Thanks to its quick-shifter and auto blipper bar, I rarely use the clutch lever on my Triumph Street Triple coming to a stop and setting off. But I still use it when the mood strikes, whether it's to take even more control over how my downshifts engage, make super smooth upshifts, or attempt to do a clutch-up wheelie.

I certainly would never dream of removing my clutch lever, nor would most motorcyclists I know. But BMW Motorrad has access to a much wider breadth of motorcyclists than me and concluded some riders want exactly that. Hence the creation of its newly launched Automated Shift Assistant (ASA).

Here's everything you need to know about BMW's new rider aid system.

It Still Uses Gears

The ASA system isn't some snazzy way of saying BMW has an updated CVT, as it still uses gears and a clutch. But, instead of the rider changing gears, the process is automated by the use of two electromechanical actuators. 

The actuators themselves automate the clutch and gearshift of the six-speed transmission, and this is the main difference between the ASA and a conventional shift assistant.

The actuator regulates the required clutch slip, engages the clutch when changing gear, and disengages it when stopping.

Rev-and load-adapted shift sequences are supposed to result in precise gear changes and, according to BMW, ASA "creates an even more direct connection with the powerful boxer engine, as the precise clutch actuation makes it even easier to control the riding experience..."

If you want, you can still shift on your own accord. Yano, like the old-school way—well, almost. Hit the 'M' button, presumably meaning "manual", and you can shift using the foot control, as you usually would with a quick-shifter and auto blipper. The one caveat is that if you let the revs drop too low, the system will take over and automatically drop a gear to prevent the bike from stalling.

If you get tired of moving the shifter around with your ankle, just flick the system into 'D' mode, which allows the ASA to take over the job of shifting entirely. 

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What Are the Benefits?

BMW uses the phrase "Simplify your ride" to describe the experience of using the system, and that seems to be the selling point of this technology.

The main example that the manufacturer stated when describing the usefulness of this system was situations when using the clutch and throttle takes a lot of concentration. For instance, when you're traveling with luggage and a passenger, pulling away on uphill gradients, and riding off-road or on difficult surfaces. 

A smoothly operating automatic transmission may well make life easier in some of the situations listed above. But some of the most notable benefits will probably come from how this system integrates with BMW's latest rider aids.

Designed To Work With Latest Rider Aids

This new system should make upshifts and downshifts smoother according to the manufacturer. Combine that with the fact that you don't need to make any input for the ASA to decide to change gears, and you have the perfect accompaniment to BMW's latest rider aids.

The manufacturer's top-spec flagship machines come with Active Cruise Control and front collision warning. Take the manual use of the clutch and shifting out of the equation when using these systems, and there's no doubt they should feel even more intuitive and make the rider's life easier. 

ASA Vs Competition

This isn't the first example of a manufacturer taking the clutch lever away from its flagship adventure bike. Honda gave the option of fitting its Africa Twin with a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) years ago and has had great success.

But how will BMW's ASA stack up?

On the face of it, BMW's system is more rudimentary but not necessarily better, faster, or smoother. On the other hand, Honda's DCT adds about $1,000 to the motorcycle's price and around 20 pounds to the weight. So it's hard to say how this will stack up against the competition, but in this writer's opinion, it's hard to see BMW launching a new electronic rider aid that misses the mark by much. 

Yamaha is also in the game, as seen by recent patents relating to a semi-automatic transmission for its CP2 platform.

So, with more and more manufacturers jumping abroad, the question is, would you like to free up the space in front of your left hand? Moreover, would you pay to?

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