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rwp42
08-18-2008, 02:01 PM
As noted in previous post, I picked up my new 2009 Mana 850 (passion red) on Friday. Over the weekend I rode all over the San Gabriel Valley, clocking about six hours of seat time.

I have been a scooter enthusiast for about eight years now, having owned a Piaggio BV-200, Aprilia Scarabeo 500, and Piaggio MP3 (the last just traded for the Mana). I have a seven mile commute to work each way; the economy and convenience of the scooter has been a godsend. I loved the stability and traction of the MP3 -- thought I'd found the commuting holy grail -- and then I saw the specs for the Mana: Oh. My. God. CVT, on-board storage, 850cc V-Twin, and classic Italian sporty styling??? SOLD.

Ergonomics
(note: I am 5'11", 185lbs.)

The seat is very comfortable. Not the barca lounger that my Scarabeo 500 was, but just fine. My wife and I found that there is actually more room for her on the back of the Mana than there was on the MP3 -- less crowding. The footpegs are well positioned; my legs lift straight into place astride the "tank" hump. The riding position is a very comfortable, upright, cruiser-style position with excellent visibility.

Controls

I understand previous comments about the 'crowdedness' of the left hand controls, but haven't had any real problems with it in practice. I had to train myself to reach a little farther for the horn button due to its position past the upshift button. The turn signal control is a bit small -- it would have been nice to have a bit more of a substantial feel -- but it falls naturally under my thumb while riding.

I love the excellent trip computer and perfectly visible speedometer (thank you for putting the primary readings in MPH!!!). I wish the trip computer had a fuel gauge, but otherwise it is very feature filled. I had to change settings to farenheit and then go into factory diagnostic mode to change trip computer from Km to miles, but then everything was perfect.

The rear brake foot pedal is well positioned, and I like the fact that it has an adjustable eccentric. The shift pedal is also adjustable, but coming from more traditional scooters, I am more comfortable shifting with the hand buttons.

The on-board storage is a nice size, but I find myself carrying accessories (maps, manuals, GPS, cellphone, shoes, snacks, etc...) instead of stowing my helmet. I find it convenient to press the left-hand button to pop the storage open when parking. Then just grab my stuff and go. I have learned to use the manual release when the bike is off when I am puttering with the bike, so I don't run down the battery with the interior light.

Handling

The bike has an excellent turning radius -- I can easily make U-turns with decent margin on city streets. Surprisingly, it feels less tippy and more stable at low speeds and stops than my MP3! The balance is excellent. I rarely feel like I need to put a second foot down. I like the under-seat position of the fuel tank, lowering the center of gravity.

Power

Wow. Okay, I *am* coming from 500cc single cylinder maxi scooter experience, but wow what a difference an 850cc V-Twin makes!!! It can take off like a rocket from a dead stop with no fiddling with clutches and gears. The CVT keeps the engine right in the middle of the powerband, so no matter how fast I am going, just twist a bit more and it surges forward. The touring (auto) mode is so much fun that I haven't really played with the semi-auto sport shifting much. And I love the deep, throaty rumble. No "sewing machine" here. ;-)

I have to admit that I had a bit of trepidation about riding this bike the first time (esp. coming from smaller traditional scooters). But it only took ten seconds to realize that the amazing power of the bike is very controllable.

The engine compression does a very nice job of slowing the bike under deceleration right up to the point where the clutch engages. Then the bike free-rolls.

Conclusion

For my needs, the Mana 850 has all nearly all of the practicality that I enjoyed about scooters, with all of the sporty fun I lusted after in motorcycles. It has great classic style and advanced forward-thinking features. I think I have found my perfect bike.

RwP

RichardU
08-19-2008, 12:47 AM
Great review. You forgot to mention that the Mana gets a lot of attention from other bikers and civilians, before they even know that it's fully automatic. I hope more people give this bike a chance and it carves out the cult status it deserves.

rwp42
08-19-2008, 12:54 AM
RichardU - yes, it definitely gets attention -- but remember I come from the *alien* MP3, so attention is definitely not new to me.

I also hope that this bike gains significant traction here in the states. I want them to sell a whole bunch of them -- and I also want to be the only one with one. ;-)

RwP

818Guy
08-19-2008, 07:20 AM
My wife and I found that there is actually more room for her on the back of the Mana than there was on the MP3 -- less crowding. The footpegs are well positioned; my legs lift straight into place astride the "tank" hump.

Great review.

Question: did your wife feel like the left side passenger peg was "close" to the exhaust? Was she able to sit comfortably notwithstading?

Thanks.

Dman51
08-19-2008, 09:02 AM
good review but now u just make me want one even more

rwp42
08-19-2008, 10:03 AM
Great review.
Question: did your wife feel like the left side passenger peg was "close" to the exhaust? Was she able to sit comfortably notwithstading?
Thanks.

Yes and no -- her foot wasn't able to fit squarely on the peg, more of a 3/4 foothold; she didn't feel undue heat, or discomfort from the exhaust itself. She felt more comfortable when I suggested that she point her toes down a bit. Gave her a bit more leverage and psychologically made her feel like she was less likely to fall off the back.

RwP

tha-mask
08-19-2008, 10:31 AM
Great review, agree with everything you said. I agree with your comments on stability, cannot believe how unstable all my other scoots feel compared to the Mana, I know having a Dry sump means the engine can sit lower, I'm sure this helps an awful lot. As mentioned in my review I think the side wind stability in amazing, I love my Mana even though its had its odd moments. I think when you buy a brand new bike like this you have to expect teething problems.

Fox Fader
08-19-2008, 02:12 PM
I got to ride one today and I really had fun.

The engine is super quite, (next to the Rotax)

Plenty of power, ok brake, great turning radius. The CVT is smooth and fun.

I didn't like...

The of the wind on my chest, a nice sport cafe fairing would be nice.

The seat (or bike) sloped forward a little too much. I always felt like I was slipping forward.

The weight, 500lbs, but it dosen't feel anything like it weighs that much.

I do believe I will be buying one.

kiwi_steve
08-19-2008, 04:34 PM
Thanks for the review RWP42 - Very interesting, I'm keen on the mana and it's looking more like the right bike for me the more i read on here. Thanks

SAFit07
08-19-2008, 09:41 PM
The bike has an excellent turning radius -- I can easily make U-turns with decent margin on city streets. Surprisingly, it feels less tippy and more stable at low speeds and stops than my MP3! The balance is excellent. I rarely feel like I need to put a second foot down. I like the under-seat position of the fuel tank, lowering the center of gravity.

+1

I've got an MP3 250 myself and have been riding it as my commuter since late March. I don't know if it's because the MP3 felt/feels like it's heavier in the front or what, but getting back on a 2-wheeler felt easier when navigating slow turns.

Oh, even though there's no wind screen, I can deal w/ being "pushed back" abit. Ya see, the MP3 @ 55+ would just pummel me around. It'd been almost 10 years since I last had ridden and I kept thinking, "is this normal for an upright?" So, I put on a Fabbri mid-screen which eliminated the chest pummels but the "noise"....the buffeting that would come up an over and around the full-face...I had to put earplugs in.

So, after having picked-up the silver/grey model from Ed on Saturday, I got caught in a downpour coming home yesterday afternoon. Since it's the "wife's" bike, she wasn't too happy since it got "dirty":)

If anything, I'm glad I've kept the 250. Having both fits our needs/wants. And once the Mana's paid off soon, I may have to upgrade the 250 too.

rwp42
08-19-2008, 09:56 PM
I really enjoyed my MP3 -- I think it's a great example of out-of-the-box thinking from Piaggio, and I am impressed that they brought the series to market. I have never felt such a solid front-end, that's for sure. I think the MP3 is about as 'practical' a commuter bike there is. Huge built-in storage, excellent safety, traction, and braking, great features, great fuel economy. But it took a team of horses and a jackhammer to pry the smile off my face after riding the Mana for the first time.

indiocrowe
02-17-2010, 02:43 PM
Great post. I am a current MP3 rider and while I love my little 250 (It has a custom white paint job, J-Costa, and a Leo Vince exhaust). I put 13000 miles on in a little more than 1 year. I saw the mana and fell in love. Your post made me want to get one even more.

EdInBTR
02-18-2010, 12:54 PM
Great post. I am a current MP3 rider and while I love my little 250 (It has a custom white paint job, J-Costa, and a Leo Vince exhaust). I put 13000 miles on in a little more than 1 year. I saw the mana and fell in love. Your post made me want to get one even more.

Go ride one and you will be reaching for your check book. I am trying to decide between a nekkid 2009 or a 2010 with ABS. Like the look of the nekkid bike better, but would love to have the ABS too. I will be keeping my MP3-500 though.

armadillored
02-18-2010, 09:15 PM
I'm another one that traded my MP3-400 for an '09 Mana. The price of the Mana was just too good to pass up. Would have bought the GT but couldn't get much off the list price. Now it's sitting in my basement waiting for warmer weather.

blueorleans
02-22-2010, 05:16 PM
+1

Great post. I agree with virtually everything, having traded up from a Vespa GTS 250. The real gains for me are on the highway:

* stability over such irregular surfaces as bridge grates and rain grooves;
* stability vs. wind gusts
* power to overtake in passing lanes and otherwise hang comfortably with fast-moving traffic.

Plus, the Mana's accessory hard luggage expands my touring options beyond what I was able to bungee to my Vespa's luggage rack.

My Vespa seemed to cover more distance out of a tankful of gas, but the Mana's slightly reduced range isn't a huge problem for me, as I like to take breaks after two hours' riding anyway.

As much as I loved my Vespa, the Mana is sexier x2! Super bike!

blueorleans
02-22-2010, 05:36 PM
By the way, I like challenging inquiring bikers to spot the combination of at least five things that, taken together, make the Mana unique:

* Auto-shifting (along with most scooters, all Ridleys, Honda’s DN-01, plus the dual-clutch option on Honda’s upcoming VFR1200F)

* Paddle-shifting (along with Yamaha’s FJR1300AE, plus the dual-clutch option on Honda’s upcoming VFR1200F)

* Parking brake (along with some maxi-scooters)

* Gas tank under the seat (along with most scooters, plus Harley-Davidson’s VRod line and select other bikes)

* Storage compartment where the gas tank ordinarily sits (unique to the Mana, and a real eye-opener to traditional bikers)