comes to our riding experience. Even things like anti-lock brakes are controversial in the motorcycle world. Anything that takes any control away from the rider is met with ample suspicion.
However, more and more manufacturers are experimenting with automatic transmissions on some of their new models. The theory is that entry-level motorcyclists may view the process of shifting as one of the major roadblocks in learning to ride. Manufacturers have also contended that many experienced riders may appreciate a more relaxed ride which is free of repeated shifting. The question is whether motorcyclists are willing to let their left hands and left feet go idle, and allow the motorcycle to make shifting decisions. Here is a look at two automatic motorcycles.
First, Honda has developed the DN-01, which is a “crossover” motorcycle powered by a 680cc V-twin engine. When you look at the pictures, you get a feel for what they mean by crossover. It has a seating position that is…well, unique. Honda says the DN-01 “is a perfect choice if you’re looking to get into motorcycling, if you’re a long-time rider who wants to be on the most cutting-edge bike out there, or if you’re just looking for something completely different.” Interestingly, the transmission is not the only thing that is automatic on the DN-01. Honda has also built the bike with a combined braking system that provides brake proportioning between front brakes and rear brake. Don’t worry…steering is still up to you!
So the Honda looks a bit too unconventional to you? How about the Aprilia Mana 850? Whereas the Honda DN-01 may look like a glorified scooter, the Mana looks the part of a full-on Aprilia naked sport-bike. The V-twin Mana can be run in full automatic mode, or the rider can opt for a little more control in Sport Manual mode. In this mode you can upshift or downshift by pushing the + and – buttons. The 76 horsepower Aprilia comes with 43mm upside-down forks and radially mounted four-piston, 320mm double stainless steel disk brakes. And, NO- those brakes are not linked like the Honda units. In the end, the Aprilia Mana 850 is a conventional, modern motorcycle that happens to shift for you.
So back to our original question: Would any of you buy a motorcycle with an automatic transmission? Let us (and the manufacturers) know your opinion.
Note: if you want to see how an automatic motorcycle transmission works, see the AAB article at Automatic Motorcycle Transmission
Written by Tim Kessel, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com