The Automatic Motorcycle

Do you love the automatic transmission found in most scooters, but need a larger or more capable off-road bike? Perhaps you should consider an automatic motorcycle.

2019 Gold Wing Tour Airbag Automatic DCT

Though not scooters, Honda offers several motorcycles with optional automatic transmissions. These “dual clutch” transmissions (DCT) work differently than the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that you will find in most scooters, but both operate smoothly with no shifting required by the operator.

Honda has quite a few models of automatic motorcycles available now including the adventure-style NC700X DCT ($7,699) with a 670cc engine, the 745cc NC750X DCT ABS, the Africa Twin DCT and the 2019 Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT with a 998cc parallel twin, and the mighty VFR1200X DCT ($15,999) with a 1237cc liquid-cooled V4.

Honda NM4
Honda NM4

Not looking to take your adventures off road? Consider the cruiser styled CTX700N DCT ($7,699) or its cousin the CTX700 DCT ($8,399). There’s even the 2018 NM4 ($11,299) which looks like something Batman would ride. All three of these economical bikes use the same 670cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin as the NC700X.

Best of all, the 1833cc 2019 Honda Gold Wing is also now available with a 7-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission in three versions, the Gold Wing Automatic DCT ($25,000), the Gold Wing Tour Automatic DCT ($28,000), and the Gold Wing Tour Airbag Automatic DCT ($31,800).

vfr1200x
Honda VFR1200F

Sadly, Honda’s VFR1200F sport bike equipped with a 1237cc liquid-cooled 76° V-4 and an optional Dual Clutch Automatic Transmission has been discontinued.

Honda’s DCT technology is the most advanced automatic transmission available on a motorcycle today. One important benefit of a DCT compared to a CVT is that the DCT technology includes a manual mode as well. If you really want to handle the shifting yourself, you can do so using handlebar mounted paddle shifters that give you the total control you would expect from a motorcycle.

Honda's paddle shifters found on DCT automatic motorcycles
Honda’s paddle shifters found on DCT automatic motorcycles

Honda is not the only company that has manufactured automatic motorcycles, but they are the most prolific. Another option is Ridley Motorcycle® Company which produced several cruiser style bikes that use an automatic CVT like a scooter. Unfortunately, due to a trademark infringement lawsuit and bankruptcy, there have been no new Ridley motorcycles since 2009.

While there has been speculation that other manufacturers will soon start offering automatic motorcycles as well, there has not been much movement in recent years. A few other notable automatic and semi-automatic bikes are listed below:

Aprilia Mana 850 GT
Aprilia Mana 850 GT
  • Aprilia Mana 850 GT: This motorcycle had a CVT which included Sport, Touring, and Rain modes. It is no longer available in the US. Here’s a review from Motorcycle USA.
  • CF Moto CF250T: This CVT-based motorcycle was eventually recalled for lacking a right foot brake as mandated by the US government for motorcycles.
  • Yamaha FJR1300 sport tourer: This motorcycle had a semi-automatic electronic clutch transmission option in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010. This semi-automatic system used a foot shifter and an electric clutch. More information is available here.
  • Honda DN-01: This CVT-based cruiser motorcycle was made by Honda from 2008 to 2010. This motorcycle was not particularly well reviewed.

In July of 2015, Motorcycle.com reported that Suzuki had filed a patent for a hybrid motorcycle powered by an inline-Four and an electric motor. The patent, filed with the Japan Patent Office, also described how Suzuki would incorporate a hybrid powertrain and a semi-automatic transmission on a sportbike.

In late 2015, Yamaha introduced two new electric concept motorcycles, the PES2 and PED2, at the Tokyo Motor Show. These small electric motorcycles will reportedly offer the ability to switch between automatic and manual gear changing modes, though more specific information has not yet been revealed.

Yamaha's PES2 and PED2 concepts
Yamaha’s PES2 and PED2 concepts