Aprilia, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer owned by Piaggio, introduced the Mana 850 in 2009. In terms of style, it’s an arguably naked bike. However, Aprilia intended it to be all-around commuter machine for the European market, so it has an unusual (at least for a naked bike) continuously variable transmission, typical of those found in scooters rather than motorcycles. Honda also introduced a machine with sport styling and a CVT the same year, the Honda DN-01, but the Japanese company only produced it for a couple of years. Aprilia not only continues to make the Mana, but the manufacturer has added several other models to the line in succeeding years.
Powered by an 839.3cc, liquid-cooled, V-twin four-stroke engine, with a single overhead cam valve configuration and Weber Marelli fuel injectors, the Mana has a number of unusual features. The automatic transmission lets a rider twist the throttle and go, scooter-style, but he or she can switch to a manual shift mode and engage the seven-speed gear box. Although it looks like the 4.2-gallon fuel tank is in the usual place, in actuality that space is a storage compartment, and the tank is under the seat. The extra storage is nice for anyone using the machine for a daily commute, though Aprilia also sells optional trunks and side cases to expand the available storage.
An inverted fork with 4.7 inches of travel in front and a twin-sided swing arm with adjustable rebound damping and a spring preload shock in back provide the suspension. Hydraulic disc brakes front and back may look like Brembos, but are in fact Taiwanese. While they may not be high-end, they are fully up to the task of stopping the 500-pound (curb weight) Mana.
With 76.1 horsepower and 53.8 lb-ft torque, the Mana can quickly and smoothly reach 75 miles per hour on the highway – so installing an optional windscreen is recommended with this bike. The Mana 850 is somewhat controversial in motorcycling circles, with some people believing that a machine that looks like a naked bike ought to come with a clutch and a manual gear box, and others appreciating the ease of use and the fact that it is almost impossible to stall the engine.