Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is gearshift shift speed the most important thing to consider when selecting a paddleshift system?

A. Absolutely not!

We've seen some very optimistic claims from other suppliers regarding gear shift speeds - as low as 20mS, or even 9mS in one case, both of which are equally absurd given that when the transmission is under full load it typically takes a minimum of 30-40mS of engine cut to 'un-wind' the transmission before you can disengage the current gear. Even if it was physically possible to shift this quickly, it would not be desirable because it could quite possibly lead to engine and gearbox damage due to increased shock loadings.

The purpose of a paddleshift system is two-fold: firstly to minimise driver workload, and secondly to perform the smoothest possible shifts without causing chassis instability. The second point is very important, because if you shift too quickly, you are not giving the engine the chance to adjust its speed to match the road speed when the next gear engages. When the dogs do engage, any excess energy (in the form of miss-matched RPM) will lead to an aggressive shift which comprimises the grip of the driven wheels. This is especially true of road-car based engines that have higher rotating inertia than motorcycle or bespoke racing engines.

Don't be fooled by exaggerated shift speed claims. Suppliers claiming shift speeds of less than 40mS clearly have little, if any, understanding of engine and transmission dynamics.

Q. Why do Geartronics favour pneumatic actuation for the paddleshift system?

A. For several very good reasons, as detailed below:

1. High-temperature stability. The force produced by a pneumatic actuator is simply a function of the piston area and operating pressure, it is not affected by ambient temperature or ambient atmospheric pressure as is claimed by others.

2. High reliability. Pneumatic systems are commonly used in hostile high-duty industrial applications because of their acknowledged reliability in such environments. The Geartronics actuators and throttle blippers are constructed using high specification materials that can consistently operate at temperatures in excess of 230 degrees Celsius (450F).

3. Low transient power demand. The Geartronics air compressor takes only a relatively small current over an extended period of time. The compressed air reservoir stores the energy required for several gear shifts, and therefore there is no sudden demand on the battery or charging system when a shift is made.

4. Packaging & weight issues. For a given force output, pneumatic actuators are very small & light weight. While we accept that alternative actuation methods may offer an overall lighter package, the small additional weight of the pneumatic system can be placed anywhere in the vehicle, and you are not constrained to add the extra weight on or around the gearbox that could cause other aspects of the car to be comprimised.

5. Mechanical compliance. Air actuators provide a cushion of compressed air that offer high levels of mechanical compliance with the shift mechanism. Think of a pneumatic actuator like the airbag on your cars steering wheel - would you rather be hit by an airbag or a hammer?

6. Shift force adjustment. The maximum force output from an air actuator is very easily adjusted. If you need more force, you simply increase the air pressure, rather than having to fit a bigger and heavier actuator.

Q. Why should I choose a Geartronics paddleshift system over other kits on the market?
A. Our system has been developed over many years of top level motorsport. It was selected as the control system used in the Euroseries3000 championship from 2008 - with 100% reliability. Our system has also been selected for the 2014 Ginetta Supercup and is homologated for use in GT3 and GT4. We also have proven reliability in 24-hour endurance racing, and our system was used on the winning car of the 2012 Britcar 24hr race and more recently by the GT4 class winner of the 2014 24 hours of Dubai. At Geartronics we strive to offer the high levels of quality, functionality, reliability & service that you rightly deserve. We believe our control strategy is one of the most sophisticated on the market, and employs advanced features that are not found on other systems. Additionally, we design & manufacture all our own parts, including the GCU. So if you need support, we can give you the answer you need immediately, rather than having to wait for a 3rd party electronics supplier. We also write all our own software, and can respond to feature requests usually within days rather than months.

Q. Can I get technical support outside normal working hours, and do Geartronics offer a track support service?
A. Absolutely. We recognise that motorsport activities rarely take place during working hours, so we're happy to offer support whenever you need it - within reason. If you can't reach us by telephone then send an email, and if your need is urgent we'll do everything reasonably possible to help. Too often we hear stories of competitors stranded at the track because their supplier's office has closed, or the engineer has turned off their mobile phone. We make every effort to avoid such situations, but we do ask that out of hours calls should only be made in cases of trackside emergencies.

Q. Why do Geartronics make such an effort to publish detailed technical information?
A. We see part of our mission to educate our customers, not bullshit them with exaggerated claims and mis-information in the hope that we can separate you from your money! Many of our rival's marketing contains little or no technical information about how their product works, or indeed any evidence to substantiate their performance claims. By providing detailed technical information we hope that you can appreciate that we fully understand what we are doing.

Q. Does the paddleshift system come complete with paddles and throttle blipper?
A. Yes, paddles and blipper are INCLUSIVE in the price. We don't charge extra for essential items. All systems are supplied complete with paddles of your choice and a throttle blipper (unless using electronic DBW throttles).

Q. Does the air compressor sap engine power?
A. Absolutely not! This is a patently ridiculous untruth, perpetrated by some of our rivals. Examine the facts: Our compressor draws approximately 13 Amps (at a typical duty cycle of just 20-25%) from the electrical system, this is less than 180 Watts - about the same as a pair of headlights. In other words, less than one quarter of one horsepower. To claim that this is power sapping is either a deliberate attempt to mislead, a complete lack of understanding, or most likely both.

Q. Surely it can't be that difficult to design a system to push and pull a gear lever?
A. If only it were that simple! Semi-auto gear shift is far more complicated than simply operating the lever back & forth. To make an upshift we must reduce the engine torque at precisely the right moment and for exactly the correct duration for every shift. We then need strategies to deal with torque reversals that can start to make a shift go bad, and strategies to ensure the cleanest engagement of the dogs. Downshift strategies are far more complex than upshifts. It's not, as some of our competitors seem to think, just a matter of pushing the lever and blipping the throttle for a few milliseconds. For smooth, reliable downshifts it's necessary to very carefully control the engine speed during the shift. This can only be achieved by constant monitoring of the GCU inputs then controlling the engine speed by the application of throttle blipping and carefully applied torque reductions. Our software runs to almost fifteen thousand lines of code and has taken many years to develop - a clear demonstration of just how complex it is!

Q. Is it possible to operate a closed-loop system by measuring the linear position of the shift lever?
A. Although the position of the lever gives some indication, it does not always accurately represent the position of the selector forks and dog rings because there is no uninterrupted direct link between the lever and the shift barrel. We believe the best way to measure the selector barrel position accurately is to use a directly driven rotary position sensor which always gives an absolute position reading.

Q. Can the Geartronics paddleshift system be fitted to any sequential gearbox?
A. Our paddleshift system will work with most, but not all, sequential gearboxes that have provision for a barrel position sensor. Our experience allows us to evaluate any potential gearbox installation and decide if paddleshift is suitable for your application. In some instances, your make and model of gearbox may simply be incapable of operating reliably with a semi-auto shift system. In such cases, we will be honest with you, and not simply take your money to get a sale!

Q. Can the Geartronics paddleshift system be fitted to motorcycle gearboxes?
A. Some, but not all. We have developed systems to work with the Suzuki GSXR1000 and Hayabusa gearboxes, but only after making the appropriate modification to fit a barrel position sensor. Unless we can use our closed-loop technology (using only rotary barrel position feedback), then we are not prepared to take the risk of damaging your gearbox.

Q. Why does the Geartronics paddleshift system require a gear position sensor?
A. There are basically two approaches to paddleshift operation: closed-loop & open-loop. Open loop is a method that does not use feedback sensors to monitor the shift. Open-loop simply relies on fixed duration timers for the various shift events. Closed-loop operation (using barrel position feedback) monitors every gear shift in real-time, and dynamically adjusts the shift operation to suit the prevailing conditions. Decide for yourself which system is best. See our full explanation of closed-loop operation for more information.

Q. Is the Geartronics paddleshift system supplied as a universal kit?
A. Whilst the basic kit remains broadly similar for all applications, every installation is unique. Geartronics will evaluate all installations and decide on the best course of action to achieve a satisfactory result. If we deem your gearbox or other aspects of your car to be unsuitable for semi-auto shifting then we will be honest with you. We would prefer not to sell you a system rather than have to explain later why it didn't work as expected!

Q. Does the paddleshift system reliably select neutral?
A. Yes. Regardless of gear ordering on the barrel, we have a strategy to find neutral. Our system uses sophisticated PWM techniques to select neutral, rather than relying on fixed duration timers that do not give 100% reliability. Half shifts to neutral are found in Sadev, some Hewland and Ricardo gearboxes and all motorcycle gearboxes.

Q. Can the Geartronics paddleshift system damage my gearbox?
A. When correctly installed & set up, a closed-loop semi-auto shift system (using the correct strategies) will actually reduce gearbox wear. The Geartronics GCU's feature highly sophisticated control strategies that considerably reduce the chances of gearbox damage. By taking away the possibility of human error, every gearshift is executed with precision and the chances of 'missing a gear' are virtually eliminated. During the 7 years that we have been supplying our paddleshift system, we have never been made aware of any instances of gearbox damage that could be attributable to the shift system. How many suppliers can say that, and be telling the truth?

Q. How much does the Geartronics paddleshift system cost?
A. Because every system tends to be unique, it's generally not possible to quote an exact price. However, as a very rough guide; a basic system will cost approximately £3000, this will allow 'flat' up-shifting and (in most cases) clutchless down-shifts. A full specification system including a Raychem/Deutsch motorsport wiring harness & Goodridge hoses will cost £4200 upwards. We can also offer our latest CANbus based 'professional' system. Please contact us for pricing information.

If you have any further questions about our products, please feel free to Contact us via email or phone.

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