I have to confess that, as a woman motorcycle rider, I feel the need to prove myself. Early in my riding career, I rebelled against electric starting, even though it is obviously a great convenience. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could start the bike myself-like anyone cared.
I guess I still had a twinge of that 25 years later when I rode the standard Aprilia Mana 850. With its automatic transmission, I could not get away from the feeling that people thought I was riding it because I was not capable of handling a clutch and shifting. Plus, it just seemed like the Mana was a big scooter and I would rather be on a Shiver 750, which I love.
My eyes rolled again when presented with the Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS and told to go on a trip. But, this time, things felt a bit different. In the guise of a sport-touring bike, with an abbreviated fairing and (very useful) optional sidebags, the GT started to seduce me to the dark side of automatic transmissions.
It is a relaxing and agreeable ride in the Touring mode; simply twist the throttle and enjoy the scenery. Sure, there is a scooter aspect to that, but the husky V-twin puts out 54 ft/lbs of torque at 5000 rpm, so it pulls strongly, especially as it is always at the right gear ratio. The longer my journey, whether on surface streets or on the freeway, the more I appreciated the way the computer-controlled continuously variable transmission takes care of itself.
In the Sport mode, the Mana GT impressed me again. Adjusting the ratio later in the power curve, the 75 horses on tap are there for the taking. The GT’s suspension is similar to the Shiver, and though the wheelbase is about an inch longer, the forks are tucked at a steeper angle, making it quite agile in the canyons.
The big performance improvement for the GT is the ABS. Lacking much in the way of engine compression braking due to the transmission, the GT’s ABS allows me to dive as hard as I like into turns and squeeze the lever aggressively, speeding up corner entry considerably. The Pirelli Scorpion Sync tires and chassis respond well and the "sport" portion of sport-touring is handled admirably.
While I am not ready to turn in my clutch lever, the Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS reversed my knee jerk reaction to automatic transmissions, and made me much more comfortable with what is probably an inevitable transition in motorcycling.
Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS | Motorcycle Specs
- Aprilia longitudinal 90° V-twin engine, 4 stroke, liquid cooled, single overhead cam with chain drive, four valves per cylinder
- Bore and stroke 88 x 69 mm with a total engine capacity 839.3 cc and a compression ratio of 10:1
- Maximum power at crankshaft 56 kW (76.1 hp) at 8,000 rpm
- Maximum torque at crankshaft 7.45 kgm (73 Nm) at 5,000 rpm
- Induction and fuel system Integrated electronic engine management system via Weber Marelli electronic injection with 38-mm throttle body
- Ignition Digital electronic, with two spark plugs per cylinder, integrated with fuel injection system
- Exhaust system 2 into 1 exhaust system in 100% stainless steel with three-way catalytic converter and lambda probe
- Transmission Sequential with manual or automatic mode selectable by the user; 7 ratios in manual mode.
- 3 mappings (Touring – Sport – Rain) in Autodrive mode.
- Gear change by pedal or handlebar control. The user can switch from automatic to sequential mode and vice versa at any time.
- Chassis High-strength steel trellis
- Front suspension Upside-down fork, ∅ 43 mm stanchions. Wheel travel 120 mm
- Rear suspension Single- piece aluminum alloy swingarm
- Hydraulic shock absorber with adjustable spring preload and rebound damping. Wheel travel 125 mm
- Brakes Front: dual ∅ 320 mm diam. stainless steel floating discs. Radial calipers with four pistons.
- Rear: ∅ 260 mm stainless steel disc. Single piston caliper.
- 2-channel Continental ABS system
- Rims Aluminum alloy
- Front: 3.50 X 17" Rear: 6.00 x 17"
- Tires Radials tubeless; front: 120/70 ZR 17; rear: 180/55 ZR 17
- Tank 16 liters