Motorcycle instruments are doomed

MV Agusta One motorcycle instruments

The end is in sight for motorcycle instruments with a new wave of technology taking over.

Motorcycle instruments have been evolving in recent years with more and more information that riders can tailor to their needs, showing everything from the basics to intricate details of their bike’s data, as well as entertainment and useful navigational information.

It’s overload and conventional instruments just don’t cope very well. In coming years they may be supplemented with other devices or maybe even deleted from your bike altogether.

This revolution is occurring on several fronts: tablets and phones, HUD helmets and bike apps.

MV Agusta One with iPad motorcycle instruments
MV Agusta One with iPad motorcycle instruments

Recently, Italian design company Officine GP Design customised an MV Agusta Brutale 800, replacing the instruments with an iPad.

Not only does the MV Agusta One provide all the functionality and information that iPad provides from the internet, but it also links seamlessly with the bike’s systems as well as your phone.

Speaking of which, they have made the mirrors look like iPhones for aesthetic continuity, but who’s to say phones couldn’t replace mirrors when linked to reverse-facing cameras?

It’s not the first time phones or tablets have been used on custom bikes and it won’t be the last. Just imagine a future where you simply plug your phone or tablet into a receptacle on your bike and it becomes the instruments, as well as your link to entertainment and the outside world.

But what about distractions, you say? Surely an iPad on your bike would be a huge temptation for distraction!

Skully AR-1 HUD helmets
Skully AR-1 HUD helmet

That’s where head-up display helmets such as Skully and aftermarket HUD accessories come into the picture. These systems will integrate with your instruments, projecting the information on to a screen in your periphery vision or on to the road in front of you.

That means you never have to take your eye off the road to look at your instruments again. So who actually needs instruments?

Aprilia has just developed an app that takes all the information from your bike and transmits it to your phone and to your Skully HUD helmet. It still retains instruments, but for how much longer will we actually need them?

Aprilia joins forces with Skully
Aprilia joins forces with Skully

There are, of course, arguments about the safety of such devices. Some would argue they are safer and others would say they are dangerous.

But what about the aesthetics? Who loves a nice instrument display that perfectly complements the bike?

Currently I am restoring a 1980 Honda CX500 and contemplating replacing the instruments, not with something more complex, but actually a lot simpler; just a single speedometer pod!

Which do you prefer?

Honda CX500 motorcycle instruments
Honda CX500

7 Comments

  1. Looking for info on the Brutale 800 i just ordered a Dragster 800 and wanted to know if this was doable or just a one off custom job. I hit up their website which was devoid of any info on it.

      1. Hi Mark,
        Ive already got the dragster on order just waiting for my delivery date. It was specifically the iPad mod i was interested in. Thanks for the other info though.

        Graham

  2. 1. I have a smart watch which allows the GPS functions, speed etc to be shown on watch. Very unreliable and slow to adjust. Often requires rebooting of phone. Wouldn’t want that to happen while riding.
    2. Lets say you own the bike for 10 years. The bike would have been developed with an existing phone operating system; who know what will be available and whether they will even work in 10 years time. Different sized devices, different hard connections, Bluetooth replaced by something better? Some manufacturers will be out of business (e.g. Nokia, Ericsson).

    I think they will be great as a supplementary device, but I know when I ride I do it for relaxation and fun and its great to be away from electronics for a few hours. I think it is more likely that manufacturers will develop their own systems which they can update via wifi (e.g. Tesla).

  3. It won’t work for me on several fronts !

    1.) iphone and ipads are not designed for motorbikes. Sun glare makes them virtually unreadable but they are also not spill proof to petrol oil or even rain.
    2.) They can’t take the heat of an all day baking in the Australian sun. My wifes HTC One 8 died while she had it on her bike for only a few hours. The screen distorted and started to flicker and had to be replaced.
    3.) iphone are too small to display everything I want and ipads while being big enough to read on the bike would be too big off the bike when you have to carry it around. They would also have to make lockable mounts so you don’t have to take it off every time you park your bike (are you reading this Garmin ??)

    I do like the idea of projecting the info either in the helmet or making info available over audio (helmet speakers) for old folk with deteriorating eye site (guilty as charged)

    Personally I am old school so this stuff will not be for me…

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