If you didn’t know, Surprise! The vast majority of bikes are not automatic. But why are most motorcycles built with manual transmissions in the first place?
In the past, automatic transmissions in cars used to be a luxury.
But today, it is the other way around; it’s now manual transmissions that are tough to find.
Why isn’t it the same for motorcycles these days?
Why Are Motorcycles Manual?
It makes sense for motorcycles to use manual transmission for the more compact, lighter, and power-responsive design. Another reason that manual motorcycles dominate the market is that there isn’t much demand for automatic bikes in the first place.
In short, why are motorcycles mainly manual?
Effectiveness by Simplicity is the main answer.
Here are the advantages of manual gearboxes for motorcycles;
- Basic and robust configuration
- Responsive to hard acceleration
- Can be sized down in a compact casing
On the other side of the coin, you have these issues to solve before putting an automatic gearbox in a bike.
- Heavier and difficult to size down with the limited space of a motorcycle frame.
- In an optimal setting to save space, the transmission should share the same oil and casing with the engine.
- Small-size CTV automatic transmissions tend to slip under fast acceleration resulting in a loss of power.
Is it still doable to build decent automatic motorcycles? Yes.
But is there a demand for automatic bikes in the first place?
Meh, It’s marginal.
Motorcyclists, in general, prefer a manual transmission in their bikes from the get-go.
Why Are Manual Transmissions Better Suited For Motorcycles?
1. Staying Lightweight
You don’t need sensors, onboard computers, or over-complicated heavy gizmos for a manual transmission to work.
These parts are instead replaced with the motorcyclist’s riding decisions and skills.
It shed a lot of weight from extra components that an automated system would otherwise need.
Unlike cars with spacious engine bays, bikes need to stay lightweight due to the limited mounting space and weight capacity.
2. Manual Transmissions Can Be Sized Down In A Compact Casing
It is perfect for motorcycles.
Even better is that a motorcycle engine and transmission can share the same casing enclosure and oil.
A bike engine and manual transmission don’t need separate compartments and different fluids like cars do.
3. Basic And Durable Configuration
Although this is not required, this is a nice bonus.
Manual transmissions are more simple than their automated counterparts that have a lot more things that can break.
A computer-operated automatic transmission can fail because of some malfunctioning sensors or an issue with the software.
That is not the case with a manual setup.
There are mechanical automatic transmissions that don’t need a computer to work, but the issue is still there.
It brings us back to more self-operating parts equal more things that can malfunction.
4. Better Management Of Torque And Power
Automatic transmissions don’t handle aggressive accelerations that well. And guess what?
Motorcycles got plenty of acceleration power.
CTV type of transmission found in most automatic scooters and moped is an example of a transmission that doesn’t handle more powerful engines that well.
Even with a 50cc scooter’s terrible torque output, it is frequent to feel a ‘’slip’’ from the transmission under acceleration.
Yet, there are dual-clutch types of automatic transmissions that don’t have such issues.
But they are usually expensive, and their clutch plates tend to wear out quickly.
5. Cheaper to Produce
Usually, it is cheaper to build a vehicle with manual transmission over an automatic.
It might not be a determining factor in North America about why motorcycles are manual.
Yet, for developing parts of the world, a cheaper vehicle is an essential factor.
Because of the low income of some populations, cheaper and smaller motorcycles are the practical vehicle of choice.
Why Motorcycle Riders Prefer Manual Bikes Anyways
Automatic transmissions have one primary purpose; making it easier to operate a vehicle.
And it works wonder when that automated transmission is well-engineered.
It makes one less thing to handle and worry about on the road.
It frees up some of your attention to focus on other things such as;
- Concentrate better on the rest of your driving.
- Looking at your cellphone instead, like a dummy.
But there is a significant drawback.
When you make something less challenging, it can get boring.
It is especially true for driving or riding.
Riding with a manual transmission is part of the excitement and joy of riding a motorcycle.
It gives riders a feeling of satisfaction of being in control of the bike’s mechanical operation.
When you shift down a gear on a bike and go full banana on the gas throttle, the sense of power and torque is fantastic.
Why are most motorcycles manual? Manual transmissions are mechanically more convenient for bikes.
It might be tedious at first when learning how to operate a manual transmission on a motorcycle.
But I guarantee it is worth the effort.
Riding a manual bike is a massive part of the pleasure to ride.
I hope that I have answered your question about why motorcycles are manual.
Drive and ride safe
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