October 28, 2005 Yamaha is introducing an interesting innovation to motorcycling with a 2006 version of the Yamaha FJR1300 – a computer operated, electric gearshift which eliminates the need to operate the clutch. The Yamaha Chip Controlled Shift (YCC-S) system is very similar to the electronic shifting systems used on F1 race cars and as with the cars, you can choose to shift up and down with your left thumb or the old fashioned way with your left foot – neither requires the clutch. Its apparently smoother and faster but we’re not sure if the motorcycle community will be queuing up for this one and the blogs are already full of “scooter” jokes though it must be said this is not an automatic motorcycle. There’s something immensely satisfying about snicking up a gear and feeding in 145 horsepower but we’ll treat it with an open mind until we can throw a leg over it.
The only bike slated for the new electric shift is one version of the 2006 Yamaha FJR1300 to be known as the 1300AE. The AE will feature an electric-shift, 5-speed transmission that eliminates the clutch lever entirely - shifts occur either through the traditional foot-operated gearshift lever or the left bar-mounted paddles.
The Yamaha Chip Controlled Shifting (YCC-S) is an industry first on a sport touring machine. The YCC-S system uses two electronically controlled actuators - one for the clutch and one for gear shift. The ECU at the heart of the YCC-S system is programmed to evaluate and compile all of the data being transmitted by various sensors which constantly monitor engine rpm, main axle rpm, running speed, gear position and throttle position (TPS). All of this information is used by the ECU to calculate the precise timing of every command in order to ensure smooth upshifting and downshifting.
Whenever the rider chooses to change gear, the system actuates the clutch pushrod mechanism to adjust the clutch to the appropriate position, while in the shift system a shift actuator and shift rod ensure smooth engaging of the dogs. Another important feature of the YCC-S system is that during upshifting the system automatically optimises ignition timing and engine rpm for more efficient gear changes.
Gear changes are apparently much smoother than with a conventional manual clutch system and the effort at the foot has been significantly reduced with the new system. The claimed benefit is improved rider comfort thanks to the elimination of clutch hand fatigue especially in stop and go traffic plus reduced foot shifter effort. The last time we rode an FJ1300 neither were a problem, but we didn’t do the peak hour thing though and … we can’t wait to see what this semi-automatic motorcycle feels like.