World's first test: Aprilia NA 850 Mana

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We’ve just ridden Aprilia’s new NA 850 Mana at its world launch in Turin, Italy. With a fully-automatic gearbox it makes the Mana half scooter and half motorcycle.

Around town it can be used just like a twist and go scooter and even has storage space for a helmet under the dummy tank cover (the fuel tank and filler cap is under the seat). It’s really simple to use and really works.

The throttle response is smooth and it’s no more taxing to ride than a C90 ‘plastic chicken’ – around the clogged-up streets of Turin it’s handy not having to keep changing up and down through the gears manually and using a clutch (there’s no clutch lever on the Mana).

The Aprilia uses a Continuously Variable Transmisson (CVT), opposed to a conventional gearbox; it’s electronically controlled and within the automatic mode you can choose between ‘Sport’, ‘Touring’ and ‘Rain’ modes, which gives different power and gearing characteristics.

You can also toggle to a seven-speed sequential gearbox mode, allowing you to change up and down through the ratios manually either with your foot or handlebar-mounted switches.

Out of town this mode makes the Mana more interesting to ride and with motorcycle-sized wheels, suspension and chassis it handles like a proper bike, not a wibbly-wobbly scooter.

Unfortunately heavy rain stopped us really pushing the Mana out of town but the concept is a good one and it works well. It should be ideal for those who use their motorcycles every day for work and for playing on at weekends.

See our full report in next week’s MCN out Wednesday, October 3, 2007.