Remember the Hondamatic? Ever since the 1970s, Honda has been trying to make motorcycles easier to ride, and a big part of that equation is simplifying shifting. Beginners often struggle with coordination of clutch, throttle and gearbox, and the Hondamatic was supposed to solve that problem. Now, almost 50 years later, we see Honda still tackling the issue with its new e-clutch technology.
Honda announced the new e-clutch today, but we have seen very few technical details posted. The video above doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the mechanical bits, and neither do the press releases that Honda has posted to its global PR sites.
But, those releases do give us two very important pieces of information. First, Honda says this new tech allows riders to still use the clutch lever as they do on any other bike, at any time. You don’t have to turn the e-clutch function off in order to grab the lever and use the clutch in standard fashion. This will be welcome news to riders who might want the ability to load their clutch up for wheel-popping antics or other purposes.
Second, Honda says this tech can easily adapt to a wide variety of internal combustion engines. Honda didn’t say which bikes, exactly, but the 500 and 750 twin models seem logical, especially since neither has the auto-shifting DCT available to them.
Speaking of which: While the e-clutch requires a bit more effort on the part of the rider, it’s worth noting that it’s lighter than the DCT assembly. Honda’s DCT tech also undergoes constant algorithm updates to make it shift better, but that sort of thing costs the company money. An e-clutch keeps those when-to-shift questions under the control of the rider, and that certainly simplifies things from an R&D standpoint.
So, this tech might actually be a huge breakthrough for Honda, helping noobs while not interfering with traditional motorcycle operation for experienced riders. Don’t be shocked if it’s the way of the future on middleweight internal combustion models.