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Automatic Transmission Bikes


Francis

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My right hand is slowly suffering from osteo-arthritus and it is becoming difficult to close it without pain in my fingers. Reaching out to squeeze the clutch is a progressive issue for me...especially since I do a lot of in-traffic city riding requiring a lot of clutch usage.

 

What has been the Boards experience with automatic transmission bikes? What brands, years and performance issues or advantages?

 

I don't want to stop riding because of this condition and appreciate all the advice & counsel I can get.

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dirtrider

Morning Francis

 

I'm only familiar with the older (clunkier) auto clutch bikes so not much help to you there.

 

I do know of 2 riders with similar problems to what you have & both are now riding the new BMW 650GT scooter. (actually more small motorcycle than scooter)

 

Both are REALLY liking the new BMW scooter & so far haven't had any issues with them.

 

Those little devils are about the fastest thing 0-30 mph in the BMW line, have great brakes & no hand clutch.

 

I'm not telling you to get one but I highly recommend that you find a dealer & go ride one.

 

Both of the riders that I know had no use for a scooter UNTIL then rode the BMW 650. Both bought them about on the spot after a nice long test ride.

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I think there was a Yamaha FJ1300 a few years ago that was automatic. IIRC, low speed riding was a chore since you couldn't gray area the clutch. Otherwise, nice bike.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_FJR1300

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Glenn Reed

The Honda CTX700N is available with an automatic these days. There was one from Ohio at HelenBack in 2013, but I don't know if it was the automatic version.

 

 

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Dave_in_TX
Morning Francis

 

I'm only familiar with the older (clunkier) auto clutch bikes so not much help to you there.

 

I do know of 2 riders with similar problems to what you have & both are now riding the new BMW 650GT scooter. (actually more small motorcycle than scooter)

 

Both are REALLY liking the new BMW scooter & so far haven't had any issues with them.

 

Those little devils are about the fastest thing 0-30 mph in the BMW line, have great brakes & no hand clutch.

 

I'm not telling you to get one but I highly recommend that you find a dealer & go ride one.

 

Both of the riders that I know had no use for a scooter UNTIL then rode the BMW 650. Both bought them about on the spot after a nice long test ride.

 

The Suzuki Burgman is another alternative. They will do almost anything a real motorcycle will do. I even know of a couple who used their Burgman for a 5K mile tour. Their only problem was that the rear tire needed to be replaced before they go home.

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The only issue I know of with the BMW 650 scooter is the maintenance costs.

The enclosed chain instead of a shaft like most scooters has a replacement life of I think 24-30k miles.

One should talk to a service manager to see what the cost would be to run one 12k-24k miles.

 

The power unit is farmed out to Kymco, built to BMW's specs. If you were to have a scooter built with your name on it, Kymco is the company you want to design and build the power unit.

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Antimatter

I commute on a Burgman 650, which for me was the perfect union of functionality at minimal cost. Specifically, the ease of maneuvering and weather protection, plus the low initial cost made it a winner. I realize that not everyone can see themselves on a super-scooter, though. I haven't test-ridden any of the motorcycles that come stock with automatic transmissions yet. Honda's NC700X and VFR1200F are the two that I can think of off the top of my head.

 

The newest BMW S1000RR comes stock with quickshift technology that lets you upshift and downshift without using the clutch a' la MotoGP technology. I'm not suggesting that particular bike for you, but rather that the technology is available in on a motorcycle in stock trim, and the that might trickle through the rest of the motorcycle universe over the next few years.

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Will Stagg

I have arthritis issues as well and one reason I love my RT is the effective cruise control allows me more time in the saddle. My next bike will be a Honda with the dual clutch transmission (sorta like automatic). Tested one, works amazing but l still loved my BMW more and the pain is still at "acceptable" levels. The Honda lacked cruise control. I'd bet money that BMW will have dual clutch eventually worked that well.

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I have a Honda NC700XD with the dual-clutch transmission (same as used on the VFR1200.) It's about as easy handling a bike as I could imagine, in fact scooter-like ease of operation but in a full motorcycle form factor. It's tuned for low-end torque (and is amazingly torquey for a 670cc motor) and not high rpm so you have to ride it as intended, but if done so it's quite satisfying if not exciting. Basically very fun to tool around on due to the torquey response and low weight.

 

The DCT works very well. It has Drive and Sport modes, the Drive mode being more for commuting/high mileage (I have been seeing 65-70 mpg), but it really short-shifts in that mode so throttle response can be lacking. OTOH Sport mode is pretty amazing, it almost always has me in the gear I would have manually chosen. Auto-clutch operation off-the-line from a stop is flawless, every bit as easy to modulate as a manual clutch if not more so. And you have the option of operating in manual mode, using a paddle shifter build into the left grip. The DCT model also includes ABS.

 

I bought it as a toy to play with but find myself riding it a lot, sometimes lesser is better than a heavy, 160 HP K-GT, especially on the roads around here. And for someone with an impairment that gets in the way of a manual clutch it would be perfect, or if you want more power (and weight) you could go with the VFR... since the DCT systems are essentially the same I would expect good performance out of it as well. You just have to get used to stop reaching for the nonexistent clutch lever :grin:

 

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Bill_Walker

I'm assuming you (the OP) meant left hand rather than right. Several folks have mentioned maxi-scooters as a potential solution. The catch with CVT scooters, of course, is that the clutch lever is usually replaced with the rear brake lever and no foot pedal is provided, so that doesn't really eliminate your left hand problem. I think that leaves DCT Hondas and the Aprilia Mana as your only modern options. Honda and Moto Guzzi built a couple of bikes with automatics in the 1970s.

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Mister Tee

It's a shame that Honda does not sell the Wave here, which is "mini" scooter but it's more like a real motorcycle, with large wheels and pegs. The newer ones are automatic but even the older ones do not have a clutch lever (centrifugal clutch.) You can't take them on the freeway, but they are great in-town commute bikes.

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Since the OP referred to issues with his clutch hand, I'm assuming he typed "right" when he meant "left" (which I've known to call my "other right") That being the case, don't scooters have the front brake on the left and rear on the right? If so, then the OP's left-hand issues will change from being unable to shift to being unable to stop. Not a good swap IMO.

 

I'd think one of the DCT Hondas would be a better choice, IIRC shifting is a thumb paddle. I remember hearing the FJR1300 had an automatic clutch model too but it appears they're only available used; it was called the FJR1300 AE.

 

There's also Ridley http://www.ridleymotorcycle.com/cpo/ but it looks like they're barely hanging on.

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szurszewski
Since the OP referred to issues with his clutch hand, I'm assuming he typed "right" when he meant "left" (which I've known to call my "other right") That being the case, don't scooters have the front brake on the left and rear on the right? If so, then the OP's left-hand issues will change from being unable to shift to being unable to stop. Not a good swap IMO.

 

My experience with twist and go scooters is that the front brake stays the same (right side) and the "clutch" lever activates the rear brake. Mostly I've ridden modern Vespa and other Piaggio products though - maybe it's different on other brands. (I often, when taking my wife's Vespa out for a quick run, will make a very sudden stop at the end of our block when I firmly activate the rear brake thinking that I'm instead pulling in the clutch lever... :dopeslap: )

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Guest Kakugo

I've tested the Yamaha FJR1300AE before settling on the RT.

 

Technically speaking it has not an automatic transmission, but a conventional mechanical gearbox with an automated clutch.

The system works well and it gives you the choice of either changing gear through a handlebar switch and a conventional foot lever.

 

The bike is much better finished and put together than any present Honda's (including my own). I dare to say it's not very far from BMW in the build quality department.

Comfort is excellent, the engine simply fantastic, wind protection great.

 

Where it falls short is the shaft drive (very intrusive), tank range and handling.

Now: I would not define any of these as "bad". Just outdated.

The bike has been around in basic form since 2001 and, while Yamaha has continuously updated it, it's basically a 15 years old design and it feels like it. There's only so much even their engineers can do if they have to keep the same engine, frame and shaft drive.

By 2001 standards, it is a superb tourer. By 2015 standards, much less so.

 

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I've owned and loved the Honda Silver Wing maxi scoot. As the left hand brake is the rear, and the front is linked (after the first 30%-ish squeeze) you don't need to use it much, and when you do (trail braking) you don't really need to use a lot of pressure.

 

At any rate, the Maxi scoots are certainly an option, and a fun, practical option at that. As pointed out by others, your only other real options are the Aprilia Mana, the FJR, or one of the many Honda automatic permutations.

 

I've ridden the FJR with the automatic shifting, and it was pretty sweet. I didn't much care for the seating position on the FJR though (knees a bent a bit too far, leaning slightly too far forward for my taste), so it was out for me.

 

 

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Mister Tee
Since the OP referred to issues with his clutch hand, I'm assuming he typed "right" when he meant "left" (which I've known to call my "other right") That being the case, don't scooters have the front brake on the left and rear on the right? If so, then the OP's left-hand issues will change from being unable to shift to being unable to stop. Not a good swap IMO.

 

My experience with twist and go scooters is that the front brake stays the same (right side) and the "clutch" lever activates the rear brake. Mostly I've ridden modern Vespa and other Piaggio products though - maybe it's different on other brands. (I often, when taking my wife's Vespa out for a quick run, will make a very sudden stop at the end of our block when I firmly activate the rear brake thinking that I'm instead pulling in the clutch lever... :dopeslap: )

 

The scooters made by the big four generally have the front brake on the left, and either a footbrake for the rear (e.g. Honda Wave) or the right lever will be for the rear brake (e.g. Honda PC series). Not sure about the maxi scooters.

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Bill_Walker

 

The scooters made by the big four generally have the front brake on the left, and either a footbrake for the rear (e.g. Honda Wave) or the right lever will be for the rear brake (e.g. Honda PC series). Not sure about the maxi scooters.

 

That was not the case on the Yamaha Vino 50 I had. Right lever was still the front brake, left was the rear, no pedals. It might vary with vintage. Mine was a 2002.

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Mister Tee

 

The scooters made by the big four generally have the front brake on the left, and either a footbrake for the rear (e.g. Honda Wave) or the right lever will be for the rear brake (e.g. Honda PC series). Not sure about the maxi scooters.

 

That was not the case on the Yamaha Vino 50 I had. Right lever was still the front brake, left was the rear, no pedals. It might vary with vintage. Mine was a 2002.

 

The Asian market bikes (which is what I ride when I'm over there) are probably left hand front brake to be consistent with bicycles I imagine. I don't know about the Vespa types.

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Bill_Walker
The Asian market bikes (which is what I ride when I'm over there) are probably left hand front brake to be consistent with bicycles I imagine. I don't know about the Vespa types.

 

That's an excellent point. I've never understood why bicycles and motorcycles don't follow the same convention. I went so far as to swap the cable on my mountain bike (although I swapped them back after putting a lot of miles on a road bike where swapping the cables wasn't practical).

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szurszewski
The Asian market bikes (which is what I ride when I'm over there) are probably left hand front brake to be consistent with bicycles I imagine. I don't know about the Vespa types.

 

That's an excellent point. I've never understood why bicycles and motorcycles don't follow the same convention. I went so far as to swap the cable on my mountain bike (although I swapped them back after putting a lot of miles on a road bike where swapping the cables wasn't practical).

 

Not even all bicycles follow the same convention - would be nice though if they did. We used to have a couple of European bikes and one of those was set up the other way. It also had a twist grip shift that twisted the opposite way of every other bike I've had - was pretty funny when I'd go to downshift going up hill and upshift instead. Ha ha.

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Mister Tee
The Asian market bikes (which is what I ride when I'm over there) are probably left hand front brake to be consistent with bicycles I imagine. I don't know about the Vespa types.

 

That's an excellent point. I've never understood why bicycles and motorcycles don't follow the same convention. I went so far as to swap the cable on my mountain bike (although I swapped them back after putting a lot of miles on a road bike where swapping the cables wasn't practical).

 

It really doesn't bother me. I also put a lot of miles on both road and mountain bikes, and I don't have a problem transitioning back and forth between bicycles and motorcycles. Now, something like a left handed throttle on a motorcycle would REALLY screw me up.

 

I do have issues though transitioning back to manual transmission scooters. The normal shifting pattern is four down, recycling to first on the fifth downshift.

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szurszewski
The Asian market bikes (which is what I ride when I'm over there) are probably left hand front brake to be consistent with bicycles I imagine. I don't know about the Vespa types.

 

That's an excellent point. I've never understood why bicycles and motorcycles don't follow the same convention. I went so far as to swap the cable on my mountain bike (although I swapped them back after putting a lot of miles on a road bike where swapping the cables wasn't practical).

 

 

I do have issues though transitioning back to manual transmission scooters. The normal shifting pattern is four down, recycling to first on the fifth downshift.

 

Yikes - pretty sure that would be beyond my brain! The only manual scooters I have experience with are older Vespa type where the left grip is also the gear selector - but it can't go any further up than fourth or down than first ... pretty sure I'd get lost in something that cycled through...

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fourteenfour

I could have sworn that Blue Moon Cycle had an automatic Honda, or it was damn close to being automatic. Looked similar to a large interceptor

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Bill_Walker
I could have sworn that Blue Moon Cycle had an automatic Honda, or it was damn close to being automatic. Looked similar to a large interceptor

 

Sounds like the previously-mentioned VFR 1200 with DCT to me.

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  • 1 month later...
Matthew Miller

It's not a BMW however, The Moto Guzzi Convert was a 2spd automatic Transmission. Low range around town, high range on highway.

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