In 2024, pairing retro-inspired designs with modern technology is common in the bike world. From the long reign of the modern Triumph Bonneville family to the jaw-dropping majesty of the Yamaha XSR900 GP (bring it to the States, Yamaha), it's clear that modern interpretations of vintage motorcycle designs hold a warm place in many a rider's heart.

Yet, there's also no denying that modern technology has brought the motorcycle world plenty of important advances. While you can debate whether the recent trend toward aerodynamic winglets on street bikes is more form over function until and unless you go to the track, what you can't deny is that things like braking technology and tire compounds have gotten much better over the past few decades.

So, too, have the dashboards and displays. But while some car manufacturers have started to offer TFT layouts with optional retro-inspired options, it still feels like some major motorcycle OEMs with serious heritage are missing what would likely be a surefire hit with riders. 

It's high-time OEMs recreate some of their most iconic historic dash designs in TFT display form.

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Honda VF500F Interceptor - Dash Closeup, No Lights On

Honda VF500F Interceptor - Dash Closeup, No Lights On

Take, for example, my 1985 Honda VF500F Interceptor. It's a bike that's almost 40 years old (and probably actually is, if I looked at the production date), so it has 40-year-old-bike character. That means things like planning your braking in advance, but it's something you still roll with it because of its undeniable '80s character, right?

One thing I will probably never get over about this bike is its dash. It's such a great dash layout. I love the way it looks with no lights on, and I also particularly love the way it looks when the lights are illuminated.

Activate the turn signal and a bright yellow triangle flashes in the middle of the dash, pointing either to the left or the right as you've commanded. Even the bright red Oil or the bright green Neutral rectangles in the middle of the display never fail to make me smile. It's just so good.

Honda VF500F Interceptor - Dash Center Lights Closeup, Illuminated

Honda VF500F Interceptor - Dash Center Lights Closeup, Illuminated

Honda VF500F Interceptor - Tach Closeup, Illuminated

Honda VF500F Interceptor - Tach Closeup, Illuminated

Honda VF500F Interceptor - Gauge Closeup, Illuminated

Honda VF500F Interceptor - Gauge Closeup, Illuminated.

We had to pull the light bulb out of the middle lights to get this shot because they're so much brighter than these gauges.

And yet, there's also a clear failing with this dash. While the brightly-colored lights in the center of the display are easily visible on the periphery as I'm riding, the gauges themselves seem dim by comparison. The layout is good, but the brightness and visibility could be better. 

That's where a TFT recreation of this display could make a serious change for the better in 2024. Take a classic, appealing, clear design like this, but tweak the bits that weren't perfect back during its original implementation in the mid-80s.

Honda CBX - Dash Closeup

Honda CBX - Dash Closeup

Yamaha RZ350 - Kenny Roberts Edition - Dash Closeup

Yamaha RZ350 - Kenny Roberts Edition - Dash Closeup

It doesn't even have to be my VF500F's dash, either. There are plenty of great dash layouts from bikes of the past that could benefit from TFT recreation, and you can't tell me that a large portion of the motorcycle enthusiast public wouldn't absolutely eat them up with a spoon.

Bikes like the BMW K 75, for example. Or the Honda CBX. There are plenty more, and we're never going to list them all here, but you get the general idea. 

Every motorcycle maker with any type of history loves to draw upon that heritage and give it back to us in slightly more modern forms with each passing year. Why haven't they tapped their rich history of solid dash designs yet? I mean, it makes all the sense in the world.

What If You'd Rather Live In The Future Or Pilot A Fighter Jet Instead?

The increasing use of TFT displays on modern bikes means, at least theoretically, that all kinds of dash displays are possible.

Want to pilot a Star Trek-universe shuttlecraft? I mean, why couldn't you? And more importantly, why shouldn't you? Apart from licensing issues, but that's for the OEM that chooses this path to sort out with Paramount.

And Kawasaki is all about its inextricable Top Gun ties. Why can't you have a display on a modern Kawi that emulates piloting a fighter jet, or even channels the energy of Maverick's GPZ900R?

It's all right there for the grins and giggles, guys. Do it. 

Photos by Joe Lucente

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