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New Suzuki technology will make bikes accelerate faster

Published: 05 August 2001

Motorcyclenews.com has discovered Suzuki is planning to start using an electro-magnetically-operated clutch which will work even better than the quickshifters of today. It is likely to debut on a 650cc scooter but swiftly move into sports bikes.

The need to operate a clutch lever to change gear both up and down the ‘box will be removed. A computer will sense pressure on the gear change and automatically engage the clutch to ensure a smooth and quick shift.

The technology could appear on the firm’s flagship bikes, including the GSX-R1000, in three to four years.

It is also likely to be used on automatic twist-and-go scooters, replacing their centrifugal clutch units.

And it could spawn the birth of a new range of twist-and-go bigger bore urban bikes, similar to the concept machine Piaggio is developing. That has a middleweight V-twin motor with an automatic gearbox to make riding bikes easy for commuters.

Suzuki has applied for a patent on an early version of its system. Automatic gearboxes have long been frowned upon on big bikes because of their bulk and inefficiency. Instead of power from the crank running through various solid gears and chains to reach the wheels, an automatic gearbox runs through transmission fluid – sapping energy and responsiveness.

Scooters get away without a clutch or gearbox because of their low power output. They use a centrifugal clutch to engage and disengage the engine – a system that would be quickly overwhelmed by the power of a modern 600, never mind a GSX-R1000.

Diagrams of the initial Suzuki system show it has potential, with further refinement, for use on bigger sports bikes.

And Suzuki isn’t the only firm experimenting with computer-controlled clutches. Industry rumours abound of a Yamaha project, too, which is said to be appearing on the 2004 R1.

Either system could mean perfect 1/4-mile standing starts – every time. Simply pin the throttle, prod the gearchange – whether it’s by your foot or your thumb – and let the computer figure the rest out.

Yamaha refuses to admit its system exists, but insiders reckon it’s due to show soon. It is thought the bike will appear with both options – the new computer system (with a thumb-shift press button gearchanger unit) and a conventional clutch lever and footshift, too.

Suzuki’s liquid-cooled 650cc-inline twin scooter, designed to compete head-on with Yamaha’s T-Max and Honda’s SilverWing, has a V-belt system under the seat rather than along the swingarm. This should cut down on the weight carried by the swingarm and aid handling.

The bigger, wet, multi-plate clutch should cope with a higher power output than the centrifugally-operated types found on the Honda and Yamaha.

Combined with the larger capacity, we may be able to expect as much as 60bhp.

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