Hold on to Your Handlebar, ThrottleChimp™ Readers: BMW Takes a Big Shift with the Automated Shift Assistant
Hey ThrottleChimp™ crew, ever fantasize about ditching the clutch lever and just twisting the throttle to conquer the open road? Yeah, me neither – the feel of that clutch under your fingers is a pretty ingrained part of the motorcycle experience. But that's where the forward-thinking engineers at BMW come in, throwing a curveball with their Automated Shift Assistant (ASA). This game-changer says "auf Wiedersehen" to the clutch lever, potentially offering a whole new way to experience the thrill of riding.

 

Now, before you start picturing some soulless, scooter-style twist-and-go situation, hold on to your helmets! The ASA preserves the classic gear system we know and love, but with a robotic twist (pun intended). Two clever electromechanical actuators – basically tiny, super-strong robots – take over the entire clutch and gear shifting operation. Imagine this: you're cruising down a scenic highway, taking in the sights and feeling the wind in your hair. Suddenly, you need to overtake a slowpoke. With the ASA, you simply twist the throttle, and the system seamlessly changes gear for you, keeping the engine revs and load perfectly in sync. The result? Smooth, precise gear changes that keep you focused on the ride, not fiddling with the clutch lever. BMW even says the ASA enhances your connection to the motorcycle, allowing you to feel truly one with the machine (think Neo in the Matrix, but on two wheels).

But wait, there's more! The beauty of the ASA is that it doesn't force you to go full RoboCop on your ride. If you're feeling the need for some classic clutch action, simply flick the switch to "M" for manual mode. This lets you use the foot shifter just like you would on a regular motorcycle. Just remember to keep those revs up, because the ASA is programmed to jump in and save you from a stall if things get a little too low.

Feeling particularly lazy, or maybe stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic? Just switch to "D" for automatic mode and let the ASA do all the work. BMW specifically designed this mode for situations where you need all your focus on the road, like tackling a tricky uphill gradient with a pillion and luggage strapped to the back. Imagine the relief of not having to worry about clutch control and gear changes while navigating a steep climb – the ASA can handle it all, allowing you to concentrate solely on steering and maintaining balance.

This all sounds pretty darn appealing, right? Well, buckle up, because it gets even better when you consider how the ASA integrates with all of BMW's fancy rider aids. Picture this: you're cruising down the highway on a long journey, utilizing the top-of-the-line Active Cruise Control and collision warning system. With the ASA taking care of gear changes, you can experience a whole new level of smooth sailing, minimizing distractions and maximizing relaxation.

Is the ASA the dawn of a clutch-less future? Well, BMW isn't the first manufacturer to explore this territory. Honda's Africa Twin has been offering a similar automatic riding experience for years with its Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT). So, how will the ASA stack up against the competition?

The answer remains to be seen. The ASA might be a simpler system compared to the DCT, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's inferior. One thing's for sure, with Yamaha also rumored to be developing a semi-automatic transmission, the future of motorcycle clutches might be looking a little less lever-dependent.

So ThrottleChimp™ fam, the question is: are you ready to embrace a clutch-less future? Would you trade the familiar feel of the clutch for a more relaxed ride, or is the intricate dance between clutch, throttle, and gearshift an irreplaceable part of the motorcycling experience for you? Let us know in the comments below and share your thoughts on this revolutionary new system from BMW!

Image courtesy of BMW Motorrad. All technical data and specifications courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

 

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