Prince Purple Rain rebel Hondamatic
Prince on his Rebel Hondamatic

Is Honda returning to Hondamatic transmission?

A new patent filing from Honda seems to suggest a return to the 1970s twist-and-go Hondamatic transmission like on Prince’s Rebel (pictured).

The Hondamatic transmission was popular in America, but not here. 

However, Honda now seems keen to extend its auto and semi-auto transmissions throughout its range.

New Hondamatic

This new patent application is a little different from the old two-speed Hondamatic.

For a start, it has six gears available.

It features a gearshift but no clutch lever. Instead, it uses a computer-controlled, electro-hydraulic actuator, mounted just above the engine, instead of on the bars.

A sensor monitors gear lever pressure by monitoring speed, revs, gears and throttle.

As the transmission shifts gears, it cuts the ignition on upshifts, blips the throttle on downshifts and modulateas the clutch when starting and stopping.

When the bike is stopped the clutch disengages.

The patent drawing shows a CB100, but Honda has used the CB1100 in previous patent drawings including GoldWing-style double-wishbone forks.

So that does not mean it would be included on the CB1100, which we no longer get in Australia anyway. 

Honda patents

As we know, Honda has been busy with a lot of patents for various bikes, engines, transmissions and innovations in recent years.

Obviously not all will go into production. It seems more likely Honda is intent on protecting its intellectual property.

Other recent Honda patents include:

Forks Goldwing patent
Goldwing forks patent
  1. Changing gears is all part of the fun. It gives you something to do, it lets you play with the high end of the rev range and make the experience that bit more involving. You can play catch-up or you can play it smooth and keep a high average speed. The rider’s skill rather than what he’s riding becomes a major component in how fast he goes. The underdog can “win” vs the latest all-singing-all-dancing bike, just using his of skill and experience, combining his knowledge of the bike’s characteristics with the use of the gearbox. And the noob with a top-of-the-line superbike will not be able to keep up, which is how it should be. A journey of excitement and skill which continues throughout a lifetime. Where’s the fun in a twist-and-go? The only involvement in cornering a twist-and-go will be throttle control: smooth roll on, smooth roll off. And, tbh, that’s mastered quite quickly. The bike is doing far too much work, with all of these overcomplex rider aids systems being patented by Honda. Is Honda really hellbent on setting itself up to fail vs a gaming chair and an interactive 3D video game? Looks like it. They are devaluing the motorcycling experience in their R&D ethos.

    1. I know most motorcyclists like to thump their chests and look down upon anything that makes the hobby easier for others to get in to our hobby, but bikes are shrinking year over year. We can either let others play in our sandbox, or watch our hobby die.

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