• Sep 8, 2009
Honda Dual Clutch Transmission - Click above to enlarge

When Honda's upcoming VFR1200 hits the American and European markets in 2010, the new sports tourer will be equipped with the first dual clutch transmission designed for the two-wheeled market. Like the highly-regarded DSG transmissions from Volkswagen and Audi, two separate clutches inside the gearbox act on the even gears (two, four and six) and the odd gears (one, three and five).

Honda promises both improved performance and efficiency from the dual clutch design. Three operating modes can be selected from the gearbox: D-Mode when regular automatic operation is desired, S-Mode for sportier performance and a fully manual mode that works just like a traditional six-speed sequential manual gearbox.

Though the transmission will debut on the new VFR, Honda says the technology can be applied to existing engines and platforms already in Honda sportbike lineup. We can't say for sure what "traditional markets" Honda is referring to, but we're thinking there's a decent chance a dual clutch box could soon make an appearance in the CBR line. As for Honda's automobile offerings? Not quite yet. Hit the jump for the press release.



PRESS RELEASE:

Honda Announces the New Dual Clutch Transmission for Use in Large-displacement Sport Bikes - a World's First


September 8, 2009-Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced that it has developed the Dual Clutch Transmission, the world's first* fully automatic motorcycle dual-clutch transmission for large-displacement sport bikes. The new transmission provides riders with a sporty riding experience, combined with easy operation and superior transmission efficiency, which delivers fuel economy equal to or better than a conventional manual transmission. The 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 which 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, including 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 traditional large motorcycle markets.

Honda will continue to deliver motorcycles that match the needs of society and users' lifestyles, spreading the joy of riding and mobility.

* According to Honda survey
** Patents pending: 100

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 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 existing dual-clutch transmissions are bulky, the new system employs original technologies such as dual input shafts, an innovative 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. Optimised 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
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  • 24 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting application to a market that has never really bitten on automatic transmissions. The control that the manual trans provides is somewhat integral to the riding experience.

      I see this better applied to the Gold Wing than a CBR.
        • 5 Years Ago
        *Cough cough* VRF is not in the same class as the CBR. Saying that it's the same is like saying 5 series is the same class as the M3. One is a sports tourer and the other sports bike.

        That said, this is a brilliant idea. I ride my 08 fireblade almost everyday and getting stuck in city traffic is a nightmare. This DCT coupled with proper application of slipper clutch would be the perfect bike for me. 150mph clutchless downshift on race track with scooter driveability everyday.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Javanese

        *cough cough* I was refering to *cough gag* the CBR reference in the article, but thanks for the education Captain America.

        Maybe if your Fireblade wasn't so busy diassembling itself from vibration you wouldn't have so much trouble with a clutch.

        .

      • 5 Years Ago
      I rode a Harley VRSC with a push button auto-clutch-shift. buttons on left handlebar, thumb position activated, top button to up shift, bottom button to down shift. it was very confusing at first but I got use to it. After that, I could see applications for all types of bikes. Criusers could benifit to squeek a few more miles out of the tank. Circuit racers could benifit for the fast gear change action. Novices could be able to ride a motorbike without the fear of dumping the bike getting out of first. Every one loves hi-tech stuffed in their bikes, this is just an evolutionary step.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm fairly sure that the production VFR will have this transmission as an option. Similar to the way Honda markets ABS and non-ABS versions of their bikes. I'd be interested in knowing if there is a clutch lever at all. Maneuvering in tight spaces would be very tough without a way to easily clutch (de-clutch?) the transmission.

      I'm really looking forward to the new VFR, but I'm on the fence about this technology. We'll have to see how well it's executed and how much it costs. Experience with a giant dog and a dirty road has taught me to pay for the ABS, but it's harder to justify the dual clutch transmission.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As much as I love sharing the love of 2-wheels and as much as companies like Honda love selling in mass. I don't like this.

      There are some people who just DON'T belong on 2 wheels. Period. Want proof? Go to a local college campus or urban area and watch these goofs try to ride an automatic scooter. Sometimes it's just better for some people to not have access to a large machine that requires balance, concentration, and some thought to operate.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I want this tranny in a CRZ!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not only that, but usually the limitations on gearboxes is torque. That's one thing that kept VW(and most everyone else for that matter) from putting DSG's into more powerful vehicles until recently.

        With a motorcycle, even though they may make similar HP to a car, their torque figures are nowhere near the same due to the high RPM nature of that HP.

        So, I'm guessing that this transmission will be solely for the motorbikes until they design a more robust version for use in automobiles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's got six gears, if it can handle the power of whatever engine honda puts in why not? This thing's gotta be smaller and lighter than anything VW et-al are using... though it'll be fun seeing it bolted up to the engine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not sure if you can bolt it up to the engine as it essentially part of the engine?
      • 5 Years Ago
      (not in any particular order) Honda, gets its a55 kicked in F1, kills off the S2000, kills off a NSX / supercar replacement, is getting its a55 kicked in MotoGP (fires Nicky Haden -- lives by the Pedrobot, now die by the Pedrobot), introduces the Crosstour, and plays "catch up" in the dual-clutch tranny derby by introducing two clutches to a pre-existing sequential gearbox. Honda, pull your head out.
      • 5 Years Ago
      For a sport bike, a Zeroshift 8 speed would be preferable.
      You'd be able to keep that back torque limiting clutch.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Something I was wondering about with the DSG gearbox.

      You are driving in third gear. You gently accelerated and auto upshift to fourth gear, and fifth gear is pre-selected. But at that moment, you jam the throttle, kickdown happens, and you need to go to third.

      Is that gear-change going to be just like a regular transmission, slow?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, the VW DSG really hates situations like what you describe. I believe that many of the complaints about DSG "failure" and "power loss" are due to situations like this.

        Any time I'm doing more than basic highway cruising or streetlight stop&go, I put it into M mode myself.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I dunno if slow is the right word, but yet, slower.

        I'm sure you could get the same effect without even being at a shift border just by releasing the gas and downshifting at the same time. Because you were on the gas before, it would have had the next higher engaged and ready to so, so when you go the other direction it takes a moment to get the next lower gear ready.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It makes me wonder why someone isn't working on a triple-clutch gearbox to avoid the scenario you are describing. That way both the higher and lower gear are preselected. I'm sure it has something to do with adds to the complexity of an already complex transmission design.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A double clutch transmission doesn't pre-select until it is about to change.
        It would not be good for mileage & longevity to have one clutch pack assembly highly slipping (even though there isn't any load, they still are touching, be it viscous drag, etc.)

        In your situation where the trans has auto upshifted into 4th, it sounds like the vehicle speed is low enough to get back into 2nd gear.
        A best case scenario: decouple 4th gear, leave even clutch closed, rev up engine, synchronize/engage 2nd gear, and away you go. Only a computer can get the required engine speed correct 4-2.
        More realistic would be: release even clutch & decouple 4th gear (simultaneously), synchronize/engage 2nd gear & start revving up engine (also simultaneously), close even clutch

        What could happen if the transmission didn't go into 2nd, but went for 3rd. Release 5th, synchro/engage 3rd, start opening throttle, start closing odd clutch, release even clutch, release 4th gear.

        The pre-cog function is pretty smart [yes transmission hinting], how long until VW gets it?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wonder what the weight penalty is over a simple clutch.. But on a VFR, probably not a big deal.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's what we need - more stupid drivers on the streets. Although I suppose because of a high fatality rate, it's good. It may help alleviate some of the duress on our lovely Earth by killing off some of the nincompoops.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Flappy paddles on a bike? Interesting... Considering bikes are even close to mainstream, I wonder how many bikers would even consider this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Honda is proving how detached they are from their target market. The DN-01, the Fury and now this. We'll see if anybody actually bites.

        In the meantime i'll stick with my dead-simple clutch. My biggest worry is carrying around a spare cable.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not I thats for sure. It's damn simple to operate the sequentially shifted, manual system on a bike. Why mess with a solid, proven, system. I can't think of any situation where I felt 'man, I'd love an automatic' when riding. Even on a cruiser it doesn't cross my mind; but on my supersport? No bloody likely.

        If, and thats a big if, the transmission could eliminate more engine braking effect than a good dual clutch slipper system, I -might- be interested, but only if the weight penalty was offset by an almost complete disappearance of engine braking, then you could truly use it to your advantage for fast cornering stability.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No clutch lever? No thanks. Buy a scooter.
        • 5 Years Ago
        no foot shifter? sounds good to me.

        this actually seems quite well suited to a modern motorcycle adaptation. No differentials required, no reverse gear required, two short lay-shafts, probably still stacked cassette-style, above and behind the input shaft and rear cylinder block.

        The bike is still entirely shift-able, and not a CVT or any power-sapping system, nor would it be in a step-through mega-scooter. We're talking REAL BIKES. Honda did bring out the Honda-matic, as well, and this has got to be a WORLDS better system.

        Like a car losing a clutch pedal for PDK/DSG, I wouldn't mind giving up a clutch lever, if it means on-the-bars gear selection, and automated clutch take-up from a stop, without bogging, and without wasteful clutch slippage, or tire burning. But then again, I am not that much of a hooligan.

        Just a request, BMW... put this sort of gearbox behind the R12S HP2 Sport's DOHC boxer engine in an longitudinal shaft-drive, with duolever and paralever suspensions for a new R1200S.

        Either that, or Honda had better build a V2 or V4 dual-clutch sport-standard bike, like the NAS1000 concept, that is lighter and more lithe than a VFR, but not as much of an ergonomic torture-rack as a CBR supersport.
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