Modern cars, trucks and SUVs constantly raise the bar by delivering superior dashboard displays. As the market evolves, there is demand for motorcycle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to incorporate more advanced features into their displays as well. Unfortunately, motorcycle displays are subject to unique constraints compared to automotive dashboards. These five lessons from automotive dash design can help motorcycle brands overcome challenges to deliver rider experiences that differentiate their displays.

From Automotive Dash to Motorcycle Display: Top Five Lessons

High standards for automotive dash displays are showing in the market demands for motorcycle displays. Motorcyclists want similar high-tech experiences but moving technology from cars to motorcycles isn’t an opportunity to drag and drop solutions. These five lessons from our experience with car dashboard user experience (UX) design can help motorcycle manufacturers bridge the gap.

1. Straightforward Software Makes Development Cost Effective

Cost is one of the largest barriers to an impressive motorcycle display UX. Controlling production cost is vital because a luxury motorcycle might only sell for a 10th as much as a luxury car. The average cost target for a motorcycle display is a sliver of the cost target for the tech in the average car’s cockpit. All at once, the hardware in a motorcycle must be smaller, less expensive and more environmentally hardened than what’s in a car.

Efficient software helps motorcycle OEMs cram 10 pounds of features into a five-pound bag. When Medallion brought a similar ambition to boat displays, streamlined human-machine interface (HMI) development helped the manufacturer integrate the same features at a fraction of the cost.

2. Connectivity Is Key: Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Beyond

Another way to control cost without sacrificing UX is through seamless integration connectivity with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Riders are already bringing a lot of the tech they love, so smartphone connectivity helps motorcycle manufacturers empower feature-rich experiences without reinventing the wheel.

As in the automotive industry, integration gives riders access to all their favorite media from their smartphones, reducing the need for native entertainment and navigation systems. No matter which real-time operating systems (RTOS) you use, a unified HMI solution produces a consistent user experience.

Embedded connectivity helps riders pair their smartphones to their motorcycles even without tethered connections. Embedded connectivity helps motorcyclists avoid broken connections when the device is out of range of the bike. Telematic control units ensure persistent access to features such as hands-free calling, music playback and GPS navigation—regardless of whether the mobile device is near the motorcycle. A constant connection between mobile device and motorcycle also yields access to all the following, no matter when or where the motorcycle owner wants to check:

  • Theft alerts and remote engine disabling
  • Vehicle tracking and usage updates
  • Maintenance reminders and firmware over-the-air updates
  • Battery status reporting

In addition to keeping motorcyclists connected to their own devices, such technology can allow riders to connect and engage with others in the area.

3. Meet and Exceed Functional Safety Requirements

As of the 2018 update to the ISO 26262 standard, government and functional safety requirements are driving motorcycle manufacturers to adopt many of the same best practices as their automotive counterparts. Previously, the differences between cars and motorcycles left some ambiguity with respect to functional safety and controllability.

Now, functional safety elements such as the interlock brake icon must be brought into the display or handlebar of a bike. Similarly, the gear indicator is almost always part of the display—as opposed to being a simple light bulb—in new motorcycles.

Optimizing display interfaces for safety presents a unique challenge because displaying too much information in a small space can have an adverse effect. When information is not clear and easy to read, the HMI becomes a distraction to motorcyclists by drawing their eyes away from the road. Clean, adaptive user interface (UI) designs allow drivers to avoid clutter and see the right information at the right time. Contextual, connected information is also easier to understand immediately.

Especially meaningful or critical feedback must be displayed prominently because a helmet or environmental factors might obstruct the motorcyclist’s view. Pronounced typefaces and animations draw attention to urgent information. Smoother transitions display non-critical feedback less abruptly to avoid distracting or alarming riders.

4. Optimize Feature Density to Simplify User Experience

As classic elements migrate into the motorcycle display and manufacturers add modern features, keeping the user experience simple can be challenging. Displaying too much information on a small screen creates a distracting, meaningless UX.

Business Wire reports, based on research from Technavio, that the growing popularity of large motorcycle displays and infotainment systems is a major trend. Motorcycle manufacturers are finding new ways to present information, such as 3D displays and customizable dashboards to avoid crowded displays. Flexible approaches offer ways to connect motorcyclists with the information they need instead of presenting a disorganized mess of everything at once.

Another challenge here is in designing UI that is fit for all ages. Many 60-year-old riders might prefer a classically recognizable interface, something like what they had when they started riding a few decades ago. Twenty-something riders are digital natives who often prefer motorcycle displays with modernized looks and feels. Thoughtful feature density and customizable displays accommodate all riders by offering their desired interfaces and experiences.

5. Take Control of Brand Ownership

Beyond feature density and usability, branding is a key consideration for motorcycle displays. Delivering the relevant information and controllability in a generic package is one thing but keeping the display on-brand creates a more cohesive experience for the rider. Dark mode, light mode, branded colors and 3D elements offer motorcycle manufacturers opportunities to design attractive user interfaces. Taking control of cluster design gives OEMs greater flexibility to create innovative displays that help a motorcycle manufacturer stand out in the market.

Key Elements of Motorcycle Displays

Motorcycle manufacturers can use those five lessons to design displays to convey the crucial information riders need on the road. Motorcyclists expect to see all of the following at a glance:


  • To report the motorcycle’s current speed


  • To gauge and report the engine’s current RPM

Status Updates and Alerts

  • To indicate when a turn signal is on
  • To indicate when the motorcycle is in gear
  • To display warning lights, messages or icons


  • To gauge the distance traveled on the motorcycle
  • Optionally, including a tripometer

Informational Displays

  • A chronometer or clock to show the current time
  • Advanced menus and interface navigation elements

Graphical user interface (GUI) development tools for motorcycle displays help designers incorporate all the required elements into pixel-perfect UIs

UX Design for Motorcycle Display Interfaces

Altia’s HMI design and development environment offers a GUI editor and a code generator; both fine-tuned for motorcycle display development. Get started today—and create branded, connected experiences like no other for your riders.