Riding with Suzuki's new seamless gearbox is like using a PlayStation, according to the factory's MotoGP test rider Nobuatsu Aoki.
The seamless is one of the main upgrades for what Aleix Espargaro has described as a 'complete new bike' arriving for 2016, including a new engine, chassis and gearbox.
Since Mugello, when Aprilia introduced its seamless gearbox, Suzuki has been the only manufacturer without the technology, which slashes the time taken to switch drive from one gear to the next by 'engaging' both simultaneously.
Former grand prix racer Aoki has been developing the gearbox, which Maverick Vinales tried for the first time during a private test at Sepang in November.
“A lot of difference,” Aoki told Crash.net
. “Every single upshift the normal gearbox cuts [the drive]. But the seamless doesn't need to do that, so with every single upshift maybe you gain two metres. And it's very easy to ride! It's like a PlayStation, like an automatic. It's amazing.”
While the quicker shifts provide a small increase in acceleration, something Suzuki was notably lacking this season, riders often cite the smoothness of the gear changes as the main benefit of the seamless.
Aoki agrees: “For making one quick lap time maybe there is no change, but especially when the rear tyre grip drops and it starts to move around under braking, the seamless downshift is more stable.”
Aoki made 168 starts in 250GP, 500GP and MotoGP from 1990 to 2008, winning in 250cc and taking four podiums in the premier-class. He believes seamless shift gearboxes are the biggest innovation in motorcycling since traction control.
“I would say in motorcycle history it is a big, big step. Traction control was a big step and this is the next one,” he said.
Espargaro missed November's Sepang test due to injury and will get his first taste of the Suzuki seamless when official testing kicks off at the Malaysian circuit in February.
That outing will also mark the public debut of the new GSX-RR.
“I'm sure they'll like the new bike,” Aoki smiled.
Espargaro and Vinales finished eleventh and twelfth respectively in the world championship during Suzuki's comeback season.
The pair qualified first and second in Catalunya with the GSX-RR's best race result a sixth place, twice for rookie star Vinales and once for Espargaro.
Suzuki and Aprilia will be the only manufacturers still eligible for technical concessions next season, when a single ECU will be compulsory and all teams will have the same tyre allocation and fuel limit.
That leaves extra engine changes, testing and exemption from the in-season engine development freeze.