We always knew it would work, this Dual Clutch Transmission thing. It's a Honda, after all, and when it comes to engineering, Honda doesn't do duff. But that doesn't mean all the questions are answered, and the two big ones are, do you want it? And will we get it on sport bikes? Here's what it's like to ride the 2010 Honda VFR1200F DCT.
Editor's Note: We asked England's premier motorcycle reviewer, Kevin Ash, to tell us what he thought of Honda's DCT technology. Kevin is held in such high regard in England that each and every Visordown staffer proudly sports a tattoo of his face on their right buttocks. You can read his full Honda VFR1200F DCT review on his website.
Car drivers want Dual Clutch Transmissions because those with manuals
don't like waving their arms and legs about to find new ratios and the
changes are slow. Those with conventional auto boxes are putting up with
slushiness and reduced efficiency. A dual clutch system gives them the
efficiency of a manual (well, closer to it than a torque converter) with
super-rapid cog-swops and the option of paddle controlled manual or
full automatic - finger wiggling in place of limb waving, much easier.
Changing gears on bikes though really isn't too tough. Wiggle your left
toes and that's it. Upchanges, and even going the other way if you're
good, can be done without wiggling your left fingers, leaving the
clutch's prime duty as getting you off the line and a favored tool for
airing the front wheel when necessary (like, there's a fit bird on the
Honda's DCT is novel and it's different, but given time you might start
to wonder if the $1,500 you've added to the already hefty $15,999 price
was really money well spent. Normal gearchanging wasn't so bad was it?
And for a lot less you could have the same ultra-quick gearchanges with
an ignition kill quickshift from the aftermarket. Get over the initial
curiosity and you'll pine for a clutch lever, especially as DCT takes
away the option of feathering the power with your left hand in very
tight manoeuvres - full lock turns on the throttle alone aren't easy!
As for sport bikes, no way. Glue a second clutch on the end of the
first, add two hefty hydraulic pumps to operate each and you've just
bolted 22lbs onto a bike that already has more than enough avoir dupois.
So maybe here on Shamu it's not noticed, but on a superbike - let alone
a supersport 600 - that's like pulling a plug lead off. And worse, the
extra mass is rotating with the crank, so the engine response is dulled.
It's a good couple of inches wider than the stock VFR engine too, which
on a lean-happy Fireblade might cause some Tarmac interface problems.
Finally, as you're always riding with one of the clutches lifted and
slipping, transmission efficiency's reduced and even bigger losses are
incurred through the energy sapped by those hydraulic pumps. It's like
the drag you get when you switch on your car's air conditioning.
Brilliantly executed, but mostly relevant to amputees.
-- Kevin Ash