Q: ELECTRIC SHIFTERS Kliktronic vs. Other Shifters
A: First of all I feel I should point out that we were the originators of the Electronic Shift System having been faced in 1996 with the problem of devising a method of changing gear for my colleagues son who was paralyzed from the chest down in a motorcycle accident some years earlier. He had seen, on the Isle of Man, a sidecar outfit which had a ramp at the back to accommodate a wheel chair and this set the ball rolling. The bike was an automatic, but he wanted a more powerful and conventional ride so having opted for a ZRX1100 We set about converting the foot controls to hand operation. Rods, levers and cables were considered but seemed a little clumsy and unsightly. Compressed air was also considered, but the attendant problems of bulky cylinders and topping up meant that we gave thought to electronic means, the most powerful and reliable of which is the solenoid. At that time, no device existed which would fulfill the role of delivering sufficient effort over an adequate travel to operate the gear selector pedal. We tried using starter motor solenoids and found that they just were not suited,. It became clear that we would have to design a bespoke solenoid for this task. After diligent research, we eventually found a book on solenoid design which answered many of the questions on how to calculate the thickness of wire, number of windings, length and diameter of plunger and body amongst other considerations. In order to arrive at a working prototype it took us a year of evenings and weekends experimentation and fine tuning to solve the problem – I can only describe solenoid design as a ‘black art.
Having fitted the outfit with the system it was not long before other people who saw it at bike shows, and were also disabled, wanted to know where they could obtain one – in truth we had no idea that there would be such a demand At this time the NABD (National Association for Bikers with a Disability) was in its infancy and they saw that this product had the potential to get many riders back on the road and so they picked up the ball and ran with it. A web site and business in the USA followed shortly, Tim Svoboda our agent in the USA at the time, himself a left leg amputee, did a wonderful job of promoting the product and whilst he sadly retired due to ill health last year, he nevertheless put around 2000 riders in the USA back in the saddle – no mean feat. Now the distributorship is with Gail (DeWitt) Dean, a disabled rider, herself. Over the course of the period from 1997 to date we have been constantly improving our design in response to changes in motorcycle design and feedback from our users – today I consider that the products we offer are as close to 100% reliable as we can get. Not withstanding that many of our original units from 1997 are still in use having covered over 100,000 miles in some cases and been transferred several times to different machines.
We were never able to patent our product because in the beginning my colleague and I were both in paid employment and did not have sufficient funds to do this – around 7,500 pounds were required, along with 1500 pounds a year to maintain the applications – money we simply did not have and certainly even if we did, we could not defend any infringements in the courts. We were only able to go full time with this venture 3 years ago as the business grew and we managed to buy our equipment.
Another company entered the scene about 4 years ago and made another version of an electric shifter – they have not been down the route we have followed and as I am sure you can appreciate do not therefore have the depth of understanding of what makes the unit work in the way it does.
This is one of many products that another company distributes whereas we only have one, considering ourselves to be specialists in what we do. For this reason, I would say to you that the ethos behind the product and the degree of development which the Kliktronic system has undergone ought to persuade you that this is the product to purchase. All manufacturing is carried out here in our own workshops using the best materials available – we are extremely conscientious in what we do and at all stages of production we test and scrutinise the product – what you get as a result will perform at its absolute best and will give you (providing it is properly installed, and maintained) many years of trouble free riding. We do not have complex electronics nor elaborate start up procedures, nor do we make any misleading claims about clutch free operation – another topic which I am happy to explain at length if you feel this is something you require.
You are welcome to pursue information in comparison from other websites.
Director of Kliktronic Limited UK
Q: Can the Kliktronic Electric Shifter work on a motocross machine?
A: The story with the motocross machines is that because the kliktronic system is completely self contained electrically it can be run from a battery mounted on the machine as a ‘total loss system’. That is to say that there is no charging system on the machine, and the Kliktronic takes its power from the battery which ought to be somthing like a YTX9BS this has a nominal capacity of 8 Ampere hours and can deliver enough power for a days riding (several hundred shifts) before it need re-charging. Also it is a sealed design and will therefore be suitable for off road use it is relatively compact and weighs approximately 7lbs. There are various charging system such as Optimate, or trickle chargers, which can be plugged into the battery overnight and will restore the charge.
As a point of interest ‘total loss’ is something that is quite common in the racing world – Grand Prix bikes do not have a conventional battery and charging system, it is all about maximum performance and saving weight. These machines have small primary cels inside the handlebars as a power source.
Q: Do I still have to use the clutch?
A: Yes, for pulling away and for town work – once underway though you can change up without the clutch and often down without the clutch too- depending on the gearbox and your skill at matching the revs.
Q: How do I find neutral?
A: The Kliktronic system is designed to have a ‘feel factor’ emulating the way you would use your foot – In this way it responds to the way you press the buttons. A positive push on the ‘up’ button will take you from 1st to 2nd gear. Whereas a quick stab at the button will lift you out of 1st into neutral – it is a knack which you soon acquire and will be able to get neutral at will.
Q: Can I still use the existing foot change?
A: Yes, usually you can retain the existing pedal – since the Kliktronic is completely free floating until energized you can make a normal manual shift if you wish.
Q: Can I use the Kliktronic with an ignition interrupt system?
A: Yes, the unit is compatible with all popular interrupt systems, in particular we recommend the our system which can be triggered directly from our buttons using an additional module.
Q: How fast is the Kliktronic system compared to a manual change?
A: It is significantly faster and more consistent, see our Dyno page where we have compared figures for manual change, Kliktronic assist and Kliktronic plus ignition interrupt – we have managed to get the interrupt time down to about 35 milliseconds using this system.
Q: Do I Need to modify my machine in any way to fit a Kliktronic unit?
A: In most cases the unit simply clamps to the frame or some convenient mounting point and is attached to an existing pedal arrangement, however sometimes the lever may need to be modified to achieve the best results. Other than this you may have to remove a small piece of handlebar grip to accommodate the switch assembly, in some cases this is not necessary, simply by moving the clutch and switch assembly. (see our gallery pages for examples). It is a straightforward matter to remove the system if you change your machine leaving it in original condition – we have many owners who have used the same system on several machines in succession.
Q: How much does the unit cost to fit?
A: We have an in house fitting service, plus a network of approved centers who can carry out the work. The price will vary for each machine.
Q: I am building a bike-engine car, how well will the unit work in this application. Also can I use paddles instead of your push-button steering wheel switches?
A: We have supplied numerous units for car applications, they are even capable of working the box in tandem with a conventional stick shift giving you both options. Switching can be made by virtually any means including rev-limiters etc.