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In conversation with Brian Grillen, R&D technical director at MV Agusta
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In conversation with Brian Grillen, R&D technical director at MV Agusta

Team Fast Bikes

Brian Grillen talks to us about the introducing the Smart Clutch System (SCS), its development, the company’s future plans and more:

FB: What made you go down the path of making the clutch lever redundant?

BG: Here at MV Agusta, we have a technical roadmap we’re following with even more advanced technology coming on the drivetrain side, but the first step towards that was having an automatic clutch. We always want to strive at being pioneers in the market as we did with the ride-by-wire throttle systems, although this has turned out a lot better!

FB: How did you decide on the Smart Clutch System?

BG: We started analysis back in 2015, looking at everything from dual-clutch systems to Magnetti Marelli car systems, but everything we came up with was heavier and more complex than what we already had, which wouldn’t work as our goals are always to be performance orientated first. Anything that puts another gram on the motorcycle is going the wrong way for us, which led us to Rekluse!

FB: How did you come up with the system, and how easy was development?

BG: Being an avid off-road rider, I knew about the brand Rekluse and what they were doing in the off-road market, and I had the opportunity to talk to them. They wanted to do something for the road, so we sent them a bike and they put together a kit for us, and after about a year and a half of pure development we got the system functional. From there on it took another two years to hone in the electronics and the algorithm changes on the software side – even just to get the first contact point right. If you touch the gas and you get a kick in the ass, you aren’t going to enjoy it very much, which is why it’s so important to test so much, in so many different conditions. The truth is, developing the system was incredibly challenging.

FB: What was the most important aspect of development, and how durable is the system?

BG: The most important thing with controlling a clutch is consistency. When you have electronics controlling something mechanical that has a lot of tolerances, it makes things difficult to keep the feeling constant. The clutch uses a 12-pin drivepin kit which is DLC plated for really low friction inside the action of the clutch, so that the action is consistent in the way that it works. As far as long-term durability goes, if you want to kill a clutch in a day you can kill a clutch in a day! But no, it will be absolutely no different to the normal systems, and throughout the durability tests the kit has been incredibly robust.

FB: So you’ve got a new MV Agusta Brutale coming up this year, and an F4 next year. Would you ever translate this technology into any of the proper sporty models?

BG: You’re definitely going to see this technology on sportsbikes in the near future, as even on a racebike the starts are faster. We are looking to develop a race kit and a street kit, as if you have one less thing to control, that’s one more part of your brain that you have to concentrate on your riding. On these models though, I can’t say…