Details: BMW standardizes indicator switches

Dailies -


BMW_Turn_Signals.jpgTo date, attempting to signal the direction of your intended turn whilst riding a BMW precipitated the following sequence of events: Horn honk; confusion induced wobble; signal in the wrong direction; confusion induced wobble; horn honk; turn while signaling in wrong direction; horn honk; signal in correct direction post turn; horn honk; continuing to signal; signal cancelled. But no longer, the company has finally brought its indicator switch mechanism in line with that of every other manufacturer.
>We actually kid. While certainly unique, we never had a problem with
BMW’s old system and fear that it’s fallen victim to the increasingly
endemic Companies Listening to Old Fart Journalists Syndrome. You see,
tasked with not only stuffing themselves with all the free food and
drink they can fit in their surprisingly large stomachs, motorcycle
journalists also find themselves needing to review multiple bikes after
spending only a few minutes in the saddle of each. Afraid of actually
criticizing the machines themselves for fear of loosing their access to
those free meals, the old fart journalists instead find silly little
niggles to complain about. The BMW indicator switches were one of those
niggles. Just like iDrive, if you employed a small fraction of your
brain’s capacity, you could figure them out in about 30 seconds. But
that 30 seconds of time was enough to spoil the day of many a crotchety
old man, so now BMW riders will have to switch on their indicators just
like everyone else.


  • ep

    You kid, but I test drove a K1200S earlier this year and my thumbs habitually found the wrong buttons for the entire ride. Surely I could get used to it after a certain amount of time, but it’s hard to undo years of programming in the first 30 minutes, especially for crotchety types like myself.

  • Wes

    But I bet the indicators weren’t as annoying as the jerky fuel injection.

  • Thomas Stromberg

    Fun Fact: BMW’s single cylinder bikes (F-series) have always had standard indicators. The first time I tried an R1200GS, it was confusing for 30-seconds, and actually pretty cool after that.

  • The Shrike

    I was confused with my 1200GS Adventure’s turn indicators for a short time. After I got the genius of the switch position logic I was sold. Where the signals on either side are intended to be pressed with your thumb by pushing in and the horn (left) and turn cancel (right) are positioned perfectly for being actuated by the thumb but by rocking it upward without moving it from the other button. As a software developer and User Interface guru, I must say that there are pros and cons to this design. The Con is that it is slightly different from the established method and requires a bit of thought or good old RTFM. The Pro is that it is a better interface.

  • Stacey

    I have a 2007 F650 GS and it does not have the standard indicators as Thomas Stromberg has mentioned. Switching them back to reflect other motorcycle’s instrumentation is wonderful to hear. It took me more than 30sec or 30min to get use it on my thumper.

    Furthermore, when I would borrow other people’s motorcycles to joy ride I would end up honking the horn and screwing up the turn signals after I got use to my BMW.

  • Sean Jordan

    “[. . .]fear of loosing their access to those free meals, the old fart journalists instead find silly little niggles to complain about. “

    One silly little niggle I never have to complain about with old fart journos is the difference between “loose” and “lose”.


  • Remy

    Slow news day, huh? :P

  • BillyName99

    Personally, I think Harley Davidson’s indicator system makes a lot more sense that any other manufacturer’s layout:

    Left signal= thumb button on the left bar.

    Right signal= thumb button on the right bar.

    Push the button once to activate it, once again to deactivate it.

    It is simple, durable, takes NO time to ‘learn’ and there is no way you’ll hit the wrong switch.

  • Richard Wilson

    I am pushing 60 and have owned a ton of bikes. My new R1200RT is superb, except for the idiotic signal switchgear!
    Three separate buttons when one would suffice. Hope I can retrofit the new improved layout… for a couple of thousand bucks no doubt.

  • Ken

    My old BMW has conventional switches and my newer one has the modern BMW type. Of the three BMW I have had with the modern BMW switches, they have all been self cancelling and it took me all of 30 seconds to learn how to use them. They make sense. I don’t want to meet anyone riding a motorcycle that is to dumb to use the turn signals on a motorcycle.

  • TBS Stunta

    The only thing I disliked about BMW’s system was the separate button to cancel the turnsignals. They should have done like HD and just used the same buttons to activate and cancel. Then you could press both to activate the hazzards.

  • dave

    Are you sure about your sources on that? I was under the impression that the ‘standard’ switches were only being used in the ‘lower-end’ bikes (Xchallenge, Xmoto, etc).

  • Wes

    That’s a picture of the left handlebar on a k1300s.

  • Sasha Pave

    Funny how this is news. But its kind of a shame. There are fewer and fewer things that distinguish bikes these days, and as insignificant as it is, I always liked the ‘k bike’ controls.

    Its just one of those little things that meant you were riding a BMW. A very German thing that logically makes perfect sense, but is a bit confusing at first.

  • awshutup

    shame. there is alot of sense in doing it this way. -asu

  • Moonbeam

    I put an extra horn button on my R100RT under the turn signal switch because the moment of confusion could make all the difference in a crunch.

  • cdscoot

    If you change bikes all of the time the old style turn signal could take a second to remember, but if you only rode BMW it would make sense. I personally liked the old system because it was intuitive. The waggley switches I have encountered on other bikes do not have a tactile feel, and sometimes dont engage or disengage. I have far more problems with them than the BMW switching.