automatic motorcycles

Automatic Motorcycles: How Good Are They?

You've probably heard a lot about an automatic motorcycle, but the question still lingers.

Are automatic motorcycles good? Are they better than manual bikes?

We're going to take a closer look at automatic transmission and the things they had to offer to us.

Motorcycle technology has indeed progressed over the course of time. 

While most riders indulge in the convenience of electronic engine management, traction control, and anti-lock braking system, there are still those loyal traditionalists who prefer to stick with old-school designs and carbureted engines.

We can't actually blame these people for refusing to embrace these modern features in motorcycles.

Besides, these technological advancements were all based on the general motorcycle engineering from pioneering manufacturers.

However, change is inevitable, and it's impossible to avoid it no matter how we struggle to reject it.

And motorcycles are no exemption to change.

Over the years, people have become witnesses to how motorcycles have progressed.

Manufacturers maintained a keen eye on essential features but they also ingeniously equipped their motorcycles with stunning components aimed for a safer and more comfortable ride.

The evolution of motorcycles didn't revolve around speed alone. Comfort and safety are also taken into consideration.

This innovation gave birth to a whole new idea that swayed away from the traditional manual transmission.

And this is where automatic transmission came to existence.

automatic motorcycle vs scooter

What's the difference between an automatic motorcycle and a manual motorcycle?

So how does an automatic motorcycle differ from a standard bike?

Shifting gears is one of the most critical processes of riding a motorcycle. 

In a manual transmission, shifting gears involve the usual method of squeezing in the clutch lever and lifting the shift lever with your left toe. You do this process each time you upshift into higher gears or downshift to lower speeds.

On the other hand, an automatic motorcycle won't require the rider to shift gears.

Motorcycles with automatic transmission mechanically position the gears depending on the engine's revolution, the stiffness of the center spring, and the weight of the plyballs.

Automatic transmission provides a great variety of speeds while allowing the engine to operate in a comfortable range.

As far as gear is concerned, automatic works the same way as a manual transmission.

Their main difference is the set of gears they're using.

Manual motorcycles are using different sets of gears to produce different gear ratio.

Automatic motorbikes are using the same gear set to achieve different gear ratios. This unique set of gears in an automatic transmission is called ‘planetary gear set.'

A planetary gear set consists of 3 components – a sun gear, planet carriers, and the ring gears.

All these components are in a constant mesh. And the torque flow through this system occurs along a single axis, for both input and output.

It provides different gear ratios by connecting these gears in different position and order.

This is why automatic transmission is the best option for casual riders who want to liberate themselves from the activity of continually shifting gears.

Definitely not a scooter

When you hear the name ‘automatic motorcycle' your first impression must be that of a motorbike.

This is only comprehensible because scooters are the first of the self-shifting vehicles ever to exist. And little is known about electric motorcycles that are definitely not scooters.

automatic motorcycle

Is Automatic Motorcycle right for you?

If you're not a fan of ‘shifting gears' every now and then, you need to get yourself an automatic motorcycle right now.

Not only does it make riding more leisure but automatic transmission also provides a safer ride.

Some cases of motorcycle accidents are caused by lousy shifting. This is why mastering the art of shifting gears is a must if you want to ensure a thrilling yet safety ride.

The automatic transmission has been very useful for beginners, and it has been mostly preferred by women for its ease of use.

Even experienced riders who want to eliminate the burden of constant gear shifting would prefer automatic motorbikes over the manual ones.

For beginners, learning how to manage to clutch, shifting, and braking using both hands and feet can be troublesome and confusing.

And the fear of possible erroneous shifting that can lead to accident only makes everything worse.

The essence of a joy ride is adversely diminished when you have so much to worry about.

With an automatic motorcycle, you don't have to worry about lousy shifting anymore.

All you have to do is throttle the engine and let the bike shift the gear for you.

Does it sound too good to be true? Well, you better try it to believe it!

automatic motorcycles type

Different types of automatic motorcycles

Automatic cars have already taken over the world. To further confirm that, more than 90% of vehicles sold in the United States are automatic cars. 

This just shows that people are slowly embracing the benefits of automatic transmission – at least for cars.

However, the same can't be said for the electric motorcycle.

Although the concept is the same, some riders still reject the idea of removing the thrill of shifting from the ride.

While they hold a valid point, it's only a matter of time before people start to realize the convenience and safety of electric bikes.

Despite some resistance, it won't be a surprise to see the majority of riders accepting automatic transmission soon.

Besides, motorcycle development doesn't stop here. Whatever automatic transmission is lacking may be filled in the next days to come.

But for now, you can choose any of these different types of automatic motorcycles.

Also read: Best motorcycle cleaners kit

No-Shift Automatic

Also known as CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), this type of transmission gives you the freedom of a fully-automated gear shifting. There is no clutch lever and shift lever to fight with. All that's left to do is to twist the throttle, and you're good to go.

Dual-Clutch Manumatic

This type of transmission is a hybrid of both manual and automatic transmissions. It follows a system that uses not one but two clutch transmissions that can control either the even gears or the odd gears.

It is designed to allow the rider to choose between two different modes of gear shifting. With a dual-clutch manumatic, you can opt to shift manually at your own pace or ride leisurely with an automatic transmission.

Centrifugal-Clutch Design 

This is the other term for semi-automatic transmission. These types of motorcycles do not have a handlebar-mounted clutch lever, but they will still require you to shift gears by stepping on a foot lever.

5 Most Popular Automatic Motorcycles

Do you really want to ride a motorcycle without the stress of shifting gears or worrying about possible occurrences of lousy shifting?

If your answer is "yes," then the next step for you is to look for the right automatic motorcycle for you.

Automatic bikes are rare ones, but there are actually a considerable number of these motorcycles in the market.

But we've narrowed down the list to the 5 most popular automatic motorcycles that will help you opt for your final choice.

1. Honda NC700X DCT

When it comes to an automatic motorcycle, Honda indeed leads the way.

Well, only a few manufacturers are offering electric bikes yet. But expect to see other significant companies be following suit.

Honda offers its NC700X DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) equipped with an inline two-cylinder, a liquid-cooled 670cc engine with 51-hp and 45lb-ft of torque.

Based on its specs, you can already tell that this motorcycle is powerful enough to be used in racing.

Its dual-clutch feature allows you to go fully automatic or go manual with the conventional 6-speed transmission, whatever that suits you.

This is to address the needs of some riders to have full control of their bikes by pressing the handlebar-mounted upshift and downshift button.

It comes with a great variety of fantastic features such as the Combined Anti-Lock Braking System and different riding modes which include Drive, Sport, and Neutral methods.

Overall, Honda NC700X DCT is a versatile, nimble and reliable motorcycle offering top-notch braking and engine performance.

Plus, its low center of gravity will make your bike more comfortable to handle and more comfortable than ever.

If you're looking for a fun ride combined with practicality and ease of use, then this is the perfect automatic motorcycle for you.

2. Honda CTX700 DCT

To fully understand what this motorcycle has in store for us, let us first dissect what the name ‘CTX' means.

"C" is for comfort that provides optimum drivability and easy cornering, equipped with low seat height and easy ground reach.

"T" is for technology that offers DCT gearbox with a powerful low-friction engine, standard-fit ABS (anti-lock braking system) and low center of gravity.

"X" stands for experience that promises smooth ride and all-around performance through a comfortable riding position.

These 3 main features are what make CTX700 DCT one of 5 most preferred automatic motorbikes in the market.

It comes with a full fairing that combines the best attributes of both cruiser and street motorcycles.

Its high torque 670cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine produces enough power for a more enjoyable two-up riding.

The state-of-the-art DCT system enables you to shift gears with the push of a button mounted on the handlebar or go on an automatic mode to let the change in a bike for itself.

Overall, Honda CTX700 DCT incorporates exceptional levels of comfort and advanced technology to give you a remarkable riding experience like never before.

Think of this as the smoother and more comfortable version of the NC700X DCT.

3. Aprilia Mana 850

As long as an automatic motorcycle is concerned, Honda probably has the competition in the bag.

But one manufacturer may give Honda a run for their money. We're talking about Aprilia.

Aprilia is an Italian motorcycle company that manufactures scooters. So it's really no surprise to see them venturing into motorcycles.

Unlike the DCT-oriented Honda, Aprilia offers its Mana 850 with a CVT system.

But what makes this bike more amazing is that the transmission can also be set to 7-speed manual by using the foot lever and the clutch lever mounted on the handlebar.

It comes with a powerful 839cc V-twin engine that allows you to choose from 3 different riding modes – Touring, Sport and Rain.

Touring mode improves fuel savings by scaling back responsiveness and power delivery without sacrificing the riding experience. Sports mode optimizes power, engine braking, and torque. Rain mode cuts down torque by 25% to help you maneuver the bike better in rainy weather.

Its three modes for auto-drive and sequential 7-speed gears can satisfy every riding style as it offers unique riding pleasure while providing maximum power.

4. Honda VFR1200X DCT

Hopefully, Aprilia might be able to give Honda a tight competition if they come up with more options. But for now, we'll just hand over the entire spotlight to Honda.

The VFR1200 DCT is the perfect bike for you if you're really into powerful engines.

Imagine this, a 1237cc liquid-cooled V4 engine that can run at an astonishing 127-hp and 93lb-ft of torque.

You can take your pick between 2 transmission modes: automatic transmission with different riding modes or the conventional 6-speed manual transmission.

The DCT gearbox has software enhancements to provide real-time performance whether on the back road or on the highway.

It is also equipped with an advanced chassis and excellent features such as Traction Control System and Combined Anti-Lock Braking System.

5. Honda NM4 Vultus DCT

The Honda NM4 Vultus is powered by a 670cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine that pumps out 47-hp and 44lb-ft of torque.

It brings basic style with its futuristic bodywork that gives you a feeling of transporting yourself into the future.

But there's more to it than its innovative design. It was specifically designed for long journeys as it features an ergonomic riding position.

It offers the best of both worlds as it gives you the option to go automatic or control the gear manually through the paddle-style button mounted on the handlebar.

Under automatic transmission, you can choose from 2 different riding modes: automatic S or automatic D.

When set to automatic S mode, the engine revs a little higher before upshifting to provide further performance.

Meanwhile, automatic D mode focuses on fuel efficiency. Additionally, this mode can detect variations in input related to the environment as it brilliantly adapts the gear to bring a unique level of riding compatibility.

It is also equipped with a 2-channel ABS system for enhanced stopping power.

The presence of integrated storage, front-end commands, rider back-rest, and angular fairing make it one of the most comfortable motorcycles to drive on an open road or on an urban street.

Are Automatic Motorcycles Good?

To answer this question, you'll need to ask yourself first. Do you prefer to go to clutch-less?

Letting your bike shift gears by itself takes away a lot of trouble and burden on your part.

So, why go through the trouble of continually shifting gears when you can leave that job to your motorcycle automatically?

Plus, automatic bikes aren't limited only to scooters anymore. Today, we have a more extensive range of automatic full-sized motorcycles to choose from.

However, if you are accustomed to manual transmissions, you may find that shifting gears is no trouble at all.

For some riders, they are able to get a more satisfying feeling when they operate the gears themselves.

With manual motorcycles, they feel more involved with the drive, and they enjoy having full control of their bike.

Whether automatic transmission is right for you or not would all boil down to your standpoint on shifting gears.

But then again, why choose only one when you can pick two at the same time?

With DCT technology, you can switch back and forth between 2 different transmissions of your choice.

This can really come in handy for novice riders who want to learn the ropes at the manual transmission.

Pros and Cons of Automatic Transmission

We have shown you all the right sides of an automatic transmission. But it's only fair to show you both sides of the coin, right?

Here are the pros and cons of automatic transmission:

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners due to ease of use
  • Recommended for high traffic areas as it liberates you from changing gears every minute
  • Automatic downshift will make motorcycle stop faster
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    The perfect solution for those who have difficulty coordinating clutching and shifting gears
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    Provides a more relaxed and safer drive
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    Eliminates the fear of lousy shifting that can cause an accident

Cons

  • Since automatic bikes are equipped with more technological parts, they are more expensive than manual motorcycles.
  • This also means that the maintenance cost of the automatic motorcycle is higher than maintaining a standard bike.
  • Automatic gearboxes have more parts that can add more weight
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    Planetary gear set offers fewer gear ratios than a manual gearbox
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    The torque converter can negatively impact the overall torque
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    It contains more elements and involves more sophisticated components that could fail in the long run
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    You must only use high-quality oils suitable for automatic motorbikes
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    Has higher fuel consumption than the manual transmission
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    Takes away the thrill of changing gears

Generally, automatic bikes stay behind manual motorcycles when it comes to acceleration. And this has been a lingering issue since the bike has full control of the gears.

To address this concern, manufacturers come up with more advanced and high-tech transmissions that instantly shift to the next speed when the gearbox is moving.

This new technology on automatic transmission can offer riders with better acceleration than their manual counterparts.

Conclusion

Now that you already know the different types of automatic motorcycles and after comparing the 5 most popular automatic bikes, we now go back to the original question: Are automatic motorcycles good?

By weighing in the pros and cons, you should know by now if automatic transmission is the right choice for your bike.

Whether you go automatic or stick to a manual, it's best to consider your specific needs and go for the one that can give you a more joyful ride.

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