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Let there be light

By Mario

BMW’s ‘Adaptive Headlight’ sees further around corners at night. But it’s not as new as it seems.

Nobody can deny that BMW’s K 1600 GT/GTL über-tourer is feature-packed. And one interesting option is ‘Adaptive Headlight technology’, which changes the aim of the light beam as you corner, offering a better view.

This is BMW’s depiction of what it does:

example of BMW adaptive light

You can see a video here.

This sort of technology has been around in cars for yonks, of course, measuring speed, yaw and steering angle to then swivel the lamps left or right. But motorcycles are a tougher application because of lean angles.

The BMW Press Release talks up how clever it all is but it comes down to using the K 1600’s standard front and rear ride height sensors together with lean-angle info from the same sensor box used on the tech-tastic S 1000 RR. This information is then used to tilt the headlamp mirror and balance the low beam, shining more light further into the corner.

BMW claim it’s the first motorcycle to ‘offer an adaptive xenon headlight’.  Which may well be, but you’ll notice that leaves free the possibility of an earlier non-xenon version. If anyone can advise of a bike that beat BMW to the punch, do let us know.

One thing’s for sure, the idea goes way back on four wheels. Not, in this instance, to a previous generation S-Class Mercedes. (It has been said, if you want to know what your car will offer in ten years’ time look at today’s S-Class). No, it goes back to the the 1940s and the American Tucker sedan, which had a middle headlamp directly connected to the steering linkage. A slightly more sophisticated application was optional on the 1967 Citroen DS.

How good is BMW’s new technology in practice? Well, a suitably equipped test bike isn’t around at the moment but our request is in and we’ll let you know when one comes up.