Honda Takes Half The Fun Out of Riding

2016-10-28 admin 7


HONDA HAS DEVELOPED a dual-clutch automatic gearbox for motorcycles, which seems to us like a perfect way to make canyon-carving a lot less fun.

This is the first time anyone’s bolted a dual-clutch transmission to a production sportbike, and Honda says it will arrive on our shores in 2010 aboard the venerable VFR Interceptor along with the incumbent anti-lock brakes and VTEC engine. If you’re wondering whether next year’s VFR will have more technology than the car in your driveway, the answer is yes, it probably will.

The VFR — that stands for V-Four Racing — also is known as the Interceptor, and it is renowned for the V4 engine based on the Honda RC30 racer that lapped the Isle of Man. The Interceptor was, once upon a time, designed to compete but evolved into a sport-tourer in the mid to late 1990’s following the release of the new generation supersport Suzuki GSX-R. It has been Honda’s sport-touring and technological benchmark ever since, which is why Honda chose it for the premier of its dual-clutch transmission.

This new addition features a “light, compact design that allows it to be combined with existing engines without substantial layout modification.” But what of extra rotational mass introduced by the dual clutch design? That’s the kiss of death when power is priority, which might explain why Honda says the gearbox debut on “a new VFR large-displacement sport bike.” That’s undoubtedly theVFR1200 we’re expecting next year.


The transmission includes three ride settings allowing the rider to select from a regular “D” mode, a sporty automatic “S” option and a conventional six-speed manual mode for traditionalists who want to be reminded that they are in fact riding a motorcycle.

We called Honda so we could feed your voracious appetite for details like how much it’ll cost, how fast it’ll do and when we might see it on other models, but Honda says you can starve. It isn’t saying anything more until later this fall.

As for Honda’s competition, there’s nothing on the horizon with a dual-clutch box on a sportbike. Yamaha offers clutchless shifting on the FJ1300AE to minimize clutch-hand fatigue on continent-crossing rides, and Aprilia offers theMana 850 with a continuously variable automatic transmission. We’re just waiting for the end-of-days when the pilot is riding bitch.

The way we see it, one of the greatest joys of riding is feeling completely at one with the bike mentally andmechanically. We’ll withhold final judgment on Honda’s dual-clutch box until we’ve thrown a leg over a VFR that’s got one, but until then we still think automatic transmissions are for scooters.

Renderings of the dual-clutch transmission and photo of a 2002 VFR: Honda, which really ought to update its photo archive.



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