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  • November 01, 2020 6 min read

    In this piece LAM member Graham Belton shares the trials and tribulations of his first 10 days as owner of a TFT screen

    Motorcycle TFT screen 


    So the 4th September heralded a new dawn for me and a whole new world of technology. I’d read all the hype and spent considerable time on the various forums so come the day I knew what this new kit could do and the likelihood that it wouldn’t work first time out of the box.

    The salesman executed his craft well and I left the showroom astride the Bismarck with a brief outline of what it could do. Clearly there was to be a period of time reading and downloading!

    When I eventually got home (it’s funny how a 35 mile trip turns into a 135 miles on a new bike) I had a quick scan of the riders’ hand book and the scant section on Bluetooth connectivity. Seems straightforward to me, let’s give it a go. In the blink of an eye my helmet and phone were connected to the TFT. I could listen to music, make calls and generally do the sort of things the IAM would not approve of.


    Okay, next set the sat nav up and see if that all works. I’d expected that since the sat nav was integrated and hard wired to the bike the little sat nav voice within would burst into life with the normal enthusiasm “as soon as possible make a U turn”. Na, nothing, zilch not so much as a whisper.

    It’s getting late now and at this point my wife suggests turning it all off and then turn it back on again.

    I retired for the evening and vowed to continue.


    With renewed vigour I set to resolve why Mr Garmin was so quiet. After a period of time involving a helmet headset with a flat battery I eventually managed to get Mr Garmin’s dulcet tones in my ears. Great, job done I now have phone connection through the TFT and route instructions from the sat nav.

    No, no, no, the TFT is now giving me the cold shoulder, but hey Mr Garmin is there loud and clear and I decide that miles riding the shiny new toy in the sunshine is far more profitable for my soul than the two headed monster that is becoming the communications. 


    I dedicate Monday to research as to why none of this kit wants to play. I find several people that offer turning it all off and then turn it back on again.

    Then I stumble upon a character that’s having problems not unlike mine and reading on he is advised to download the bike manufacturers connected app.


    With the app downloaded I delete the phone pairing from the TFT. Then reconnect it following the instructions, as I start to enter the password the process completes unexpectedly and the TFT now has a white dialogue box with four dashes in that just hangs in the middle of the screen. I retire from this activity and go for a ride along with the distracting white dialogue box.


    The white dialogue box is still there in the middle of the screen and I spend the evening on the internet again. Just as I am losing the will live I find a You-tube video that details how all this kit can be connected seamlessly, it’s 50 minutes duration and I fall asleep long before he’s had the chance to convince me that his method will work. 


    I’ve learned that TFT is the acronym for Thin Film Transistor. I can think of a few other meanings for TFT none of which are suitable to be repeated here!

    I picked up from where I fell asleep yesterday. The You-tube star, once past the advertising and introductory blurb, was making sense. He goes into some depth on the theory of Bluetooth and why the bike manufacturer has chosen to connect everything the way it is. He also keeps saying ‘pretty cool stuff’ which I tired of early on – shut up man and get to the point!

    In short order he says that everything should be unpaired and deleted. All devices should then be updated to the latest firmware.

    The bike and sat nav are both new and apparently are up to date. This just left the Comms in the helmet, sure enough things have moved on since 2016 and I updated to the latest firmware.  I deleted the pairings from the TFT, the sat nav and helmet. The white dialogue box on the screen has gone and I am back to the state when I took delivery on Friday - Phew! 


    The battle of wills continues. I paired the headset to the TFT then I paired the sat nav. It’s apparent that I have briefly connected the TFT then as pairing the sat nav the TFT is disconnected. This process continues and it’s either one or the other. Flat battery on the helmet halts further progress and I spend the rest of the day riding and later taking alcohol to calm the nervous twitch that’s developed every time my wife says “have you fixed it?” 


    This kit really should carry a health warning and I am considering taking up smoking after 30 years without a drag.

    Right then, the helmet is charged along with its accessory joystick and we are ready to give this yet another go.

    Power up the TFT, power up the headset and start the pairing process, I’m listening to the headset for the all-important ‘mobile phone pairing’ suddenly there she is and the pairing completes. Right now the sat nav, listen out for the ‘second mobile phone pairing’. Suddenly it’s completed and we are good to move on to pairing the phone. First I pair the phone to the TFT – yes, it’s done. Now I pair the phone to the sat nav and disable phone calls from the sat nav as I only want to receive live traffic updates. It’s done & I feel euphoric! I can talk on the phone through the TFT and hear Mr Garmin loud and clear too. Woo Hoo!

    I’m off out for a ride tomorrow and want to try the navigator that is part of the TFT. It receives live data through my phone and avoids the need for a separate sat nav and I want to see how it stacks up to Mr Garmin. 


    Today is a group ride, I’ve had the route emailed to me and downloaded via the connected app to my phone. Great, I can see the route on my phone including the road works, closures and everything else. I set the TFT to navigate and off we go. Nothing! Stoney silence from the TFT and no navigation. Headset is not connected but the phone is. Stop, turn it all off, turn it back on again. The headset is back, I can make and receive calls and the sat nav is talking to me but still no navigation from the TFT. I give up and focus on the riding.

    Good grief, is there no end to this drama, I’ve had the bike over a week now and the ODO is now past the 500 mile mark. I’m still struggling!

    Sunday Evening

    In a last ditch attempt and following my own intuition I unpaired the phone from the TFT and then repaired it – and bang it’s there and everything is working like a well-oiled machine!

    I retire and celebrate the moment with alcohol.


    With renewed confidence I create a route on my phone and sync it to the TFT via the connected app.

    A little voice emits from the TFT coupled to some basic graphics and dialogue information on the screen. Turn left, turn right and all that sort of thing. My Garmin chips in with a speed limit warning  then my wife calls “where are you” to which I am able to say “home in 20 dear, open the gates, all is well”.

    Next week I’ll try to get the Garmin Smartlink to work on my phone …


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