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In addition to an analog tachometer and speedometer, the 2011 BMW K1600GT and K1600GTL will feature a 5.7-inch color Thin Film Transistor
LCD screen to display secondary information. Functions on this screen
will be controlled by an iDrive-like multi-controller that rotates,
clicks and toggles. Wait, isn't iDrive the most notoriously asinine user
interface ever conceived? Uh oh. >

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First debuted on the 2001 BMW 7-series, iDrive was originally designed to allow drivers to control the huge number of secondary functions that had crept into luxury cars without changing their plane of visual focus from the road to tiny buttons on the dash. It was supposed to be intuitive, but was anything but, attracting the ire of elderly curmudgeon car journalists and spoiled New Jersey housewives (BMW's target demographic) alike.

The problem wasn't necessarily with the controller (although BMW did eventually cut out some of its more esoteric movements) but with the menu system, which required users to go several levels deep within often obscurely-named submenus to access simple vehicle functions, like turning off BMW's retarded triple-flash indicators or entering a new destination in the address system.

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Nine years later, the system just about works, but only after several revisions and after repositioning a lot of the functions back to simple dash-mounted buttons. Technology for technology's sake? You bet, and now it's coming to motorcycles.

While it's not being referred to as iDrive, the K1600's "multi-controller" sounds eerily similar. A knob positioned on the left handlebar can rotate, slide into 3 or 9 o'clock and click like a mouse button.

A similar knob is used in the 2010 BMW R1200RT, but there it only controls the audio functions.

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BMW says, "Flat hierarchies completely do away with the need for complex clicking through sub-menus during travel."

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Functions operated via the Multi-Controller include the trip computer; ESA II adjustable suspension; grip and seat heating; audio; navigation; secondary vehicle functions such as adaptive headlight orientation, languages and whatnot. It appears that the navigation system will also feature voice control. Additionally, there'll be a "Bookmark" tab for easy retrieval of the most common functions.

Reassuring technophobes, BMW says, "The menu structure was specially developed for the specific demands of motorcycling and optimized by means of user tests."

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This will be the first time a TFT display has ever been employed on a production motorcycle and, to the best of our knowledge, the first time such a complicated user interface will be employed on two-wheels too.

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