British transmission gurus Xtrac is better known for its history in Group A rally racing, and more recently for its work with the Lotus, Virgin, and HRT Forumla 1 teams (resume clients also include teams from IndyCar, Touring Car, Rally, GRAND-AM, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans); but with its latest announcement, Xtrac could add a new bullet point to its laundry list of achievements.

Recently pulling out of stealth mode its newest piece of gearbox madness: the Instantaneous Gearchange System (IGS), Xtrac’s race-bred driveline technology promises to be a lighter, cheaper, and less complex alternative to dual-clutch transmissions (DCT), which have popped up on the Honda VFR1200F & Honda Crosstourer Concept, and is rumored to hit the Honda CBR1000RR and Yamaha R1 in the coming models years. The key to IGS resides in the fact that the gearbox can simultaneously select and engage two gears at the same time, while employing only one set of drive gears, thus resulting in gear changes that have zero power loss to the wheels.

While DCT as a technology is just now making its way into motorcycles like the 2010 Honda VFR1200F, it very well may be obsolete by the time it gains mainstream acceptance in the industry. DCT setups, while adding performance gains in shifting, come with added weight, size, and complexity, issues that on a motorcycle get amplified by the relatively light already existing drive system packages, confined space, and do-it-yourself nature of motorcycle owners. Unveiled at the Berlin International CTI Symposium, Xtrac IGS may not be able to relieve that last issue, but the company’s technology promises to be a more robust solution for motorcycles on the first two aspects.

IGS works by using a ratchet and pawl mechanism between the gear hubs, the main shaft is able to select and engage two gears simultaneously, with only one set of drive gears. With two years of racing on the Instantaneous Gearchange System¬†already completed, Xtrac believes IGS is ready for prime time, and adoption in OEM automobile and motorcycle solutions. We’ll likely see IGS technology end up in hybrid vehicles first, where the gearbox can aid in a more seamless switch between electric and ICE powertrains. As the system proves itself with manufacturers, expect its applications to grow from there.

While the complete adoption of DCT and IGS gearboxes in the motorcycle industry is likely still a ways off, news like this certainly paints the picture on where technology is heading in this space. It likely won’t be long before we start talking about “vintage” manual transmissions, and the good old days when the left hand lever was used for clutch actuation.

Source: Gizmag via Autoblog

  • Adrien M.

    While innovations are what makes us go forward, they also can be frightening as they tend to simplify every aspect of our lives…
    The classic perspective is mostly put aside to give room to modernity and simplicity.

    How many decades before all vehicles will drive themselves from point A to B ?

  • Andrew

    With conventional manual transmissions are already becoming obsolete on cars (witness no manual transmissions on new Ferrari’s) so hopefully innovations like this can keep somehow allow us to maintain some involvement in the riding or driving process.

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  • Rob

    I absolutely love to see the industry make strides like this, and would love it if my Civic would just drive me wherever I wanted to go without me having to do anything. But I also hope companies like Lotus and TVR keep the real ‘raw’ cars alive and give that visceral sensation of what driving really is.

  • Random

    I’d rather ride along cars driven by google than by texting teens.

    But off-topics aside, at least these kind of trannies usually have a semi-auto mode (in which you can select the gears). I’ll miss the clutch though.

  • Absolutely brilliant!!
    Amazing to think that many still cling to the idea that these innovatins reduce or eliminate the experience of controlling a machine rather than embrace the performance and energy saving gains.

  • BBQdog

    Very nice, but I happen to love my good old gearbox ….

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  • The dual clutch transmissions are not getting all good reviews in the press I have seen.
    Some are looking at it in the wrong way.
    The motorcycle quarter mile drag racers have used compressed air powered quick shifters for years.
    The DCT might not be for expert or experienced riders yet just the thing to get more beginners started.
    Not enough people know how to drive a standard shift transmission and clutch, yet some want to learn.
    Who / how many learned to ride on a Honda QA50, Z50, or CT70 with an automatic clutch ?
    Someone with a bad knee, hip or ankle could use some help to keep riding. It is just the ticket for some.