Honda's Magic Gearbox: Worth A Few Hundredths A Shift

Honda's seamless shift gearbox has been the talk of the MotoGP world since it first debuted at Sepang, with journalists on a quest to chase down exactly what it is and how it works. The only response you receive from HRC or Honda riders about the gearbox is that it is "better" and that it is "smoother". The best guess about its operation so far has been that it is either based on or very similar to the Xtrac Instantaneous Gearshift System, which allows two gears to be engaged simultaneously, while driving only one.

Since the introduction of the system, speculation has been rampant as to exactly how much advantage Honda's gearbox confers. Wild guesses were doing the rounds, with the highest guess being that it would give an advantage of 0.9 seconds a lap, an absolute eternity. According to one of the journalists over at, Filippo Preziosi said he believed that Honda's gearbox was probably worth around 0.2 seconds a lap.

In my adopted home of the Netherlands, they have a saying: "Meten is weten", to measure is to know. In that spirit, I went out to the side of the track during the test, and took a number of recordings of bikes exiting Turn 10 and shifting up the gears, going past and shifting up. On the basis of those sound recordings, I tried to estimate the length of the gearchange for each of the bikes that I had recorded. 

The methodology was as follows: taking a couple of gearchanges from each sound file, I tried to identify the start and end for each gearchange. By looking at the length of the sound sample left, I estimated the duration of the sample, and therefore the gearchange. Here are the timings I found:

Bike Average shift time (ms)
Ducati 42
Yamaha 27
Honda 8

The timings taken are by their very nature approximate, given that the sounds were recorded on a simple Olympus voice recorder, and estimation of gearshift duration was done by trying to match sound to the waveform. However, several clear differences stand out. Below are screenshots of the sound files I recorded.

The above file is the Ducati, and the shift point is immediately clear, the gap between the peaks as the gear is shifted. The Ducati appears to take the longest time to shift, as it has the largest gap between the power being switched on and off. When asked, Casey Stoner confirmed that the Ducati was a lot harder to change gears on, saying that that was one of the things that had most surprised him when he first joined Ducati back in 2007.

Next is the Yamaha, and what you see most clearly in the Yamaha gearshift is the pop as the quickshifter is enaged. That huge spike in the middle is the explosion caused when the unburned fuel from cutting the spark by the quickshifter catches fire, and Yamahas can always be identified by that loud bang. The shift itself is shorter than the Ducati, but the estimate is hardest to make because of that giant bang in the middle.

And finally, the Honda. The gear change sounds silky smooth just to the ear, but looking at it closer makes it even more remarkable. I have highlighted the spot where the gear changes, and what is most striking about the graph is it seems to take about the same time as a single cylinder firing from Honda's V4. Without knowing the exact engine firing order, V angle and firing timing (and good luck getting that data), it is hard to estimate just how quickly that is, but looking at the average timing, it is a clear advantage.

The real advantage has been repeated by all three of Repsol's riders when talking to the press. The bike stays much more stable when changing up through the gears while leaned hard over. That is visible on the track: the bike stays perfectly flat as Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso power through the corners. Yamaha are already working on a system of their own to counter the Hondas, and looking at the time gains, it looks to be a very wise investment.



brilliant! this is why this site is so good
love your work, only a few hours before it all kicks off!

Total votes: 529

Holy Christ...

Yeah I gotta admit, that is some impressive sh*t David, well done.

To go to all the trouble of standing at a corner and record sound samples of a variety of bikes, import them into qbase or whatever prog you used and make sense of it all is frankly going way the hell beyond all journalistic benchmarks that I've ever seen (Noyes notwithstanding).

Well done sir. It's not often that I find myself impressed but I'm f-ing impressed.

Well done.

Total votes: 518


Thanks for that David , very good idea to record the sound!

So with 30 / 40 gear changes per lap that easily saves about half a second per lap ? Darn....

It's probably aready posted here , but just in case , Noyes had some info on this as well.

Total votes: 527

Great article

excellent, wetenschapelijke article. :)

Total votes: 508

great work

...and i hope the non-honda teams are inspired!

I really enjoy your thoughtful writing, which is clearly based on doing your homework and comes from your passion and deep knowledge of the sport. This post is a great example. I have dozens of racing feeds but this has become the one i read first! And kudoes to

FWIW, I raced cars and did some data engineering as well and i do believe that Honda's quickshift could be worth quite a lot.

if you look at a speed trace for a race car or bike - just speed - it would be easy to see the shifts when they occur. The speed trace will be rising up on a smooth curve and then sawtooth down as the shift occurs and then rise again. They rise more slowly as the speed rises because of increased aero drag.

The sawtooth is where the power is briefly disengaged and the speed immediately begins to drop. At Daytona, which is a fast track, the aero drag is so great in the higher gears the car will de-accelerate at well over a G - faster than your street car can brake with you stomping on the pedal. Of course, its just for an instant and as soon as the shift is complete, the power is re-engaged, the speed rises again. But the depth of that sawtooth basically determines the height of the curve, not just for that gear, but all the other gears - in fact the speed for rest of the straightaway until you hit the brakes.

So drop a mile an hour in the first shift and you don't get it back. Drop a mile an hour each shift ands thats five, at least, at the end of the straight. This was common to see between the best and rest drivers in a single car; sometimes the gap was even more. Its the same reason you have to have good exit speed onto the straight - you carry it for a long time. But I found few drivers who appreciated that fast shifting was important too!

Of course, this data is from cars with clutches, where the shifts are slower than on a bike. And cars, especially those with downforce, have more aero drag than a bike. But the same principle holds on a bike: lose less speed on an up-shift and you keep the advantage all the way until the next braking zone.

Further, I would guess that the advantage on the bike is twofold: in a corner, a quick upshift does just what it does in a car - keeps the speed up until the next brake zone. But it also allows more corner speed because the bike is less upset with the weight transfer front/back as each shift occurs.

Keep up the good work...we will be reading!

Total votes: 522

what more can we say?

what more can we say? motomatters is the best!!! thank david

Total votes: 499

Thanks David.

We can expect this kind of article only from you. That's why I visit at least ten times a day.

Total votes: 524


While I agree that the Honda's transmission appears to save time, it cannot save the full difference between 8ms and say, 42ms as in the case of the Ducati. To save the entire difference in time, the Ducati would have to be fully stopped, with no forward motion. Obviously this is not the case, so the mathematical savings are the difference between engine at full power, with the machine accelerating, and the bike moving forward without accelerating, but at almost the same speed.

I believe that the real benefit comes when the bike is leaned over, and big clunky (relatively) long upshifts can upset the chassis, and the rider generally chooses to hold the gear in favour of bike stability, rather than risk upsetting the bike. This is incaculable in terms of time, but an obvious advantage.

Total votes: 546


This is a great point. The greatest speed savings is going to happen at higher speeds where drag is more of an issue. However, most shifting is done at lower speeds.

Calculating actual advantage would be an insanely complex exercise.

Total votes: 506

It's not all that complex.

It's not all that complex. Some basic kinematics equations combined with average acceleration over the speed range of the numerically higher gear at that speed range and lean angle (remember that the effective gear ratio changes with lean angle, as the rolling radius of the tire changes from the curved profile.) Altho even a rough estimate would give you a final result proportional to the certainty of your estimates.

Total votes: 532

Very good work David. I

Very good work David.

I totally agree with your analysis Japhr... The fact that the bike is still in motion during shifts significantly reduce that advantage. In all, I think .2 to .3 seconds a lap is about accurate.

Total votes: 494

Cracking stuff Dave Pot on :)

Cracking stuff Dave Pot on :)

Total votes: 525

This reminds me of the days

This reminds me of the days when quickshifters first showed up, they figured it was 0.1 second an upshift gained per lap on average. I think it depended on the style of corners where you shifted however

So some riders were a second faster all of a sudden, pretty soon, everyone had them . I forsee the same with this tech, just like the NSR and its big bang firing order

Saying that didnt Guintoli do a race in the rain on a Ducati ( sachsenring?) with no electronics at all? old skool madness :)

Total votes: 518

For your next project:

Very interesting!  If I may suggest, for your next opportunity with the Olymus, attempt to quantify the differences between the San Carlo Gresini bikes.

The official word from HRC is that, though team mates, Aoyama is not running with the new gearbox, while Simoncelli is. 

Since they so often run in tandem, it seems to me, the overall benefits are not fully developed.

Total votes: 469

Back of the envelope calculation says....

If you take a shift time difference of 20 msec, and assume the bike decelerates at 0.5g during the shift (conservative!), the bike loses 0.32 ft/sec. Three shifts, and it's lost roughly 1 ft/sec.

Losail's longest straight is ~3500 feet long.
Assume an average speed over that straight at 150 mph.
That's 15.9 sec.

So the slower shifting bike would lose ~16 feet.

So, a bit over 2 bike lengths, just on the front straight.

Total votes: 500

We are privileged

to have access to all this on the site.

Total votes: 495

Yep totally agree

Thanks once again David on a great article.

Total votes: 517

The focus on the gearbox

First, I have to say that the audio analysis to figure out the differences in gearboxes is really a great idea. Thanks for lending some science to journalism instead of relying on rumors and innuendoes.

It seems to me that there is a disproportionate amount of attention put in a single element of the bike every time Casey goes fast. Pundits for a long time presumed it was because of the electronics in the Ducati. However, this MotoMatter article on the Ducati electronics states that was not the case.

The bottom line is that it is very sexy to talk about the magic of the gearbox, but maybe the most likely explanation is that the Honda is a capable bike and the presence of Casey on the team is pushing everyone much harder. It seems that Jeremy Burgess thinks so as well:

Total votes: 516

Great Article - very well thoughtout and logical...

Thanks - you did'nt go to Qutar (just) for a vacation did you

Total votes: 529

Kudos david

I certainly didn't know that. Thanks.

Total votes: 542

Good Grief....

I have been lurking on this site for a couple years now, but finally this is it, I just can't help it anymore... I had to join.

Just to say THANK YOU for these incredible articles. This is the stuff I always wanted to know, but figured I would never have the chance.

This site makes you feel like you know someone personally on "the inside", pretty darn cool.

Anyways... Thanks!!

Total votes: 530

it's a ZERO

yes, this gearbox is likely a zeroshift (UK) as noyes mentions. the technology was being discussed in auto engineering journals (under the zeroshift name) going back a few years now. i still have the articles. due to their extensive experience and manufacturing capabilities, there was probably no better company to license out the manufacturing to than fellow UK residents xtrac. now that i hear about the honda/xtrac tie-up, it makes even more sense that the gearbox technology honda tested in their F1 car back in like'05/'06 was in fact, a zeroshift. the V5's were still running to give you an idea how long ago this gearbox was around. in fact, i was looking for it to show up on the smaller "evolution" V5 engine (heard directly from an inside source) hayden took to his '06 title. but i guess it wasn't quite ready for primetime? or at least not deemed important enough for use on moto side? the light probably first went on at HRC in '07 when that hilarious aerial shot was broadcast of the GP7 absolutely annhilating everybody (think it was jerez or istanbul?) under acceleration.

Total votes: 525


Bravo David! As someone has already written 'we are privileged to have access to this site'. Thanks!

Total votes: 522

Thanks David, great idea

Thanks David, great idea !
Love the way you add value to everything you write.

Total votes: 482

great piece

Thanks David. Very interesting stuff.

Looks like Honda has worked out a development that really does help the riders, and combined with the recruitment of Stoner, who appears to have lifted Dani to new heights as well, they may well have built the groundwork for a championship.

Total votes: 519



I even took this into the other room and showed Caroline! Even SHE appreciated this amazing work on your part.

Now...HOW MANY TIMES do they shift gears per lap? That is the burning question in my head right now... It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that, at 2 hundredths per shift they're making up on Ducati, it doesn't take long to add up the majority of a SECOND they're gaining... Am I calculating that correctly?

Total votes: 489

Big Help

I think there is another big advantage gained. Honda riders are less concerned with gearing and won't have to make sacrifices other teams might getting off of certain corners which happens at fast circuits like this one. They can use the limited testing time to focus on other set up issues and be fast out of the box based on previous data.

They start out fast and get faster as they improve setup.

Could there be tire wear advantages too? That would explain why Simo has it but not Aoyama, he's shown to be hard on tires and fade towards the end, could this keep him in touch at the end?

It's clear from the data here that it is a much bigger advantage over Ducati, Yamaha must have something pretty trick but not at this level. Advantages of F1 and Indy car involvement I guess.

Total votes: 455

Got to agree with Japhrodisiac.

Got to agree with Japhrodisiac. The time actually saved in shifts would be almost infinitesimal. The real gain is in the smoothness it provides shifting mid corner. But even this is really secondary to the intra team rivalry at Honda pushing the times down. Its really only Stoner and Pedrosa who are faster than the rest.

Total votes: 454

its not all a bed of roses

Great idea and analysis David. This site rocks.

A downside to this technology is already known, rougher downshifts. David described the Honda rear end as wallowing like an old 70s gt380 as riders tipped it in, definitely not a compliment. The only complaint all the fast Honda riders have is engine braking/downshifting behavior. It can't be a coincidence that their problems are stemming from new application of a new technology. Some benefit, but also some problems to be worked out.

David, can a similar analysis be done at the braking zone or are the bikes indistinguishable on corner entry?

I think all this gearbox brouhaha was succinctly summed up by Burgess: it's Stoner.

Last year the Honda had a rocketship engine and eventually developed good handling. If Pedrosa wasn't torpedoed by an errant throttle cable (dbw?) Lorenzo would have to had to sweat it a bit. When Stoner was on it using the Ducati he was always 1/2 sec or more ahead of the pack from lap 2. Put Stoner on a sorted Honda and we get the results everyone has been predicting since it was only a paddock rumor- a fast and happy Stoner. Pedrosa has never been a slouch and with the added incentive not to get left in the dust he is picking it up. What we are seeing is the result of 4 years development on Honda's POS 2007 RC212V.

I find it ironic that when Honda finally provide Pedrosa with a bike that can win the championship from round 1 they also see fit to give him a teammate that can likely beat him.


Total votes: 537

Indeed. There was an article

Indeed. There was an article written some time back where Nicky stated the way Stoner was able to modulate the throttle subtly to match the pumping of the Ducati's rear as it got of a corner was amazing. A smoother upshift from Honda and Stoner's experience with a pumping rear (suspension) is a lethal combination.

Total votes: 501

very interesting speculation

David recording the bikes to illustrate a point is why we all read this blog. His detailed information from motogp is so interesting and I hope he does it for the next 20 years. But let's not get too carried away.

He is only speculating which is great but readers should not make out they know how many tenths are saved from this gearbox. It's really silly.

I would caution anyone from saying such rubbish as :
"In all, I think .2 to .3 seconds a lap is about accurate."

The comments from Desh and Japhrodisiac are much more sensible.

Total votes: 509

You went out to the track and

You went out to the track and measured the sounds and then compared them. You are classic. Brilliant method. This is another example of why you are the best GP journalist out there in my IMHO.

Total votes: 547

Glad I clicked

Nice analysis, Krop. Even if it's not 100% accurate, it doesn't really matter cause you're in the infotainment business. As long as you have a scientific method and your analysis is conducted as a good faith fact-finding-mission, then who can complain about the findings?

Furthermore, you have proven that your site is more than just a "polemic" according to a certain Frenchman who didn't sound like he was trying to pay you a compliment.

Total votes: 508


Now you have my interest. Which Frenchman? And when? Just so I can go listen for myself.

Total votes: 513

Fog of time

It was Herve Poncharal in Marathon Interview Part One.

"This is a good website; sometimes there is a little bit too much polemic - which is good, because we need to create some polemic."

Looks like I remember it a bit differently than it actually happened. He wasn't having a cheap dig, and he didn't actually classify the site as a polemic.

I only remember taking exception to the idea that this website is polemical. The comments are doubtless polemical b/c a wide variety of readers will often have irreconcilable viewpoints on certain issues, but the articles are not polemical.

Anyway, this latest analytical, fact-finding article with data and information cannot possibly be construed as polemics.

Total votes: 518

Wow ! Great work ! I have

Wow !
Great work ! I have been reading for a few years, and check this site many times per day, but had to join in order to comment on this article... GREAT WORK !!!

I love you're site. Keep doing great work !

Total votes: 497


Great work David :)

For time lost though, let's be a little realistic: to accelerate at 1g at 90m/s in the absence of drag would require 207kW. Since the top speed is around that, the drag at top speed must be equal to the power at the rear tyre divided by velocity. Assuming 180kW at the crank, there'd be about 150 at the tyre, so maybe .7g worth of drag.

However, since it rises as the square of speed, at 200km/h (55m/s) it will be only .26g... and most shifts occur below 200km/h.

Secondly, 30 shifts per lap seems like a lot: PI requires about 14 from memory, of which only 7 are upshifts.

So something around 0.2s/lap sounds about right to me for simple loss of drive.

Being able to shift at full lean might be nice, but why would you do it? By the time you need to shift, in most cases you're off the edge of the tyre and driving anyway. In which case having a smoother shift will help, but not hugely...

Total votes: 472

Great write up. I guess

Great write up. I guess though with the engine rules in place that the next biggest place to gain time in a lap would be the gearbox. Hopefully they don't create a but of rules about gearboxes cause this seems like what the prototype class is all about especially if these kinds of gearboxes make their way to road bikes one day.

Total votes: 501

Points above

If there is a theoretical advantage of .0034 second between the Honda and the Ducati, with a guess of between 15 and 30 upshifts per lap, then we have a theoretical advantage of between 0.051 and 0.102 seconds. Of course, there cannot be this big a time gap because the Ducati doesn't cease forward motion when it shifts, as mentioned above. Lets say that in reality, the advantage is half of this, so maybe 0.0255 to 0.051 seconds per lap. Over race distance at Qatar of 22 laps this equates to 0.561 to 1.122 seconds, not insignificant, but not a massive advantage by itself.

The real advantage comes to play in a few different aspects of riding, in machine setup (as someone mentions above) and later in machine development.

If a rider is more flexible in his choice of whether to hold a gear or upshift, as the situation presents itself, he has an advantage. Also, the team can allow for this flexibility in the choice of transmission gearing, which is often a compromise trying to find appropriate ratios for each corner, and not all 3rd gear corners are the same of course, for example.

In terms of machine development, the powerband could be narrowed, and peak output increased if there is flexibility in the choice of shift points. If a rider can shift midcorner, or earlier on exit then there is a reduced need for a broad power curve. I think that Honda might also have narrowed their powerband slightly, raising peak output and with the use of the new transmission, allowed the riders and team flexibility in transmission selection and shift points.

Just a guess and feel free to fry me in the pot

Total votes: 500

on point

re: "In terms of machine development, the powerband could be narrowed, and peak output increased if there is flexibility in the choice of shift points. If a rider can shift midcorner, or earlier on exit then there is a reduced need for a broad power curve. I think that Honda might also have narrowed their powerband slightly, raising peak output and with the use of the new transmission, allowed the riders and team flexibility in transmission selection and shift points."

no oil in this fryer, that's an excellent point. the benefits are not just from the output shaft back, but also from the primary gears forward.

Total votes: 485

Whoa, whoa, whoa...

Sorry, Japhrodisiac, but I have to be the annoying nerd for just a moment. I mean NO offense at all, but your figures are off by TEN TIMES. You put the advantage-per-shift times in TEN-THOUSANDTHS, but it is actually in THOUSANDTHS. That means we're talking five point six (5.6) to eleven point two two (11.22) seconds over the race distance.

MUCH less insignificant, no?

Total votes: 500


You are correct, I miscalculated. A classic blunder. But in a round about way, this still proves my point. Since the gap from Casey to Jorge (and Simo to Spies, Simo to Rossi) was nowhere near this theoretical advantage, then it is highly unlikely that the actual difference is anywhere remotely near the theoretical advantage described above. Anyone who has raced a bike or even ridden in anger (ie full throttle upshifts through the gears) understands that there is no sudden -.5 to -1 g deceleration when upshifting. In fact, there is barely a perceptible difference in acceleration at all. The theoretical advantage that you point to, compares a fast shifting Honda to a non moving Ducati, with up to 30 upshifts per lap. It seems to me that there were probably only 10 - 15 upshifts/lap at Qatar.

While Rossi did finish the race some 16 seconds back from Stoner, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone that believes that 11 seconds of this advantage was transmission related.

Total votes: 535

a believer

Knowing how small the changes done when setting up the bike are, I am convinced to believe that this gearbox will have an effect on the dynamics and rideability of the bike.

I am sure Honda will not tell this but maybe David can discuss this with some specialists on the paddock, well I am sure he has...

Total votes: 538

Re making the engine peakier:

Re making the engine peakier: I think the feasibility of that is limited by the restriction to 6 gears. The spread of ratios in a MotoGP must be much wider than the smaller bikes because of the higher top speed...

Total votes: 533

That is true...

...depending on the track.

There are a few races on the calendar where top speed isn't really related to the number of cogs in the gearbox (Laguna and Sachsenring spring quickly to mind).  There are some venues where the teams would rather have more mid-range options because they don't really need a long top gear to reach terminal velocity.

I don't know that they would necessarily strive to make the engine "peakier", but that doesn't mean they wouldn't like to solve some compromises with a corner that just won't set up correctly without a gear change that doesn't upset the bike or the exit speed...  especially if the guys in charge of the fuel maps can come out ahead.

Total votes: 519

Small little things make big differences!

Nacho and Rusty made some valid points. Benefits at the gearbox may be minimal if looking at them "directly" but if it benefits other systems or areas so the bike works in a better way as a whole, it is definately something!

Total votes: 534

But while we're looking...

... what are Yamaha doing still using only a spark-cut system? Honda have been using fuel-cut quick shifting since the RC45 days, as I recall. In these days of scarping for every lost drop of fuel efficiency, I'm surprised to see them squirting into a dead motor and burning it off in the exhaust...

Total votes: 533


re: "what are Yamaha doing still using only a spark-cut system? Honda have been using fuel-cut quick shifting since the RC45 days".

if i had to guess, i'd say... reaction time. electricity (electrons) move faster than heavy fuel droplets. they've probably tried both, but found with the rapid fire nature of the crossplane engine, having the ability to not only cut spark, but advance and retard timing based on additional sensor inputs beyond just differential wheel speeds (ie. gear position, lean angle, accelerometer data) just worked better for their application. 6 in one, 1/2 dozen in the other really.

Total votes: 529

The fuel is controlled by an

The fuel is controlled by an electric signal that opens and closes the injectors. All they need to do is capture the signal from the QS and shut off the injector signals for the next X ms or Y engine cycles.
At 16,000 rpm they have one cylinder firing every 2ms, roughly, so that would be the maximum delay... and that is the same for cutting spark, since it doesn't have an effect until a plug is due to fire anyway (and with injectors you don't need to worry about the dwell time and partially charged coils... but I'm sure the M-M ecu has enough processing power to look after such trivia :)

As for rapid fire... even an off the shelf Motec runs at 50 MHz. The time between firing is an eternity for the electronics.

Total votes: 505

Haven't you heard of a 'blown

Haven't you heard of a 'blown diffuser' graham ;-)

Total votes: 497

Reading everyones comment no

Reading everyones comment no one has grasp that the gearbox Honda is using would not nessasary mean it would work on every engine.
if you were to look in the gearbox id imagine every gear is different as well as the ratios and even the sprocket sizes. to say Yamahas and ducati every manufacture has its own idea on the perfect shape number of teeth ratios ect. Ok it may make selecting the gear easier and quicker but the advantage is so little it would only be over the course of the race any benefit would be gained, then take into account tyres degrading and riders tiring and that advantage has gone
Yamaha hasnt got to panic over anything Lorenzo has given the Honda guys a run at a track where the Honda was expecting a 1234 finish so lets see how this reflects over the year my bet is Lorenzo and Yamaha are not going to give the crown away just yet.
My worries would be Ducati everyone else has upd it game but the Ducati was slower over race distants than last year while everyone else was faster. Casey being 12 seconds faster than the winning time last year.

Total votes: 498

it will work

re: "Reading everyones comment no one has grasp that the gearbox Honda is using would not nessasary mean it would work on every engine."

actually, it will work on every engine. that's the beauty of the technology, it doesn't care what displacement or type of engine is mated to the gearbox. be it a single, W16, 4-stroke, 2-stroke, rotary, diesel, or electric. power and torque coming down the center of the input shaft is power and torque coming down the center of the input shaft. all typical stepped ratio, dog engaged transmissions momentarily break torque to the wheels as an inherent part of the design (it has to). think of this as a hybrid between a CVT and conventional tx's.

Total votes: 514

Brilliant analysis

And, using your voice recorder, impressive! Thanks for the thought provoking thinking. Again!

Total votes: 525


Darn! Reading the actual article and then all these comments it provoked was a blast! Bold thinking David, this Olympus idea! Kudos to U.
As Burgess said, the actual gain for each change maybe one hundredth, so it's not a winning solution per se. But added stability and smoothness and changing shifting points to more favorable instants must be worth more per lap. And maybe smoothness will go some way in affecting favorably the already top durability of the Honda engine, allowing for more power oriented setups, especially in the latter part of the season, if need be.
Any idea anyone, if the seamless shifting will be more of an advantage in tighter tracks with more gear shifting? Will the smoother&faster upshift ability amount to an advantage over the slightly less smooth downshifting? Only time can tell, but its reasonable to assume that Honda has taken this into account, when deciding on using the particular gearbox.
Anyway, ingenious idea to use the sound recordings. You've managed to impress me yet again, and added excitement to each race henceforth. Thanx a lot. Hope for more, although this article alone secured my visiting your page first, every time I hit the web.

Total votes: 498


Catching the sound and putting on a graph. Brilliant. This has gotta be the best site for any motogp coverage! Too bad that Ducati seems to be lacking in so many areas. Oh well, with JB and VR there, I am sure some things will be changed. Unfortunately it seems like they have a MOUNTAIN of work to get through before that bike is good enough.

Total votes: 479

From Asphalt&Rubber

there are 11 upshifts during one MotoGP lap around Losail track. From the 2 thousandths gain (on the Yamaha) reported by Sir Emmett, it accounts to 2 tenths a lap, which corresponds to what Burgess and other insiders suggested.
Even taking into account other gains, I believe that all bikes have their strength and weaknesses that are quite hard for us to quantify, merely can we guess that Yamaha has better handling, Honda better power and so on.
I don't believe neither that the result would have been any different should have Honda sticked to their 2010 gearbox. On sunday Stoner was miles ahead of anyone else, as he's always been fast at Losail from his pole position on the Honda LCR in 2006 through his Ducati years and now on the RCV 2011.

Total votes: 518

NO, NO, NO...Sorry, frenchie...but DAVID IS CORRECT.

Believe me when I say that this is NOT personal, nor is it opinionated. This is just a matter of MATH, plain and simple.

David is ABSOLUTELY 100% RIGHT when he says that the Honda shifter is good for a few HUNDREDTHS PER SHIFT. Why? Simple math.

Some posters think that a millisecond is a ten-thousandth of a second. Wrong. A millisecond is a thousandth of a second. One millisecond is .001 seconds, NOT .0001, as some have mistakenly stated.

Here is why David is correct in his mathematics:

1) A millisecond is a thousandth of a second, or .001
2) The Honda is 19 thousandths faster than the Yamaha. That is .019 seconds. That is nearly two hundredths of a second. 19 thousandths = 1.9 HUNDREDTHS. Per shift.
3) The Honda is 34 thousandths faster than the Ducati. That is .034 seconds. That is WELL over three hundredths of a second. 34 thousandths = 3.4 HUNDREDTHS. Per shift.

A couple other posters had the same argument...that it was infinitesimal margins we were talking, etc. They, too, were counting in TEN-THOUSANDTHS, not thousandths. A millisecond is a thousandth of a second. Any ol' way you slice it, 19 thousandths (.019) is almost 2 hundredths (.02), and 34 thousandths (.034) is well over 3 hundredths (.03+). If you're correct about the 11 upshifts per lap at Qatar, then we're talkin' about Honda having .209 seconds a lap on Yamaha, and time for dinner and a movie over Ducati (an eternal .374 seconds). True, there are MANY other factors, but every little bit helps. And when David says hundredths, I know he's not above making the occasional error, but he nailed this one, with surgical precision. It's hundredths, not thousandths (or ten-thousandths).

Bring on Jerez! (Or F1! Or WSBK!)

Total votes: 489

Calm down

For the few hundredths difference in shift time, one bike is coasting while the other is accelerating. Coasting is not the same as stopping. That is why the time gain (probably about .002s/shift) is much less than the difference in shift time (0.03s/shift).

This has been worked out in detail in other posts, but you seem to have missed the basic issue...

Total votes: 500

I understand the...

...accelerating vs. coasting premise. I'm just saying that the basic math concerning quantifying the gearbox advantage adds up, math-wise. I'm just putting the decimals in the right place.

I'm not upset. Not about something like this, anyway.

Try telling me that Notre Dame has as many national championships as Alabama, and THEN the bloodshed shall commence. :)

BTW, thanks for the ram-air effect notes. I thought it would just be "more is better", or at least "more is more", just like turbo (or super) charging. And you didn't tell me where you came up with your

Total votes: 518

Your calculation

is 0.209 seconds a lap compared to Yamaha, exactly what I said in the previous post, 2 tenths a lap, nothing contradictory with what David or I wrote.

Total votes: 513

I was talking about...

...the second sentence in your last post. It reads "...from the two thousandths gained on Yamaha...", but those two thousandths are two HUNDREDTHS. Eleven times two thousandths equals just over two hundredths, not two tenths. That part was off by a decimal point. That's all. It was no huge deal. No offense, as I said, so thank you for understanding that, and not getting sand in your...crack, like some people do. If you know me here, you know I never say anything to offend anyone. I'm just pedantic, which is totally different, and when I get corrected on something, I don't get pissy and condescending, because usually I learn something in those circumstances.

Anyway, just a few hours until F1 starts. Bring it ON!

Total votes: 497

my bad

typo mistake, obviously I meant 20 thousands, anyway, everybody is on the same page

Total votes: 522

El primo discussion

I love this discussion! Thanks David and all contributors for your efforts. The standard of discussion here is consistently so much better than other sites.

The sound recording was genius!! It would be interesting to see the results of a similar exercise at the various tracks as the season progreses.

Would I be correct in thinking that the most advantage of this technology would be gained at the really tight circuits where there is hard braking at lots of corners prior to rapid acceleration into a straight? I'd guess, based on the discussion above, that at tracks like Phillip Island and Brno where they are long and fast (generally) you'd still get the upshift / stability advantage but perhaps the cumulative advantage is less because of the decreased amount of shifting required. Once again it will be interesting to see the results at a range of circuits.

Also just another thought, is the gear changing likely to be visibly discernable on the bikes if you were to watch HD video replay at very low speed? I'm thinking of the movement of the bike here in terms of power on / off. HRC theoretically would have little movement as the shift happens so quickly vs Ducati where the oscillation is probably going to be more noticeable. If you could line the video up with the graph from the sound bite it might confirm a lot of the points made in other posts. (trust me, if I had the ability to do this I'd be slaving over the video right now).

Total votes: 483

you are correct sir

re: "Would I be correct in thinking that the most advantage of this technology would be gained at the really tight circuits where there is hard braking at lots of corners prior to rapid acceleration into a straight?"

yes, any circuits that have the lowest corner speeds and necessitate the greatest amount of decelerations. remember, torque is what accelerates a vehicle (bike, car, truck, whatever). the lower the gear you have to drop down to (think 2nd or 3rd) then the more upshifts you are making to get back up to race speed.

the more upshifts...? the more times you are technically "false neutraling" between gears, thus the more times you are "disconnecting" engine torque from the rear wheel. in short... all things being equal... torque can not/will not accelerate any vehicle whose wheels (or rear bridgestone in this case) it has been disconnected from. solution...? keep the engine connected.

Total votes: 501

New this Year?

Can anyone confirm whether the gearbox is new this year (or has it only been revealed this year)?
I read something somewhere implying that it was in use last year but most reports have it as debuting in Sepang.
Could it have snuck under the radar last year or is the difference easily noticable.

Total votes: 539

only just revealed

it was being used last year from round 1 and perhaps even the season before (testing). watch qatar 2010, and you'll see dani holeshotted from a standstill at the start from all the way back on Row 3 to arrive first into T1.

Total votes: 471

Well done David. What I'd

Well done David.
What I'd REALLY like to see now is the waveform of a WSBK bike upshifting.
Burgess recently suggested the Yam's transmission is not exactly off-the-showroom; I'd like to see how much slower a 'standard' street bike unit is, compared to the various MGP units.

Total votes: 525

Tyre wear

Wondering if the seamless uninterrupted application of power could result in a lower tyre temperature,and less wear over the course of a race,given that it is generally accepted that a smoother rider generates less wear than a rider who is less smooth.

Total votes: 469


keep in mind tyre temps and wear aren't necessarily related how we think. tyre's work best at a "specific" temperature (+/-). too low can cause grip/wear problems the same way too high can cause grip/wear problems.

Total votes: 479


Yes, F1 AND WSBK this weekend! Does it get any better? OK, Moto GP, but that's next weekend! Heh, CrimsonTide . . . I'm guessing your a BIG football fan . . . NFL as well as NCAA? And sorry about the 'bama/Auburn game. You must have blown several gaskets!

Total votes: 496

You BET I did!

You are TOO right, 3B43. I blew every gasket I had, PLUS those of everyone in a 50-mile radius. That is THE most horrific sporting event I have ever witnessed in my whole life. Up until now, the worst I had ever seen was Rossi's crash at Valencia in '06, and I didn't think that it would EVER be topped...but that game topped it. It was right up there in league with certain American events from November of '08... As far as NCAA vs. NFL, I am the opposite of motorcycle racing: I LOVE the amateurs (who do it for the love of the game) much more than the pros (who are often a bunch of spoiled rotten, rich little brats).

This weekend should be great, indeed. WSBK looks very interesting this year, and F1 gives every indication of being a truly epic season. Speaking of F1 and WSBK, I really wish that Bridgestone would make their tires a bit more like Pirelli, in terms of grip and degradation. I think that we could get MUCH closer to the "glory days" of the 990cc bikes, if we could again have the conditions of "more power than traction". If you think about it, that's what has killed much of the exciting riding with the 800s in large part (I believe so, at least), is that the tires have too much grip, relative to the engine power. No spinning and too much cornering speed is dangerous and...well...boring in a lot of ways. The 990s could break the rear free, and that made for wild rides. I could be wrong, but I think that's a big part of what made the 990s so great: MORE HP THAN GRIP.

That's my $0.02... (p.s. You're a good egg in my book, 3B43. Now tell me: where did you come up with your name? Is it an engine designation? C3PO's cousin? A motto?)

Total votes: 442

great stuff ! thanks !

great stuff ! thanks !

Total votes: 477

What about the CRT

Well! so much for keeping costs down. They can't do much with the engines but everything else is fair game. Keeping costs down is just a dream. I don't see how the CRT will be remotely competitive.

Total votes: 503

They aren't meant to be

Plenty of reading around here on that topic.
The regulations are such that as soon as they become competitive they are no longer classified as a CRT.
Cheap(?) grid fillers is all they are meant to be.

Total votes: 433

Very cool

Great analysis, as usual.

I know the RCV doesn't have a dual clutch transmission, but if you go here you can see a video that compares the VFR1200F manual and DCT gearboxes. What is interesting - and relevant - about it is the sheer smoothness of the shift, as the DCT bike barely moves at all while the gearbox does its thing.

Getting this level of smoothness into a GP bike shift has got to make a hell of a difference in keeping the bike going forward as fast as possible.

The interesting bit starts at 2:40.

Total votes: 476


I was talking to a friend of mine, regarding 'motorcycle racing', and we both agreed that for pure excitment, dirt track, specifically 'The Mile', is about the most excitting form of racing in the world! Rules are rather simple/straight forward and the hp vs traction . . . well, those guys are sliding everywhere!

I can understand the angle of the manufacturers, wanting to test 'stuff' that will evenutally make it onto street bikes, e.g. traction control, but it is hurting the 'sport'! Making 'unsticky' tires might be the trick, as the traction control might have to be turned way down, BUT . . . I don't think the tire guys would like that. 'Street' tires have made a quantum leap in the last several years and that is directly related to racing.

'Tide: the 'bama game was a complete shocker to me, and I'm not really a 'bama fan (SEC fan!, but not a direct 'bama 'fanboy'). For you . . . its a wonder you didn't have a heart attack . . . or did you?

My name 3B43: I retire in '07 after 24 years of being a 'cop' in the People's Republic of Kalifornia! 3B43 was my badge # on the street (I had a different call sign when I worked narcotics and major crimes) . . . and there you have it!

Total votes: 465

Not new stuff

Burgess and Ryder both say the Honda gearbox is nothing new, and they had it last season as well.

Total votes: 435


I have to take japhrodisiac to task on his theory. While his numbers are impressive, (when he gets the decimal right), he obviously has no experience in motorcycle drag racing. An air or air/electric shifter, when used in a drag race, is well known to be worth at least 0.050 sec per shift. (that's 5 hundredths) With at least 4 shifts in only a 1/4 mile, that's 2 tenths! While the bike is indeed still moving forward during an upshift, it is not ACCELERATING during the shift, but rather coasting while the engine kill does it's thing. I can't begin to count the races I have won over bikes with superior horsepower by merely being able to shift faster. A shifting technology such as Honda now has is an incalculable advantage.

In closing, I would like to add that I have been a recording engineer for over 20 years, and I applaud David for his innovative use of audio waveforms to demonstrate a point. EXCELLENT work David!

2000 American Drag Bike Assoc. National Champion

Total votes: 423

Yes... But...

With all respect MadDaddy, (you guys earn it!)... I was thinking the same thing, and if say Casey and Jorge were starting side by side, accelerating from 0mph, and crossing a finishing line at the end of a single straight away (like a drag strip), I would completely agree with you.

But, there are so many variables that go into a lap time (that others have already mentioned)... bike horsepower, gear ratios, traction control, suspension setup, aerodynamics, braking stability, etc etc... and of course the most important, rider ability, the balls to go deeper into corners than the guy next to you, the confidence/ability to power through bike instability...

That although there may be a hundredths of second gain through the shifting technology, if someone without that technology is behind Casey down the front straight, the drafting benefits will negate that small advantage.

I agree with Jorge and Burgess where they say the true Honda advantage is the Honda's ability to drive out of the corners. THAT you could see lap after lap during the Qatar race!

As far as the mathematics go, I believe Speeddog's post is the most accurate with his methodology for calculating the actual advantage (calculating the difference between the bikes then using acceleration, not constant speed, and the gains in feet per second).

This site rocks.

Total votes: 439


You are comparing drag bikes that use quickshift technology to bikes that don't. In MotoGp, they all use some form of quickshift technology, So I'm not sure how relevant your point is here.

The article simply states that the Honda's transmission is "worth a few hundreds a shift". My sole point is to make mention that this cannot be so, simply by the fact that both bikes are moving. Therefore, a shifting advantage does not add up to a time advantage equal to the shift advantage measured. It is of course, still an advantage.

The big difference between road racing and say, drag racing, is that there are a lot more factors at play in road racing with regards to time advantages. A tenth of a second is routinely made up on braking into a single corner, for example. Take away Honda's magic transmission, and the final results of the Qatar race likely would have been the same.

Total votes: 456


there is no way that lap times are independent of upshift-smoothness and torque delivery to the rear wheel. Especially while leaned over and on the limit of grip. That is preposterous. You seem to be missing the point everyone has belabored by focusing on the bikes forward inertia, and basic arithmetic with regards to people's time-advantage estimates.

Something has made the Honda significantly faster, even for Dani and Dovi. Motivation now that Casey is on a similar bike? Refinements in engine? chassis? special gearbox? I think all of the above.

Total votes: 443


If this comment was directed at me, then I suggest that you look at my earleir posts covering these issues. Cheers

Total votes: 448


Do you have anything to say about Japhrodisiacs excellent point.

Total votes: 422

Not really

I don't really have anything to add to his points. The shift is definitely quicker, which means that less time is lost with no power on the back wheel, but the bike is not at a standstill, it just loses acceleration during the shift. Both Filippo Preziosi and Masao Furusawa reckoned the gain from Honda's gearbox was about 0.2 seconds a lap. There is a penalty too, the Honda riders all said that downshifts are more aggressive, so they require a little more care.

But as others have said, the biggest change is in the smoothness, keeping the bike balanced on upshifts while leaned over. That's where the real gains are.

Total votes: 445

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