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Thread: My Mana 850 review after 2500 miles

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    My Mana 850 review after 2500 miles


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    apriliaforum Junkie QUICKSILVER's Avatar
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  3. #3
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    Posted here also as I forgot that you had to be a registered memeber, though nothing from stopping you joining.

    Well having owned the Aprilia Mana now for a couple of months and having done nearly 2500 miles, I though I would share my thoughts on this new machine. I will try and break the review down into logical parts. My caveat to this review is that I have only ever ridden scoots from 125cc up to 500cc, so keep that in mind when I talk about performance and handling.

    Looks

    Always a subjective one this one, as someone’s piece of art is another’s trash, but generally speaking I like the look a lot, the bit I’m not so keen on is the front, retro springs to mind, its not ugly but I think they should have gone a little more aggressive with the styling at the front, to match that rear end which shouts sports bike with that big 180 section rear tyre. The manual actually states it can take a 190 also. I know some people think that big tyres on bikes are more of a fashion statement than anything, but I love it.
    I have the screen and top box fitted and at first I wasn’t a fan of the screen, but it really is well made and finished. I thought Skidmarx.co.uk might come out with something more radical, but if anything they look even more conservative than the Aprilia one.
    I also like the naked style bike, you can at least get to things you might want to work on without taking masses of fairing off, which has to save money when it comes to service costs, and I read it’s a very easy bike to service.

    Engine

    This is a 90 degree V-Twin 850cc which develops 76bhp, which is almost twice as much as any other scoot I have had before, so it goes without saying that for me this thing goes like the wind. I have read quite a few reviews and people state that even on the track it performs very well. Power is delivered immediately to the wheel as you move away, none of this noise and revs I got from the Nexus before it pulled away, but more like the T-Max I had before it. The power is constant and urgent all the way up 100 mph and plus, though I think I have only gone this fast about once …No really…..
    The sound from the exhaust is very pleasing, kind of a deep burble you might expect from a V-Twin, but I’m sure after market exhausts will exploit that further. The only slight negative I have is that the vibes can build up especially when you get to those high illegal speeds. Generally it’s not an issue, but some may be put of so try before you buy. I know of one guy that loved the bike but for him the vibes were too much and he chopped it in for a Shiver.

    Transmission

    Well this baby has a CVT transmission like any ordinary scooter, but beefed up to cope with the bigger cc’s. It also uses electric motors etc to actuate certain parts as opposed to springs etc. Perhaps more to go wrong but only time will tell.
    You have 2 main modes of riding and within those 2 modes you have several choices.
    For starters you have the full auto mode. Now here you can ride exactly like a normal scooter, twist and go, but you have 3 maps/modes available to you. Sport keeps the bike revving much higher, I can only see this being used on something like a track as it does make the vibes a lot more prominent and the bike noisy. I have tried this a few times and didn’t like it. Rain mode reduces the power to the rear wheel so potentially you don’t spin out in the wet. The mode works very well, the bike doesn’t feel broken as I have heard some people say, it just feels like being back on a 500cc again. Finally touring mode which attempts to balance performance and consumption. It does this pretty well, though my taste would be too have it perhaps reduce the revs a little more and sacrifice a little performance to reduce the revs/vibes and decrease fuel consumption. I’d call Touring “Normal” and have “Touring” as a more sedate option. When you are in the full auto mode you can use the manual gear shifter by the foot or on the handlebar to manually move down the gears to provide engine braking. The transmission will then stay in that gear until you press the “Up” gear button or foot pedal. When I say gears all its actually doing is moving the CVT belt and pulley to certain pre-mapped positions.
    You then have what Aprilia call “Sport Gear” mode which allows you to shift gear using the paddles on the left handle bar, or using a conventional gear lever. This works very well, but not having used a geared bike before I tend to use the handle bar shifters, I find the foot position very awkward and not intuitive, but then I would. The beauty of this mode is that you have control of the “Virtual” gears and therefore I have used this mode whilst filtering in long lengths of traffic where I have felt before that at say 25 mph the Auto mode is just revving to high, so have switched to manual mode and made the ride more relaxed by having it a gear or 2 higher. It also has the effect of giving better MPG. Another thing you don’t need to think about in Manual mode is changing down gears as you come to a halt or slow down. The system will not let the engine labour or stall so will change down the gears for you automatically if you go too slowly for the gear that you might be in. However it will not keep it at its sweet spot, so for those quick get always you will need to change down a gear or 3!!
    Using Sport Gear mode over Touring can yield up to 1 litre less fuel used in favour of Sport Gear. This is based on my commute to work which is about 65 miles return and has all possible driving conditions from the M25 to inner city traffic. Update on this last stat is that for the last week I have driven purely on Auto Touring mode and now have got the difference down to 1/3 litre more. Not sure why this is, I’m not riding any slower, but it went in to the dealer last weekend to have something looked at and perhaps it had an updated firmware with revised engine maps, I know the Shiver has had quite a few revisions on its maps. All of these modes can be changed whilst on the move at a press of a button on the right handle bar, no need to stop to make any changes.

    Handling

    This bike has been praised for its chassis and handling so as traditional bikes go, it’s up there I think with the good handlers, so for me it was a revelation. I have never been on anything so sure footed as this, it goes rounds corners as if it were on rails. It does have a big rear tyre to provide good traction, but it just feels perfectly balanced. One thing I always feared when I was on a scoot was high winds. I always felt like the wheels were going to be whipped from under my feet, so much so that on days when the wind was expected to be very high I would either take a different route or use a train. I would always marvel at the balls of steel that traditional bikers seemed to have riding in those conditions. But now I know it’s because they didn’t feel the same things I did. I have ridden on a few occasions now in very strong winds and whilst I get buffeted about the bike stays upright and doesn’t even shift, I was totally amazed, and this whole area of handling was something I was hoping would be vastly improved on from a scoot and I haven’t been disappointed….if anything it has way exceeded by expectations. Even putting on the screen and box doesn’t seem to have changed the bike handling at all.


    General Riding observations

    The seat is very comfy on this bike, on par with anything else I have ridden, which includes a T-Max, Nexus, X9, and Burgman. The weather protection before the screen was….well no existent. However I was surprised at how quiet it all was without a screen and fairing to disturb the airflow (remember what I have ridden before). However at speeds and if the wind was blowing you would have to hold on tight and your legs got cold. Adding the screen transformed all the above. I don’t get cold legs anymore and the noise is not much more than before. I have been caught in a few heavy rain storms and the screen does as good a job as any other scoot I have been on. I was very surprised as too how well it performed.
    One thing I have noticed is the heat you can get from the engine and exhaust, on a warm day this can make you much hotter whilst riding in town, though on the open road it goes away.
    The controls on the left handle bar are far too cramped and numerous. You have, main beam, horn, indicators, gear up and down, button to open the storage compartment and mode selection for the fuel computer. Whilst most of those are out of the way, during normal riding it’s easy to press either the mode button or even horn when you want to turn on your indicators. This gets even more confusing if you use Sport Gear mode as you have to use even more buttons. I think some buttons could have been moved to the right side and the indicator button better placed.
    Had I not been locked into my current Insurance provider I got quotes of around £140 fully comp. I have 5 years no claims and I’m almost 40 so I guess that brings my premium down.
    Storage in the compartment up front is not bad, though coming from a Maxi it’s the smallest I have had so I added a rear top box from Aprilia. Though people moving from a conventional bike will love the space provided. I’m considering getting the side panniers for my trip to Ireland later this year with friends, but the cost at around £350 is quite steep and a £200 6000 mile service is due at the same time, so maybe this will have to wait. The thing is, for my general commute I don’t think I would keep them on as it makes the bike to wide for filtering and weaving between cars, so quite an expensive luggage set for very occasional use.
    Fuel consumption has got better and better as she gets more miles on the clock. I do about 130 miles over 2 days commute and that equates to about 9.9 litres used. The tank holds 16 litres, with the reserve light coming on at 3.3 litres left. So a very usable tank range when its run in.

    Issues

    Well there always has to be some, the bike being very new to market will always have some teething issues and I have had a couple, no show stoppers but never the less annoying. My first issue was when a week after I got her she just plain refused to start, no engine turning over, just a click from a relay. It went to a local dealer who had a look and thought perhaps all manner of issues with the ECU. I had it picked up by the dealer I bought it from and they found the problem straight away ! The connection from the starter motor needed cleaning and hey presto all normal again. This connection is right underneath the bike so liable to dirt etc, so will make sure it’s nicely coated with a substance called ACF50. This stuff is great at keeping corrosion at bay and a fellow Muppet put me onto this after I read a review, thanks….
    The second issue was that I was beginning to get a low oil pressure light coming on when I accelerated hard and then when it was cold. The oil levels were fine so got a bit worried it was something more severe. Took it along to the dealers again and they spent quite some time testing and even changed the oil sender unit. Last resort was just too top up the oil to the max mark. They got about 1/3 litre in and the problem has gone away., so looks like the Mana is very sensitive to levels of oil just below the max mark. Therefore no real problem in both cases just something to be aware of for future maintenance and ownership. Oh and in between those two problems I got a puncture which was not repairable so had to have the rear tyre replaced !!!!!

    Summary

    Even though it has had some issues, they turned out to be very minor and just things that over time you learn about a bike. I have used that ACF50 on all areas around the chassis and electrical connections so hopefully this will keep some of the Italian electric gremlins away.
    I truly love this bike, when I owned my T-Max I didn’t bother looking at anything until she got quite a few miles on the clock (50K) and it was beginning to cost money in servicing. I never quite felt the same about the Nexus, it was a great scoot, one of the best looking, but again shocking experience from my local dealer drove me away from this scoot. I have to say that the service so far from the Aprilia dealer in Aylesbury has been brilliant (onyerbike). Even though they are about 70 miles from me, it’s worth taking your bike to someone you trust. I have always found moving dealers a bit of a lottery, but so far for both problems they have been very good. Even doing a 160 mile round trip to pickup my bike and deliver it back to my house when it first went wrong. I noticed that when I was there last weekend they now sell a brand new mana for £5899 with a free fly screen and soft luggage set I believe.

  4. #4
    apriliaforum expert SilverBeo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tha-mask View Post


    Handling I always feared when I was on a scoot was high winds. I always felt like the wheels were going to be whipped from under my feet, so much so that on days when the wind was expected to be very high I would either take a different route or use a train. I would always marvel at the balls of steel that traditional bikers seemed to have riding in those conditions. But now I know it’s because they didn’t feel the same things I did. I have ridden on a few occasions now in very strong winds and whilst I get buffeted about the bike stays upright and doesn’t even shift, I was totally amazed, and this whole area of handling was something I was hoping would be vastly improved on from a scoot and I haven’t been disappointed….if anything it has way exceeded by expectations. Even putting on the screen and box doesn’t seem to have changed the bike handling at all.
    I have a Scarabeo 500GT and am selling do to this reason! The MANA 850 is what I thought to be a better bike given my conditions (I live in the 2nd most windy place on earth) Your posting this shows me I was right to get the mana and become a X-BEO owner. Thanks for bringing this point up on your post and giving your thoughts on the matter - It helped me a ton......
    For the ancient Egyptians, a
    sacred creature and
    good luck charm, so the Scarabeo
    is also “sacred”

  5. #5
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    glad it struck a chord. I have ridden maxi scoots for 8 years and thought this was an area that should have been massively improved on, and it was. You won't be dissapointed. I kept thinking when I would ride in high winds how they all just seemed to zoom past me as I was holding on for dear life !

  6. #6
    apriliaforum expert pete roper's Avatar
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    You gotta remember that what keepsany single track vehicle upright is the gyroscopic effect of the wheels, (and to a lesser exstent the crank and shafts in a conventional engine'd bike.). Bigger wheels? Less ability to be taken off track by wind. Also side area in cross-winds plays a part, but a lesser part. Mostbikes have the aerodynamics of a house brick no matter which way they are going through the wind!

    Pete

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    apriliaforum prov-nov
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    color of digital screen?

    I noticed something recently and need to ask: is there a way to change the "color" of the digital screen on the Mana?

    At the USA dealership, the digital screen was orange. However, looking at the pix in tha-mask's post in maxiscoots, the screen is gray.


  8. #8
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    unfortunately you can only change the brightness. It looks grey because it's taken during the day and you can't see the backlight.

  9. #9
    apriliaforum prov-nov
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    Okay.... but is your digital screen gray or orange in color?

    Thanks.

  10. #10
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    The backlight is orange, which comes on all the time, but during the day its too bright to see so you only see the grey dash. But as its start to get dark you start to see the orange come through..

  11. #11
    apriliaforum prov-nov
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    ah... thanks for the info.

  12. #12
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    Are there any other Mana owners, or owners friends, with some millage to share their experiences??

  13. #13
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    Great review. Thank You.

    I have few question about the aprilia screen. Where the wind blows, over your head or on the helmet? Is it good rain protection like on scooters? I'm riding at the moment on honda ps125i and will be switching for the Mana 850 '08 on June so i'm used to have very good wind/rain protection but hate the wind blasting me all around the A roads.

  14. #14
    apriliaforum Member BigJim.T32's Avatar
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    The Muppets are invading, oh-noes!!

    Hey Mask, glad to see you here mate. I've lurked on Muppets for a while now & I've been reg on pug-club for yrs - I was sure I recognised that username..
    Nice review, good points raised particularly coming from Maxis - I'm fairly new to the bike also so I particularly enjoyed that read.

    I'll admit, I'm less a muppet than most of the Maxi-Muppet lads, spending nearly all of my time up till this year on bike-framed DNAs, & only using the Burger 400 since Feb for heavy loads, or looong trips where it's insane MPG figures start to kick in.
    Totally with you on on the wind, bane of my bloody life for years.




    Re- The bags; I wouldn't bother mate unless it's a for a fashion statement or to leave luggage on the bike long-term, like a specific tool-kit, or spares, etc.., not for that money they're asking.

    To completely bring it down to tight-wad territory;
    I'm currently running a 50ltr army-surplus backpack on the back of the seat (semi-permanent, I keep waterproofs & tools in it).
    With the straps crossed & fastened to the tank-flap (like a tail-pack), and a short bungie-cord clipped either over the bag to the rear bobbins - Or the bungie around the undertray, and clipped to molle-loops on the backpack - In either case it keep it extra secure.

    It gives plenty of room for the rider (no pillion though ), with the sides still available for mounting side-cases/rolls, etc.. and being behind you it doesn't create as much drag.
    In this fashion I intend to carry a 3-man tent, 50tlrs of assorted luggage in the backpack, my sleeping bag & pillow, plus a backpack on me for clothes - I'm hitting the pug-club big north meet in 2 or 3 weeks time, so I'll have the Mana fully loaded in the morning, take the Burger to work & swap over in the afternoon.
    Anyhow I'll keep everyone posted - if anything goes disastrously wrong & I lose my pillow on the M1 I'm sure you'll hear about it through the grapevine pretty quickly anyway..



    Short version is, that flappy bit on the seat gives you a lot of freedom in how you mount any rear storage, so it might pay for you to be a bit creative in what you spend your money on, you might manage to do the same job, look good going it & spend a fraction.

    Best of luck with the bike mate, if you got any more muppeteers ligging about over there on manas send them this way.

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