When it comes to motorcycles, tradition, and technology have often been at odds, especially when it comes to the sacred clutch lever. The idea of a clutchless motorcycle can send shivers down the spines of riders who value the tactile connection between man and machine. However, Honda, a pioneer in pushing the boundaries of motorcycling, has unveiled a groundbreaking solution that seeks to bridge this divide.
Enter the “E-Clutch” system, a remarkable blend of old-school charm and cutting-edge automation, offering riders the flexibility to embrace or shun the clutch lever.
Honda has been an unwavering advocate for fully automatic dual-clutch “DCT” transmissions in motorcycles for years. This technology, commonly found in automobiles, boasts a six- or seven-speed gearbox equipped with two electronically controlled clutches. It promises buttery-smooth gear shifts that maintain power delivery seamlessly. Riders can choose between fully automatic mode or the joy of manual control using thumb buttons, akin to paddle-shifting a sports car.
While DCT offers convenience and precision, it also ushers in a seismic shift—bye-bye clutch lever on the left handlebar and farewell gear lever on the left foot. This proposition doesn’t sit well with all riders. Motorcyclists, as a tribe, tend to be conservative when it comes to embracing novel ideas. For some, the absence of a clutch lever relegates a motorcycle to the realm of scooters—an unsettling association. Besides, the clutch lever isn’t just a piece of hardware; it’s a portal to thrilling clutch-up wheelies for some.
The E-Clutch system by Honda is a game-changer. It is “the world’s first automatic clutch control system for a multi-gear manual motorcycle transmission.” What’s the big deal? Well, it’s all about choice. With the E-Clutch, riders can hold on to their cherished manual gearbox and clutch lever. They can use them just like they always have, experiencing the traditional charm of motorcycling.
But here’s the twist: should riders decide to take a break from clutch work, the E-Clutch system seamlessly takes the reins. It handles starts, stops, upshifts, and downshifts in a manner that Honda describes as “more natural than a rider’s manual clutch operation.” If you reach for the lever, you’re back in control; if not, the bike ensures a smooth and effortless ride, just like a twist-and-go scooter.
Honda’s E-Clutch is compact, lightweight, and designed to integrate seamlessly without requiring significant modifications to existing engine layouts. While retrofitting might be complex due to its close ties with the bike’s electronic control unit (ECU), Honda is committed to rolling this innovation into its “FUN motorcycle models” over time. The E-Clutch offers a more relaxed and user-friendly approach to motorcycling.
This innovative system caters to a diverse range of riders. Beginners can ride without the fear of stalling, gaining confidence without compromising their clutch skills. Seasoned riders can still indulge in the occasional wheelie by engaging the clutch lever when the mood strikes. It’s a harmonious marriage of tradition and innovation in motorcycling.
While Honda hasn’t revealed an official release date for the E-Clutch system, it represents an exciting step towards finding an equilibrium between time-honored motorcycling practices and the allure of modern technology.