motorbike news

Bike news

Now Yamaha goes automatic!

yamaha auto

Yamaha has become the latest motorbike manufacturer to unveil its automatic transmission technology, following in the wheel tracks of BMW’s similar announcement a few months ago and Honda’s well established range of models fitted with its DCT (Dual Clutch Technology) system.

Yamaha’s system, which they are calling Y-AMT – or Yamaha Automated Manual Transmission – appears to take quite a similar approach to BMW’s. Indeed, like the German manufacturer, which dubs its system Automated Shift Assistant, Yamaha appear to be playing on the fact that their technology allows the rider to continue shifting manually if they want, while having the option of an auto ‘box if they wish.

Y-AMT appears to utilise the bike’s traditional six-speed gearbox but adds in just under 3kg of electronics gubbins to control the clutch and shifting. Two electric actuators take the place of the rider’s left and left foot, with a handlebar mounted gearshifter giving the option of a finger operated manual change, albeit with a fully automatic clutch.

The system will allow riders to choose between manual (MT) mode and two auto modes (D and D+). In manual, the clutch is fully automated, meaning no possibility of stalling the bike, but the rider controls the gear changes, albeit using a finger operated lever on the left switchgear rather than a traditional foot operated one. It should work like a traditional motorcycle fitted with a quickshifter, except with a hand rather than foot operated change.

The auto modes automate the gear change as well as the clutch action, although the rider can still intervene manually if they want to, for example, short shifting or downchanging early. D+ is sportier and holds on to the revs for longer before shifting, while D is softer and optimised for lower speed riding. Yamaha says that the system will work with the electronics and ride modes, so presumably the gear changing characteristics will adapt depending on which electronics setting the rider chooses.

Yamaha says the system will allow riders to enjoy their riding more, and while some purists are likely to stubbornly disagree, it makes sense and perhaps explains why Yamaha are focussing on the ‘manual’ side of the technology. Cutting out the need to coordinate clutch, throttle and gear changes will give the rider less to think about when riding and should, in theory, deliver a more engaging ride, as we’ve seen with the more common adoption of quickshifters in recent years.

Yamaha remain shy about when we’ll see Y-AMT bikes on the road, although its press release did mention ‘a range’ of models in the ‘near future’, covering ‘sports’, ‘commuting’ and ‘touring’. Considering the apparent simplicity of the technology and, owning to the fact that Yamaha’s product line-up focusses around three basic engine designs, we would assume that Y-AMT could be an option on a wide variety of Yamahas in the not too distant future.

Automatic transmission systems have come a long way in recent years and are extremely popular in the car world, even on performance vehicles where anything other than a manual gearbox would once have been unthinkable.

The technology has moved away from sluggish hydraulic systems, like the ones used in Yamaha’s previous attempt at an automatic motorcycle, the slow selling FJR1300A of almost two decades ago, to light and quick electronic tech. More than half of Honda’s Africa Twin sales come with DCT gearboxes and, with BMW and Yamaha announcing their own technology in recent months, we think automatic transmissions in motorcycles is going to be the big tech shift in the coming years.

Bike News, Inside Bikes

You also may be
interested in...

Bike News

Kawasaki showcase hydrogen prototype

Supercharged Ninja H2 could replace petrol for cleaner future

Read more

Keep up to date with our news & blogs

Bike News

Kawasaki showcase hydrogen prototype

Supercharged Ninja H2 could replace petrol for cleaner future

Read more
Bike News

Brief encounter: 1992 Honda NR750

Honda’s rolling technical showcase was like nothing seen before or since…

Read more
Bike News

Royal Enfield Guerrilla breaks cover!

New 450 goes to war with Triumph singles

Read more

Have some questions?

Check out our tips & guides for some great information

Motorbike Reviews

Reviewed: Yamaha MT-09 SP

The standard version of Yamaha’s hooligan roadster has already won many hearts, so how can the SP model be better?

Read more Bike Reviews
Motorbike Reviews

Reviewed: Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle

Upmarket retro gets some additional swagger, but is it worth the extra money?

Read more Bike Reviews
Motorbike Reviews

Reviewed: Indian Springfield Dark Horse

Indian’s Springfield is an important model in the home US market, but is it relevant over here? Phil West rode one to find out…

Read more Bike Reviews