SCOOP: Electronic gearbox planned for future R1 superbike

Fingers at the ready, folks. Yamaha follow Honda with push-button cog-swap technology

YAMAHA is planning a dual-clutch electronically-controlled gearbox for future versions of the R1 superbike, Visordown can reveal.

Yamaha's version of the dual-clutch box, first seen on the VFR1200F, is simpler than Honda's approach. Rather than running one input shaft through the other, both its input shafts are half the length of a conventional single-clutch gearbox's input shaft. And rather than squeezing two clutches into the space where normally you'd find only only one, its second clutch is on the opposite side of the gearbox, taking its drive from the other end of the crankshaft. The result is a gearbox that's simpler than the Honda's, but fractionally less compact – the second clutch, on the opposite side, adding extra width to the engine/gearbox unit.

Yamaha contends that its system, while bulkier than the Honda design, offers improved weight distribution, balancing the weight on both sides of the engine rather than loading it on one side, as Honda's design does. In the firm's own words, the system's key advantage is that “it is possible to provide a transmission that can be made sufficiently small, that allows smooth gear changing, and that can easily be mounted on a motorcycle without biasing the lateral weight balance.”

Although no photographs of the system have been released, Yamaha's extremely detailed patents suggest that it's far more than a vague idea – the detail in the drawings of individual components is far beyond what's needed to show only a theoretical idea, but appear to be drawings of real, finished components. The system is portrayed as being fitted to a 2007-style YZF-R1, suggesting that it's been under development for at least three years.