Welcome to the Find of the Month, where we share some of the cool bikes we find for sale on autoTRADER.ca. This month, we’re checking out a 2010 Aprilia Mana 850 GT for sale in North Vancouver.
Every once in a while a motorcycle comes along that has tons of smart design, but is still largely unappreciated, at least by the majority of the motorcycling public. The Aprilia Mana 850 GT is a perfect example of this.
The designers behind the Mana were obviously tasked with building something practical, but also revolutionary, when they made this machine. It addressed problems that have annoyed motorcyclists for decades: How can I make stop-and-go traffic less of a pain, and how can I add storage space to the motorcycle without making it ugly?
Traditionally, someone facing those questions would eventually give up all pretensions of coolness, and buy a scooter … or just suck it up, and add a tail trunk, continuing to wear out their clutch hand in the bumper-to-bumper grind.
In 2007, Aprilia came out with another solution: The Mana 850 GT.
At first glance, the Mana looks just like every other motorcycle. There’s a seat, a normal-looking 850 cc V-twin engine, a gas tank—it all looks like the same old formula, right?
Jump into the saddle, and you’d find out that’s not the case, starting with that V-twin. Instead of a standard shift transmission, the Mana’s V-twin has a CVT, so you can twist-and-go.
Honda’s really pushed automatic shift motorcycles in recent years, but in 2007, this was basically unheard of. Aprilia even had the sense to include the ability to shift between seven gears via a foot shifter, or bar-mounted paddle shifter, so the rider had the best of both worlds.
The CVT came pre-set with three separate modes: Sport (for power), Touring (for fuel economy) and Rain (less power, for slippery surfaces). Although this isn’t exactly the same as the engine management profiles in today’s ride-by-wire systems, it’s aimed at the same result, and again, this was practically sci-fi in the motorcycle world of 2007.
So you’re tootling along, getting acquainted with the CVT, and realize you’d better fuel up the bike. No problem, pull into a gas station. That’s where you realize the Mana has another distinctive feature: The gas tank really isn’t a gas tank. It’s a storage trunk. The bike’s real gas tank is positioned underneath the seat; to fill it, you flip up the pillion seat, to find the fuel cap.
Now, even in 2007, this sort of thing was uncommon, but not revolutionary. Honda had already played around with auto transmission bikes in the 1980s, and had been building Gold Wings with fake gas tanks even earlier, although they hadn’t been anywhere near as functional as the Aprilia’s forward trunk. And, nobody else had combined these two features in a motorcycle with reasonably decent handling. All in all, Aprilia had put together a machine that was practical for urban riding, but still with the capacity for back road fun.
Supposedly, the machine had about 53 hp at the rear wheel, and just under 50 lb-ft of torque. While this might not blow the socks off the jaded supersport enthusiast, especially when combined with a 200 kg dry weight, it was dominant in its own category. Easy enough, of course, because it was unopposed; nobody else was building an automatic motorcycle in 2007, and this thing certainly had an edge on any scooter out there. These days, Honda’s NC750X would mount a strong challenge, but the NC lineup was far away in the future at that point.
Alas, North American buyers spurned the Mana, although the machine continues to have a respected presence in the Euro market. It only lasted a few years in Canadian showrooms, which makes this version for sale in BC all the more attractive.
It’s the GT version, introduced in 2009, which means it has a sport touring windshield and ABS. Mileage is low, at 9,500 km. And most importantly, the seller says that the bike is “In excellent condition, does not need anything.” Those are the words we love to hear, although parts should still be available for this machine, as long as you can find an Aprilia dealer.
Asking price is $5,950. If you’re looking for a fun bike with auto gearbox, what else is available in that price range? You’ll have to either find an old Honda CM400, or hope to find a Honda NC with DCT.