• No shift automatics / CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmissions) You just twist the throttle, and you are set to go. No shift lever, no neutral, no reverse and no leg pulls/push.
  • BMW-C range CVT
  • Aprilia Mana 850 GT CVT
  • Honda DN-01 CVT
  • Honda Activa CVT
  • Dual clutch manumatics The DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) uses two clutched instead of one. One for odd gears and one for even gears
  • Honda VFR1200F The first motorcycle to sport the DCT
  • Honda Gold-Wing DCT
  • Honda CRF 1000L Africa Twin DCT
  • Honda NC750X DCT
  • Centrifugal clutch Allows the rider to manually change the gear with the push/pull of a leg
  • Honda Cub The first moped to get the centrifugal clutch design
  • BMW K 1300 series Centrifugal clutch
  • Piaggio Beverly series Centrifugal Clutch
  • Honda Vision Centrifugal Clutch
  • Electric motors The compact direct drive mechanism allows the electric motor to spin with inputs from the throttle
  • Harley Davidson Project LiveWire Electric
  • BMW C Evolution Electric
  • Victory Empulse TT Electric
  • Zero Motorcycles SR Electric

And it is going to replace the manuals soon

Automatic vs. Manual has been a hot debate for the four-wheeler segment ever since the first automatic car was born in 1940 by General Motors’ Cadillac. And now, it seems like it will create similar situations in the two-wheeler segment as well. Or would it?

Honda has been at the forefront of new technology and has heavily invested into bringing automatic transmission to everyday motorcycles. It has been a pioneer in developing new forms of gear and clutch designs and is vying to change the dimensions of free riding, starting with the scooters all the way to the mighty Gold-Wing.

Every other major player has their own versions of the same having different acronyms but ultimately does the same job. It seems the manual transmission is well on its slide into obsolescence within the automotive world. And the ones responsible are these folks:

1. No shift automatics

Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752266
No shift automatics / CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmissions)
You just twist the throttle, and you are set to go. No shift lever, no neutral, no reverse and no leg pulls/push.

Famously known as CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmissions), it was introduced into mass production by Honda in 1973. You just twist the throttle, and you are set to go. No shift lever, no neutral, no reverse and no leg pulls/push.

The CVT has three parts to it – two conical pulleys, a centrifugal clutch, and a belt. As the engine rpm increases, the centrifugal clutch pushes the belt onto one of the conical pulleys, and this causes the wheel to rotate, depending on the position of the belt on the conical pulley.

Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752269
BMW-C range
CVT
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752268
Aprilia Mana 850 GT
CVT
Automatic transmission is on the prowl
- image 752283
Honda DN-01
CVT
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752270
Honda Activa
CVT

The faster the engine revolves, more of the clutch is displaced, and this pushes the belt to a higher section of the conical pulley. As a result, accelerating with a CVT is an incredibly smooth uninterrupted process.

All scooters available in the market are currently running on the CVT transmission, and every brand has their own variations of the same. Of course, there are other players too like Aprilia Mana and BMW’s C range of two-wheelers using this tech.

2. Dual clutch manumatics

Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752251
Dual clutch manumatics
The DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) uses two clutched instead of one. One for odd gears and one for even gears

Preserved for the four wheels, this piece of technology was brought into the biking world, again by Honda with their VFR1200F sport touring motorcycle in 2010. The engineers at Honda managed to take the Formula One-derived transmission and put this into the confined spaces of two wheels and make it change gears without any interruptions.

The DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) uses two clutched instead of one. You get one for odd gears and one for even gears with benefits such as rapid and smooth shifting, genuine compression braking and a stall-proof operation.

Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752271
Honda Gold-Wing
DCT
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752272
Honda VFR1200F
The first motorcycle to sport the DCT
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752273
Honda CRF 1000L Africa Twin
DCT
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752274
Honda NC750X
DCT

The thumb-operated shift controls negate the discernible clutch grab that would otherwise give the distinctive driveline lurch. This will also provide eminent fuel economy along with the ease of use and convenience.

Currently, Honda is running the maximum number of models with this transmission including the VFR1200 series, CRF 1000L Africa Twin, NC750X, CTX700 and the recently launched Gold Wing.

3. Centrifugal clutch designs

Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752252
Centrifugal clutch
Allows the rider to manually change the gear with the push/pull of a leg

There is a surprising story behind Honda developing the unique automatic centrifugal clutch for its Cub series. The goal was to produce a bike that could be operated one-handed, as at the time restaurant deliveries were made by bicycle riders carrying boxes with their right hand while steering with their left. The result was the birth of the revolutionary automatic centrifugal clutch.

They are not an automatic in a true sense. This kind of a system will allow the rider to manually change the gear with the push/pull of a leg, but there is no handlebar-mounted clutch lever. Also called as auto-clutch, they are predominantly found in all-terrain vehicles and entry-level dirt bikes.

Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752267
Honda Cub
The first moped to get the centrifugal clutch design
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752275
Piaggio Beverly series
Centrifugal Clutch
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752276
BMW K 1300 series
Centrifugal clutch
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752277
Honda Vision
Centrifugal Clutch

This system allows the rider to stop and move in any gear and is activated only when the engine rpm increases from an idle situation. As the engine rpm increases, the centrifugal clutch pushes the steel shoes and then the driveshaft. Such a mechanism wears out sooner than others, especially in a stop/go urban traffic commute.

This clutch was seen mostly on all scooters and bikes you get in South East Asian countries like Vietnam or Thailand. Centrifugal clutches are also majorly used on go-karts, snowmobiles, and other vehicles of conveyance. BMW uses this on their K 1300 range of motorcycles as well.

Electric motors

Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752253
Electric motors
The compact direct drive mechanism allows the electric motor to spin with inputs from the throttle

Time and again it has been proved that electric/hybrid vehicles have an overwhelming advantage especially to ride within the town and this evolution has been a gradual process for some – and an exciting start for others. With stalwarts like Harley Davidson, Indian, BMW and all major auto-makers having electric powertrain technology in the pipeline, the future is going electric.

With a simple battery-motor principle, there is not much complexity regarding the number of parts used. The compact direct drive mechanism allows the electric motor to spin to all its glory with inputs from the throttle, just like in CVTs’. The added advantage here is that electric motors have instant torque and are much quicker than the CVTs’.

Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752278
Victory Empulse TT
Electric
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752279
Harley Davidson Project LiveWire
Electric
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752280
BMW C Evolution
Electric
Automatic transmission is on the prowl High Resolution Exterior
- image 752281
Zero Motorcycles SR
Electric

This is the simplest form of auto transmission one can see on a two-wheeler, and the manufacturer can have multiple iterations of the same principle. They can either opt for a single-drive setup or add gears for optimum control options.

Companies like Energica, Empulse, Curtis, Zero and many others are fully electric companies that cater to only electric powertrain system. And slowly, everyone else will follow suit.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: