Aprilia Auto-Pilot

Well, OK, not really auto-pilot, but Aprilia is putting out a bike with an automatic transmission–or, rather, a Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT).

Aprilia Mana 850

The Aprilia Mana 850 does have a manual setting so you can shift with either the foot, or with hand controls, a la the FJR AE model.  This model now joins the Honda DN-01 as a CVT-trannied bike.

Honda DN-01

Compared to the clean, naked-bike look of the Aprilia, the Honda’s Shark nosed look is an epic fail in my view.

What probably isn’t a fail is the use of the CVT in these new bikes.  I never really liked the idea of an old-style automatic transmission in a motorcycle.  It’s been possible to have an automatic transmission in a motorcycle for years.  A couple of manufacturers have even done it.  Nobody else liked it much either though, because there’s alway that fear that something awful will happen, like the tran ny deciding to downshift as you roll on the throttle in a curve, causing the back wheel to loose traction, spin you out, and leave your bike, and you, crumpled into an unsightly mess.

The CVT avoinds that, because there is no “shifting”.  The transmission just smoothly changed ratios without any noticeable gear changes.  It’s just smooth power delivery at all speeds.

This is good for some people.  My chick really can’t ride a standard motorcycle any more, because she doesn’t have the hand strength to clutch a standard bike.  And for newer riders, coupling a CVT with a lower-powered bike might make for decent commuter sales, which I think is what the manufacturers are shooting for.