Yamaha Files “Seamless” Transmission Patent for YZF-R1

  • Yamaha’s patent for a road-going “seamless” transmission for the YZF-R1 has been leaked online.

  • The seamless transmission was a revolution when Honda introduced it to their MotoGP bike.

  • The transmission is designed to provide a “seamless” drive.

When Honda innovated and used the “seamless” transmission it their MotoGP bikes a few years back, other manufacturers scrambled to produce their own. Now every MotoGP bike uses the transmission. We remembered when Yamaha was struggling to develop their own “seamless” gearbox during the 2014 Winter Test at the Sepang International Circuit. Jorge Lorenzo had pushed for his then team to debut it quickly as he was opinion that the system helped with stability during braking.

Well, now it’s Yamaha who had filed a patent for a similar system to be fitted to the YZF-R1.

The design for such a gearbox is complex but the idea is to deliver a seamless flow of power, even while shifting gears, hence the name. A quickshifters, on the other hand, actually interrupts power transmission momentarily when another gear is selected.

As an in-depth explanation will take something shorter than a thesis, we’ll be brief.

The seamless transmissions in MotoGP use a large number of pawls inside gear wheels that lock and unlock gears like ratchets, allowing two gears to be engaged at the same time. With the slower gear is freewheeling on the pawls, power from the engine is uninterrupted.

Truth is, there are a couple transmission systems on road bikes that transmit power without interruption – the CVT in scooters and Honda’s proprietary dual-clutch transmission (DCT) which is used in the Africa Twin, X-Adv, NC750, VFR1200 and Gold Wing among others. But these are different to the seamless gearboxes used by MotoGP bikes.

Yamaha’s design avoids the extra weight of Honda’s DCT and uses the normal hand-controlled clutch and foot-operated gearchanges. But just like its MotoGP counterpart, two gears are briefly connected during upshifts and downshifts. You may think it’s something like DCT but using gears instead.

While the benefits of seamless transmission may be negligible on the road except for bragging rights, it will may certainly benefit the Yamaha YZF-R1 in World Superbike racing.

The road technology is still in patent stage, so let’s hope to see it in production sooner or later.

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