‘Fixes’ We Need for the Next Generation of Motorcycles

What’s wrong with the current generation of motorcycles

Did you ever wonder why the horn on your motorcycle is so crappy?  Or why your mirrors are blurry at speed?  Or wish the headlight put out a brighter, wider swath of light while riding home on a moonless night?

Me too.  That got me to thinking about my dream list of fixes.  So if you’re a motorcycle manufacturer, read this and pass it on to your product planners and engineers.  These are things motorcyclists like me want and need.

In no particular order, we want these improvements and upgrades to the next batch of motorcycles you’ve got in the pipeline:

  1. An obnoxiously loud horn.  The horn on my new, 2014 BMW R1200RT is pathetic.  C’mon BMW, you know how to fit a good horn.  My 2004 R1150RT had an awesome horn, and so did my 2007 Honda GL1800A Gold Wing.  Their horns were loud and authoritative, and sounded like a 1960s Cadillac.  Brilliant.
  2. Clear mirrors.  The mirrors on my recently sold 2012 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX vibrate at highway speed, blurring so all you could see was ‘something’ behind you.  It can’t be rocket science to design mirror stalks with mounts that insulate the stalk from vibration.
  3. Brighter headlights.  Most motorcycles some factory-equipped with a disadvantage compared to cars; most bikes have only one headlight.  Of course, open class touring and sport-touring rigs like the Gold Wing, ST1300A and BMW K1600s are the exception.  But every bike deserves more light power for safe, night riding.
  4. 5-digit Tripmeters.  Here’s a pet peeve.  The tripmeters of long distance stalwarts like the Honda ST1300A and GL1800A Gold Wing have 4-digit tripmeters.  They read up to 999.9 km and re-set to 000.0.  Really?  With most tourers and sport-tourers now equipped with two tripmeters, I use one to track the range of my bike since the last refueling, and use the second one to record total travel distance since leaving home.  Happily, my new 2014 BMW R1200RT does have two tripmeters that will read up to 9,999.9 km.  Kudos to BMW.  As far as I know, BMW is the only motorcycle manufacturer that has 5-digit tripmeters.
  5. Three Tripmeters.  I want three tripmeters:  1) showing distance traveled since last refueling; 2) showing cumulative distance traveled on this trip; 3) showing distance traveled since start of day.  (The latter should automatically reset to “0000.0” after sitting overnight, just like new new RT allows.)
  6. Ambient Temperature + Time always on display.  Most adventure-tourers, sport-tourers and full-on touring bikes have temperature and time of day displays.  The R1200RT has ambient temperature as a selectable display.  Long distance motorcycles should have ambient temperature and time of day always on display.
  7. More Accurate Fuel Gauges with more Information.  Again, this shouldn’t be rocket science.  As a touring rider, increase the accuracy of fuel gauges and add a ‘KM or Miles Range Remaining  display (like the 2015 Porsche Macan has), and add “Litres or Gallons Remaining” display.
  8. “Day Counter”  When I go on tour, I like to keep track of how many days I’ve been on the road.  On touring motorcycles, wouldn’t it make sense to have a Day counter?  This would simply show on the dash if you were on, say, “Day 7” of a nine-day tour.
  9. Dual Time Display.  How often do you ride into a different time zone?  I travel from my home (Mountain Time) to Pacific Time a few times every year.  Give me a display that shows me the “Home” and second time zones.
  10. Cruise Control Speed Display and Fine Adjustment.  Cruise control is a wonderful convenience.  Both the R1200RT and GL1800A Gold Wing have them, but they do not display the actual speed for which the CC is set.  On these bikes, there is only a display that shows the CC is “Set” without displaying the actual speed.  Most cars (including BMW) display the speed for which the CC is set; I want that on the RT.  Also, the RT’s CC settings are too ‘coarse’, adjustable only in 2 km/h increments.  This is a disadvantage when traveling in the middle of a group as the RT is constantly gaining or falling behind the rider ahead.  Give me 1 km/h incremental adjustments.
  11. Self-cancelling Turn Signals.  Most bikes do not have self-cancelling turn signals.  Howcum?  My first street bike, a 1982 Yamaha Seca 650 had self-cancelling turn signals, why don’t most new bikes?
  12. Adjustable Handlebars and Footpegs.  Read any owner’s group online forum and they’re packed with riders adding handlebar risers and footpeg relocation kits.  Certainly, some manufacturers – and BMW is one of them – have offered models with adjustable handlebars (the K1300GT for instance), but bikes with adjustable ergonomics are few and far between.  If the cost is too great to make these points of physical contact adjustable, why not make different handlebar and footpeg heights available as factory options, as I believe Harley-Davidson does?

What other features should motorcycle manufacturers be fitting their new motorcycles?  Add your comment.

1 Comment

  1. Phil Hodge says:

    My 06 LT has self cancelling signals and distance left to empty. It would be nice to have fuel remaining.
    Cruise is like you say, slowing is not bad pulling back on the set button.

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