This past May, TVS Motor Company, India’s third largest motorcycle manufacturer with an annual production of 3.2 million motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds, received a patent for a semi-automatic transmission (SMT) for use in two-wheeled vehicles. The new SMT will differ from the clutchless gearbox introduced in 2010 on the Jive motorcycle. Instead of using the shifter to change gears, the rider uses buttons on the handgrip. An electric motor performs the actual work of changing the gears in the clutchless transmission.
The company was quoted in the Business Standard as saying:
“In operation, when a rider wants to shift a gear, the rider can operate a switch provided on a handlebar of the SMT vehicle. The switch may be electronically coupled to the motor, thereby activating the motor when the switch is operated. In one implementation, there may be two switches coupled to the motor to select a direction of rotation of the motor.
“The gearshift assembly as described herein provides convenience in gear shifting as the rider does not have to apply much force nor make foot movements. Further, due to the absence of a foot operated gearshift lever, accidental incidents of partial disengagement of clutch leading to clutch slips are avoided. Hence, there would be no fuel wastage resulting due to clutch slips. This can provide 2–5% of fuel efficiency in city driving conditions as now there is uniformity in gear shifting.”
Given the focus on small displacement bikes in the Indian market, the SMT will be optimized for use in bikes like the Neo, which is said to be similar to the bike featured in the SMT patent application. Although this development won’t rival the complexity of Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), which is featured in the VFR1200F and Africa Twin, it shows that there’s more than one way to automate transmissions.