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Automatic Motorcycling

Posted on Jan 19, 2012 3:23pm PST

 

When I learned to drive a car, stick shifts were fairly common. In fact, after driving over 40 years, I only purchased my first automatic transmission car about 10 years ago. Today, however, people are learning to drive with automatics, and virtually all cars are automatic. So, what happens when you are first learning to ride a motorcycle? You have to learn this new skill of shifting.

This hasn’t been lost on motorcycle manufacturers. I’m sure there are a fair number of people who have difficulty with this new skill of clutch in, accelerate, clutch out. Honda, Yamaha and Aprilla are now offering models that are “automatics”. Full size motorcycles, not scooters. I recently read a test in “Rider” magazine of the new Aprilla Mana GT ABS.

It has a seven speed CVT transmisson. Like an Audi, a BMW or a Ferrari. No clutch, just buttons by the left grip that allow you to shift up and down through 7 gears. Like those fancy paddle shifters in the cars I just mentioned. If this proves too much work, you can leave it in Autodrive. This is fully automatic, and the bike shifts automatically through the gears. Just like most cars.

For some reason I never thought I’d see automatic motorcycles. If you wanted to ride, you learned how to shift. Period. Guess I was wrong. Technology marches on. Whether it seems like a good idea or not.

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