In the midst of launching new bikes at EICMA 2023, Honda also debuted their new technology: E-Clutch. Mated to long-standing hardware, the E-Clutch also modernizes the riding experience of two of Honda’s middleweight motorcycles for 2024 and brings a totally new feature to its stable.
The 2024 Honda CB650R and the CBR650R both got updates and were unveiled during EICMA 2023. The CB650R gets a new look, a new five-inch TFT display, and all on the same tried and tested platform. Meanwhile, the CBR650R gets a new look, a new five-inch TFT display, and all on the same tried and tested platform.
While the base of these bikes remains fundamentally the same with Showa suspension, a steel frame, and the 94-horsepower four-cylinder engine, the biggest feature of these bikes is the E-Clutch, a technology that is rather ingenious.
To fit the new clutch system, Big H’s engineers had to tweak a few things which included fitting a new ECU that can handle the E-Clutch technology. Essentially, it’s a pair of servo motors that bolt onto an E-Clutch-specific engine cover that assists the user and enables the bike to have more advanced up and downshifting capabilities and added convenience. The two electronic motors will also pull the clutch in once the bike has come to a stop, keeping the engine from stalling. Once it’s time to go, the rider must simply pull some throttle and be on his way.
Other brands have fitted nifty clutch technologies on their bikes, such as MV Agusta with their Rekluse-based Smart Clutch System (SCS). However, Team Red’s execution works with the standard slipper system on the bikes since it operates independently of a traditional wet multi-plate unit.
The system is managed through an actuator unit that communicates with the Honda’s ECU to determine whether the clutch needs to be engaged or disengaged depending on the bike’s speed and engine speed.
The important bit is that this system is still based on a traditional clutch lever with a cable. That means that should it fail or should the rider want full manual control, the E-Clutch can be disabled by flicking through the menus in the five-inch TFT display. In the worst case, were the system to fail completely or malfunction, the clutch can still be operated normally by using the lever.
It is worth noting that the system prioritizes the manual operation of the clutch, and the system is there to pull the clutch for the rider and prevent the engine from stalling. While driving and when active, the system will allow for smooth up and downshifts. According to Honda, the system is smoother than a standard up and down blipper.
Riders can fine-tune the system to suit their tastes, and Big H has bundled three levels of engagement with the system namely Soft, Medium, and Hard. Riders will also be notified about the E-Clutch’s activity through a notification in the dashboard.
Junya Ono was the Large Project Leader in the Honda E-Clutch project. Shedding a little more light on the technology, he had this to say:
"Our new Honda E-Clutch is designed to give riders a new kind of experience that makes riding even more fun and exciting. Furthermore, it offers the peace of mind of error-proof operation and all the comfort necessary to move around the city without stress. We are convinced that many motorcyclists will want to try this new system to discover how sportiness and comfort can coexist while offering fun and flexibility of use at the same time."