Yamaha Factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are testing a new seamless-shift transmission on their M1 machines at Sepang.
Seamless shifts are not believed to trim much time from a lap. But the smooth shifts enhance bike stability, especially in fast corners, which can slice tenths each trip around the track. Both Honda and Ducati are said to have versions of a seamless gearbox in their MotoGP bikes.
The Tech 3 Yamaha satellite bikes of Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith won't be equipped with the new transmission at Sepang. It's the first indication there will be a greater technology gap between the factory and satellite bikes this season than in 2012, probably due to an emphasis on ensuring commercial cash cow Rossi can score regular podium finishes.
Yamaha's decision to keep the seamless box exclusive to the factory team is bound to create some friction with Crutchlow. He pinpointed the gearbox as an area for significant improvement in the 2013 version of the Tech 3 M1 over the winter, and it appears it might take some time for Yamaha's seamless-shift system to trickle down.
Just as it is at HRC, the seamless transmission comes with a large price tag to satellite teams; thus it is unknown if the issue at Tech 3 is budgetary one.