Date reviewed: October 2023 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: Around £165 (£220 with buttons) including VAT and shipping to the UK | carpe-iter.com
The Carpe Iter BMW Control is a universal Bluetooth system that allows you to use the multi-controller, or ‘wonder wheel’ that’s already fitted to the left bar of the GS (from 2013) to control everything from Spotify to Google Maps, Calimoto, Locus maps, OsmAnd and many other applications. There’s also an optional set of four buttons that fit over the throttle (as long as it’s a ride-by-wire e-throttle version) to give even more control of your apps. I’ve been using it for several weeks on my own R1250GS, and have to say that it’s a brilliantly designed piece of kit that I now couldn’t be without. Here’s why…
Note that while this is designed for use only on the BMW GS and a few other models, the Carpe Iter Adventure Control offers the same functions and is compatible with almost any bike from any manufacturer. Check out the Adventure Control review here.
The Carpe Iter BMW Control truly is a genius piece of design and engineering. Despite being a very small company in Prague started by Jan Balada, the way this has been integrated with the GS is outstanding.
The BMW Control comes in two parts: the BMW Control Hub and the BMW Control Buttons, which can be bought as a bundle for about £220 shipped to the UK (based on current exchange rates), or as the hub alone for about £165.
The hub is an extremely compact, sealed unit that plugs into the navigation socket on the bike (so there’s no need to cut or splice any wires), and also provides a 12V power supply that’s capable of supplying a wireless charger, USB port, tablet etc.
With the hub alone, you can zoom in and out of maps, re-centre them and access the brilliant Carpe Iter Heads Up Display (HUD), which gives control of music, brightness and lets you lock the screen. More on that in a moment…
The button assembly gives even more control byt allowing you to pan around maps, and move up, down, left and right on your home screen to selct apps. Some apps also use a long-press to add additional functionality. It fits directly around the throttle and once in place looks like it was factory fitted. The way this comes together really is brilliant in that it doesn’t interfere in any way with the rest of the machine.
This is the Carpe Iter BMW Control hub, which plugs neatly into the existing GPS socket on the bike, and provides Bluetooth control of most navigation apps on any device using the multi-controller, or ‘wonder wheel’.
The Carpe Iter BMW Control will work on any GS from 2013 with a TFT or non-TFT screen, as long as it has the multi-controller (or ‘wonder wheel’) fitted, and has the navigation option enabled in the bike’s firmware. You don’t need to have the BMW Navigator mount installed to use this kit, but the bike needs to have been prepped for it. Still, this covers pretty much all of the higher-spec and Adventure models. I have an R1250GS Rallye TE and it plugged straight in no bother. It doesn’t need connecting to the battery as everything happens through that one plug, and once fitted it gives you an auxiliary output of 12V, ideal for powering your phone or tablet.
To use the buttons, your bike must have an ‘e-throttle’, not a cable-operated throttle, and these simply connect to the Control Hub, with no other wiring needed. Tuck it all out of the way and you’re done.
Carpe Iter has tested the BMW Control to also work on the F900XR, and other BMWs may be compatible. I’d expect the S1000XR to work with it too, but check with Carpe Iter before buying if the bike isn’t listed on the website.
Once fitted, download the Carpe Iter Controller app from the Google Play store (unless you use a Carpe Iter tablet, in which case it’s already installed) and this takes you quicky and easily though the permissions to activate on your phone then pairing to the controller… within less than a minute you’re up and running.
The Carpe Iter HUD, which is accessed by tapping left on the BMW’s jog wheel, offers some valuable control options, not least the ability to disable touch so that rain drops don’t affect your phone’s navigation
The Carpe Iter BMW Control will automatically connect with your phone or tablet as soon as the bike’s turned on. You can navigate around the home screen to select and open apps if you have the buttons fitted, but the hub alone – for control via the ‘wonder wheel’ – provides most of the functions many will want:
The buttons give the following extra benefits:
The Carpe Iter HUD really makes this stand out over other Bluetooth controllers in that it provides immediate control of some very useful functions, all accessed via the wheel without ever having to take your hands off the bars:
Of course, if there’s anything you want to do with an app that you can’t access with the controller, you can still touch the screen (except when the HUD is open) where needed.
It’s the Carpe Iter Controller app that runs on your phone or tablet that makes this controller so valuable, as it contains the mapping for so many different apps, many of which us road riders will appreciate. It automatically detects what you’re using, be it Google Maps, OsmAnd, Waze, Kurviger, Rally Roadbooks, Spotify or others (you can see all the Carpe Iter Control supported apps here), and allocates the functions accordingly.
When exploring by just looking at the map, the BMW Control really comes into its own – this is the OsmAnd app, which is like having the whole world as a paper map in front of you. The Carpe Iter controller gives you the ability to move around and change the scale without ever letting go of the bars. This has truly transformed my weekend rides.
While the completely universal ‘disable touch’ feature of the HUD will make this controller worth having alone for many riders, the zoom and recentre function is the main attraction. It’s very useful to be able to zoom in and out of Google maps while riding – and to be able to pan around with the optional buttons – as this can help you check other roads or see what’s coming up. But it’s when exploring without navigation that the Carpe Iter BMW Control really shows its full potential…
The Carpe Iter controllers all zoom and pan great with Kurviger, Waze, Mapy.cz, Gaia GPS, Guru maps, OsmAnd, Locus Map and Google Maps, but there are many others that work with it too, or are close to being integrated. Calimoto normally works great, though at the time of writing that app is automatically recentring itself – Jan is discussing this with the developers.
The Carpe Iper has more up its sleeve too, like route overview in Google maps with a long-press to the right of the jog wheel, map orientation in Locus and OsmAnd, enabling track recording in Locus… and there’s with planned.
On a recent ride I just used OsmAnd, and thanks to its incredibly clear and high-contrast mapping – not to mention the fuel station icons that show at almost any zoom level – I was able to explore the roads as I travelled. It really is like having a huge paper map that you can move around with the touch of your thumb (though there is a limit to how much mapping you can download before having to pay £9.99/year). If you like exploring without a set route giving you turn-by-turn directions, it’s no exaggeration to say that the Carpe Iter BMW Control will be transformational for you.
Of course, if you prefer to plan your routes or download them as GPX files, you can use whatever app you like then zoom and pan using the controller in exactly the same way.
The only app I’ve found that doesn’t work fully at the moment with the BMW Control is DMD2 Beta. The Carpe Iter Adventure Control does work perfectly with it, but at the time of writing the BMW Control zooms in and out, but doesn’t give all the functionality it could.
Ultimately, the apps and options accessible through the Carpe Iter BMW Control are outstanding, and a combination of OsmAnd, Google Maps and Calimoto, along with the HUD, provide everything I want on the bike.
Carpe Iter is also planning a next-generation HUD, which will be developed first for the BMW Control and will include its own launcher, as well as data from the bike via CANbus and custom profiles that will allow owners to assign controls specific to any app they want, not just those that are already supported.
Zooming out is a simple flick of the thumb, and the great thing with the OsmAnd app is that even when zoomed well out, the petrol stations are all visible.
Carpe Iter is a very small company, but I’ve found its support to be excellent (and not just because I’m reviewing a product).
When I bought the Adventure Control (review here) I had a question about it and posted on the Carpe Iter support ticket system on its website. Despite it being late in the evening, I had a very helpful response back within an hour.
During testing of the BMW Control, the supplied instructions have proven very clear and useful (so do read them!), however I noticed a small glitch with the Adventure Control when comparing back to that. I told Carpe Iter on a Friday, and by Sunday an update had been deployed to the Google Play store that fixed it.
Obviously some things can take longer than others, but the immediate response and clear dedication to the customer has been impressive.
The only time I’ve had anything other than a completely smooth experience is while connecting and disconnecting the two different controllers over multiple devices, however this is due to the current software only allowing one Carpe Iter to be connected at a time (for now): if pairing a new one after a previous CI Control, you must unpair the old one via the app first.
Pairing and disconnecting is simple, but in the very unlikely event you have any problems pairing a Carpe Iter controller, try the following steps:
If you do want to use a controller over multiple devices, this is entirely possible as long as only one is turned on / within range when connecting. A future update will also allow multiple controllers to be connected to one phone or tablet, for those who have controllers on different bikes.
Note that because it’s such a small company, Carpe Iter isn’t able to monitor social media channels, and does not have its own Facebook page set up for this. There’s a growing forum on the Carpe Iter website where the owner, Jan, is extremely active and where it’s much easier to find previous posts and advice. If you do need technical support, the Carpe Iter ticket system works very well, and as it’s responded to by the man who made the kit, a solution’s never far away.
While Carpe Iter controllers support a wide range of apps, and are frequently updated, things can change in the software; for instance Google might deploy a change to its Maps app. If you do notice a glitch, it’s easy to report in the Supported App page, where known bugs are also clearly shown.
The Carpe Iter BMW Control offers a huge range of brilliant features with just the hub, but fit the buttons too and you’ll have the full range of great control options.
There’s currently nothing on the market that I’m aware of with the versatility of the Carpe Iter BMW Control, but here are some other options to consider…
The zoom and pan function of the Carpe Iter BMW Control is great for whatever navigation software you choose to use – not to mention the other app-specific additional features – and the fact that this kit has a brilliant background app to allocate the commands to a wide range of software is a massive advantage. But add the unique HUD, which allows you to lock the screen from touch and gives access to other useful commands, and this becomes a very worthwhile investment for almost any GS rider.
When you start using it with apps like the OsmAnd or Locus, you’ve effectively got a giant paper map with fingertip control, and it’s here the Carpe Iter BMW Control becomes an absolutely outstanding product.
While the hub alone brings great control through the wheel, I would recommend buying the buttons too, for the best experience. I can’t stress enough how this has brought a whole new level of enjoyment to my rides, which is why it’s so thoroughly recommended.
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