What changes have been made to Honda's automatic gearbox?
Honda's Dual Clutch Technology (DCT) is in its second generation. The first, as used on the VFR1200FA was remarkably smooth, but Honda being Honda, well, they had to tinker with it.
DCT works by having one clutch for odd-numbered gears and one for the even ones. They run off two shafts; one sits within the other. Clever stuff. There are three shifting modes; Sport, Drive and Manual. The Manual mode isn't like a conventional motorcycle; you shift up and down using your thumb and forefinger on your left hand.
If you've ever driven a car, then the Sport and Drive modes will feel very familiar. The Sport mode clings onto the revs before shifting up, whereas the Drive mode changes up at the earliest opportunity, for a more refined ride.
Gear changes are quick too - just 70 milliseconds and no matter how closely related you are to Luke Skywalker, you won't beat that.
There are both hardware and software changes in the second generation DCT. The major hardware change is that the primary drive gear now sits between the two clutches, meaning the clutches themselves can be smaller and the shaft they all sit on can be shorter, thus saving weight and helping making the engine more compact.
The external solenoid is now replaced by one fitted into the engine cover. Expensive if you threw it down the road? Maybe, but if you look at where it's placed, then you'll see it'll never be an issue. This change means the hydraulic circuit used to power the DCT can be reduced by 40%, again saving weight and space.
The software changes are the ones you notice. The system can now 'learn' about what you're doing and determine whether you're commuting or heading down a country road. It'll adapt what it does to suit the riding you're doing, so it won't cling onto revs in town, or short-shift if you're making progress along a twisty road.
The best change, however, is also probably the simplest. On the old model, you could switch to Manual mode and change gear with the buttons on the left bar. Once you were in Manual, that was you set. However now, if you're in automatic, you can override this with the Manual mode buttons, say if you want to shift down in preparation for an overtake or short shift for a long straight. After you've made your manual changes, the system will then revert back to automatic mode.
If you're in D mode, the system will 'stretch' to the Sport mode if you're going for it, it'll then revert back to D mode once it feels like you've got whatever it was out of your system. When you're in S mode, it stays in S mode and won't switch to D if you're cruising.
The second generation DCT is currently only available in the Integra, but it'll soon by featuring in two new more conventional models the NS700S and NS700X which we expect to be more like the current Hornet and Crossrunner.
Get yourself a go on one and see what you think. They're actually a lot of fun.
Posted: 14/11/2011 at 10:34
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