Archivi categoria: Safe Riding EN

Our tips for maximum safety on the road.

Considerations on TFT Displays and Infotainment

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In writing the review of my 2007 BMW K1200GT, equipped with its good old dials, it came naturally to me to reflect on infotainment available in modern vehicles and, given that the topic is of general interest and not just about who is interested in this specific bike, I decided to write a separate article.

Dashboard of the 2007 K1200GT

Digital had entered the instrumentation a few years before, but these were monochrome LCDs, which usually accompanied only the traditional tachometer; above all, there was no possibility of connection with a smartphone, typical of current production. Sure, compared to today’s TFT displays, 2000s instruments look like leftovers from the Great War. But I wonder: With these fantastic screens showing everything in Technicolor, is life on board really better? Fluff aside, and for various reasons, my opinion is no; and the same applies to both motorcycles and cars.

First of all, graphics aside, the amount of information useful for driving that is available on a modern instrument panel is exactly the same that I have on my K and on any other good instrument panel of the time. What really changed was the addition of accessory information, i.e., infotainment and GPS navigation; but their introduction is precisely the main cause of the problems that arise in the use of modern displays. In fact, the need to manage an enormous amount of information has forced manufacturers to implement complicated menus and, although they have made an effort to simplify their use, introducing wheels, joysticks, and the like , navigation remains a fact that requires a lot of time and attention, distracting from riding, not counting the time lost studying, at least in outline, the dozens of pages that every manual now dedicates to the matter: 46 on the BMW R1200GS, and over 60 on the Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello!

Furthermore, infotainment and GPS navigation rely on the smartphone and therefore require its pairing with the bike’s Bluetooth system, as well as the hands-free system installed in the driver’s helmet. Now, I chew a bit of technology, but until today I have not found a single motorcycle or car where the connection between smartphone and on-board instrumentation has not given me problems, not only during the first installation, but also in normal use. First of all, you need to study the manual and waste time understanding how to do it. Then you have to make the connection, raise your hand who succeeded the first time. Then there are the failed reconnections on restart, resulting in cumbersome decoupling and repeating the procedure, a problem that shouldn’t even exist, but is a frequent experience. Furthermore, operating the smartphone functions via the bike commands is much more cumbersome than directly using the smartphone itself.

As if all this were not enough, the GPS route is often displayed on the TFT display only in the form of pictograms and written directions; but even in cases where a real map is reproduced, it is not the same as seen in Google Maps or in Waze and usually lacks some important information, especially that related to speed camera locations.

Navi screen on a BMW R1250GS

But then, isn’t it better to leave the instrumentation with its traditional tasks, and use the smartphone directly for everything else? That’s exactly what I do on my K and it works well, much better than on a modern bike. I installed it on the handlebar in a perfect position by using the original BMW GPS base to mount a Quad Lock support with a bayonet coupling that hooks onto a very sturdy, dedicated cover that cannot be accidentally released in any way. I also mounted a watertight USB socket for recharging which can be done also with a wireless system with most modern smartphones.

Quad Lock holder
The smartphone mounted on the holder

Mounting in open air ensures that the phone does not overheat — at least my Huawei P30 doesn’t. A transparent rubber cover protects the phone in case of pouring rain although, to tell the truth, I have never had to use it because it is almost impossible for mounted phones to get wet on big tourers. Most of today’s motorcycling gloves allow the use of the display without major problems. Texting is not possible, but usually the destination is set before departure and, in any case, Waze and Google Maps accept voice commands and have large buttons that can be operated with gloves; the same goes for the main commands of the best music players.

Recently, BMW has started to offer an aftermarket smartphone holder that allows use via the Multicontroller wheel. Could this be the beginning of a rethink? I hope so.

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The Rules of Trajectories

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Note: the article is written for countries with a right-hand side road system. If you live in a country with a left-hand side road system, please swap left and right accordingly.

Utility of trajectories

Proper motorcycle trajectories are the most important concept for safe driving and what most differentiates those who really know how to ride a motorcycle from those who think they know. In fact, good trajectory technique allows you to enormously increase your safety margins and effectiveness, thanks to the following advantages.

  1. Keeps you away from dangers: oncoming traffic; traffic coming from side streets; vehicles that want to pass; dirt on the outer edge of curves; people, objects, and animals on the road.
  2. When cornering, it allows you to lean less at the same speed ― or to go faster at the same lean angle ― compared to those who follow non-optimal trajectories.
  3. Eliminates the need for useless corrective maneuvers, i.e., those due to setting errors.
  4. It allows you to manage unexpected events on the road with maximum efficiency and safety, such as curves with a decreasing radius and unexpected curves in general, and therefore allows safer, faster, and more relaxed driving on unfamiliar roads.

In fact, there is no universal trajectory that is valid in all circumstances because, even with the same route, a trajectory can vary according to the type of road, the traffic, and the speed at which one is travelling. In my previous books and webinars, I have described a long series of cases rather than defining the general rules. Obviously, I could not be satisfied with this state of affairs: It had to be possible to arrive at general principles. Thinking about it again, I believe I’ve finally managed to distill the definitive rules for building any trajectory, and these are the subject of this article.

General rules for the position to hold on the road

Before talking about cornering trajectories, it is advisable to clarify some fundamental rules that must always be respected when traveling on the road.

A) Travel in the center of your lane

Except for the special cases described below, the general rule is to travel in the center of the correct lane, which is usually on the right, but please conform to your local regulations. This keeps us away from dangers on both sides, prevents faster riders from trying to overtake us in our same lane, and doesn’t force them to pass in an eventual right lane, which is illegal in some countries.

B) Allow enough room when you pass

Keep a safe side distance ― even changing lanes, whenever possible ― from other moving vehicles, especially wobbling bikes, and from people or animals, which could suddenly move sideways.

This is also true for oncoming vehicles that veer over into our lane, or even threaten to do so, if they are likely to overtake a pedestrian, a slow-moving vehicle, or any obstacle in their lane.

C) Travel far from parked vehicles

Keep a safe distance from parked vehicles to avoid a suddenly opened door, and from side roads and driveways to avoid the nose of a vehicle suddenly jutting a bit into the lane so the driver can see who might be coming ― which could be us!

D) Do not pass in messy situations

Even if you do not cross the center solid line, do not pass if you are before or in any intersection either with or without a traffic light, a busy driveway, or a pedestrian crossing because the vehicle being passed could turn, or another vehicle or a pedestrian could pop out from any side.

This rule also applies before or at service stations on two-way roads, which are, for all intents and purposes, considered to be intersections.

E) Use the oncoming lane only when it is safe

Passing that requires use of the oncoming lane should be done only when there is sufficient visibility and space and must be completed in the shortest time and space possible, for obvious reasons,.

F) Never lean into the oncoming lane

In left turns on two-way roads, keep the wheels at a distance from the center line such as to avoid even partially leaning into the oncoming lane, even if you have a clear view and nobody seems to be coming. In this way, you build a good habit and never need a sudden swerve when a vehicle actually comes.

G) Keep to your side on narrow two-way roads

If the road is two-way and is so narrow that it does not allow vehicles to cross easily, travel as close as possible to the right-hand edge, strictly avoiding dirt on the edge in left-hand curves.

Rules for cornering on the road

Without prejudice to all the general rules listed above, the rules for building safe and effective trajectories when cornering are as follows.

1) Choose the latest possible apex

At the beginning of each bend, set a trajectory such as to approach progressively and as closely as possible the inner edge (in left-hand bends, general rule F is obviously taken into account) which should be reached as close as possible to the end of the bend or, if it is reached before, must be maintained until the end of it.

This is THE RULE. It is essential because it allows you:

  • to be in the best position if entering into a subsequent curve in the opposite direction;
  • to be in the best position if the curve unexpectedly becomes tighter;
  • in right-hand bends, to maximize your distance from any oncoming vehicles that cross the center line.

It is a very serious mistake if your wheels do not approach the margin or, worse, move away from it while cornering because all the advantages listed above are lost, thus the risk of falls and collisions is enormously increased.

2) Start the curve near the outside edge only when useful

If the pace is such that you have to slow down to go through the curve and/or the curve is blind, you can use the width of your lane to widen out and start the curve near the outside edge.

In addition to the previous rules, this one brings the following particular advantages:

  • It increases the radius of the trajectory traveled and therefore reduces the lean angle at the same speed, or allows a higher speed at the same lean angle;
  • It allows you to see farther in blind turns.

However, if there are no needs due to speed or visibility, this trajectory doesn’t make much sense because it only causes you to waste time and space without any advantage in return.

3) Allow yourself to widen the end of the curve only when useful

Only if the bend is followed by a straightaway or a subsequent right-hand bend at a short distance can the lane width be used to accelerate and widen before the end of the bend.

If circumstances permit, this rule allows a further increase in the radius of the trajectory traveled and therefore a higher speed out of corners. But be careful: Widening out must always be our choice and not something you are forced to do because you have set a wrong trajectory. If you go wide unintentionally, you have violated rule 1., therefore you lose all the advantages listed above and expose yourself to serious safety risks.

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