Yes, if you are looking for an automatic motorcycle, the good news is that you canchoose from many great models! Although most motorcycles still feature a manual transmission, more and more manufacturers are introducing automatic bikes. Without further ado, some of the best motorcycles with automatic transmission are as follows:
- Honda NC750X / S (DCT)
- Honda Africa Twin (DCT)
- Honda CTX700X / N (DCT)
- Honda Gold Wing Automatic (DCT)
- Honda VRF1200X / F (DCT)
- Honda DN-01 (CVT)
- CF-Moto V5 (CVT)
- Aprilia Mana 850 GT (CVT)
- Yamaha FJR1300AS (semi-automatic)
- Harley-Davidson LiveWire (electric)
- ENERGICA EVA EsseEsse9 (electric)
- Zero SR/F (electric)
If you want to find out more about automatic motorcycle transmissions, you are in the right place.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled the basics of this topic into this post!
Types of Automatic Motorcycle Transmissions
Automatic motorcycles are manufactured with many different transmissions, which have gone through many changes over the years. However, it’s safe to say that the most well-known automatic motorcycle transmissions are as follows:
- Semi-automatic transmissions
- Electric bikes
- Aftermarket automatic motorcycle transmissions/modifications
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and take a closer look at each of these designs.
What is a Hondamatic Transmission?
Hondamatic refers to the first semi-automatic transmission released by Honda in the early ‘70s. This name was also used as the brand name for later Honda automatic transmissions. But surprisingly, the first Hondamatics weren’t real automatic motorcycle transmissions. Instead, they were clutchless manual transmissions with two speeds and a neutral.
This means these bikes still featured a shift pedal, but they were not fitted with a clutch lever. Many Honda motorcycles were manufactured with Hondamatic transmission until the late ‘80s.
You can find a Hondamatic transmission in these bikes:
- Honda CB750A Hondamatic
- Honda CB400A Hondamatic
- Honda CM400A Hondamatic
- Honda CM450A Hondamatic
What is a CVT in a Motorcycle?
A CVT in a motorcycle simply means that the bike features an automatic transmission. The acronym CVT stands for “continuously variable transmission,” meaning that this type of transmission doesn’t feature gears. Instead, it has two pulleys connected by a belt. As its name implies, CVT motorcycle transmissions allow riders to vary their speeds smoothly, which results in an outstanding riding experience.
Surprisingly, CVT transmissions are quite rarely used in motorcycles. Some of the most popular motorcycles with CVT transmissions are as follows:
- Honda DN-01
- CF-Moto V5
- Aprilia Mana 850 GT
Besides motorcycles, you can find CVT transmissions in snowmobiles, scooters, and many other powersport vehicles.
What is a DCT Transmission in Motorcycles?
There is no question that one of the best automatic motorcycle transmission is Honda’s DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission). Surprisingly, the internals of a DCT transmission looks like two manual transmissions merged together. Thanks to its automatic “gear preselection” operation, DCT motorcycles can shift very quickly and smoothly.
Are you wondering which Honda motorcycles have a DCT?
- Honda NC750X
- Honda NC750S
- Honda Africa Twin
- Honda CTX700X
- Honda CTX700N
- Honda VRF1200X
- Honda VRF1200F
- Honda Gold Wing Automatic
The main advantage of Honda’s DCT transmission is that it can work as a fully automatic as well as a semi-automatic transmission based on your needs!
This means that these transmissions offer two options, Automatic and Manual mode. In Automatic mode the bike operates as a fully automatic motorcycle and automatically selects the best gear.
It’s very convenient but unfortunately leaves you without the feeling of shifting.
This is where the Manual mode comes into play!
Selecting this mode allows you to shift with finger-operated buttons. It’s safe to say that these buttons do the same job as paddle shifters on the steering wheels of automatic cars.
Here’s a great video on how DCT motorcycle transmissions work:
What is a Semi-Automatic Motorcycle?
Simply put, semi-automatic motorcycles feature a “clutchless” transmission. A semi-automatic motorcycle can’t shift automatically on its own, so you have to select the right gear based on your needs. But unlike their manual brothers, these bikes don’t feature regular clutches. Instead, the clutch is controlled electronically so the bike lacks a clutch lever, which seems very strange at first glance!
How do you shift on?
Actually, it’s very simple as these bikes typically feature a pair of buttons, or some of them are equipped with an ordinary shift lever.
Long story short, you can shift on a semi-automatic motorcycle like on any regular manual model, but you don’t have to use the clutch. If you hit the shifting buttons/shift pedal, the electronics handle the clutch for you!
Therefore, the shift pedal doesn’t mechanically control the transmission, since it actually only sends electronic signals.
One of the best semi-automatic motorcycle is the Yamaha FJR1300AE/AS, but actually any Honda DCT motorcycle works in the same way in Manual mode.
If you are looking for an automatic motorcycle, you should consider an electric bike. Since most of these machines don’t feature gears, they work like fully automatic motorcycles.
How Can You Make Your Motorcycle Automatic?
You can make your motorcycle automatic by installing an aftermarket automatic motorcycle transmission. Sadly, these units are only available for very few models. Over the years, aftermarket transmission manufacturers appeared and disappeared on the market because they didn’t really weren’t very successful. Another trick to turn your motorcycle into an automatic by installing a Hinson or Rekluse auto clutch kit.
However, keep in mind that these kits can only help you in clutchless starting and stopping. To reach higher gears you still have to use the clutch.
Is a Manual or an Automatic Motorcycle Better?
The majority of riders say that manual motorcycles are better as they offer more control of the bike and a real taste of riding. On the other hand, more and more riders prefer automatic motorcycles as they are convenient and easy to use. There’s no clear answer here, as there are many pros and cons on each side. Let’s take a look at these in detail!
Pros of Automatic Motorcycles
- Very convenient, especially in city traffic
- Less stress on the left hand
- Requires less attention: it’s safe as the rider can focus on the road
- Better accelerations (DCT)
- Faster stops thanks to the automatic downshift
- Easy to use (requires fewer skills)
- Great for senior and disabled riders
Cons of Automatic Motorcycles
- Higher price tags and maintenance costs
- Harder to repair and service
- Less reliability
- Slightly higher fuel consumption
- Offers less control over the motorcycle
- Miss out on a real shifting experience
- Less traditional
Which Motorcycles Have Automatic Transmissions? [Chart]
To the delight of many fans, more and more manufacturers are introducing motorcycles with automatic transmission. For your convenience, we’ve compiled some popular automatic motorcycles into one chart:
|Honda Africa Twin||DCT|
|Honda Gold Wing||DCT|
|Honda Gold Wing Tour||DCT|
|Honda CB750A (vintage)||Hondamatic|
|Honda CB400A (vintage)||Hondamatic|
|Honda CM400A (vintage)||Hondamatic|
|Honda CM450A (vintage)||Hondamatic|
|Aprilia Mana 850 GT||CVT|
|ENERGICA EVA EsseEsse9||electric|
|CSC City Slicker||electric|
|KTM Freeride E-XC||electric|
FAQs About Automatic Motorcycles
We’ve also listed a few common questions about automatic motorcycles with the shortest possible answers.
What Does an Automatic Transmission Mean on a Motorcycle?
Simply put, if a motorcycle is equipped with an automatic transmission it means that you don’t have to shift gears on the bike, so you don’t have to deal with a clutch or shift lever. If a bike features a semi-automatic transmission, it still allows you to shift gears manually with buttons or a regular shift pedal. The only difference is that you don’t have to use the clutch!
What is the Difference Between an Automatic and a Manual Motorcycle?
The main difference between automatic and manual motorcycles is that on the latter you have to use a clutch and shift lever to shift gears. Automatic motorcycles, as their name implies, are “self-shifting,” meaning that you can control the bike exclusively with the throttle.
How Does an Automatic Transmission Work on a Motorcycle?
Automatic motorcycle transmissions work in many different ways depending on their design. For instance, CVT motorcycle transmissions use two pulleys that are connected with a belt, while DCT transmissions look like two manual gearboxes meshed together. Semi-automatic motorcycle transmissions typically work in a similar way as manuals, except that on these bikes the clutch is controlled electronically so it automatically engages and disengages.
Which Automatic Motorcycle is the Best?
It’s hard to tell as this often boils down to personal preferences. However, many riders say that the best automatic motorcycles are Hondas with a DCT transmission.
Which Automatic Motorcycle is the Cheapest?
The most affordable automatic motorcycles are arguably entry-level electric bikes and scooters. Therefore, one of the cheapest automatic motorcycles right now is the CSC City Slicker. This tiny electric motorcycle is designed for the city and costs less than $3,000. If you are happy with a scooter, you can also choose from endless affordable models.
What does Honda DCT Stand for?
Simply put, Honda DCT stands for: Dual Clutch Transmission. Honda’s DCT bikes are so popular that many riders use the terms automatic and DCT interchangeably.
Do Honda Gold Wings Have an Automatic Transmission?
Yes, the good news is that Honda Gold Wings are available with a 7-speed automatic (DCT) as well as manual 6-speed transmissions.
Does Harley-Davidson Have a Motorcycle with an Automatic Transmission?
Gas-powered Harley-Davidsons are manufactured exclusively with manual transmissions. If you are looking for an automatic Harley-Davidson off the shelf, you should consider the electric LiveWire. Your other option is to turn a regular gas-powered model into automatic with an aftermarket modification.
Can you Make a Harley Automatic?
Yes, you can make a Harley automatic by installing an aftermarket automatic transmission. Unfortunately, these are very rare and expensive units! One well-known automatic Harley transmission manufacturer was Walters Manufacturing, but to the greatest regret of many fans, the company went out of business. Another great way to turn a Harley into an automatic is if you install a Rekluse clutch. However, it can only do the job between neutral and first gear.
Are Harley Trikes Automatic?
No, Harley trikes are manufactured exclusively with manual transmissions.
Which is the Fastest Automatic Motorcycle?
It’s safe to say that the fastest automatic motorcycles are Honda Gold Wing, Honda VRF1200X/F, and Yamaha FJR1300AS. All of these bikes can reach an amazing top speed of 140-150 mph!
How Do You Change Gears on an Automatic Motorcycle?
You can typically change gears on a semi-automatic motorcycle with a set of buttons on the handlebar, or a regular shift lever. But if a bike is fully automatic, you don’t have to change gears at all, just hammer the throttle!
Are Automatic Motorcycles Safer?
Many riders claim that automatic motorcycles are safer as they offer more relaxing rides, which results in less fatigue. It also eliminates the risk of lousy shifting which often leads to accidents. Others argue and claim that manual motorcycles are safer as they are more responsive and offer better control over the bike. It seems there is no clear answer here!
As a rule of thumb, motorcycles are manufactured with three different types of transmissions:
- Fully automatic
Besides regular models, you can find more and more electric motorcycles on the market, which also don’t feature any gears. Therefore, electric motorcycles are often considered to be automatic bikes.
The most well-known types of automatic motorcycle transmissions are as follows:
- Hondamatic (on vintage Hondas)
- CVT (Aprilia, Honda, scooters)
- DCT (Honda)
- Semi-automatic transmissions (e.g. Yamaha)
- Electric motorcycles
It’s a lesser-known fact that you can turn a manual motorcycle into an automatic by installing an aftermarket transmission (very rare) or a Rekluse clutch kit.
This is our short review about automatic motorcycles. We hope you like it!
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