Are All Motorcycles Manual

Are All Motorcycles Manual

The answer to “are all motorcycles manual?” will come down to how you define a motorcycle. Motorcycles have traditionally been produced with manual gearboxes, however just like the car industry there is a switch to investigate newer technologies which may suit the needs of the public.

Having said this, there are a number of alternative motorcycles which have either semi-auto or fully automatic transmissions. The question we face though, is whether or not these should be classed as “real” motorcycles, which may just come down to whoever you are debating with at the time.

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are all motorcycle manual - gear stick -

Definitions of a motorcycle

There are two ways that many people use to define a motorcycle:

Is it step-through? – From a purist motorcycle rider perspective, if you are able to step through in order to sit on the bike, then this should be classified as a scooter or moped instead of a motorcycle.

What is the engine capacity? – This is the definition used by several different motor registries to determine whether or not a powered motor vehicle with two wheels is classified as either a scooter/moped or a motorcycle. Usually anything under 50cc is a moped, and anything under around 150cc is called a scooter.

I do not like defining a motorcycle purely on engine capacity. Many of the big motorcycle makers such as the Yamaha and Honda produce 125cc variants of their bigger bikes for new riders. In addition, it is not uncommon to find step through bikes (scooters) which have engine capacities over 400cc.

The definition that I like to use is the step-through definition, if you can step through the bike in order to sit down on a saddle then I class this as a scooter. Having said this, over half of the “motorbikes” in the world today are in Asia and they class the step-through bikes as “motorbikes” rather than scooters, so who am I to argue with that.

are all motorcycle manual - scooter vietnam -

Motorcycles which are not manual

  • Scooters (which are labelled as motorbikes throughout much of Asia) – These are usually no more than 125cc and are step-through in design. These are the main form of transport for several countries and will be used for commuting to work, delivering goods or even transporting a 4 person family. The main variant used is a clutchless-manual transmission, however there are also many that are fully automatic.
  • Honda DN-01 – The Honda DN-01 was one of the first widely available motorcycles with a fully automatic transmission. The model was released to the public from 2008 and was then discontinued in 2010. This vehicle meets both of our definitions of a motorcycle, as it is not a step-through and it also had an engine capacity of greater than 150cc. Although from a technology perspective this motorcycle was world-class, it lacked being excellent for any one type of rider as it didn’t have the storage capacity to replace commuting scooters, or the comfort and weather protection needed for longer distance touring riders.
  • Honda VFR1200F (also known as the VFR1200FD) – This motorcycle was released in 2009 and has an automatic dual clutch transmission. This transmission style allowed for both a fully automatic mode as well as a manual mode if the rider wanted a more hands on experience. Gears could be operated using paddles shifters attached to the handlebars, similar to the paddle shift in a Formula 1 car.
  • Aprilia Mana 850


are all motorcycle manual - honda dn-01 -

Honda DN-01 - Fully Automatic

Are manual motorcycles hard to ride?

Many people may be daunted by the thought of riding a manual motorcycle, possibly this is what led you to finding this “are all motorcycles manual?” article, as you want to ride a motorcycle but you are looking for an easier option. Just like any other skill, riding a manual motorcycle only gets easier with practice. I am sure that most other motorcycle riders would agree that changing gears is far from the most difficult thing about motorcycle riding, as this skill becomes a second nature after only a few months of riding. Gear selection also offers you the increased control of engine braking and knowing exactly when the power is going to come on when you twist the throttle. The best advice that I can give you is to learn how to ride a fully manual motorcycle and then determine if you think that an automatic motorcycle would better suit your needs, at least this way you will have the flexibility of both options for the rest of your life.



We should now all know that there are several different options for those people out there who do not want to ride a manual motorcycle and that the question of “Are all motorcycles manual?” can be firmly answered with “no, they are not”.


What are your thoughts on automatic motorcycles, do you class them as “real” motorcycles? Tell us in the comments section below.


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