Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Aprilia Mana - first impressions after 400Km

As I mentioned in my previous post, I just recently got my new Aprilia Mana. I named her Clarabella (this is an habit of mine, to name all the bikes I had...I will come back on this topic sooner or later).

So far, I have been able to take it for a long spin during the weekend, riding it on the highway, on some nice countryside roads, and in the city centre, on the daily commute to work. Obviously the engine still has to adjust, but I think I can draw some first conclusions, especially in terms of what I like and what I don't like.
What does the bike feel like?
The bike feels great. Mind, this is my first naked bike, I always rode Enduro-type bikes, so I can't really compare it with other naked. However, I can say for sure that what Aprilia used to say at the time of the launch - i.e. that this was not an 'easy' motorbike, but a real sports bike - seems to be absolutely true.

On the Mana you are on two rails. The bike goes where you tell her to go, without having to move too much or press on the pedals to get it down. The bike feels also very low - a lot lowerethan my V-strom - which is an incredible advantage in the city centre. I had never felt such a sensation of control as with this bike.

The seat is very firm, but very comfortable. The body can assume a number of positions that can come in handy on long journeys when you need to switch positions a bit. The longest I rode it was for 270km in one go, and I did not have backpains or anything else.

The trunk is absolutely amazing. It now contains a long chain and a rain suit, which I fit into the helmet when I want to put my helmet in the trunk itself. Both my helmets - a Schubert J1 L size and a Shark S800 XL size fit in the trunk (individually, obviously). The full face Shark actually fits in better than the Schuberth.

The gearbox
As most readers would know, the Mana has an automatic gearbox, with different modes of functioning: a full automatic mode and a sequential mode.

In full automatic mode, you drive it without having to change gears, and you can choose among three different engine modes: Touring, which is the one I have been using the most; Sport, which keeps the engine spinning at higher level and gives you a stronger break engine sensation - but which also makes the bike vibrate and consume more; and Rain, which Aprilia says it is useful when it rains and the road is slippery, because it cuts the power of the bike, so that it makes it difficult to lose control of the rear wheel.

Of the three modes, the one that convinces me the least is the Rain one: with no engine braking power at all, the motorbike becames even more dangerous when it rains, and you have this mode on...because you end up having to use your breaks a lot more frequently than you would with, say, the Sport mode or the Touring mode. But this is my personal opinion.

The sequential mode is the one I am using the most: with this, you can change gear either with two very easy and intuitive bottons at the handle, or at the pedal like on a normal bike. In reality I NEVER NEVER NEVER used the pedal, apart from the very first time just to see how it feels.

It becomes immediately natural either to use the bike in automatic, especially in the city with eavy traffic, or in sequential mode. At the moment I find myself using the sequential mode, switching gears at the handle, a lot more than I thought I would. I would say I use this mode 60-70% of my riding time, as soon as the roads free up from traffic.

The dashboard
The dashboard is very complete and very well done. The only thing missing is the fuel indicator. However, when the bike enters into reserve mode (approximately 3 liters left) a red light comes on, and an odometer automatically turns on to indicate how many kilometers you have been riding in reserve. This is very useful.

There are four lights which lighten up to indicate when to switch gear in sequential mode. However, I haven't used them that much yet: I kept the engine spinning at lower levels than I normally would, since it is very new.

I find it very useful the possibility to switch among the different functions of the dashboard from a button on the left handle, without having to touch a button on the dashboard itself - as it happens instaead on my V-strom.

The gear-buttons at the handle are right where you would expect them to be...the process of switching gears become immediate after a couple of Kms....However, the button to switch gears up is right where normally you would have the horn...and this means that on a couple of occasions I tried to use the horn but I was actually switching gears...not very nice!

What I DO like a lot:
  • How the bike feels, the immediate controlling sensation that it gives, and the fact that it does not tire you even on long roads and on the highways, if you respect the speed limit (in Belgium it is 120Km/hr). I always had Enduro bikes, and always suffered from turbolences caused by the fairing. Nothing like that on the Mana (ok - probably this is the case for all naked...)
  • The engine noise: SPECTACULAR. It just rattles like a real sportsbike
  • The trunk, very roomy and useful.
  • The gear buttons on the handle
  • The gearbox: fun, practical and at the same time engaging. This is a bike which is both great to ride at the weekend and for commuting every day.
  • The possibility to visualize the different functions on the dashboard from a button on the handle.
  • The look: I know, this is entirely personal, but the bike looks simply amazing. The front and the left views are phenomenal.
  • The dashboard, very beautiful and clean.

What I really DON'T like:

  • The vibrations on the pedals at high engine speeds, especially when the gear is in Sport automatic mode
  • The location of the horn button, very umconfortable to reach.
  • The sound of the horn: absolutely terrible, it souns like a 50cc scooter. A real shame.
  • The location of the stand, very difficult to reach
  • The fact that you end up scracthing the cover of the trunk pretty fast, unless you open it with the handles real straight.
  • The exhaust pipe, which ends us very high on the bike, making it difficult to use soft luggage...
  • The rear view mirrors. Cheap, small and difficult to fix.
  • The lack of even a small space under the seat, to put your documents and a anti-theft system.
  • The lack of a fuel indicator.
All in all, for the moment it seems like a great bike. I am 100% happy of my purchase, and don't regret it at all. We'll see. This is my first Italian bike (I always had japanese bikes before): I hope I don't come to regret my choice because of reliability issues...

I plan to post new review of the bike as i ride it, and will post itineraries i will be riding in the near future. Stay tuned!


Lewis said...

Hi there. Really good blog you've created!!! And I found that your Mana color is not black^^. Great pictures and interesting posts. Thanks for your link of my blog^^.

Can I introduce your impression on Mana to Korean by translation with Korean language in my blog?

Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi Lewis, you are the first one to comment on my new blog!!!! Welcome!

Feel free to translate my post on your blog into Korean...the only thing I would ask you is if you can please put the link to this blog, that's all!

Enjoy your MANA!

Laco said...

very nice reading. I am proud owner of the red one. Do you have any accessories on your Mana ( windscreen, bags,protectors)?
I am just waiting for rg-racing protectors I bought on the net.

Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi Laco, welcome and thank you! Where are you located?

I don't have any accessory yet. I plan on buying a windshield, but I don't want to buy the Aprilia one, which costs 300 Euros...and is a bit too big. I am waiting for Givi or other makers to manufacture one for the Mana.

I have a pair of soft bags which I will try on the bike before buyuing new ones. Unfortunately the Givi E41 that I have for the V-Strom do not fit on the Mana...

I also would like to buy the kind of protector that you put on the rear tyre, to prevent dirt to get on the bike: what's the English name??

Can you give me an advice on where to find accessories on the net for the Mana?

Laco said...

Hi Demonio,
I am Slovak living in Prague now. I found only the crash protectors for the Mana http://www.rg-racing.com/browseBike/Aprilia/Mana/2008.aspx
She is obviously too young for aftermarket products. I am also interested in the windshield but haven't found anything suitable so far.
Are the mudguards really so useless? I haven't ridden it on the wet road so far.
I forgot I plan on buying also Givi case, they have mounting kits available http://www.givi.it/per_la_tua_moto.asp?co_id=24608&lang=en

Laco said...

I just realize that you should be able to put your E41 on the Monorack from the last link in my previous post.

Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi Laco, thanks. I did contact givi but they told me they don't sell the frame for the E41 for the mana yet...but they do sell the rack to then fit the back case.

Givi also told me that they don't have a screen yet but that they might develop one in the future.

As for the mud guards I think they are going to be very useful...

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

I have just received yesterday my Mana 850 in grey. This is a great bike. I have been looking for a luggage rack system for month and I have identified some items in Givi and Kappa ranges( Kappa is a Givi subsidiary) but they are not available yet. I have also contacted SHAD in spain and they said they would make one available in a couple of month. Do you have any information as regards to the Aprilia rack and especially for the dimmensions/photos ?

Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi there, welcome! I don't have adduitional information on the rack/ luggage system. When I contacted Givi they told me there is a special monokey rack that can fit any Giivi back pack. But they told me the givi e41 side luggage cannot be fitted...yet.

This is an argument I am very interested in, so please let's share any info we get!

Demonio Pellegrino said...

Anonimous, on Givi's site there is no photo yet...

The rack for the back case is NO. 732FZ - Monorack. They say you need to get rid of the original handle. Have a look at this: http://www.givi.it/per_la_tua_moto.asp?co_id=24608&lang=it

Graham Freestone said...

Hi DP,
I just decided to buy a Mana: your blog tipped the balance!
BTW: what GPS are you using? I am trying to choose between Garmin & Tomtom


Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi Graham, I am happy to hear! I guess I should be asking a commission from Aprilia...

The GPS you see in this picture is called Tripy. It is a GPS based technology thing, but not really a GPS...in the sense that you can only upload itineraries from your PC, and it will guide you through vidual indications such as arrows and points of interests. Very different from a traditional GPS.

You can find more info here: www.tripy.com

It is nice, but the software is a pain in the neck.

Between the Garmin and the TomTom I would not hesitate and would get the Garmin. Everybody I know who has it says it is great. The tomtom seems to have problems with the system that fixes it to the bike, and some people in a motorbike forum I sometime visit had their Tomtom flying away while they were riding...

What colour is your mana? And where are you from?

Anonymous said...

Hi Demonio,

I posted anonymously on May 22 about luggage racks for the mana. I have finally fitted my bike with an aprilia rack (Euros 165) and a SH50 shad 50 litres top case (Currently sells at euros 280 but I found a brand new one at euros 190 on ebay). This is a great setup and I will post some photos of the bike soon.

Best regards.


Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi Jerome, I would be curious to see photos of the Mana with a such a large topc case. If you want me to post them here, don't hesitate to send me a msg to demoniopellegrino AT yahoo.com



smartje268 said...

Hello Demonio,
I just want to ask how tall you are.
At this time I'm riding a Yam TDM 900. Myself I'm 1m88 tall and wanted to know if I can fit in a comfortable way on the Mana.

Hope to hear you soon.
Kind regards,
Yves, Belgium

Anonymous said...

Hi Jerome! Please send me your photos as well: misteraustria@gmx.at


Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi Yves - I am 178cm, and I fit perfectly into the Mana...I have no clue whether it will be too small for you. It might, for the position of your knees, but I can't be sure...

Anonymosus - the photos are now posted on this site in the two posts about the Shad top case

Anonymous said...

Hi Demonio,

Read you fantastic blog and went straight down the shop to do a test ride. The day-after I bought the black demo bike. What a fantastic machine! As a former scooterist (Vespa 250 GTS) I was a bit hesitant reading about the weight of the bike, but in practice you don't feel this, it really has lightweight handling and is very stable.

Kind regards,

Michael said...

Well the Mana has started showing up over here in the US. I'll have to go take a look at it this weekend. What kind of gas mileage are you getting?

Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi Michael, in the city centres, the reserve light comes on after 175-190 km, with consumption of 15.2-16km/lt (6.25lt/100 km). That’s not much. However, if I ride it on the highway and on the country roads, at stable speeds, we get to 20.5 km/lt (4.8lt/100 km), which is not too bad.

Ron said...

Hey Demonio - let's get an update on your blog. I'm looking into getting one of these techno-marvels and I'm wondering about your thoughts since your initial observations. How is the old girl holding up now that we're in December? Are you still in love?

Love you review, BTW.


Demonio Pellegrino said...

hi Ron, I can only tell you not to do it...the bike only gave me problems over the last three months. And I am definitevely going to sell it ASAP...

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us about the problems and why you have decided to sell?

Demonio Pellegrino said...

i had a long string of problems:

- oil leakages. the whole carter had to be repaired.
- oil leakages again...
- water into the dashboard
- injection problems which caused the bike not to start one day. the bike remained in the garage for 40 days, while the injectors were changed and STILL the electronic was giving a false alarm and causing the bike not to start.

if this is Italian quality, I wish I had sticked to Japanese motorbikes. And that's exactly what I am going to do in the future.

Real pity. I liked the bike. But now I can't trust it. and i want out.

Demonio Pellegrino

Anonymous said...

Hi guys

How is the reliability of the Mana. Anyone had any problems?

Demonio Pellegrino said...

As mentioned, I certainly did...

moi said...

Hi Demonio.

Sorry to read that. I hope you didn't have to pay for these problems.
As You can see on this site:http://www.apriliaforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=161377&page=5
you're not the only one to have this problem of oil leakages. They finally found the cause and begin to solve it. I think it only concern the first series.
It's maybe time to wait.... ;-)

Marnie said...

Hi there Demonio. Thanks so much for your blog. It's very well written and I love the colour of your bike! I'm Canadian - in Ontario, Canada and 3 weeks ago I purchased a 2008 Moto Guzzi Breva 750. Unfortunately I am not 100% happy with it as it's a little short and clunky. Of course a little test drive never tells you exactly how it's going to feel down the road. The dealership also has an 09 Aprilia Mana 850 for sale now and (hopefully) they are going to do a return for me. I'm waiting for the call... I absolutely LOVE the look of the Mana!
The real reason I'm posting this is I found a windscreen online... it's in the US but maybe they'll ship to you. Anyway, here's the link. http://www.af1racing.com/store/Scripts/prodView.asp?idProduct=7098

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hey DP,

Awesome blog. Thanks. I met my fiance about 3 years ago and she'd never been on a motorcycle (30 years old). Now she's ridden throughout New York and New England (USA) with me and when I told her about the Mana, she said that if I bought her one, she'd ride across the country with me!

It's been a while since you've posted...do you still have it? Did you end up selling it? And how much did it vibrate? I've only ridden 1 v-twin and it was a 2010 HD Sportster demo. It was enough to make me not want an HD any more! I like the vintage bikes and am currently riding a 1975 Goldwing, fully dressed. (Secretly) lusting after a Moto Guzzi Norge or Griso. I now am afraid of the v-twin, though. How about the V-Strom? A lot of vibration? Thanks, and again, excellent blog!


Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Demonio Pellegrino said...

Marnie, thank you for pointing out that screeen. I don't own the Mana any longer, though.

Rick, thank you. As mentioned, I sold the Mana when I moved to the US, in March 2009. The bike gave me an endless string of problems, and I regret that purchase very much. The idea behind the Mana was surely a very good one, but the execution was extremely poor, at least for the series I had. Things may be different now, but I don't know.

Good for you that you have a fiance who is willing to ride across the country with you! My wife doesn't event want to try to ride...

Anyway, the Mana actually vibrated more than the V-Strom. I have no experience with four-cylinder bikes, so I cannot make a comparison with those. But the V-strom is a very gentle bike, if you ride it properly, and vibrations were never an issue. The only problem I have with the V-strom (since day 1) is the turbulence caused by the windshield. It is a well known problem of the v-strom, and one which is not easily solved, even changing the windshield, like I did.

Re the mana, it definitively vibrated a lot more. Especially if you put the gear mode in "sport". But it was bearable.

hey, if you ride through Chicago (that's where I live now), let me know!

Ren_Mana said...

hi, i'm Ren from Malaysia. i rode my mana for almost a year now, i like her very very very much. the mileage is 23,000 now and she need to change the drive belt and the variator sliders. can u guys help me with this. i contacted the aprilia branch in malaysia but i thing the price is too expensive. what about in your country? is it cheaper? i really need u guys response. thanks

Demonio Pellegrino said...

Hi Ren_Mana: I dold my Mana more than 15 months ago, so I can't help. Sorry about that.