The clutch-by-wire tech will provide a very light clutch lever action which might lead to automatic clutching in future
Honda has been at the forefront of developing new technologies, especially in the two-wheeler segment. With the evolution of ride-by-wire technology, automakers have been able to incorporate various rider assist features such as multiple ride modes, traction control and wheelie control to name a few.
The Japanese auto giant has taken another leap forward and is developing a new ride-by-wire clutch. The company has filed patents regarding the same at the US Patent Office which throws some light into this upcoming technology. The purpose of this system is, as usual, to limit physical linkage and replace them with a bunch of electronic chips.
New Clutch-By-Wire Operation
This system uses hydraulic and electronic principles to remove a direct link between the clutch lever and the clutch plate. Patent drawings show a conventional handlebar-mounted lever whose position is observed by an electronic position sensor.
The heart of the system still features a hydraulic pressure control unit which is operated on the basis of the information it receives from the position sensor. It also receives a bunch of other information such as engine rpm, vehicle speed and throttle opening.
Based on all this information, the hydraulic pressure control unit decided to actuate the clutch. However, contradictory to a conventional clutch system, in this case, the clutch is always dis-engaged in a resting state. In present clutch setups, transmission and engine are connected to each other in their resting state and only disengages them when the clutch lever is pulled. Therefore, the clutch-by-wire allows the engine and transmission to remain disconnected in the event of a failure.
Since there is no mechanical link between lever and clutch, the clutch-by-wire can offer a very light lever action. However, to give it a familiar feel at lever, Honda will be equipping it with a “reactive force generation device” as shown in the patents which act against the lever. The clutch action will still be a lot lighter but would surely not feel alien.
This setup could offer a host of inherent advantages, in addition to a light lever action, which could work together with other computer powered electronic rider aids like a quick-shifter and traction control to offer seamless and smooth gear shifts.
It could also facilitate an anti-stall system of sorts which could prevent the engine from stalling during bumper to bumper traffic. On the downside, though, critics believe that this would increase complexity of the system and hence would also increase chances of failure and also add up to the final cost of the motorcycle.
This also means that Honda will reserve this technology only for the higher spectrum of its lineup. Given the success it witnessed with the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) setup in Africa Twin, there is no reason why the Japanese bikemaker can’t pull this off. Expect the flagship range of CBR motorcycles to get this system first.