February 27, 2016 at 7:52 pm #11690
Rank: 1200cc Rider
- Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
- Bike: Suzuki DR650 ADV
Tired of having to use your clutch like a poor person but don’t want to buy a Honda VFR or Africa Twin? A company called Biperformance Development Corporation (BDC) has just unveiled an aftermarket kit called the ShiftFX Electronic Shift Transmission (EST) that allows you to convert just about any motorcycle to a semi-auto and the ability to ride clutch free.
The system combines physical changes to the gearbox coupled with an onboard computer to allow riders to transform their bikes into a push-button semi-automatic or fully automatic shifting. The ShiftFX EST consists of three main components: An active clutch with isolation valve, which retains the standard clutch lever for operation by the rider at any time; a high-speed DC motor and fixed gear reducer that directly rotates the shift drum; and a transmission control unit (TCU) that can be programmed to provide practically any desired shifting characteristics in either semi-automatic or automatic mode.
According to the company, ShiftFX EST provides a much simpler interface that eases a new rider’s introduction into motorcycling by eliminating the need to operate the clutch or manually shift the transmission. The automatic mode also offers convenience for all riders by reducing fatigue in heavy traffic, over long distances, or in adventure-type riding.
In semi-automatic mode, the transmission is shifted by electronic controls and the rider need only push a button to initiate an upshift or downshift, in a manner similar to high-end sports cars that are operated using a paddle shifter. Gear changes are precisely sequenced with engine control and occur in less than 50 ms, with the power cut on upshifts limited to as little as 30 ms.
Now obviously this isn’t a plug and play system and is one that will require a little mechanical know how to install. But will it really work with every bike that’s currently on sale? According to BDC, ShiftFX EST takes advantage of the fact that every major motorcycle manufacturer produces engines with a common clutch and gearbox design and so by interfacing electromechanical and electrohydraulic controls with this existing design, a system offering semi-automatic and fully automatic shifting can be produced that can be adapted easily to an existing engine’s architecture and transmission components.
That seems like a stretch to us. While the principles behind almost every gearbox and clutch may be the same, their packaging does vary and it seems unlikely that a one size fits all approach will suffice. Regardless, it’s a very interesting concept and no doubt would be attractive to some riders and no doubt part of the push by BDC is to play directly with the manufacturers – seeing as only Honda really provides DCT options on motorcycles at the moment, there may be interest from some of the other makers to implement this system (perhaps even as an option on standard models).
At the moment, there’s no word on when the units will become available and for how much.
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