According to ADV Pulse, Honda is the only motorcycle manufacturer still pushing the option of fully automatic dual-clutch "DCT" transmissions for two-wheelers; in 2019, customers chose the DCT option on 45% of Africa Twins, 52% of NC750Xs, and 67% of Gold Wings sold in Europe.
The DCT is a six- or seven-speed gearbox having two distinct electronically-controlled clutches, as seen in the automotive market. It can perform near-seamless gearshifts with little disruption to power supply since, for example, second gear can disengage while third gear is engaging. Take a little more control, as if you were driving a sports vehicle with paddle shifters.
However, it removes the clutch lever from the left handlebar and the gear lever from the left foot. While this is acceptable for some riders (including myself), it makes others (including myself) uncomfortable.
When it comes to new ideas, we motorcyclists are a conservative bunch. To many people, if a bike lacks a clutch lever, it's a stinkin' scooter that we don't want anything to do with. Others see the left lever as a one-finger trigger for clutch-up wheelies, therefore removing it cripples a critical capability of our vehicles.
On the other hand, I doubt many of us would argue that we're frantic to keep clutch levers pressed in stop-and-go traffic. And that, maybe, is the brilliance of Honda's latest attempt, the E-Clutch, which company claims as "the world's first automatic clutch control system for a multi-gear manual motorcycle transmission."
Essentially, you keep your usual manual transmission and clutch lever, and if you use the clutch lever, you should be able to ride normally. If you don't, the bike will handle starts, stops, upshifts, and downshifts for you in a way that Honda characterizes as "more natural than a rider's manual clutch operation."
So, any time you touch the lever, you're likely overriding the automatic clutch. But you can simply stop in first and take off again like a twist-and-go if you want, and you've effectively got a bidirectional quickshifter once you're moving.
The E-Clutch technology, according to Honda, is lightweight and compact, and it can be fitted "without major changes to existing engine layouts." It will clearly need to communicate with the bike's ECU frequently, so I doubt it will become a retrofit accessory, but Honda promises it will incorporate this technology into their "FUN motorcycle models over time." Things like the Grom, perhaps.
It sounds like a terrific idea to me, a more comfortable method to go around with no real consequences. Beginners can jump on, zoom around without worry of stalling, and yet get a feel for the clutch lever, which they'll need if they switch to another bike. And if inspiration strikes, hooligans can heave their front wheels skyward by flipping the clutch - not that Honda is the type of manufacturer that would encourage such shenanigans.
There is no news on when it will be released. View the video below.