Welcome to week #263 of Inspiration Friday…Honda E-Clutch makes Shifting Optional! “As we continue to technology evolve as a species…” TMW Science Mode: OFF. As our industry moves forward we try to appeal to new riders and show them the freedom of our motorcycling world, from open highways, to meeting like-minded people to exploring the great unknown. Unfortunately, for whatever reason (demographics? age? sex or income?), manufacturers are thinking it’s the manual transmission that is the issue. So Honda is leading the way in removing the manual and offering up DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) as not shifting makes riding easier for new riders? Or does it? I know it took me a few days to learn NOT to stall the bike, but only a few days… DCT was just the start, now Honda has developed the E-Clutch, making shifting optional and even a thing of the past. I can see that in hot heavy traffic being a good thing. Options are good and so is choice. The interesting thing about Honda’s new E-Clutch is that it is small, lightweight and compact and can be installed without major changes to existing engine layouts…wow. So when you are “done with it” unbolt it and sell it off. Kinda like motorcycle training “wheels”…nice!
Also as a bonus we will showcase Honda’s new RoadSync for using smartphone functions with simple operations during a ride. It is a system that connects the rider’s smartphone and motorcycle via Bluetooth® for using the smartphone functions like navigation, phone calls, text messaging, and music, without interrupting riding operations! Again, nice as long as it isn’t distracting.
So what do you think about Honda’s new E-Clutch? Do you believe it will help new riders get into the sport? or is the more permanent Dual Clutch Transmission which Honda says “has evolved to be closer to the rider’s senses” the right way to go? Anything that helps inspire new riders get on board a bike it’s a good thing as long as choice remains. Let’s talk about it in our Total Motorcycle Community Forums!
Inspiration Friday: Honda E-Clutch makes Shifting Optional was brought to you by inspiration from Honda and created by Total Motorcycle.
Also, don’t forget to support us to support you and riders worldwide. We always could use more gas in the tank.
Total Motorcycle would like to thank Honda and our over 400 million of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts who visit and support TMW for inspiring us to bring you this week’s Inspiration Friday: Honda E-Clutch makes Shifting Optional!
Each week we bring you another Inspiring Motorcycle story to inspire you to get out and ride.
Please help us help riders, support motorcyclists and motorcycling worldwide today.
Honda E-Clutch for Motorcycles
In situations where the driving force changes, such as starting, shifting and stopping, electronic control technology provides instantaneous, fine-tuned optimum clutch control, enabling smooth starting/shifting/stopping without the need for the rider to operate the clutch lever.
Even during electronic clutch control, the rider can operate the clutch in the same way as in a normal manual transmission vehicle by simply holding the clutch lever. By accommodating a wide range of riders’ riding experience and skills, it allows the rider to comfortably concentrate on the pleasure of riding.
Motorcycles represent the origin of both Honda’s “mono-zukuri (the art of manufacturing)” and business. Under the philosophy of “building products close to the customer,” Honda has practiced mono-zukuri rooted in each country and region and has delivered a cumulative total of more than 400 million motorcycles to customers. Honda remains committed to meeting the expectations of customers worldwide and opening up new frontiers for the motorcycle market, thus becoming a driving force in the global motorcycle industry.
Honda Previews Details of World’s First Honda E-Clutch for Motorcycles
Honda today released on its website information on Honda E-Clutch for motorcycles, the world’s first* automatic clutch control system for multi-gear motorcycle transmissions, enabling smooth starting and shifting gears without the need for the rider to operate the clutch lever.
The Honda E-Clutch uses electronic control technology to provide instantaneous, fine-tuned clutch control for optimum performance in situations where the driving force changes, such as starting, stopping, and shifting gears, to achieve smooth starting and shifting more natural than a rider’s manual clutch operation.
To meet a wide range of rider demands, the clutch can be operated like a normal manual motorcycle gripping the clutch lever, even when the clutch is controlled electronically. This allows the system to be used by more riders of diverse riding experience and skills, who can concentrate on the fun of riding in more comfort.
As the lightweight and compact system can be installed without major changes to existing engine layouts, Honda plans to apply Honda E-Clutch to its FUN motorcycle models over time.
* according to Honda research
- For using smartphone functions with simple operations during a ride.
- Meticulous user-friendliness makes the system truly appealing.
- Originally developed control system and app.
- Handy and fun system for the near-at-hand motorcycle.
1. For using smartphone functions with simple operations during a ride.
-What kind of technology is the Honda RoadSync?
It is a system that connects the rider’s smartphone and motorcycle via Bluetooth® for using the smartphone functions like navigation, phone calls, text messaging, and music, without interrupting riding operations. It’s the unique technology Honda and its group company, Drivemode, jointly developed.
This system comprises two factors. One is a smart phone app. The other one is a control system to use Bluetooth® implemented on the motorcycle.
Voice reception and speaking are done via a headset which is getting popular among riders these days. The system is operated with a handlebar switch and voice input.
The system voices the function selected with the switch located on the handlebar, so the rider can hear and learn what is being operated now. Moreover, the functions are limited to apps frequently used during a ride. It is very simple. The rider can use smartphone apps comfortably without looking away from the traffic situations during a ride.
It is dangerous to look at your smartphone screen while riding. Please pull over your motorcycle to do so.
-What were the concepts for its development?
One of the concepts is that the user can use the smartphone functions that he/she is used to without any change. Another one is to provide an intuitive user experience.
There are more and more needs recently to use a smartphone during a ride. Until now, Honda commercialized the Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto mainly for the larger models. We have created this new system to adopt to more models including entry motorcycles, so that the joy of traveling with a smartphone can be offered to more customers.
2. Meticulous user-friendliness makes the system truly appealing.
-What were your ruling passions during the development?
Simplicity has applied to component parts themselves, and their internal designs and the interface on the smartphone app.
As for the aspect of operations, we were particularly fastidious about good responsiveness. As the handlebar switch and Bluetooth® are connected by a communication method called serial communications, a delay may occur when a large volume of information is sent. We devised the design for the rider to feel the delay less, so that the interface has become smooth and user-friendly.
We focused on user-friendliness. When a device is user-unfriendly, the rider pays more attention to operating than concentrating on riding. In order to make this system user-friendly, we put together feedback from Drivemode UX designers and Honda’s worldwide test riders. Then, we discussed thoroughly on what we could do to make it more user-friendly to build the system.
Each button operation is always responded to with voice feedback. There is some kind of a voice reaction, so the system is very easy to use.
The greatest feature of this system is voice reading and voice feedback. It is very clear what menu option is being selected and what are the operational options for the next step.
I hope riding can be more comfortable using this system.
3. Originally developed control system and app.
-What differentiates this app from other similar apps?
I think it is user-friendliness. In this system, the rider can operate the app of the interface we conceived with the handlebar switch we designed. Our know-how is applied to everything including the voice feedback speed to return the outcome of an operation.
Our aim was that the customers riding a motorcycle as a daily transportation means could also use this system, by making it very simple. We really wanted daily-use motorcycles to be more user-friendly. That is why the system was developed exclusively by Honda.
Another great feature for using it in peace is that this system is designed to reset automatically when the app has stopped working because of some defect. It is difficult to check what’s happened to the stopped app while riding.
Also, the system is usable even when the smartphone screen is locked or the display is offThis feature makes the system always available, so the rider doesn’t have to check his/her smartphone each time for use. The accomplishment of this design is a major break-through point.
4. Handy and fun system for the near-at-hand motorcycle.
-How do you envision the use of this system?
For example, when you are on your way home from work on a motorcycle, you have received a message from your family member to pick up something from a store. In the past, you would pull over your motorcycle to check what the message was and to figure out how to get to the store, and set off to the destination to complete the mission. When the message from your family member is voiced while you are on the move, you don’t have to pull over. If you do not know how to get to the destination, you can set a destination for the navigation even while riding. We think it is beneficial to be able to communicate in peace during a ride even for daily transportation. Additionally, customers in India and Thailand tend to talk more to their family on the phone. Previously they either gave up using a smartphone while riding, or they used a smartphone anyway while riding. But not anymore. Now they can enjoy speaking with their family members with peace of mind.
It is dangerous to look at your smartphone screen while riding. Please pull over your motorcycle to do so.
You can send and receive text messages, receive and make a call, set a destination and operate the navigation, get voice-guided directions, and play and control music. The system makes your everyday ride, group touring, and solo touring more enjoyable.
It is an infotainment system with meticulously-designed simple operations. This system brings out the attractiveness of Honda motorcycles even more. Please try it.
-I understood that the system was very appealing with the rider’s safety also taken into account. Thank you.
* Bluetooth® and Bluetooth® logo are trademarks of US Bluetooth SIG, Inc.
Mechanism and Evolution of Dual Clutch Transmission
Honda’s DCT, the world’s first DCT mounted on a motorcycle, has evolved to be closer to the rider’s senses
In 2010, Honda introduced the world’s first dual clutch transmission (DCT)*1 in a motorcycle, and has continued to evolve the DCT ever since. 2012 saw the introduction of the DCT in the NC700 series and the CTX700, expanding the circle of users. In 2016, this technology was introduced to the CRF1000L Africa Twin to expand riders’ field of use. And in 2020, it evolved to become quieter and smoother, with control closer to the rider’s senses.
1. What is the Dual Clutch Transmission?
A Dual Clutch Transmission is a transmission in which clutch and shift operations are automated, while maintaining the structure of manual transmission with its advantages such as direct-feel acceleration.
With no need to operate the clutch, the rider can concentrate on the throttle and brake operation while riding, and smooth acceleration and deceleration is possible with fewer interruptions of driving force during shifting that inevitably occur with normal manual transmissions due to their structure.
As a transmission with two clutches (dual clutch), one for the 1st, 3rd, 5th gear and starting, and the other for the 2nd, 4th, and 6th gear, Dual Clutch Transmission is the world’s first*1 technology for motorcycles. *1: As of June 2010 (based on Honda research)
There are two gear shifting modes: the AT mode, which automates shifting operation, and the MT mode, which allows the rider to select a gear of their choice at any time. In the AT mode, in addition to the regular D mode, the S mode can be selected for sportier riding. The gears can be shifted at any time with shift switching according to the riding conditions, and after shifting the gears, the machine automatically returns to the AT mode.
The CRF1100L Africa Twin is equipped with a 6-axis IMU (inertial sensor) that detects angular velocity and acceleration for pitch, roll, and yaw. The addition of cornering run detection control enables gear shifting closer to the rider’s senses, while enhancing launch control and gearshift control delivers a sense of security and directness.
2. The Inner Workings of the Dual Clutch Transmission
We would like to present here the clutch operation and gear shift operation performed automatically during acceleration and deceleration.
3. Mechanism for Automatic Gear Switching
In a normal manual transmission, the shift spindle is rotated by operating the shift pedal on the left foot, and the gears are slid through the shift drum and shift fork, but in a dual clutch transmission, the shift motor takes on this role. The shift spindle is operated by the shift motor in the same way when using the optional foot pedal setting.
Dual Clutch Transmission Change Pedal Kit
Shift operation is possible by left foot just like a normal manual transmission vehicle.
It can be used with the DCT shift switch on the handlebar.
Dual Clutch Transmission Shift Pedal
4. Efforts to Deliver to a Wider Audience
In order to deliver to as many people as possible the riding sensation of manual transmission that can be enjoyed without clutch and shift operations, we have optimized the structure according to the characteristics of the engine and model. For example, in the series where the same engine is mounted on the same frame in the three types, “NC750S”, “NC750X” and “X-ADV”, the layout of the clutch and crankshaft was reviewed to realize the floor-type step of the “X-ADV”.
Dual Clutch Transmission-Installed Models
Gold Wing 〈DCT〉
Gold Wing Tour 〈DCT〉
CRF1100L Africa Twin 〈DCT〉
CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports 〈DCT〉
5. Developers’ thoughts
We believe that the ultimate goal of the DCT is to “create the pleasure of maneuvering”. Since the creation of the DCT in 2010, the development team members have continued to work on evolving it to realize the purpose.
The DCT is an excellent system that frees the rider from clutch and shift operations, while still being able to transmit “direct drive power” unlike other ATs; it does not spoil the fun riding that is the essence of motorcycles.
If you actually ride it, you will immediately understand that it is not just a regular AT. It allows the rider to get the torque and acceleration they want, when they want it, and how they want it. What we want to provide with the DCT is a sense of oneness between the rider and the motorcycle.
2010: “Establishment of the world’s first installation system”
After announcing the development of our technology at the Milan Show 2008, in 2010, the VFR1200F sports tourer became the first motorcycle in the world to be equipped with Dual Clutch Transmission. It is since this time that the idea of switching between AT and MT modes at the will of the rider, and temporarily allowing manual operation even when the AT mode is used has been adopted.
2012: “Expansion of Users”
In 2012, the Dual Clutch Transmission was introduced to the 700cc NC series to allow more riders to experience it. By utilizing the know-how and manufacturing infrastructure of four-wheelers, to which hydraulic clutch control was applied ahead of motorcycles, we have been able to offer a more compact and reasonable model by drastically reviewing the structure, including reducing the number of parts compared to the previous systems. As the NC series gained popularity, many derivative models were equipped with DCT, and as more and more riders experienced it, it has grown its way to being a widely recognized technology.
2016: “Expansion of the Field of Use”
With the Dual Clutch Transmission, we sought to expand not only the “users” but also the “field of use”-In the 2016 CRF1000L Africa Twin, we took on the challenge of applying the DCT to a new territory: off-roading. By reviewing the clutch control and gear shifting control, a new mode for dirt riding has been added, which has been well received as an “adventure model” as it can be ridden anywhere. For the Africa Twin, the DCT model was selected by almost half of the customers, proving that the DCT is capable of demonstrating its true value even in off-road conditions where riding requires concentration.
2018: “7 gears for freedom of choice in shifting”
As the next step in our efforts to “expand” the range of users and scenes, we aimed to “deepen” the sense of fulfillment of maneuvering the vehicle by ensuring that the evolution of each model is optimized in terms of both software and hardware.
In the Gold Wing, the shifting feel has been improved by adopting a 7-gear transmission instead of 5-gear manual transmission, allowing the rider to enjoy the full power feel of the vehicle. With the adoption of a cross ratio on the low-speed side, the shock caused by shifting gears is reduced while the adoption of a wide ratio in 7th gear enables controlling of the engine speed rotation during high-speed cruising, greatly improving quietness. Furthermore, a superior shift feel has been achieved by adopting dampers in various parts to reduce transmission noise and operation noise while shifting. The adoption of a geared chain eliminates the need for an additional reversing shaft, which contributes to making the system lightweight and compact, coming along with a very low-speed forward and reverse function that allows for easy turning of the vehicle body while seated. In terms of advances in control technology, we have achieved both quicker and smooth-feel shifting through coordinated control with throttle-by-wire (TBW), which electronically controls the throttle valve opening.
2020: DCT Control that Paved its Way to be Closer to “the Rider’s Senses”
The CRF1100L Africa Twin uses a 6-axis IMU to detect the vehicle’s bank angle, acceleration, and deceleration, and to select gears that match the riding conditions, such as cornering. This enables gear shifting closer to the rider’s senses. Together with the G-Switch, which switches the clutch response characteristics, the rider can enjoy a direct and exciting ride.
The DCT technology is highly compatible with other technologies, and will continue to evolve as sensing devices, ECUs, AI, etc., are enhanced. We will continue to promote technological development with the aim of “creating a higher level pleasure of maneuvering”.