Honda is developing a clutch-by-wire technology for its future motorbikes. A recent patent filed by Honda suggests that the Japanese automaker's clutch-by-wire system eliminates the direct physical link between the clutch and the lever, albeit, it retains conventional hydraulically controlled clutch operation with a handlebar-mounted lever.
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The patent images suggest that the clutch lever's position is monitored electronically and it transmits feedback to a hydraulic pressure control unit that responds by engaging or disengaging the clutch.
In the clutch-by-wire system, the clutch is always disengaged in the resting state and it offers an advantage of the engine and transmission to be disconnected even in case of failure. For the record, in the traditional system, the transmission and engine is always connected in its resting state and only disengages when the clutch lever is pulled.
While the idea of a lighter clutch is appreciated among all groups of riders, the use of the clutch-by-wire system can enable an even lighter lever action on the bikes. But Honda believes that the purists would demand some amount of pressure in order to feel the functioning of the lever, thus the patent also includes a "reactive force generation device" that acts against the lever. This is likely to contribute to some amount of pressure/feedback on the lever that riders are used to on current bikes with a conventional mechanical clutch.
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Needless to say, if Honda's clutch-by-wire system makes it to production it will comes with an additional cost that in turn may result in an overall higher price tag of the motorcycle.