Honda has announced their "Dual Clutch Transmission" for use in large displacement sport bikes. I read through the description of this new bit of technology and it's pretty interesting, one clutch for odd gears, the other for even gears. Each clutch engages the next gear then, with the assistance of the computer, gradually disengages one clutch and engages the other for a smooth shift. There are 3 operating modes, 2 are fully automatic, D for normal riding, S for sporty, plus a 6 speed mode that simulates manual shifting. The whole setup looks fairly compact.
The dual clutch will first appear on the new VFR in 2010 and gradually show up on other large displacement bikes, ... can you say Gold Wing? That would certainly appear to be the natural market.
Purists will once again say that motorcycles should be shifted manually, this is just superfluous technology, but, despite their protests, the technology will continue to advance. My guess is those same purists, if given the chance to ride a dual clutch bike, would eventually leave it in the full auto mode because it works so well.
This is one more bit of technology that moves away from the home garage test. If it breaks, it's a trip to the dealer. Of course, motorcycles have been moving in that direction for some time so it's nothing new, but after a while, our bikes become a black box. If the ride is what you like, it may not be an issue, if you like to wrench on your own machine, stock up on vintage repair manuals.
Honda press release:
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it has developed the Dual Clutch Transmission (Patents pending: 100), the world's first (According to Honda survey) fully automatic motorcycle dual clutch transmission for large-displacement sport bikes. The new transmission provides riders sporty riding enjoyment with easy operation, while its superior transmission efficiency delivers fuel economy equal to or better than a conventional manual transmission. A new VFR large-displacement sport bike equipped with the new transmission will be released in Europe and North America in 2010, with sales to commence in Japan at a later date.
This world's first motorcycle dual clutch transmission features a light, compact design that allows it to be combined with existing engines without substantial layout modification. Further, the new transmission delivers the precise acceleration control riders require thanks to electronic control technology that helps ensure smooth, seamless gear changes. In order to respond to rider demands in a broad range of situations, the transmission is equipped with three operating modes, two full-auto modes (D-mode for regular operation and S-mode for sporty riding); and a 6-speed manual mode, which delivers the same shift feel as a manual transmission. Honda intends to gradually expand the deployment of the new transmission to more and more of its large-displacement motorcycles, particularly sports models destined for use in developed countries.
Honda will continue to deliver motorcycles that match the needs of society and users' lifestyles, spreading the joy of riding and mobility.
[ Key Features ]
The new transmission features a dual clutch transmission configuration in which independent clutches are employed for the odd gears (1st, 3rd, 5th) and the even gears (2nd, 4th, 6th), respectively. The two clutches operate alternately to effect gear changes. For example, when changing from 1st to 2nd gear, the computer detects the up-shift and engages 2nd gear, then releases the 1st-gear clutch while engaging the 2nd-gear clutch to achieve a seamless gear change. While some dual-clutch transmissions tend to be bulky, the new system employs original technologies such as dual input shafts, exclusive in-line clutch design, and concentration of hydraulic circuitry beneath the engine cover to achieve a compact design. Compactness and lightness is further enhanced through the use of a simple shift mechanism design based on that of a conventional motorcycle shift drum. Optimized shift scheduling achieves fuel economy equal to or better than that of a fully manual transmission, enabling Dual Clutch Transmission to deliver both sporty riding and environmental performance combined.