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.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.