On October 10, 2023, Honda Motor Company announced the introduction of E-Clutch, its new automatic clutch control system for motorcycles with existing multi-gear manual transmissions. The video visually demonstrates how the system works via an animated sequence that features closeups of what the rider’s hands and feet are doing while accelerating.
The idea, says Honda, is to make it easier for riders of all skill levels to safely and confidently operate their motorcycles. This electronically operated clutch makes it possible for riders to still shift as usual with the foot control, but not have to worry about pulling the clutch lever unless they want to.
With a standard manual transmission motorcycle in 2023, riders must use a clutch lever with their left hand, while shifting is done via a foot lever on the left side of the bike. On the right, there’s a front brake lever, the throttle grip, and a right brake lever located in front of the right foot peg.
These controls can vary, of course. Older motorcycles might have a radically different layout, or controls may have been adjusted to accommodate riders with various disabilities. Honda already offers its dual clutch transmission, and bikes equipped with it don’t have a clutch lever.
Most electric motorcycles also don’t have a clutch lever, because the nature of their powertrains makes it unnecessary. For many years, most mass-market scooters also haven’t required manual actuation of a clutch and have instead been twist-and-go affairs.
In any case, Honda says that its E-Clutch system “can be installed without major changes to existing engine layouts.” While the global manufacturer didn’t go so far as to specify models or deadlines, that seems to indicate that we should expect to see it rolling out on models we may already be familiar with in the near future.
A further line in its release reads, “Honda plans to apply Honda E-Clutch to its FUN motorcycle models over time.” Historically speaking, when Honda refers to its “fun motorcycles,” it means bikes that are operated more for pleasure and leisure experiences than as simple, sturdy commuter machines. Here in the US, where many riders tend to ride for fun, that descriptor could apply to most of the bikes currently offered in our market.
Will the Honda E-Clutch be offered as an avaiiable option at a different price point, much like the DCT is currently made available on certain models in the Honda lineup? Will there be crossover, such as (for example) the ability to choose between an Africa Twin with a DCT or an E-Clutch? That’s not yet clear at this point, but as and when we learn more, we’ll be sure to share.