Wot, No Clutch Lever? BMW Introduces “Automated Shift Assistant”

automated shift assistant
BMW's Automated Shift Assistant will be optional on flat twins. PHOTO CREDIT: BMW

Honda has been pushing clutch-free motorcycling for decades, with bikes like the DCT-equipped current lineup as well as the old Hondamatic series—not to mention the semi-auto bikes like the Cub and CT series. Now, it seems the idea is spreading around, as we see patents of similar easier-shifting tech coming from other OEMs, and BMW has just introduced its new Automated Shift Assistant technology (ASA).

This tech is basically what it sounds like; OEMs like to call their quickshifters things like “shift assist,” and BMW’s design essentially automates the quickshifting process in D Mode, turning it into a twist-and-go affair, with no clutch needed at stops—and so, there is no clutch lever on the bars.

If the rider wants more control, M Mode allows them to also boot the bike up and down between gears without needing the clutch.

automated shift assistant
Changing your ride mode lets you twist-and-go, or ride the bike with standard foot shift but no need for a clutch. Nothing new there; semi-auto gearboxes have been very common on small-cc bikes for decades. However, it is true that very few big bikes have used this idea. PHOTO CREDIT: BMW

It’s all possible due to a pair of electromechanical actuators that control the clutch and transmission for the rider. These parts will change the bike’s gear range based on how hard the engine is working, as well as the ride dynamics (including lean angle).

The ASA will almost certainly be an option; it will be available for flat twins initially, and we expect it on production bikes this fall. BMW’s PR (see below) talks up the tech, saying it will make for a smoother, more enjoyable ride. But what do you think? Tell us below.


BMW Motorrad presents the Automated Shift Assistant (ASA)

Munich. With the new Automated Shift Assistant (ASA), BMW Motorrad presents an innovative technical solution that makes riding simpler and more comfortable. True to the motto “Simplify your ride”, the riding experience is further enhanced by the automation of the clutch and gearshifting, without sacrificing the emotionally important dynamics of shifting.

The Automated Shift Assistant features a clever functional design in which two electromechanical actuators automate the clutch and gearshift of the six-speed transmission, which is the main difference to a conventional shift assistant. There is no need for a hand lever to operate the clutch manually. Starting, stopping and manoeuvring are made easy with the Automated Shift Assistant.

Riding with the Automated Shift Assistant also becomes more enjoyable thanks to fast, rev- and load-adapted shift sequences and the resulting precise gear changes. The rider’s workload is reduced, which makes riding even more enjoyable. In addition, the Automated Shift Assistant creates an even more direct connection with the powerful boxer engine, as the precise clutch actuation makes it even easier to control the riding experience via the throttle grip and gearshift lever.

In ‘M’ shift mode, gear changes can still be made by foot control, allowing the rider to decide when to change gears.

In ‘D’ shift mode, the Automatic Shift Assistant really comes into its own. Shift points are automatically selected by the engine control unit. In both “M” and “D” modes, the rider benefits from perfectly executed gear changes with a smooth interruption of traction. The result is efficient motorcycle acceleration and increased riding stability.

When shifting up, for example, the jolt associated with a classic manual transmission with a manual clutch is largely eliminated, as is the risk of helmet contact between rider and passenger.

Downshifts are also designed to be as smooth as possible, minimising chassis disturbances. Specific characteristics of the automated shift function are assigned to the different riding modes to ensure perfect shift behaviour in each riding situation. In combination with Active Cruise Control or front collision warning, the networking of functions also brings the future of motorcycling to life.

Automated clutch and gear shifting for a new riding experience.
In difficult riding situations, using the clutch and throttle takes a lot of concentration. If you are travelling with luggage and perhaps a passenger, using the clutch and gearshift takes up resources. The rider remains in control and has more freedom in every riding situation with the Automated Shift Assistant. Riding becomes a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

The powerful boxer engine enables almost effortless pulling away on uphill gradients, for example, thanks to automated clutch operation, which also pays dividends in terms of better vehicle control off-road or on difficult surfaces.

Riding pleasure takes on a whole new meaning when you choose the automated D mode. Optimally selected gear changes create a new riding sensation with a more intense driving experience. The right gear is automatically selected according to the rider’s individual riding needs, resulting in a harmonious and extremely smooth driving experience.

Electromechanical clutch and gearshift actuators combined with sophisticated electronic controls.
The Automated Shift Assistant is the logical and technical evolution of the BMW Motorrad Shift Assistant Pro. Two electronically controlled electromechanical actuators operate the clutch and gearshift, enabling easy starting and automated gear changes.The rider’s shift request is transmitted to the control unit via a gearshift lever sensor, which is actuated by the conventional foot-operated gearshift lever. Additional sensors determine the revs of the transmission input shaft and the clutch position. These values are transmitted to the TCU (Transmission Control Unit), which is closely linked to the engine control unit, for modelling and control of the clutch, shift actuation and status.

The clutch is operated by an electro-mechanical actuator combined with a hydraulic system with a direct hydraulic connection between the clutch master and slave cylinders. The actuator regulates the required clutch slip, engages the clutch when changing gear and disengages it when stopping.

In manual shift mode “M”, the rider can move the gearshift lever in the desired direction in the usual way. If the revs in the desired target gear are within the maximum or minimum rev range, the shift is made directly. If the engine revs fall below a gear-dependent minimum speed, downshifts are also performed automatically in manual mode. This prevents the engine from stalling.

In shift mode “D” the gears are changed automatically depending on the riding mode, engine revs, throttle position and lean angle parameters. Gears are shifted according to the riding situation and dynamic requirements.

The benefits of the Automatic Shift Assistant (ASA) can be summarised as follows
· Completely eliminates the need for the rider to operate the clutch.
· Dynamic and comfortable gear changes for more riding pleasure.
· Choice of manual or automatic gear shifting.
· Automatically adapts gear shifts to the rider’s dynamic preferences in automated D mode.
· Eliminates the possibility of engine stalling due to unfavourable gear shifts.

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