Top test Aprilia NA 850 Mana
The motorcycle with automatic
Aprilia promises a new dimension in motorcycling.
At first glance, the Aprilia NA 850 Mana hardly differs from other naked bikes in its class. It is packaged in a contemporary way, at most the rear part is a little heavier. At first she swims inconspicuously with the hustle and bustle of the big city, but she only reveals her real secret on closer inspection.
For example at the traffic lights: while other motorcyclists pull the clutch when changing to green to engage first gear, the Mana driver is long gone without shifting with just one twist of the throttle grip. The start on the first few meters is astonishing. An automatic motorcycle? Correct. For Aprilia, the NA 850 Mana is a bold step towards a technology that makes many motorcyclists turn up their noses at first.
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Top test Aprilia NA 850 Mana
The motorcycle with automatic
Aprilia to the parent company Piaggio. Its 839 cubic centimeter 90-degree V-twin cylinder has a nominal output of 76 hp. It is precisely this engine that drives the mana without any major technical changes. This puts it at the level of the middle class like Kawasaki ER-6n or Suzuki SV 650.
The automatic V-belt system, which is widespread on scooters, has been expanded to include some additional functions for the Mana. This was possible because the variable ratio is not regulated by centrifugal force, as is the case with scooters, but is controlled electronically by a servomotor. About the unloved “rubber band effect” ?? So accelerate without changing the speed? To avoid this, seven gear ratios are specified in the Mana gearbox control, which are approached similarly to a manual gearbox. In addition, the motorcycle can be zipped back and forth between three automatic levels (Sport, Touring, Rain) while driving.
Which mode should it be??
No coupling, but switching at the push of a button.
In sport mode, the engine works at the highest speed level and changes gears later than in touring setting. The automatic switches to rain mode even earlier. In addition, depending on the throttle position, the engine management is changed to such an extent that the engine accelerates more gently when accelerating suddenly. Sounds promising in theory. In practice, however, hardly anyone will make use of it, as every two-wheeler pilot would prefer to intuitively juggle the throttle hand gently instead of trusting the electronics on wet roads with slippery zebra and median strips.
But even the choice between sport and touring mode is superfluous after the experimentation phase. In terms of driving performance, the differences between the various operating modes are small. In the acceleration from zero to 100 km / h, the difference is just two tenths of a second in favor of the sport level. With the pulling power ?? if you can talk about it at all, because the automatic does not stay in the last gear, but “downshifts” when the accelerator is opened ?? the comparison is almost undecided. Depending on the speed range, sometimes the touring or the sport mode gains a tenth of the time. So insignificant. In contrast, the high speed level in sport mode is annoying in the long run. For example, at speeds of around 80 km / h at 5100 rpm, the engine turns a full 1400 rpm higher than in the touring stage. And even at 130 km / h, the difference is still 600 / min, without showing any subjective advantages. What the Mana in the MOTORRAD handling course with almost identical times and speeds objectively proves. The consequence: Ultimately, touring mode is always used.
What does the automatic system do on the MOTORRAD test course?
But no matter which of the levels you are currently in, the quick and inconspicuous reaction of the automatic is fun. In a fraction of a second it converts the power of the two-cylinder into good acceleration at the command of the accelerator, and immediately changes gears without a second thought. Even with spontaneous overtaking maneuvers, the change to a lower gear follows lightning-fast, the mana rushes forward with a bassy rumble of the unit.
You quickly get used to driving with the automatic. After a few hours it no longer irritates you that the automatic disengages at around 20 km / h while coasting. Instead of using the clutch out of habit, you just let the mana roll out at the traffic lights. And soon learns to appreciate the advantages that automatic systems offer, especially in urban areas. Gone are the annoying manual gear changes, the tension in the fingers of the willingness to pull the clutch at any time, the jerking and jerking in the stop-and-go of rush hour. Because the Mana hardly knows any load change reactions at all, as with the scooter, the belt automatic dampens knocks and jerks. Motorcycling in the city can be so easy, comfortable and playful.
Easy going for connoisseurs who want to concentrate on the essentials.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to do without driving dynamics. If you don’t want to give up the reins, you can choose a sequential switching mode as an alternative to the automatic mode. The seven switching levels can be shifted up and down with the thumb or forefinger using touch buttons. If you want, you can tickle every single gear up to the speed limit. The Aprilia rushes forward powerfully. Without twitching the throttle hand, a light press of the thumb on the gearshift button is all it takes to change to the next higher gear. It’s unbelievable how precise and fast it is.
And finally there is also the option of stepping through the gear steps using the footshift lever. But with your thumb and forefinger it is simply more casual. Tip, tip, tip, the gears are downshifted just as quickly. The timing could easily get mixed up, but incorrect operation is impossible. The sequential shift only resets to the speed level that is just possible and adapted to the speed; the motor cannot overspeed. Which does not mean that the rear tire may whimper when you downshift.
The 90-degree V-engine with four-valve technology and injection produces 76 hp and also drives the Gilera GP 800 maxi scooter.
If you compare the performance values of the Mana in shift mode with those of a Kawasaki ER-6n or Suzuki SV 650, they turn out noticeably worse on paper. The Aprilia needs five seconds to accelerate to 100 km / h, which the SV can do in 3.7 seconds. Even in draft, the Mana is left behind despite its displacement advantage. For example, the Kawasaki takes 5.6 seconds from 100 to 140 km / h in last gear. The Mana takes 7.1 seconds in seventh gear, although it has a relatively short gear ratio and revs up at its top speed of 200 km / h. Obviously, the automatic belt mechanism swallows a considerable part of the performance of the two-cylinder, whereby the high weight of the Aprilia of 229 kilograms certainly also plays a role here.
Nevertheless, in “real life” the mana driver never gets the impression of being poorly motorized or even handicapped. Subjectively and objectively, there is no lack of power and propulsion. The Mana is brisk even on winding country roads. However, she doesn’t want to be really athletic anyway. This already shows the moderately upright, very comfortable seating position, which is definitely inviting for long tours. The tight knees and the waisted bench allow smaller riders to reach the ground with safe feet. The small turning circle and playful handling make urban life easier, just like the automatic. Although the 850 cannot deny its weight handicap when maneuvering.
Simply practical: open the flap and stow the helmet.
The coordination of the spring elements fits the vehicle concept, it clearly goes in the direction of comfort. However, the upside-down fork responds a bit stubborn to small bumps. And the laterally arranged spring strut adjustable in the rebound stage tends to pump when driving briskly. The wide 180 rear tire follows a fashion trend rather than making sense. It is sensitive to ruts and generates a high righting moment when braking. Especially on bad, uneven roads, the Mana haggles the clean line from time to time.
The radial tongs on the double disc brake are much better presented. Not poisonous, but easy to dose and powerful, they slow down the mana in every situation. Incomprehensibly, there is currently no ABS available that would be an optimal addition to the automatic. This should not be offered until next summer at the earliest.
Instead, the Aprilia has another, very clever idea ready, even if it is not entirely new. Under the dummy tank there is not the air filter housing, but a spacious, illuminated storage compartment that even fits a full-face helmet. However, the shell must not be too big, otherwise it will be tight. As a concession to the storage space gained, the bulky air filter housing on the left hides the view of the V-engine, which is actually nice to look at. The 16 liter tank is located under the pillion seat. Thanks to a moderate highway consumption of 4.8 liters, the Mana operates with an operating range of a good 300 kilometers. A passenger is not particularly comfortably accommodated in view of the high footrests.
The bottom line is certainly that there are still a few details to improve, but overall the 850 impresses with its surprisingly well-functioning automatic. Unfortunately, the price for the ease of use is high. The Mana costs almost 9,000 euros with ancillary costs, which is around 1,000 to 1,500 euros above the non-automated mid-range competition. However, that should be bearable once you have learned to appreciate the ease of use with the flip book.
The automatic system works so well that this playful, easy way of getting around could well set an example. However, the concept of the Mana as a comfortable, uncomplicated all-round bike has not been consistently thought through. A safety ABS and a low-maintenance timing belt would be the icing on the cake on this new generation of motorcycles.
Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 90-degree V-engine, one overhead, chain-driven camshaft, four valves per cylinder, rocker arm, dry sump lubrication, injection Ø 38 mm, regulated catalyst alternator 450 W, battery 12 V / 10 Ah, stepless automatic transmission with three programs (rain, touring and sport), sequential seven-speed gearbox, O-ring chain.
Bore x stroke 88.0 x 69.0 mm
Displacement 839 cc
Compression ratio 11.0: 1
Rated output 56.0 kW (76 hp) at 8000 rpm
Max. Torque73 Nm 5000 / min
Steel tubular frame, load-bearing motor, upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm, two-arm swing arm, made of aluminum, central spring strut, directly hinged, adjustable spring base and rebound damping, front disc brake, Ø 320 mm, four-piston fixed calipers, rear disc brake, Ø 240 mm, Single piston floating caliper.
Cast aluminum wheels 3.50 x 17; 6.00 x 17
Tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17
Tires in the Dunlop Qualifier test
mass and weight
Wheelbase 1465 mm, steering head angle 66.0 degrees, caster 103 mm, spring travel f / h 120/125 mm, permissible total weight 435 kg, tank capacity / reserve 16.0 / 3.0 liters.
Service intervals every 10000 km
Oil and filter change every 10000 km 2.6 l
Idle speed 1400 ± 100 / min
Tire pressure solo (with pillion passenger)
front / rear 2.3 / 2.5 (2.5 / 2.8)
Warranty two years
Colors: dark blue, silver, red, black
Price 8699 euros
Additional costs 286 euros
What else stood out – was something else?
On-board computer with plenty of information from the outside temperature to the average consumption. However, a fuel gauge and a real tachometer are missing.
The sequential gearshift can be operated by pressing a button or a foot switch. The latter is a bit awkward to walk around? to be able to hook in securely.
The rearview mirrors don’t give you a good view no matter how you adjust them.
The storage compartment under the dummy fuel tank is illuminated and has a 12-volt connection.
In right-hand bends, the brake lever touches down immediately after the footrest.
The filler neck for the tank is located under the pillion seat. Refueling without gasoline spilling over is an art.
The left handlebar fitting takes getting used to. When upshifting you often hit the horn button. The high beam switch on the back is also difficult to find.
Top speed * 200 km / h
Rain / Touring / Sport / Sport circuit
0 – 100 km / h 6.5 / 5.4 / 5.2 / 5.0 sec
0 ?? 140 km / h 12.6 / 10.3 / 9.8 / 9.1 sec
Rain / Touring / Sport / Sport gearshift (7th gear)
60 ?? 100 km / h 3.1 / 2.7 / 2.6 / 5.7 sec
100 ?? 140 km / h 6.6 / 4.6 / 4.7 / 7.1 sec
Effective (display 50/100) 46/92 km / h
Consumption in the test
Touring / sport circuit
at 130 km / h 6.5 l / 6.8 l / 100 km
Country road 4.8 l / 5.0 l / 100 km
Theor. Range 313/300 km
mass and weight
L / W / H 2200/820/1260 mm
Handlebar height 1070 mm
Turning circle 5200 mm
Weight with a full tank 229 kg
Payload 206 kg
Wheel load distribution f / r46 / 54%
Driving dynamics 1
Braking distance from 100 km / h 38.2 m
Average deceleration 10.1 m / s²
Comments: The four-piston pliers decelerate in an exemplary manner. The radially screwed brake calipers result in excellent controllability. Mana remains on track and achieves very good values.
Handling course I (fast slalom)
Lap time21.2 sec
vmax at the measuring point 102.7 km / h
Note: The mana reaches the best values in switching mode. The quick traction when changing gears is astonishing. The reversal point can be avoided in a stable and precise manner.
Handling Parcour II (slow slalom)
Lap time29.3 sec
vmax at the measuring point 51.8 km / h
Comments: In the slow slalom, the time is limited by the footrests and brake levers touching down. The Aprilia can be kept on course well, but has a slight tendency to slide over the front wheel.
Orbit Ø 46 meters
Lap time 10.6 sec
vmax at the measuring point 51.6 km / h
Comments: slight unrest when driving over the parting line. The shock absorber could have a little more damping to keep the rear wheel quieter.
Lebenshilfe: The automatic is a real asset. Especially in hectic city traffic. The switching processes are smooth, quick and inconspicuous. Mana does not know any load change reactions. However, the performance and top speed are below average for a motorcycle in this performance class. The smoothness of the run is not entirely convincing either, the V-engine vibrates over the entire speed range.
The coordination of the spring elements is comfort-oriented. Good for the city and a leisurely country road pace. Sporty people, on the other hand, push the spring elements to their limits. The Dunlop tires and the wide rear tire have an adverse effect on the handling. A high righting moment when braking and poor directional stability on bad roads impair driving pleasure. In addition, the lean angle is limited.
The driver feels that he is in good hands. Everything fits? The Aprilia is comfortable enough even for long tours. The front passenger, however, would like footrests to be lower. The mana can be loaded abundantly, and the range is sufficient. It is in the nature of a naked bike that it does not earn any counters when it comes to wind protection. In contrast, the wide-ranging light could be brighter and illuminate the street better.
You don’t have to do without good brakes with Mana: you can dose it precisely and safely and have a powerful effect. An ABS would look good on her. The choice of tires and the rear dimensions are not optimal, the high pitching moment and, in some situations, lack of accuracy are bothersome.
A moderate consumption of 4.8 liters in automatic touring mode and low inspection costs thanks to long service intervals are real pluses.
Is barely good in her report card. It’s a shame, that’s certainly not due to the convenient automatic.
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