DCT Transmission and the Africa Twin

This dual-clutch motorcycle is Honda's high-tech answer to the Rekluse clutch

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Standard Dual-Clutch Transmission cutaway

Honda put a great deal of engineering into creating a Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) option for the Africa Twin, which puts clutch operation in the hands of a computer. Gear selection can be made by that same computer in any of four modes—essentially a base map plus three different sport maps—or manually via triggers on the left handlebar. There is also an optional gear-shift lookalike that allows manual gear changes with your foot, and a gravel mode for clutch engagement that shortens the time the clutch slips during shifts. The DCT transmission option costs $700 and adds about 20 lbs.

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During my ride in South Africa, I split time evenly between the two transmission types, and my takeaway was this: An experienced rider is occasionally giving something up with DCT transmission and rarely gaining anything—although shifting gears mid-slide is fun! A dual-clutch motorcycle allows a novice rider to focus on his line and not be distracted by searching for the right gear or worrying about stalling. The latter is able to ride at a higher level, especially off-road, and the loss he incurs is mostly philosophical—fewer continual opportunities for learning that are part of what makes motorcycling so addictive.

I see two candidates for whom DCT will be a great option. The first are newer riders who want to focus on the journey, for whom the advantage gained simply allows them more enjoyment. The other is for older riders who will take all the help they can get. I have several friends who are excellent riders but have failing joints (generally from crashing motorcycles) that would enjoy the ease this system offers. For those who are more experienced, or want to focus on developing their skills, the manual transmission is the better choice.