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Suzuki joins push toward automatics

Suzuki automatics patents in Hayabusa
Suzuki automatics patents in Hayabusa

Suzuki Motorcycles seems to be joining the push toward automatics after filing multiple patent applications for a semi-automatic transmission.

While most automatic two-wheelers are scooters with CVT, there is a growing list of motorcycles with auto or semi-auto clutchless transmissions.

Honda leads the way with its dual-clutch transmission in the Africa Twin, NC700X, CTX700, VFR1200X and NM4 Vultus. Apilia also has the automatic Mana 850 GT.

Honda Africa Twin with DCT automatics
Africa Twin with DCT

And many electric motorcycles are virtually automatic because the electric motor can be used as a direct-drive unit. It is similar to turning up the volume on an amplifier or turning up the “suck” on your vacuum cleaner.

Harley-Davidson employs this drive on their Livewire electric motorcycle that they are planning to introduce in the next 18 months.

However, the now-defunct Victory Motorcycle chose to keep the gears on their short-lived electric Empulse TT to attract motorcycle riders to electric power.

Victory Empulse TT electric motorcycle benefits smaller automatics
MBW rides the Victory Empulse TT electric bike

Move to automatics

The move towards automatics is fired by three things: emissions targets, millennials and Americans.

Modern automatic transmissions in cars are now so sophisticated they are faster yet more economical and cleaner on emissions than manuals. They also last longer.

So that will satisfy the greenies!

Automatic motorcycles will also appeal more to millennials and Americans who “don’t drive stick (manual)”.

Motorcycle manufacturers will hope that automatics will help attract millennials who display a distinct lack of enthusiasm for motorcycles.

Suzuki Hayabusa auto

Suzuki automatics patents in Hayabusa
Suzuki automatic patent drawings in Hayabusa

Meanwhile, it is believed that the Suzuki semi-automatic transmission will find its way into many of their bikes.

Patent drawings feature their Hayabusa – previously the world’s fastest production bike – but that does not necessarily mean it will be used in the GSX-R1300.

The Japanese company filed three patents in Japan, the USA and Germany for different aspects of the transmission technology.

It uses actuators to control clutch engagement and the shifting of gears. So it’s not totally automatic as riders will still need to change gears but without the need to use a clutch.Suzuki automatics patents in Hayabusa

The Suzuki transmission uses a regular foot pedal shifter, rather than a button on the handlebars like the Honda and Aprilia auto models.

It provides a clicking noise when engaged to sound like a normal gear shift.

While it seems Suzuki is still keen to “engage” the motorcycle rider, it would not be a big leap from this to a fully automatic transmission.

  1. It seems a good way to encourage existing riders to lose interest in riding! I hope manufacturers will offer a choice of manual or automatic if they do choose to go down this path.

    1. You might want to look up the number of DCT Africa Twins they have sold in the last two years, even in Australia they have shifted a bucket load.

  2. It will be interesting to see what Suzuki end up doing. Seems to me that Honda’s attempts have been short lived and not so well accepted in Australia. The Integra 700cc and 750cc DCT is plagued with problems. The CTX700 Auto didn’t sell here either…no real surprise considering minimal sales of the DN-01 (NSA700) and the VFR1200FD in previous years.

    Mind you, Yamaha’s FJR1300AS wasn’t a big seller in Australia either. Yamaha pulled the plug on it in 2009 and refused to sell the 2017 FJR1300AE with auto to Australia even though it was sold elsewhere internationally.

    This may end up being the same situation IF Suzuki bring out an auto bike to Australia…and that’s a BIG if.

    The technical support these special bikes need is hard to find these days too. Trying to believe there are mechanics around Australia who understand the workings of the Honda DN-01, is simply fanciful thinking when there are roughly 80 to 90 of them running across our continent nowadays and 10 years after it was released here.

    The USA might want it and considering there are 20 times more of them there than here in Australia, they may just get what they want…but at what price?

  3. To quote a friend: “My 3rd grader talks about kindergarteners the same way baby boomers talk about millenials.”

    Its also pretty funny that many sportbike wannabe riders shell out extra to get that sweet up and down quickshifter but somehow when Suzuki works on something that in effect is near identical, its somehow aimed at millenials and Americans.

    A millenial who has driven and ridden manual all his life.

  4. Auto transmissions last longer than manuals? Hmm, don’t know about that. I know they do get a green tick. That is also deceptive. Car manufacturers list the auto tranny as a non serviceable item for the life of the car. That means they get a better green rating because there is no filthy oil being drained and replaced at regular intervals. It’s a con. All trannys need servicing if you want them to last. A dsg tranny cost $15K to replace.

  5. In the TV series Sons of Anarchy Gemma was seen giving Clay injections in his arthritic hands. Clay thought his riding days might be coming to end. Well, I’m no Clay but as an ageing rider I can identify with what the TV series identified as a problem for some riders. In this case an auto transmission could extend someone’s riding life. I ride for pleasure. I usually go for a fang on my manual bike and then ride my scooter straight afterwards. Riding the bike and having to change gears is good. Riding the auto scooter is also good. In fact, riding the auto scooter is more pleasurable and less stressful in peak hour bumper to bumper traffic. Therefore, if a person cannot afford the luxury of more than one bike and they do a lot of peak hour commuting an auto bike makes a lot of sense. As for an auto Hayabusa – I don’t think so, it doesn’t seem consistent with the spirit and style of riding most associated with the model.

  6. Why are all of the autos made so ugly Integra 700cc and 750cc, the DCT DN-01 (NSA700) and the VFR1200FD are all the most unattractive bikes to look at. I can see that there could be a market if maybe if they made them look more like a motorcycle instead of something out of a cartoon

  7. The motorcycle marketing world is still afraid of the baby boomer harley riders who look at auto trans motorcycles as sacrilegious. Making a motorcycle easier and safer to ride where is the problem. More riders on the road make it better for everyone. I am tired of hearing about auto trans will ruin the riding experience that the history of motorcycle is shifting gears. If these old school riders are so hard core how come they aren’t using jockey shifters just like the first motorcycles. There are plenty of veterans who want to ride but minor injuries keep them from riding safely. I don’t want a Africa twin with a 34″ seat height. I want a 26″ seat height like my cruiser. Maybe this is why Harley Davidson doesn’t have riders without gray hair and constantly refinancing the company.

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