Chief Engineer, MV Agusta takes us through the innovative Smart Clutch System (SCS)
The basis (of the SCS) is the Rekluse EXP system, a unique expanding clutch disk. We contacted Rekluse two years ago. They were using it in off-road applications, their main focus is anti-stalling in something like hard enduro – Erzberg and events like that. We were looking at different systems like dual clutch, CVT, and having known about Rekluse we said, ‘Let’s talk to these guys and see whether they’re interested in doing something with us.’ And they were.
Their (Rekluse) experience was different to what we needed so the concept was great but we needed to spend a lot of development time in order to get something that was right for us. We worked really closely with them, in Idaho and Varese, to get the right kind of feel because we didn’t just want an auto clutch, we wanted performance. We designed a completely new clutch centre hub and pressure plate, the centre hub riding on 12 steel pins with DLC plating.
There are two parts to the Smart Clutch System – the mechanical part and the electronics. The mechanical part is the core of it, but the electronics are vital. We’ve taken what was a mechanical system, the expanding clutch disk from Rekluse, and turned it into a mechanical-electronic system, controlling it based on vehicle speed, rpm and gear position, plus what the rider requests with the throttle.
We think the system gives a definite advantage, especially for someone who rides in the city. Not having to use the clutch manually leaves your brain, your computing power, that much more free to pay attention to what’s going on around you, without trying to match rpm and throttle and clutch and what’s going on with the bike. It’s one of those things, like an auto-blipper, where you don’t realise what an advantage it is until you try it.
It’s an easy idea but once you get into the development of it, and all the different conditions and manufacturing tolerances, it has to be very robust. And at MV Agusta we look at everything from a performance standpoint. It’s no good having a great gadget that adds 10kg of weight. To earn a place on our bikes something has to be compact and light, and give a performance advantage.
I think we’ll see the system used on more models in the future, and sooner rather than later. The more we get this onto our products, the more the price will come down. And we won’t stop there. A hand gear-change (using buttons like Honda’s DCT system) is easy to use and can let you control the bike better. Already there are prototypes running around like that.