How Good Is the DCT Transmission for the Future of Motorcycling?

Automatic transmissions have been around for quite some time in the motorcycling world, so seeing them becoming increasingly popular these days is not exactly a surprise.
While some are open-heartedly saluting their ascent, there are a lot of riders who are not THAT fond of them. However, this editorial is not about taking sides pro or against dual clutch transmissions, but about how such bikes will impact the future of motorcycling.

Does DCT make riding easier at the expense of coordination?

The advocates of DCT say that it makes riding a lot easier, as they no longer have to fiddle with the clutch lever. In certain conditions, not having to work with the clutch lever is a real blessing. While enduro riders train their arms and hands for being able to resist a long time in the saddle struggling with their bikes across unwelcoming terrain, even some of them will, at times, agree that they could use less clutch work.

DCT supporters also say they can concentrate better on steering while not having to constantly think about shifting gears and choosing the best one for a particular scenario.

This assertion also makes sense, if you ask me, even though I honestly believe that motorcycling is, and will be, for quite some time from now on, a rather complex conundrum of complex actions that must be performed simultaneously. Basically, I do believe that a rider should be able to at least make decisions related to shifting gears in real time, and thus keep his or her mind busy in a good way. Read having a "constantly trained mind" if you wish.

Just like playing a musical instrument and singing at the same time, or if you want, playing the drums, riding a motorcycle is all about coordination.

We are talking about integrating the basic gestures and routines required to operate the bike, going hand in hand with body weight management when turning, braking or accelerating, road awareness and scouting ahead for potential hazards and last, even though not least, enjoying the ride.

If this sounds complex, it's only because IT IS complex. I know that many youngsters nowadays would rather have everything as simplified as it gets, but much to their dismay, not all the things in the world are as simple ask asking Siri or Google for guidance.

Some say that DCT takes auto clutches, such as the Rekluse, one step further. While adventure riders are maybe more familiar with the Rekluse, I just have to add that even this solution needs shifting once in a while.

Now, DCT machines have two operating modes, with one being completely automatic, and the other simply eliminating the clutch, yet still requiring the rider to use the + and - handlebar buttons or the shifter.

My fear, for lack of a better word, is that fully-automatic transmissions could create a generation of riders that will no longer understand motorcycles. If this is a bad thing per se, or just what the future will be like remains to be seen, but somehow I guess these fellows will be less attached to their machines.

It's hard to find a guy who rides hard and who is ignorant as to what is going on under his or her seat. At least, I haven't met people who ride on a daily basis and who can't describe almost any part of their bike, with what is happening in the various "departments" and all.

To me, taking away the need to shift gears and use the clutch is like raising an almost impenetrable barrier between the rider and the intricate workings of the bike. People will start to take everything for granted as they gradually learn that all they must do is keep the bike balanced and twist the throttle to variable angles.

Old/ experienced riders can confirm that assuming things and taking presumptions as the rule of the thumb while behind the bars of a motorcycle is one of the "shortest shortcuts" to making mistakes and crashing.

In my book, failing to understand how the most important parts of a motorcycle work is, likewise, a sure way to becoming a poorer, less-skilled rider. And I am not talking about understanding things at the deepest level, like a bike mechanic or engineer, but about basic info that's more than "twisting the grip to this degree makes me go faster, rolling it off slows me down".

On a bike you can't afford to be as ignorant as some guys are when driving a car

Some might think about replying that automatic transmissions on bikes are not unlike those that are present in so many cars. Well, they are, sort of, but again, driving a car has only too little in common with what riding a motorcycle is.

The internet is full of videos of people who cause completely idiotic crashes in parking lots or when maneuvering at low speed in cars with automatic transmissions which are said to be - wait for it... EASIER TO DRIVE. Such videos are the perfect proof that, sometimes, people are too dumb even for this type of vehicles, and the fact that they are using automatic gearboxes works against them.

That is, because these cars are much harder, if not impossible to stall. Even more, if given enough room to accelerate, it will shift gears by itself and travel even faster, dealing more damage upon its (almost all the time) brutal stop.

Now, when compared to bikes, cars are almost impossible to flip, if you see my point. Motorcycles, as opposed to their four-wheeled counterparts are infinitely more prone to falling to either side if operated improperly. Factor this propension for crashing with the odds that these crashes turn over nasty results and you'll hopefully begin to understand why being ignorant as to how a motorcycle works is not exactly the happiest scenario.

Such changes in large segments of the population may take a long time, but they nevertheless occur. Relying excessively on technology and automation for taking care of an increasing number of operations IS DUMBING US DOWN, and psycho-social investigations already proved this phenomenon is real.

The average human is not exactly becoming smarter in all ways

It affects all aspects of life, and motorcycling is not an exception. If you want to make a simple experiment, here it goes. Those of you who are old enough to have used classic phones and early cell phones will be surprised to find out how few phone numbers of their close ones they can remember.

There was a time, when searching for a number required to inspect the paper agenda or push a lot of buttons on the cell phone. And I know you will smile remembering that you used to know A LOT of numbers by heart back in the day. Today you're not sure if your kid's phone number ends in 3 or 5, let alone being able to type it directly on your phone's screen. Make no mistake, I am often in this situation, too...

A swipe and typing the first two or three letters is now enough to bring the required contact to focus, and this is if you're not using vocal commands...

Bikes will change in the future, and they might even be able to work with voice-activated controls. I can't foresee how motorcycling will be in the future, but one thing is sure: if it's not going to be Star Wars pod racing or Speeders, it won't be anywhere near as fun as good-old plain hardcore riding we (still) enjoy today, clutch, manual shifting, as little electronics as possible and all.
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