Welcome to part 3 of the automatic motorcycles. Last time we talked about principles of automatic transmission and the affordable automatic bikes in India. However, this time we will not review any particular motorcycle models. Prepare to read about cons and pros of automatic gearbox and factors, which will play a great role in your decision.
There are several factors that should affect the choice of your next bikes transmission.
Many tests were done for comparing automatic and manual gearbox. Results shown that manual gearbox had always a slight (sometimes pretty decent) advantage over automatic. Usually, fuel consumption numbers are lower on ~ 10% percent, so manual transmission is more efficient. But it isn’t always true. If you are inexperienced driver, you could over-rev your engine and shift in wrong times, then fuel economy with automatic could be even better, plus with it you will not be stressing your motorcycle so much.
Generally manual transmission beats the automatic one in this field. It happens because manual gearboxes weight less, has more speeds to choose from (gear ratios) and there is no torque converter, which “devours” some of the overall torque. However, it’s not always true once again. New high-tech transmissions (year 2006-2007+) are actually better in terms of acceleration than any manual for the same bike/car. These automatic transmissions evolved to such level when human can’t compare to the artificial intelligence. It is especially true for twin clutch automatic transmissions. Because they work in pattern 1-3-5 and 2-4-6 (pattern for a bike is a bit different), so when your gearbox is shifting, you are already in next speed – no time is lost for going back and forth, to neutral and next speed.
Automatic will be always more expensive due to more technological parts like torque converter, or the planetary gearset. So expect that the bike with automatic transmission will cost you more than the same bike with manual.
It’s another important factor, and usually manual transmission proves itself better in this area. It is because automatic transmission has much more parts and other sophisticated mechanics that could fail. Manual gearbox is much simpler. Also there are some things like towing or driving on snow (well that is not completely applicable for bikes) that could easily burn your transmission if you don’t know how to properly use it under such conditions. In addition, automatic is much more “picky” than the manual, you need to use only suitable high quality oils for it.
What I mean by that is where you spend the most time riding – in the high traffic areas or on the relatively free roads and highways. Automatic will be much greater choice if you ride in the big cities, because with huge traffic it gets really annoying and even tiring to change the gears and operate the clutch every minute. Automatic will provide you with convenient and relaxing ride, since you will not need to worry about changing gears. On the other hand in low-traffic zones you don’t really need it.
Do you like to ride? Good manual transmission is a part of riding, and most bikers really like to feel the direct link between them and their motorcycles. Automatic dismisses this part completely, that’s why for some people it is not an option.
And to sum that all up, let’s see cons and pros of automatic transmission.
- Ease of use and beginner-friendly
- Gives us convenient ride in any traffic conditions
- Motorcycle will stop faster due to automatic downshift
- New high-end transmissions will provide you with better acceleration
- You are much less likely to grind or strip gears with improper riding
- Bigger motorcycle price + higher maintenance expenses
- Less control than with manual transmission
- Reliability is lower
- Higher fuel consumption
- No excitement when changing gears
It is really hard to give a first place to manual or automatic transmission. It’s like comparing a bow and the crossbow; both have their strengths and weaknesses. But based on this article you will have a better understanding of your needs, and hopefully you will choose a better transmission for your future bike.