The Aprilia 2014 Mana 850 GT ABS seamlessly marries the convenience and practicality of a scooter with the power and agility of a mid-sized sport bike, creating an exceptional package. Straddling the realms of sport-touring, commuting, and weekend fun, the Aprilia Mana 850 GT excels on all fronts, earning a resounding endorsement. Start with A2Motorcycle.com now!!!
Masterful Transmission Technology
Initially skeptical of the scooter-style automatic transmission, I soon realized that Aprilia had perfected the technology. Once I ceased instinctively reaching for the non-existent clutch lever — a habit I formed especially when starting the bike — and delved into the intricacies of the transmission, I grew to truly appreciate the Mana 850 GT.
The cornerstone of the Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS is its Sportgear transmission, a continuous variable transmission (CVT) channeling smooth power from the 839cc longitudinal V-twin. This transmission operates seamlessly in both fully automatic mode (Autodrive) and rider-controlled Sequential mode, offering a dynamic riding experience at every turn.
Empowering the Rider
Aprilia’s decision to provide the rider with the option to manually shift, either via the traditional foot lever or paddle shifter buttons on the left handlebar, was a stroke of brilliance. I found myself utilizing various options, tailoring my choice to suit my mood and ride conditions.
The scooter-like behavior of the transmission commands attention from the outset. Initiating movement from a standstill demands a more substantial twist of the throttle compared to what one might be accustomed to with a manual transmission. When slowing to a halt, one experiences the sensation of coasting into neutral without a deliberate shift. Similarly, when navigating a steep descent at low speeds, a gentle throttle input is essential to prevent unintentional shifting into neutral, which would result in a loss of engine braking. Adjusting to this automatic transmission characteristic is a quick process, but one worth noting.
Unveiling Drive Modes
The simplest option, Autodrive mode, allows for a hands-free experience. Engage the throttle, and the Mana 850 GT’s CVT takes charge, optimizing the 76-horsepower engine for swift acceleration. Coupled with a predominantly flat torque curve, this translates to a consistent and responsive performance at any speed.
The Mana 850 GT offers three distinct engine mappings — Sport, Touring, and Rain — each with its own well-defined characteristics. During my daily commute on the bustling freeway, I predominantly favored the Touring mode. It provided ample power and allowed me to adeptly navigate shifting traffic conditions, particularly when making use of the Sequential mode.
A Ride of Comfort and Control
The Mana’s handling on the freeway is a blend of robust and supple. You’re connected to the road without enduring excessive jolts. The Dunlop Sportmax tires offer reliable traction, even when changing lanes over grooves in the pavement.
The Sequential mode empowers you to override Autodrive by a simple press of the paddle shifter buttons. I frequently used this method for downshifting, especially when maneuvering through traffic.
Dominance in Turns
Venturing into the hills on weekends provided an opportunity to explore the Sport mode. While it maintains the same 76 horsepower as the Touring mode, the acceleration is notably brisker. This heightened responsiveness is managed effectively, thanks to a sturdy suspension and substantial 43mm upside-down forks. The Mana’s neutral handling instilled confidence, encouraging spirited riding.
A Fusion of Performance and Precision
The seamless coordination between the tires and chassis elevates the Mana 850 GT’s performance. Dunlop Sportmax tires offer reassuring grip when leaned into turns. The neutral turn-in, facilitated by a sporty 24-degree rake, ensures effective maneuverability. With the CVT acting as a de facto traction control system, you’re free to focus on the ride without the need for manual upshifting.
Braking with Assurance
The twin 320mm rotors and radially mounted calipers provide exceptional feel, offering a progressive and controlled braking experience. When navigating canyons in Sport mode, the Mana downshifts assertively, negating the necessity for paddle shifting.
ABS for Safety
Given the absence of a traditional gearbox and full engine compression braking, the brakes shoulder more of the deceleration responsibility. ABS is a standard feature on the Mana, a crucial complement to the CVT. It’s worth noting that without engaging the hand parking brake, the bike may roll off its kickstand when parked on an incline.
Tailored Control in Sport Gear Mode
For those desiring maximum control with minimal interference from the automatic transmission, the Sport Gear mode offers a solution. By holding down the Gear Mode button on the right handlebar and cycling through the options, you can access seven preset ratios (distinct from gears). The automatic transmission only intervenes during unattended deceleration, automatically downshifting to maintain a minimum rpm-to-speed level.
Despite my initial reservations about forgoing conventional shifting, I discovered little inclination to engage in complete manual shifting on the Mana 850 GT. The absence of a clutch lever felt peculiar. For leisurely rides on back roads and open freeways, letting Autodrive take charge is the most gratifying choice. If you’re determined to have manual control, consider a motorcycle with a traditional gearbox.
Beyond Transmission: Ergonomics and Storage
The Mana 850 GT transcends its exceptional transmission with practical ergonomics. It boasts a remarkably comfortable tank-hugging riding posture and a 31.5-inch seat height. Despite a slightly weighty curb weight exceeding 500 pounds when wet, the low placement of the underseat gas tank and L-twin engine ensures stress-free handling at parking lot speeds.
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Ample Storage Options
Relocating the 4.2-gallon gas tank from its customary position has the added benefit of creating a capacious storage area. This keyless compartment is secure, only accessible with the ignition in the ‘on’ position. It’s a convenience to have the option of carrying items or stowing a small helmet without compromising the bike’s clean aesthetic. The illuminated compartment also houses a conventional 12-volt power outlet, though an upgrade to powered USB ports would be a welcome addition.
With the inclusion of Aprilia’s accessory luggage offerings (hard side bags, top box kit, luggage rack), the Mana 850 GT ABS transforms into an exceptional weekend sport tourer. The wide hard sidebags provide ample storage, and the adjustable windshield, while necessitating tools for adjustment, effectively reduces wind resistance, minimizing fatigue. Complemented by minimal vibration from the 90-degree twin, the Mana offers a comfortable and controlled ride.
A Unique Italian Marvel
While the Mana 850 GT may not exude the same allure as a Ducati, this Italian sport bike certainly commands attention with its minimally faired, trellis-framed distinctive appearance. The bike’s fit and finish are of the highest caliber, ensuring that a Mana 850 in the parking lot is a rare sight, unless you find yourself at a particularly eclectic motorcycle gathering.
Conclusion: More than a Maxi-Scooter
It would be remiss to dismiss the 2014 Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS as merely a maxi-scooter. It stands as a testament to the prowess of a sport bike equipped with an efficient automatic transmission, enhancing its capabilities as both an urban commuter and a formidable weekend touring companion.