Loan bike for my bike's little tweaks post-service is today an Aprilia Mana. Figured I'd see what a scooter that isn't is like. 838cc watercooled twin, naked. Doesn't look that bad, well, no worse than an Aprilia Shiver, which is half-arsed copy of a Monster with added ugly (but looks better than the M696). The crazy thing? it's actually a scooter motor and gearbox, so, this is an auto bike. Comfy seat on it, nice seating position. You are pretty upright but in the perfect location to have your forearms parallel to the road. Seat is sculpted in a way that makes it hard to get half a cheek off for some crazy kneedown action, but such is life. Works well once you get up on the balls of your feet, though, despite the inability to move much on the seat sideways. I was prepared to completely hate it, and was kinda surprised that I didn't. The suspension is a bit soft, sure, but with some respringing for my weight it'd be quite a capable bike around some corners. Brakes are good, too. The auto isn't too bad. A little sluggish to get up and go, requiring a big twist of the throttle, but it cruises along nicely, always has a great amount of pickup. With the power and not massive amounts of weight it performs ok, too. A bit more power would be good - it is limited to 75hp so it doesn't blow up the CVT - but it's quite a reasonable bike. It's quite rapid for what it is, too, just ask the bloke on the GSXR600 who lined up next to me and only was quicker at something in the order of 145+, where I had backed off. Would probably run to the north side of 200, and that'd be it, but not bad for what is essentially a scooter. With the auto, you get three modes: touring, sport and rain. Pretty much touring sits you in a nice spot for reasonable overtaking revs but nothing stupid. Sport just revs the ring out of the bike everywhere, and rain tries to give you less revs. Ask for some extra go, to, say, overtake, and the CVT will give you a few more revs and herbs, even in sport mode. There's even the option to switch gears around yourself. The gear lever is actually a switch: press it down to drop the CVT into one of 6 ratios. Up supposedly shifts up a gear but every time I did that, it'd just go back to auto. If I had an owners manual I could probably learn what I'm meant to do. You also have an up and down set of switches on the left handlebar. Coolish feature is that it's got a Suzuki Across-like compartment where the fuel tank normally would be. Fits my XR1000 fine, would fit a bit of shopping. Hey, it's a socoter without the bodywork and with proper suspension, so I guess it needs to be practical. Even has a 12v socket in the compartment. You open this compartment with a switch on the handlebars (only works when the immobiliser is disabled, i.e. the key is in the socket and in the off or on position - not when the bars are locked). Don't hit this switch when riding, the compartment smacks you in the balls. Guess it's a bike meant for lady riders. What's the target market? Well, one would be people who want a real bike, but have a full motorbike licence restricted to auto (i.e. did their P's test on a scooter or the like). It wouldn't be bad if I wanted something to commute in Sydney, say, every day but still be okay on the open road. Compared to cocking about with the Monster's heavy-arsed dry clutch on the way to the dealership, the auto was fantastic in traffic. Would I buy one? Nah, I'm not after something like the Mana. I will say this though, it wasn't anywhere near as shit as I thought. Is it going to replace sports bikes? Clearly not. Is it going to displace scooters? No, cause of the lack of bodywork. I'm not sure they'll sell too many - don't know if the target market in Aus is that big. It'd be great in a lot of parts of Europe though. tl;dr version: + Auto isn't too bad, some manual control over gears possible. Three shift modes. + Reasonable handling bike, unlike a scooter. Could be stiffer or have better suspension, but not hard to fix at all. + Comfortable seat, great riding position: puts you in a great spot for control but not hunched right over. Could be popular with some riders for this reason (I think the same applies to the Aprilia Shiver though - just a less sculpted back to the seat) + Storage means that the only drawback on a scooter is that it isn't a step-through design with bodywork. - Auto is a bit sluggish to pick up from the lights. I found the best method was keep a bit of rear brake on, full throttle, ease off the brake, and then ease off the throttle once you've got going. - Couldn't suss out how to get it to hold a higher 'gear'. Sure, doesn't actually have gears, but it might be nice to be able to be in some twisties, go back to second, up to third when you want, then snick back to third. - The storage compartment: don't play with the button that opens it when you're riding, lest you get smacked in the balls.