To CVT or not to CVT: Automatic VS Manual Transmissions in Motorcycles
In the world of light duty engines (which ironically most "powersport" vehicles fall under) there's traditionally 2 types of transmissions we all know and love. 1st, the typical 5 or 6-speed manual gear box giving that organic riding feel. Then, the state-of-the-art-efficiency (also ironic in that it was originally conceptualized by Leonardo Da Vinci) linear accelerating infinite gear-ratio'd transmission know as the CVT. Most of us are familiar with manual transmissions being the domain of motorcycles and CVT's being the domain of scooters. However, there are manual scooters, and also a few CVT motorcycles (a subject in which I'd like you guys' feedback on). In the world of CVT motorcycles, I'd like to call attention to Aprilia and compare it to Honda. Both companies have bike platforms for lightweight sport-touring and street-bikes that are pretty comparable otherwise.
The contenders for lightweight ST are...
The Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS (CVT automatic)
...and the Honda NT700 (Cruiser Power-Train: V-twin, 5-speed, shaft-drive)
The contenders for street-bikes are...
The Aprilia Mana 850 (CVT automatic)
...and the Honda NC700 (Optional Dual-Clutch Automatic)
I love that the NC700 and both Mana 850's have a storage trunk where the gas tank usually is (something I can forgive on the NT700 due to its integrated hard luggage). These are both well though out platforms for motorcycles, but what, if any, benefit is there to shifting over twist-and-go CVT? The Mana 850's transmission has different mappings for touring, sport, and rain, as well as an electronically simulated 7-speed manual mode. Do you think manual transmission and CVT automatics will have a split market share in the future? People who commute and tour could both really benefit from more CVT equipped bikes. What say you?
C'mon, sko sko sko!
Last edited by Rusty Shackleford; 07-25-2012 at 11:07 AM.
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The benefit for me is that I enjoy the challenges of a manual transmission. It's something for me to master. rev matching, being in the correct gear when entering/exiting a turn...more control or at least the perception of more control.
I wouldn't get an automatic bike for those reasons.
I can see a manual being fun for sport riding, and I assume that's why the Aprilia Mana has the electronically simulated 7-gear manual shifting mode available. After I got back from riding out in the country though, that automatic would sure come in handy in city traffic. I'd seriously consider the Mana 850 GT or the automatic NC700 as my next bike. I love revving the hell out of my 250 too, so I know where you're coming from though.
C'mon, sko sko sko!
Last edited by Rusty Shackleford; 07-25-2012 at 11:03 AM.
My biggest problem with the Aprilla and actually all "fringe " bikes, like them is getting serviced, with Honda, Harley, you can almost go to any fairly large concentration of population, and find a dealer, maybe even a couple to choose from. I got an Aprillia moped from my father-in-law, but can't find any one that can work on it. Fuel injected 2 stroke motors aren't common and way more complicated.
Aprillia probably makes a very good product, but it's 2 hours each way to any one that sells them, and then you have to make an appointment to get it serviced, which is okay I suppose, but you don't have any idea if they will get it finished the same day. My time may not be that valuable, but to have to spend a night in a motel while you wait overnight, or decide to ride drive another 4 hours, 2 up there, then 2 hours home, then another 2 hours back. My area has 2 Honda dealers within about 30 minutes from my home.
I had a Honda Reflex, a cvt scooter, that was highway capable, but just barely. It was very fun to drive, but, pretty scary on the interstates. CVT seems to be a very reliable transmission, they are in many industrial vehicles, but, at least for me, it was capable, but best being wrung out on an old country road.
I believe that the dual clutch systems allow you to rev the hell out of them...could be wrong though. If I move to a bigger bike, and if that bike has a dual clutch option, I would consider it. I would definitely test ride it first.
I get the convenience factor and my friends and I have grown up on manual vehicles. Then some of us just got hit with hellish commutes and forked up some cash for a beater slushbox while our manual juiceboxes sat. Personally, I couldn't do it. But if I really really had to, I'd either get the 700 or a Piaggio MP3. My buddy rides an MP3 and, despite its goofy ass appearance, is a really comfortable ride.
CVT's wear out the belts and pulleys. 20,000 miles? And have more friction losses. 10% more than a gear box and chain?
DCT could be the future. The new Ford Fiesta and Focus use it instead of a torque converter type auto trans. Those cars are the definition of mainstream right now. But DCT trannies generally have no clutch lever or neutral button for Pulse and Glide.
I will just stick with manual for now although I did get stuck in stop and go traffic on the highway for 45 minutes on my way home from Ohio Sunday. I got to test my front brake too. Good thing the CBR250R is light because I got tired of starting and stopping the engine and just started duck walking the bike at some points.
I like the idea of the CVT's ability to maintain power and let the transmission essentially do the "revving" via dynamic/infinite gear ratio, but ultimately if the DCT was found to be far more durable I'd certainly entertain it as an option as well.
C'mon, sko sko sko!
Last edited by Rusty Shackleford; 07-25-2012 at 12:12 PM.