BMW's new TFT dash explained

Published: 10 July 2017

When MCN posted a picture of the R1200GS’s new TFT dash on social media, the response was huge. So huge in fact that we have decided to dedicate a whole story to it! So here we go…

First of all the basics

The TFT dash is an optional extra, not standard fitment, is 6.5-inches and replaces the traditional analogue clocks completely on the R1200GS and R1200GS Adventure. Its default home screen shows the usual information such as revs, speed, fuel etc. It has a low reflection surface to help prevent it becoming hard to read in the sun, self dims and can be linked to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

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There is only one ‘home’ page display (unlike some sportsbikes) but the info in white at the top can be toggled between the usual trips, range etc. The speed limit indicator is not controlled via a camera as on some cars, it uses GPS to detect where the bike is and what the speed limit is on that road. However the interesting stuff happens when you turn the traditional BMW multi-controller wheel and the up and down handlebar-mounted toggle buttons.

Sub menus

Rather than simply change a small section of the home screen, BMW have decided to dedicate the whole of the screen to the requested function. So if you have selected to see the bike’s tyre pressures, the whole screen is taken up with this information. If you want to see what music is playing, the whole screen shows your music choice – the bike’s speed is always displayed at the top.

BMW have decided to approach connectivity this way as they feel that by making the display focus solely on the requested task it is faster and easier for the rider to read it and make their choice. Cleverly, BMW has also included the ability to swap between the multi-controller operating the GPS and the new dash, so you can still control the standalone GPS as before. However when you access the dash you are taken to a sub menus that has five options – telephone, media, settings, navigation and my vehicle. These don’t continually scroll so when you go to the far left it stays at my vehicle.

Why? BMW want to make the system easy to use so you know a certain number of clicks of the toggle gets you to a set function and when you are familiar with the system you can do it without taking your eyes off the road. You can hold the up button on the bars at any point to return to the home page and neatly the down button then has a ‘memory’ and so when you push it you return to the submenu you were last in with just the one touch of the button. So what do the functions give you?

Functions

With your smartphone linked to the dash via Bluetooth you have the ability to also link to BMW’s helmet-mounted Motorrad Communication system (BMW wouldn’t say if other systems can also be linked with). With this link the music menu is fairly self-explanatory, however a nice touch is that the album’s cover will appear on the TFT dash when you are on the music sub menu. 

If you receive a call, you can choose to answer it while on the go and the caller’s details and picture will be displayed. This is nothing new, but what BMW have added on their system and other manufacturers haven’t is the ability to also make outgoing calls, again using a dedicated screen and easy menu system to select whom to call.

There is no text or email function as BMW felt these were too distracting.The settings menu is the usual settings stuff but the my vehicle area is potentially very helpful. This section gives you access to the various data on the bike’s systems such as the tyre pressure monitors but cleverly it also has a fault recording section so that if a warning light comes on you can have a look and instantly read what the issue is and if you need to stop immediately.

And finally we have the new navigation area. BMW aren’t abandoning their traditional standalone GPS navigation system, however the new dash can be linked to a fairly rudimentary navigation system via a smartphone and BMW’s Motorrad Connected App. Linking up gives you free SatNav as well as the ability to record your route, store points of interest and access various ride statistics.

The navigation is limited to simple ‘turn left’, ‘turn right’ instructions that are displayed on the TFT dash, and no map, but it is certainly enough to get you to your chosen location on short trips. Well, until your phone runs out of battery as, sadly, BMW haven’t included a USB port on the bike as standard…

Now watch it in action

Is that clear? There is probably even more to the sub menus that owners will discover, but for now we will leave you with a short video of the dash in action. Enjoy…