Are Motorcycles Automatic Or Manual? Detailed Answer

Is there an automatic motorcycle? – Some people have this question when they go through difficulty with a manual transmission motorcycle. The good news is that the market has served this option for a long time. 

However, your choices are not as many as the traditional engines. Before making up your mind, scroll down to learn more about the pros and cons of the two gearboxes. 

What Are Manual And Automatic Motorcycles? 

Manual motorcycles have a manual mechanism that switches in the gearbox via pedals. Specifically, the rider pulls the clutch lever to disengage the transmission, applies force to the pedal on the left side of the vehicle to select the gear, and then releases the clutch lever. 

This action affects the female gear system, which matches the engine power to adjust the engine speed.

Manual mode bike
Manual mode requires rider familiarity and attention

In comparison, the engine of an automatic transmission motorcycle performs all these tasks without any external intervention. 

The dual-clutch transmission (DTC) in modern models reinforces the ease and smoothness of operation. Computer-integrated gearbox and clutch work in harmony to do this task.

Are All Motorcycles Manual or Automatic?

There are both manual and automatic bikes on the market.

Actually, automatic transmission is not a newly launched product of advanced technology, but it has dominated the motorcycle industry for a long time. However, it fails to beat the manual transmission in terms of popularity.

Though demand has shifted to automatic cars recently, the same has not happened with bikes. Is it due to the lack of quality of automatic options? This is still an unanswered question among marketers and motorcycle manufacturers. Anyway, choosing which one is up to you as both have pros and cons.

Automatic vs. Manual Motorcycle

Pros And Cons Of Manual Transmission


  • Effective acceleration

Manual motorcycles have a light transmission and a wide variety of speed options through the gear system. It also doesn’t service the torque converter, which will likely impede the overall torque. For all these reasons, this option achieves flexibility and speed in acceleration.

However, modern technology has brought about an effective update: the automatic gears are set at 1-3-5 and 2-4-6. In simple terms, the engine is ready to leap to the next level without waiting time. Manual gearboxes have lost this advantage in recent days.

  • Safety

Manual motorcycles usually come with few parts, which reduces their weight considerably. Hence, it exerts a lighter pressure than the automatic if the vehicle collides with the driver. 

Most of the errors with manual motorcycles come from the driver, while the cause of accidents with automatic bikes often stems from an internal technical problem.

Additionally, skilled drivers acknowledge outstanding controllability with the manual transmission, especially in extreme weather or bad terrain. If the motorcycle gets stuck in the snow, the standard engine provides more traction through the gearshift paddles to bring the vehicle out.

  • Energy efficiency

According to a Slate article, manual motorcycles save 1-2 miles per gallon compared to automatic ones. Although the difference is insignificant, this plus has big implications for frequent commuters, especially on highways. Besides, the savings can be greater if the biker knows the principles of gearshift and speed control.

  • Economical cost

When considering a manual model, consumers are served with a huge category of brands and models. The flooded market gives you a wide range of prices; the vast majority are cheaper than automatic bikes.

You can also save your wallet due to the cheaper running costs of the standard motor. For example, the oil change interval for our Yamaha V Star 250 (manual) is generally longer than the Honda Africa Twin 2021 (automatic). We also spend less money on a suitable clutch for a manual bike.


  • Difficult to control

Working with a manual motorcycle requires a smooth combination of many different parts. One mistake is that it immediately comes to a stall – a disaster amid heavy traffic. Therefore, it takes a long time to break in and master it.

  • Not comfortable

Riders must always keep an eye on the clutch lever and pedals on manual motorbikes. Some feel tired and stressed from being constantly in a state of attention and movement of their extremities.

Pros And Cons Of Automatic Transmission


  • Ease of use

As noted above, a computer controls the gears and clutches, freeing you from the multi-tasking of keeping the motorcycle under control. This feature is friendly to inexperienced riders and those traveling on rough terrains.

In addition, most automatic models are equipped with intelligent features to assist riders. For example, some electronics come with built-in presets that replace the touch of switches or the steering wheel.

  • Comfortable riding

Automatic models inherit modern technologies to make your motorcycle riding easy. You can find integrated sensors that do many great things, like self-brake systems, lane crossings, cruise control, etc. However, it would help if you did not let your guard down from the road ahead despite the advanced assistance.

  • Good navigation

Automatic gear shifts eliminate distractions that help increase your reflexes, especially in congested intersections. A good engine also produces superior power to handle the tough terrain.

  • Great stopping power

There is a fact that automatic motorcycles boast more powerful brakes compared to manual ones. The superiority stems from the single camshaft that actuates the valves in the brake cylinder instead of the lever system or the cables.

In addition, its massive design and heavyweight affect stopping power. As a result, these settings create a great delay to prevent the vehicle from moving forward when needed.


  • Expensive purchase and maintenance costs

In general, automatic engines are more expensive than manual ones. You also have to save funds for expensive maintenance costs during operation. The vehicle regularly requires adjustments and care to maintain its good condition.

Its fragile parts are susceptible to wear and tear and damage. To achieve optimum performance, owners must perfrom regular upkeep for transmission fluid levels or motorcycle transmissions.

4-cylinder Touring Bike
The automatic motorcycle is probably an expensive investment
  • High fuel consumption

The automatic transmission is in charge of more tasks, leading to more energy consumption. It is a matter of cost-effectiveness ratio that is worth considering if you go for this transmission.

Which Suits You Best ? Your Riding Experience Is Key 

Commuting: Automatic

In buzzing boulevards, the automatic transmission will have its moment. Traffic users never want them to become a roadblock just because their motorbikes suddenly stop. 

There’s nothing better than consistent and smooth rides thanks to the simple operation of the brake and throttle. You just sit all the way, start the motorbike, and enjoy the scenery on both sides.

This does not mean that manual motorbikes hinder moving around the crowded city. But extra effort is required to get the hold of the standard manual transmission.

High-Speed Riding: Manual

Manual motorcycles are the best for experienced riders to enjoy an engaging ride as they conquer sharp corners and twisty roads. Absolute control over engine speed and other inputs provides a sense of stimulation and comfort for your speed dreams. 

The complete connection between the engine and the rider is an important condition to win the races.

The automatic motorcycle does not get the priority of thrill riders

See more: How Fast Are 250cc Motorcycles?

Touring and Adventure Riding: Both

While both gearboxes have a clear competitive edge in the two situations above, it is a gray area in this category. On lengthy rides, tour riders look for long gear ratios that do not significantly differ between the two options. Note that ergonomics and some extras to suit your racing style are important features.

The same principle of selection applies to adventurous trips. If your intended route is not technically demanding, steady throttle ensures stability. In contrast, manual transmission bikes work like a charm to overcome difficult terrain and show off your skills.


What Types Of Motorcycles Are Automatic?

Though automatic transmissions are not very common, you can find them frequently in the following models:

  • Moped
  • Motorcycle with a pitiful appearance
  • Tricycle

What the second and third types have in common is a large space for internals.

Is It Hard To Ride A Manual Motorcycle?

Yes. The starting time may be a nightmare that stresses beginner riders out as you have to struggle with a lot of manipulation. However, your effort will pay off one day, and your skill will improve. 


Are motorcycles automatic? True, but not all. The latest news is that you can even find a cross between a manual and automated motorcycle called a semi-automatic transmission. Doing the best of both worlds, this option is the best fit for those who cannot decide which one.

See more: How Many Miles Do Motorcycles Last?

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Daniel Barker


Daniel Barker was introduced to racing in 2006 when he experienced his first track day on his Suzuki sv650. With more than 15 years of experience on his track. Daniel is known as for his high-energy riding, drifting, precision stoppies and technical riding ability on virtually any motorcycle.

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