Date reviewed: September 2023 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: Around £220 with VAT and shipping to the UK | carpe-iter.com
The Carpe Iter Adventure Control on review here puts a joystick and three buttons within easy reach on your motorcycle’s bars to control your phone or tablet. While not cheap, as someone who’s bought one, I can tell you that once you’ve tried it, you’ll wonder why you ever faffed about trying to swipe around your phone’s screen in the past…
Designed and built in the Czech Republic, The Carpe Iter Adventure Control is fully sealed, making it waterproof and dustproof. The tough plastic case has a silicone top face covering a joystick and three buttons that each have a multi-colour LED behind them.
The joystick uses Hall-effect sensors so won’t wear out internally, and you can adjust its sensitivity in the Carpe Controller app on your phone or tablet. Having a tactile ’stick with clicking feedback might have been more intuitive to use, though you do soon get used to thumbing this where you want it.
The buttons have a satisfyingly positive action and are easy to use, while the LEDs’ brightness and colour are adjustable through the app.
This is a very well designed and made piece of kit, my only minor criticism being that the silicone on the buttons is very soft and gets quite scuffed over time, though this hasn’t affected their feel or performance.
Fitting the Carpe Iter Adventure Control is pretty simple thanks to clear, English instructions. It’s powered direct from your bike’s battery, so there’s no need for any USB converter or external power supply.
You can feed the controller direct from your bike’s battery and it’ll automatically shut down when you turn off the engine (though this might not work with lithium packs), but I opted to power it from a switched supply. You could pick up an auxiliary output, or I used the Hex ezCAN. I did notice that the cable isn’t long enough to reach all the way to the GS battery, so if that’s how you plan to fit it, you’ll need to extend the leads.
Finding the best place to fit the controller will depend on your bike – you can fit it on the left or right of the bars, and ideally it needs to be within as close reach as possible. On the GS, the best place I could find was at the side of the mirror on the left bar, but it is a bit of a stretch. If you can move the switchgear away from the grip on your bike and slot it in between – like the below example on a KTM – it’ll work a lot better.
Since buying this, Caper Iter has released a controller designed specifically for BMWs that use the left bar’s factory-fitted jog wheel. By intercepting the data, the new system converts this to a Bluetooth signal that can control your phone or a tablet. It can also be combined with a bank of four buttons that mount onto the throttle housing. Expect a review of this soon, but if you have a GS, this is worth considering over the Adventure Control on review here.
The Adventure Control also has a pair of leads for a wheel speed sensor, which can supply a speed signal taken from an optional magnetic sensor for distance and speed measurements – an feature more likely to be used by rally riders.
One point to note is that the back of the bracket that holds the controller to the bar can crack if you overtighten the screws. I did this on the top screw unfortunately, but it hasn’t caused any problems, especially with a touch of threadlock on the screw. Just be careful when fitting it, though a replacement bracket is available cheaply if you really mess it up.
On the GS, the Adventure Control is a bit of a reach how I’ve mounted it, but it still works great. However, a BMW-specific system has just been launched by Carpe Iter that uses the factory-fitted jog wheel
The Carpe Iter Controller app that you download and install on your phone is part of the reason the Adventure Control stands out from some of its competitors in that it brings varying features to apps that were never designed with a bar-mounted controller in mind.
The Carpe Iter app automatically detects what you’re using, be it Google Maps, OsmAnd, Waze, Kurviger, Calimoto, Rally Roadbooks, Spotify or others (you can see all the Carpe Iter Control supported apps here), and maps the functions accordingly.
Sudden changes to the code in apps due to updates like Google Maps can mean the controller doesn’t react as you’d expect, but any issues can be reported by clicking on the app you’re using on the Carpe Iter site, or by accessing the company’s forum here. You can also raise a support ticket, and I did find the response to be extremely quick and helpful, with no language barrier.
Calimoto is my favourite navigation app as it’s allowed me to discover hundreds of great roads I simply never knew existed – even locally. Zooming in and out of the map and panning around without faffing with the phone – especially in thick gloves – is really valuable here. Note: at the time of writing an update to Calimoto means it won't allow zooming and panning with controllers.
The ‘disable touch’ function of the Carpe Iter Controller app is massively valuable to any all-weather riders
Pressing and holding the middle button on the Adventure Control brings up Carpe Iter’s unique heads-up display, which gives additional – and really useful – control.
Probably the best feature here is the ability to quickly lock the screen from responding to any touch; anyone who’s used a phone to navigate in the rain will know that the water droplets quickly send things haywire, so locking it off means you can still pan and zoom with the controller, but nothing touching the screen will affect it
Media control, and the ability to adjust screen brightness are also both really useful features
Another option accessible from the HUD is media control. While the Carpe Iter is designed to work with Spotify, I tend to use Amazon Music for streaming, and Double Twist or Player Pro for music on my phone. As long as I’ve already activated one of these before setting off by starting the music playing, accessing the media control in the HUD allows me to play, pause and skip forward or back tracks. This is the same thing I have to do with an intercom, and while of course I could skip tracks with that (or in some cases use voice control), having access to this function on the bars is really helpful.
You can also access your phone’s home screen from the HUD – this can be useful as the Adventure Control will allow you to move between and select different apps. I set up a page that has only the apps I’d need while riding, so while the selection box that hovers over the apps is a little harder to see than I’d like (an issue of my phone, not the controller), I can select what I want, tap the button and immediately open it, never letting go of the bars.
I did at first have a problem on my Pixel 7 Pro in that the app kept shutting down and needed its accessibility permission re-authenticating. This is simply a matter of opening the Carpe Control app then turning the permission off and on again, but if you are having this come up, go to the apps section in system settings to find the Controller app, then open the app battery usage setting and put it to ‘unrestricted’. Some devices have very aggressive battery management that can turn apps off in the background quite quickly, but this fixes the issue. UPDATE: A software update to the Carpe Iter Controller app has cured this as it asks your permission to put the battery usage into 'unrestricted' as soon as it's installed.
If you’re using the DMD2 navigation app, being able to access POIs from the bar controls is a game-changer
If you’re using a different launcher, the Carpe Control app’s HUD ‘Home’ button will take you to that launcher’s home screen. At the time of writing, if DMD2 is set as the default launcher in your phone or tablet, the HUD won’t work, though locking the screen in map view can be done by pressing and holding the bottom button, the home screen can be found by holding the top button then tapping left or right, and music can be controlled by adding the app to the DMD2 apps drawer, opening it then selecting this control you want. This isn’t as slick as it is with the HUD, and it’s a shame you can’t lock the screen when on other windows (like the DMD2 home screen), which can show other widgets like weather, but it’s difficult to know how the developer, Thork Racing, could have mapped the button control differently as a long press of the Carpe Iter’s centre button here brings up the hugely powerful POI search.
Ultimately, the screen lock isn’t a disaster as in the rain you can still lock the map off, and if you’re listening to music your intercom will almost certainly have the controls you need. And if you’re using DMD2, the controller is absolutely brilliant; being able to zoom in and out of the map and pan around is great, but also being able to navigate to (or even phone) a petrol station, hotel, café or even a motorcycle mechanic with just a few button presses is outstanding. And if you; navigate to another app from DMD2, while in that the HUD works as normal, so you can control music etc this way, and press the middle button to immediately go back to DMD2.
Apps like DMD2 are of course designed specifically to use bar controls (though they obviously work fine with screen presses too), and the Adventure Control works brilliantly here as it has been certified for use. You’ll get the best experience as the developers of DMD2 know that there are plenty of people out there with these and other bar controllers, so spend a lot of time and effort refining the platforms to ensure users can do as much as possible without ever having to touch the screen.
Even if you’re using DMD2 primarily though, the Carpe Iter controllers have a significant advantage due to the dedicated app – as soon as you leave the DMD2 environment, the Carpe Iter gives you much more control than others typically can.
There are a few alternatives to the Carpe Iter Adventure Control, but no other brands that I know of that have such universal app compatibility. Here are some others to consider, but please do your research if considering them, to ensure they give the level of control you’re expecting…
There are other options, so it’s worth digging into them to make sure they suit your needs. The Carpe Iter in some cases works out a bit more costly, but you are paying for the development and maintenance of the Carpe Controller app, which is what makes this so much more versatile for many riders. You can find all the motorcycle sat-navs we’ve tested here and be sure to regularly check for the discounts available through Bikesocial membership.
I bought the Carpe Iter Adventure Control in order to be able to zoom in and out of Calimoto while out on road rides; this is a great way of exploring, and means I can easily see what’s nearby, or, if the route I’m on has a closed road, choose the most interesting way around it. Note: at the time of writing an update to Calimoto means it won't allow zooming and panning with controllers.
I also couldn’t be without the screen lock functionality that the Carpe Iter brings to any app I’m using on my phone – being able to disable the touchscreen in the rain could make this worth the investment alone for all-weather riders.
Where using a bar-mounted controller like the Carpe Iter is really transformational is when exploring roads without navigation. Using an app like OsmAnd for instance is like having a huge paper map that you can change the scale on and move around without ever taking your hands off the bars. If you like discovering new roads, this is an incredible solution.
It’s not an essential purchase, but for anyone who uses navigation apps on their phone or a tablet mounted to their bike, it really is something of a game-changer. The fact that the Carpe Iter controller has additional software that makes it compatible with far more than just the dedicated (and often more off-road-focussed) apps is what makes it really stand out, and with its brilliant build quality and great technical support it helps bring a new level of enjoyment to those riding adventures, whether they’re off the road or on it. One of the best accessories I’ve bought for my bike.
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“I’d been considering a Carpe Iter controller for using roadbooks on my KTM 690, but when this new Adventure version came out I bought it while my wife and I were in Prague on my Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Explorer. The main reason for purchase was to keep my hands on the bars and use the controller to zoom and move my maps while on the move safely.
“I also have a Garmin Zumo XT, but I’ve found that an Android device with the DMD2 (Drive Mode Dashboard) app gives me so much more flexibility when using maps and media controls.
“Being able to zoom out quickly gives a great peace of mind that you’re heading in the right direction. It’s early days but I am enjoying the experience so far. My intention now that I am happy would be to get a purpose-built tablet or phone that’s much brighter in direct sunlight and easier to read.”