Computer sensors to assist in making functions more precise have been quite the way forward for motorcycles. Today, you could throw open the throttle on a litre-class motorcycle without much hesitation, thanks to the electronics. The adrenaline that came from doing that on a bike with no electronics was quite the rush but also a health hazard to some and humans tend to collectively frown on health hazards. Anywho, another area where a computer can make things more efficient is the clutch, so Honda is working on clutch by wire.
A recent patent filed by the Japanese manufacturer shows that the mechanism would eliminate the direct physical link between the clutch and the clutch lever while keeping the hydraulically-controlled clutch operation by the rider intact.
According to the patent image, the clutch lever’s position would be monitored electronically, transmitting feedback to a hydraulic pressure control that would engage or disengage the clutch.
Like ride-by-wire which gave us things like traction control, riding modes and launch control, Honda’s clutch-by-wire will be able to recognise when the clutch lever position isn’t optimal compared to wheel speed, rpm, etc.
The major difference here would be that the clutch would remain disengaged in the resting state which would be advantageous even in case of a failure. A traditional transmission system has the clutch disengaged only when the clutch lever is pulled.
While the invention of the slipper clutch helped loads in terms of matching engine speed during gearshifts to enable more precise gear changes, reduce violent engine braking and making the pull on the lever lighter, the clutch-by-wire could make offer an even lighter pull.
This would be welcome by some but there will be some who will want to receive feedback on the clutch lever through some amount of pressure. For them, Honda has also included a ‘reactive force generation device’ to act against the lever. This is meant to enable the clutch to feel more like the traditional lever. The system would, however, add some more to the price tags.
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