BMW controls

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by nitsuj, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. nitsuj

    nitsuj Been here awhile

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    I'm curious about something. Why are BMW hand controls so much different that the other makes? As everyone knows, on most modern Japanese bikes, you operate both signals from one switch on the left bar. On Harleys, the left signal is on the left bar, push once to signal, push again to cancel, ditto for the right bar. Beemer uses one button on each bar, then an entirely different button you push UP to cancel either signal. I'm not bashing, or complaining, so no need to get defensive of your chosen brand. I find no fault with any of the above layouts, you can get used to and easily use any of them. But I'm a curious sort of guy that likes to question things. Does anyone know if theres a reason BMW uses the odd layout and why they've stuck with it in the face of what seems like a pretty universal system?

    I've searched, but using the terms "turn signals", "controls", "BMW" or any variation leads to more responses than I can wade through.
    #1
  2. wonderings

    wonderings Long timer

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    I really prefer the BMW layout, and the Harley one as well, they are more intuitive and feel much more natural then that little button you flip to side to side. I think its BMW and Harley just doing there own thing on what they think is best and not just following the crowd. In my opinion it is the best layout, but obviously that subjective to me.
    #2
  3. enkil

    enkil Been here awhile

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    Yup i find it easier too.. Unique i guess :evil
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  4. Dan-M

    Dan-M Long timer

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    +1
    It is whatever you are used to for most. I like the BMW signal arrangement but I'm not too fond of the horn button placement.
    I believe the new BMW models (k-bikes) have more conventional switch gear.
    #4
  5. CBACH

    CBACH Aimless Wanderer

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    I find the left/right cancel switches very intuitive, although I believe they've given into peer pressure and have the single switch on the left on the new K1600 :wink: As long as they're still self-cancelling I don't really care and easily adapt to whatever I'm on.
    #5
  6. stan23

    stan23 Been here awhile

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    I think it's just BMW doing things their way and not giving a crap about what other's are doing.

    Same with their cars. For the longest time, they had all the dashes designed to point towards the driver - because they feel that the driver should have sole control of the car. Now the latest cars have a more traditional dash config where it's not pointed at the driver.
    #6
  7. Mr Head

    Mr Head PowerPoint ADV

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    Because the Germans are right and everybody else is wrong.:lol3

    I have not liked the BMW controls since 1974. But, then I'm old fashioned.

    #7
  8. Garp

    Garp Long timer

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    +1

    A typically over engineered solution to a non-existant problem. Three switches in place of one. Brilliant.
    #8
  9. EggChaser

    EggChaser Been here awhile

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    To me the single switch on left bar is a pain to set the turn left signal on - as you have to reach past the switch and pull it across. The Harley/BMW design is easier as you just need to push on one switch that is logically on the side you want on. I do however suspect that the Harley design is more intuitive with the cancel on the same switch even though I have never ridden a Harley.

    BTW I also like the Hazard flasher operation on the BMW, press both sides at same time - simple and no need to move hands away from the bars to operate.

    Of course I don't ride a BMW any longer so have to get used to the single switch again :huh
    #9
  10. Rinty

    Rinty Been here awhile

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    I like the large size of the BMW switches, and that you can stab them with your thumbs. They're convenient for passing: stab left, pass, stab right, pull in, and stab to cancel. If you want a bigger cancel button, Wunderlich has them.

    But, like many things, switchgear comes down to personal preference.
    #10
  11. stan23

    stan23 Been here awhile

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    To me, the 3 switch turn signal deal is strange. I don't like using my right hand for anything but the throttle.

    While we're here, let's talk about the even stranger kill switch.:lol2
    #11
  12. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    The GS (boxer and parallel twin) is the only bike in the current bmw line up that still uses the 3 button configuration.. all other bikes now use the "traditional" Japanese style single turn signal control, but it's electronic, not mechanical, so if you turn the bike off while the turn signal is flashing, when you turn the bike back on, it resets to off.

    I like the Harley turn signal buttons the best.. press right to go right and left to go left and again to cancel. Press both at the same time for 4 way flasher.

    Ya, we've gone 12 rounds on this topic before, and some inmates wanted to know if they can rewire their bikes to eliminate the cancel button.

    if it's any consolation, the bmw turn signals are self cancelling after 200 meters, regardless of speed or time.
    #12
  13. aGremlin

    aGremlin Been here awhile

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    To be fair... 3 switches in the place of 2. The indicators also handle hazards.

    Found it a real pain in the arse when getting used to it, especially since I also have a jap bike and switch between them. It's a bit easier now, but if I spend too much time on one, I struggle again. The BMW layout does sorta make sense when riding and it's easier to stab at with your finger...

    End of the day, I guess you get used to anything...
    #13
  14. Snarky

    Snarky Vodka Infused.

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    At first I disliked the BMW turn signals, but after a while I've gotten used to them, and they are fine.

    I'll tell you what though, the first time I went from the Japanese style to the BMW style I was like: Okay, I can get used to this. Then I the first time I drove a japanese bike after riding the beemer for a few months I was like "wtf, I've totally forgot how this works. So the BMW method is pretty intuitive aside from the cancel switch, but it's auto-cancel anyways so fuggit.


    The one thing that kind of pisses me off is the location of the horn button. I don't even bother fumble to use it now unless I'm signaling someone, I just try to out drive the danger. I guess BMW made me a friendlier driver, lol.
    #14
  15. Rinty

    Rinty Been here awhile

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    I used to worry about wearing out those slider style switches, and the BMW stab switching system seems to feel more durable. :lol3
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  16. vagueout

    vagueout Long timer

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    Three switches in place of one, sheer genius as far as replacement parts revenue is considered.:eek1
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  17. tom28734

    tom28734 Adventurer

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    I've operated bike for over 50 years. The OP would really be put out with an older "shift on the right" layout, or "one up and four down" gearing. Each bike has different controls in one way or another. If you cannot keep up with it, drive a car - the government demands uniformity there!
    #17
  18. nitsuj

    nitsuj Been here awhile

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    The OP isn't put out by anything. ;-) Like I said, I'm not complaining about the set-up, or saying the other ways are better. I just got to thinking about it, and I figured I'd ask. I was sort of hoping the answer was going to be an interesting tale of motorcycle lore. :D
    #18
  19. Z50Pilot

    Z50Pilot Sparky

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    +1

    I have adjusted to the turn signal switches, but the horn location sucks. I also ride a Honda and it is not a problem changing bikes, except for the horn. It's not often that I need to use the horn, but when I do I need it to "beep", not signal a left turn (although my wife thinks it's funny when that happens).
    #19
  20. Snarky

    Snarky Vodka Infused.

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    Are there still cars that shift on the steering wheel? I know my first three cars shifted from the wheel. When I got to my toyota it shifted from the center console. I feel that the center console auto tranny shift felt better. Now it seems that Fords tend to shift from the center unlike my first Ford. Though I bet pickups still shift at the wheel.
    #20