The clutch is no longer clutch.

There’s a clear delineation among modern quickshifters. Basic units only allow clutchless upshifts. The straightforward system detects when the rider applies pressure to the shift peg and cuts the ignition momentarily, allowing the transmission to engage the next gear. Bi-directional quickshifters work in a similar fashion. However, they also allow clutchless downshifts for heavy braking situations.

With manufacturers developing ride-by-wire technology in recent years, quickshifters have also gained auto-blip functions to smooth out abrupt downshifts. Though the market is highly stratified, Kawasaki’s latest patent reveals that the brand hopes to add another tier to the quickshifter hierarchy.

Gallery: Kawasaki Automatic Gearbox Patent

Current quickshifters typically work best at high speed and high revs. At a slower clip, most units return notchy, jarring upshifts. Team Green’s system would eliminate those jerky transitions by adding an automated clutch and gearbox control unit to the system. Working in concert with the ECU, the gearbox control unit monitors engine speed, gear position, shift sensor, throttle, and vehicle speed. The patent even lists the coolant temperature and atmospheric pressure as factors the new module takes into account.

The control unit calculates all of these inputs when the user initiates the quickshifter. At higher speeds, the system works like a standard quickshifter, cutting the ignition without engaging the clutch. On the other hand, when the rider is taking it slow, the gearbox control unit automatically actuates the clutch to deliver a seamless transition.

If the system works correctly, the user shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a low-speed and high-speed shift. With that said, we should also note that the Ninja 1000 SX depicted in the patent’s main diagram (Fig. 1) doesn’t actually feature a clutch lever at the left-hand controls.

While the budding technology is intriguing, premium examples such as Ducati’s Quick Shift EVO 2 already modulate ignition cut time based on the motorcycle’s lean angle. It doesn’t seem like Kawasaki’s automatic gearbox will include IMU-based initiation, but support from the ECU should still make the unit a superior option on the quickshifter market.

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