Yamaha has just patented a seamless gearbox technology for use in a road bike. The gearbox could potentially be the next in the long list of features like quickshifters, electronic rider aids and aerodynamic winglets, to name a few, that have trickled down from the MotoGP paddock to a showroom near you.
Seamless gearboxes are now commonplace on the MotoGP grid having first arrived on the scene in 2011. These gearboxes are called seamless by their very function of not changing the load on the rear wheel while shifting gears. It’s a fantastic technology, but (so far) a very complex one that comes at a huge price.
MotoGP bikes have been using seamless gearboxes for 11 years
Could feature on the flagship R1 as well as a touring machine
Pricing remains to be seen
Advantages of a seamless gearbox
If Yamaha is able to pull off a cost-effective seamless gearbox for road bikes, it could be a game changer. They could potentially open the door for a semi-automatic gearbox, which greatly improves comfort on longer journeys. A few other obvious advantages would be improved performance, better stability and prolonged rear tyre life (a good advantage to have with today’s ludicrous tyre prices).
Next-gen R1 could have seamless gearbox
This would be the natural conclusion as the YZF-R1 superbike is most closely related to the YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. The patent also shows an R1 as the base motorcycle, and it makes sense for a range-topping sportsbike to receive such technology, especially in the hyper-competitive superbike space. However, this technology could also come in handy in a touring motorcycle for all the same aforementioned benefits.
Will it be cost effective?
Seamless gearboxes – like any high-end technological innovation – is pricey. This new patent may suggest that Yamaha has figured out a cost-effective way to introduce them on their range of road-going bikes, but there’s no way of knowing for sure. For instance, Honda tends to charge about Rs 1.5 lakh more for its DCT (dual clutch transmission) over the conventional manual gearbox. Whether Yamaha can come anywhere close to that sort of price differential over the manual gearbox remains to be seen.
Yamaha isn’t the only manufacturer that has patented a road-going seamless gearbox; Ducati did something similar in 2021. Hopefully, at least one of the next-gen superbikes will feature this incredible technology.
Which manufacturer, according to you, will be the first to bring out this technology? Let us know in the comments section.
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