If you have read the HowStuffWorks article How Manual Transmissions Work, then you understand the inner workings of a typical manual transmission, and you know why manual transmissions use the standard "H" pattern in the shifter.
If you have ever ridden a motorcycle, you know that the manual transmission in a motorcycle is nothing like this. On a motorcycle, you shift gears by clicking a lever up or down with your toe. It is a much faster way to shift. This type of transmission is called a sequential gearbox or a sequential manual transmission.
Photo courtesy Derek Smith, Gruppe/5 Automotive
5-speed synchro box, ZF transaxle model 5DS-25-2
This gearbox has a custom-made sequential shifting mechanism that is pneumatically operated and computer controlled.
It turns out that most race cars use sequential gearboxes as well. A sequential gearbox gives the driver several important advantages that are very useful in a race car. We will discuss these advantages later in this article.
In this article, you will learn how a sequential manual transmission works and why this type of transmission is now appearing on so many high-performance vehicles.