TFT displays are the next motorcycle tech trend


The design of gauge clusters is a dying art. Speedometers and tachometers were placed on the front of motorcycles like mechanical one-handed watches, projecting only the information most relevant to the rider: vehicle speed, engine speed, and odometer. Then, like most analog things, digital became the preference and, for the most part, is still the preferred way to show riders even more information like time, temperature, riding modes, control traction and any other minuscule data that the manufacturer deems necessary.

No one is saying that having access to all this data is unnecessary or intrusive, quite the contrary. The more you know about what’s going on with your bike the better, but, on a modern bike, all of that information is more than an analog gauge can handle. Digital displays are therefore a necessary evil, but their main drawback is that they lack style, character and they all seem to look the same. However, it seems that the motorcycle industry is at a crossroads and the opportunity for a unique yet modern design has returned.

Thin film transistor liquid crystal displays or color TFT displays are gaining popularity in the motorcycle industry. TFT is just a more refined version of the famous Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), the potential of which is already visible in the Lexus LFA and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. And now, motorcycle manufacturers like Ducati are bringing this technology to the world of two-wheelers to further exploit the benefits of a TFT display.

Ducati Monster Line Product Manager Stephano Trabusi explained: “TFT is more visible during the day, even in direct sunlight, the resolution is much higher than the normal LCD screen, which allows you to have a lot more information on one screen. Since the cockpit of a motorcycle does not benefit from the shade of a roof, more common digital and LCD screens suffer from severe glare. The Bosch system that Ducati uses takes it a step further with a night mode which can tell if it is dark, if you are in a tunnel or a dimly lit environment and toggles the screen background to black and the font. in white, so it is easier to read.


Night vision is only the tip of the TFT iceberg, however. The complex levels of traction control and drive modes that accompany the Bosch system mean that the display must be able to navigate through numerous menus and pages and display traction control, engine modes and ABS settings once programmed. “Since bicycles are so much more complex these days, they have more and more functions and more electronics; we need this higher resolution to display all of this information. And not only that, but Trabusi justifies Ducati’s use of the screen in the most modern way possible, “you always see the screen when you ride, and it has to have a premium feel for a premium ride. Today we are so used to our smartphones with color screens – it has become so familiar. And having that level of resolution and color on our bikes just made good sense. “

This is where the problem with the Bosch system lies. Because it’s from a third-party electronics and software company, and because it’s so close to a full plug-and-play package, a handful of other manufacturers – BMW, KTM, Aprilia – use similar or even identical systems. So we end up with cookie-cutter screens no better than the uninspired digital systems they replaced. But flipping through, pages, levels, switching between drive modes, and taking calls via Bluetooth is undoubtedly intuitive, but there’s an overwhelming feeling that no one is tapping the screen for all they can. to do. It’s the same as getting an iPhone X and only using it for low-light selfies and tri-color wallpaper.

There’s no reason Ducati couldn’t create its own version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – between the maps, the different gauge cluster layouts, and the creative displays, it wouldn’t be like anything else in two. wheels. The creative potential is there, but until someone unlocks it, we’re stuck in this drab purgatory of right angles and primary colors.

One of the bikes with this display


Ducati has brought its iconic entry-level roadster into the modern era, with an incredibly minimalist approach. Read the story

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About Todd Wurtsbach

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