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Automatic Vs Manual Motorcycle: Which is Better?

Automatic Vs Manual Motorcycle: Which is Better?

1. Introduction

If you are a motorcycle lover, you probably know how people have different opinions about manual and automatic motorcycles. Most motorcycle enthusiasts are still old-fashioned and prefer more control of their motorcycles. Traditional riders think automatic transmission motorcycles are not as powerful and fun as manual bikes. Meanwhile, mainstream motorcycle companies have been working on next-generation motorcycles, including automatic electric-powered motorcycles. However, fully automatic, Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), and electric bikes are less common and very expensive. Many bikers are also not used to motorcycles without the clutch and gear shifters, with most preferring manual motorcycles instead. This article provides a detailed comparison between automatic and manual motorcycles.

2. Manual Motorcycles

Manual motorcycles have a pedal gear shifter on the left side in front of the footrest and a clutch lever in front of the left side of the handlebars. The clutch helps control the engine’s power output. When riding a manual motorcycle, the rider has to pull the clutch lever to change gears based on the rate of acceleration. If you are accelerating at high speed, you will have to ride at higher gear levels. However, you will have to downshift if your motorcycle decelerates. If you do not properly operate a gear shifter, you could damage the gearbox and clutch assembly.

Manual transmission motorcycles keep the riders engaged at all times. However, riding can be slightly uncomfortable if the clutch is hard to pull, makes a clunking sound, and hinders gear shifting. However, the latest manual motorcycles have an advanced clutch assembly that allows smooth clutch operation and gear shifts for a comfortable riding experience.

3. Automatic Motorcycle

3.1 Fully Automatic Motorcycles

Fully Automatic Motorcycles

Photo Credit: @LiveWire

Automatic motorcycles are easy to ride due to not having a clutch system and gear shifter. Automatic motorcycles turn on with a simple switch button and only require twisting the throttle to accelerate. However, you also need to be careful as an automatic motorcycle does not come with a pedal shifter installed.

Besides the pre-installed brakes, the automatic motorcycle’s throttle also functions as a regenerative brake. If you release the throttle, the automatic motorcycle will slow down and come to rest. Releasing the throttle on automatic motorcycles works similar to pulling the clutch on a manual motorbike. There are few fully-automatic motorcycles on the market. The fully-automated transmission is mostly found on electric motorcycles like the Harley Davidson Livewire.

3.2 Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) Motorbikes

Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) Motorbikes

Photo Credit: @PowerSports Honda

Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) motorcycles are more common than fully-automatic motorbikes. The DCT works exactly like an automatic system, but DCT motorcycles also come with two switchable transmission modes: automatic and manual. The automatic mode/transmission (AT) allows for automatic gear shifting and acceleration by twisting the throttle. The manual mode/transmission (MT) allows the rider to shift between gears using a small pedal shifter installed on the left side of the handlebars. You can easily upshift with your left hand’s index finger and downshift using your thumb without pulling a clutch. Motorcycles with a DCT include the Honda Rebel 1100 DCT, Honda Africa Twin DCT, and Honda NM4 Voltas DCT.


3.3 Top Automatic and DCT Motorbikes

  • Honda NM4 Vultus DCT
  • Evoke Urban S (Electric Motorbike)
  • Honda Gold Wing Automatic DCT
  • Honda Rebel 1100 DCT
  • Harley Davidson LiveWire (Electric Powered)
  • Lightning LS-218
  • Africa Twin DCT 2022
  • Ducati DesertX 2022
  • Energica EGO+ (Electric Bike)

4. Pros of Manual Motorcycles

4.1 Easy to Maintain

Manual motorbikes share a similar structure, allowing you to use the same tools, repair methods, and maintenance between models. You can easily find a nearby mechanic close to your location with experience repairing and maintaining manual motorcycles. Most motorcycle riders can also perform maintenance, repairs, and replace parts by themselves.

4.2 Cheaper to Maintain

Due to the high volume of manual motorbikes on the market, there are also many aftermarket parts and accessories for manual motorcycles available at low prices. As a result, customization and maintaining a manual motorcycle are easier and cheaper.

4.3 Quick Acceleration

Manual motorcycles are faster and accelerate more quickly due to their simple and lightweight design. They are not fitted with extra parts and the gearbox has better gear ratios and speed options. Unlike automatic motorbikes, manual motorbikes do not have torque converters which results in less torque output. With the clutch and gearbox, the rider can also effectively manage torque and power delivery.

4.4 Fuel-Efficient

There are various reasons why manual motorcycles are more fuel-efficient. They have a simple and lightweight build and a low-tech design which improves fuel efficiency. The fuel efficiency of a manual motorcycle also depends on the rider’s expertise. If the rider knows how to properly shift between gears, the motorcycle will have better fuel mileage. Low fuel consumption is ideal for riders who need to commute every day.

4.5 Affordable

Manual motorcycles are affordable and cheaper than automatic motorbikes due to being more common and traditional vehicles. Manual motorcycles fall under several categories, including cruiser, touring bikes, baggers, and sports bikes. They also have engine sizes ranging from 125 to 2,500 cc. They also have less features that contribute to their cheaper prices.

4.6 Exciting and Fun

Manual motorcycles require riders to be actively engaged when steering, managing controls, and operating systems. Riding a manual motorcycle, the rider can reach high speeds quickly by shifting gears. Using the clutch, you can control the engine’s power output. Manual motorcycles are also better for pulling stunts because riders can easily control the power output and torque using the clutch and gear shifter.


4.7 Reliable and Trustworthy

Manual motorbikes tend to be more reliable and trustworthy because they are built to last longer and do not require expensive repairs and replacement parts.

4.8 Popular

Manual motorcycles are older, more common, cheaper, and built by many motorcycle companies.

5. Cons of Manual Motorcycles

5.1 Not Ideal for Novice Riders

Manual motorbikes are slightly more difficult for novice riders to operate than automatic motorbikes because they require constantly operating the clutch and gear shifter. Novice riders may not have enough experience to quickly operate these systems if there are sudden changes in acceleration, road conditions, etc.

5.2 Difficult to Ride

Some manual motorcycles have a harder clutch which can make gear shifting uncomfortable. Constantly operating the clutch and gear shifter can cause fatigue, especially when riding through traffic.

5.3 Stalling

Manual motorcycles are more prone to stalling. Riders have to be careful while operating the clutch and gear shifter since upshifting and downshifting at the wrong time and speed can cause the motorcycle to stall.

5.4 Distraction

Having to constantly shift gears, especially while riding through busy traffic, can cause riders to become distracted.

6. Pros of Automatic Motorcycles

6.1 Easy Operation

Automatic motorcycles are easy to operate due to the lack of a clutch or gear shifter. The rider can accelerate by twisting the throttle. With such a simple operation, the rider can focus more on the road.

6.2 Good for Novice Riders

Novice riders prefer automatic motorbikes because they are more technologically advanced and easier to learn how to ride due to not having a clutch and gear system.

6.3 No Stalling

Automatic motorcycles are fitted with a system that automatically shifts gears with the help of built-in systems and computers. The system allows better precision and effective engine control, which makes stalling nearly impossible on an automatic motorbike.

6.4 Good Braking Power

Automatic motorcycles come with the latest technology and have better braking power. Besides the stock braking system and ABS, they also come with a standard regenerative braking system that slows down and stops the bike when the throttle is released.

6.5 Less Distractions

Since operating an automatic motorcycle is easier and less fatiguing, riders can focus more on the road. This ensures a smooth and comfortable riding experience while traveling on a busy road.

7. Cons of Automatic Motorcycles

7.1 More Expensive

Automatic motorcycles are expensive due to being built with advanced technology and being rarer than manual bikes. They are not frequently seen on the road and will probably take a decade before they become as common as manual bikes.

7.2 Heavyweight and Less Fuel-Efficient

Automatic motorbikes are fitted with heavier parts and complex systems that make them heavier than manual bikes. Due to having to carry more weight, they have higher fuel consumption and less fuel efficiency.

7.3 Difficult and Expensive to Maintain

Electric motorbikes are built using complex parts not common at local mechanics, which makes them difficult and expensive to maintain. They also have complex transmission systems and built-in computer systems installed. Any faulty or broken parts can only be replaced by the manufacturers.

7.4 Limited Choices

There are only a few motorcycle companies that produce automatic motorcycles and they are limited in numbers. If you wish to buy an automatic bike, you will only have a few options to choose from. Unlike manual bikes, you do not have the option to buy a cheaper bike powered by a smaller engine.


8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

8.1 Which Motorcycle is More Reliable: a Manual or an Automatic Motorcycle?

Manual motorcycles are more reliable because they are built to last longer and have a simple build. Intermediate or experienced riders can easily ride manual motorbikes. Also, if any motorcycle parts become damaged or fail, it is easy to find replacement parts at a low cost. Meanwhile, automatic motorcycles have a high-tech and complex design that makes them difficult to maintain.

8.2 Which Motorcycle is Safer: a Manual or an Automatic Motorcycle?

Though automatic motorbikes are more technologically advanced, they are less safe than manual bikes. While riding a manual motorbike, accidents are usually caused by user error. However, automatic bikes are less safe to operate due to their heavyweight design making them difficult to control at high speeds.

9. Overview

9.1 Pros and Cons of Manual Motorcycles

Pros and Cons of Manual Motorcycles
Pros of Manual Motorcycles Cons of Manual Motorcycles
Easy to Maintain Not Ideal for Novice Riders
Quick Acceleration Difficult to Ride
Fuel-Efficient Stalling
Affordable Constant Gear Shifting
Fun Uncomfortable Clutch Operation
Reliable Distracting

9.2 Pros and Cons of Automatic Motorcycles

Pros and Cons of Automatic Motorcycles
Pros of Automatic Motorcycles Cons of Automatic Motorcycles
More Comfortable Expensive
Easy Operation Less Fuel-Efficient
Good for Novice Riders Heavyweight
No Stalling  Complex Design
Good Braking  Difficult and Expensive to Maintain
More Focus on the Road Limited Choices
No Clutch and Gear Shifter
Good for Riding Through Traffic

10. Conclusion

Currently, manual motorcycles are more popular, safer, and reliable than automatic motorbikes. However, it takes time for the latest technology to become the standard. The main reason why automatic motorbikes are not seen on the roads is that they are so expensive. Many motorcycle companies around the world are working to make automatic motorbikes better, safer, and more reliable.

Automatic and manual motorcycles have their advantages and disadvantages. However, both motorcycles can ensure an enjoyable riding experience depending on a rider’s skills. Manual motorcycles are more popular among older riders who love traditional styling and more control. However, young riders who like innovative designs and advanced technology will prefer automatic motorcycles.

Manual motorbikes are also easily customizable and can have their performance improved. If you want to transform the look of your motorcycle, you can install saddlebags, crash bars, sissy bars, fairings, sissy bar bags, and handlebars.

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