Kawasaki developing its own semi-auto electronic gearbox

New patents show that Kawasaki is working on a new type of semi-automatic electronically actuated gearbox

KAWASAKI seems to be on the crest of a technological wave at the moment, what with the Endeavor electric bike project and its four-wheeled tilting trikes. And now it looks like it’s adding a trick, electronically adjusted gearbox onto the to-do list!

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The tech comes by way of patents that show the new system, and it’s not quite as alien as it all sounds. First off, we aren’t looking at Kawasaki’s take on the Honda DCT. That system uses buttons on the dash to shift the ratios, and it’s fair to say, it’s not to everyone’s taste. It’s very clever tech that, in years to come will be commonplace. But you don’t get to excitedly dance around on the gear lever like a conventional bike.

To combat this, the Kawasaki system is really all about an electronic interface, that transmits the up/down motion of the lever into an electronic message that can be conveyed to an electrical actuator with the gearbox. Now, that may all sound like a big waste of time and effort, or an exercise in over-complication if you will. The trouble is, motorcycles are pretty complex bits of kit, and this tech might actually make designing them much simpler.

Because of the shift-by-wire nature of the design, time-honored traditions like physically linking the gear shifter to the gearbox are now defunct, and the bike’s designers are free to make merry with the rider ergonomics and engine positioning. No longer will a straight piece of bar dictate where the pegs and gearbox meet.

The system could be extra handy for cruiser and tourer type motorcycles with a feet-forward riding position. In this case, the shift rod has to travel a couple of feet and that enables it’s to bend, stretch, and generally just wobble about. This new tech will mean you could mount the gear shift on the pillions footpeg, you’d still get just the same crisp change every time!

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