A new automatic transmission lets newbies tear up the road without grinding up gears
By Dan Carney
January 24, 2008
Engineers have tried and failed for decades to build motorcycles with automatic transmissions. Honda finally gets it right with the new DN-01 "sports cruiser" bike. Conventional automatic transmissions, like those in cars, lag when you hit the throttle and can throw a bike off balance during turns. Honda's HFT (for Human Friendly Transmission) responds to the throttle instantly by using hydraulic pumps instead of standard gears.
The HFT offers a range of gear ratios similar to a conventional six-speed manual, and it has about the same weight and dimensions. The motorcycle goes on sale in Japan this year, though a price has not been set. Honda hasn't yet decided if America's weekend rebels will get their own auto-shifting bike.