We’re looking forward to trying the Honda DN-01 when it arrives in the US some time in early 2009. Why? Its transmission. Dubbed the Human Friendly Transmission (HFT) by acronym happy Honda, it’s actually a clutch-free Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that’s capable of operating in two infinitely variable automatic drive modes or a manual mode, which allows riders to switch through six predetermined ratios using their left thumb.
>Sound confusing? It’s really not. The process works like this:
1. Start the bike. The transmission will automatically be in neutral,
in which position it sets itself when the engine is switched off.
2. Press a button on the right handlebar marked ‘D’ and the HFT switches into Drive mode.
3. Twist the throttle, the neutral light on the instruments is replaced with a ‘D’ and you can pull away clutch-free.
4. Proceed to ride like normal; the HFT will continuously vary its
ratio to suit riding conditions. When little to no acceleration is
required, it’ll be as high as possible for maximum fuel economy, when
extra power is needed for acceleration or climbing a hill it’ll switch
lower to suit the amount of load placed on the engine.
5. Want more emphasis to be placed on performance than economy? Select
Sport mode on the right handlebar, an ‘S’ will illuminate in the
instrument panel and the HFT will choose its ratios with performance in
mind, providing maximum acceleration when the throttle is opened.
6. Not good enough for you? Select Manual mode and the HFT will allow
you to switch between six artificial, preset gear ratios, mimicking a
traditional manual gearbox. You do so by selecting ‘M’ on the right
handlebar, which replaces the ‘D’ or ‘S’ with the number of the current
7. Use the up and down button placed under your left thumb to move up
or down through the “gears.” The HFT allows engine braking or the use
of maximum revs just like a normal transmission, but won’t allow you to
select a gear that’s too high or too low for current speeds.
8. Come to a stop — there’s no need to pull a clutch in — and the HFT will automatically shift itself into first gear.
9. There’s no need to do so, but you can now switch into neutral and/or
turn the engine off, which automatically engages neutral for you.
The entire system should be much easier to use than it is to describe.
HFT differs from the clutchless shifting on Yamaha’s FJR1300AE in that
it doesn’t merely eliminate the clutch, but offers a totally different
style of gearbox that replaces gears with a belt and cone system that
isn’t constrained by the need for predetermined gear ratios (except in
manual mode); HFT also eliminates the traditional foot-operated gear
lever in favor of bar-mounted buttons.