I Can See Clearly Now: Choosing the Right Windshield
Words & Photos: Randy Bolig
Motorcycle windshields were never designed to induce a “cool” factor on your motorcycle. That being said, there's a reason why riders made them one of the most requested motorcycle accessories. Sure, your bike might look better without a windshield, but riders occasionally find themselves wishing that they had one when a swarm of bugs or some rain sneaks up on them. While windshields aren't the most visually pleasing, they do help keep your face from connecting with flying wildlife.
When it comes to choosing a windshield, you first need to determine how much wind protection you're actually looking for. If you typically use your bike for around-town cruising or short trips, a smaller or shorter shield might be all that you will need. But, if you do a lot of long distance cruising, or commuting in various types of weather, then a taller shield might be the ticket.
You need to choose a windshield based on its fitment on your motorcycle, and finally, style and appearance. Many motorcycle manufacturers make it easy for riders to find the perfect windshield for their bikes, as they produce windshields that are make and model specific. But if for some reason you can't find one for your bike, it is actually easy to find a windshield that might as well have been made just for your ride.
When choosing a windshield, you first need to look at your height and how high—or low your sit in the seat. Rider position is a huge factor. Many people choose a windshield that is higher than their eyes—like a car’s windshield. While this might seem logical, you'll actually want something that is a little shorter. The general rule for choosing a motorcycle windshield is to get one that comes up just to the tip of your nose when you're sitting upright on the seat. A windshield will cause a slip-stream affect, which means that the air will pass over your head—even with the top of the shied just below eye level. You should be able to look just over the top of the windshield. If your windshield is too high, such as above your line of sight, the windshield could actually end up blocking your view of the road. For instance, you need to be able to look over your windshield in case you are ever in a situation where you can't see through the windshield such as when it rains or gets obstructed by bug guts. If your windshield is scratch-free and clear, during a rain storm, you can always drop your head lower so that you can look through the windshield when need be. While the tilting of the windshield is the major adjustment available, most windshield brackets will allow them to be positioned an inch or two up from the headlight. If you’re ordering a windshield that comes in height increments of two inches, and your ideal height splits the difference, choose the shorter windshield. A windshield that is too tall, is much more aggravating than one that’s an inch or two shorter than ideal, and you can likely adjust the brackets to position a short shield higher.
Most aftermarket motorcycle windshields attach to either the handlebars or the front forks. So, before you buy one, you need to decide how you want it to attach to the bike. Most windshields are a designed-for-fitment mounting, so both styles are an option. Also, after you have your new windshield installed, the rake (tilt) of the windshield should be the same as the front forks. That being said, the shield can usually be pivoted slightly fore and aft to fine tune the wind coming over and around it. Even though the rider ideally should look over the shield by a few inches, the proper angle will usually deflect the windblast and bugs above eye level.
For most riders, a windshield with a quick detachment feature is a plus. There may be times that you want the windshield on the bike during a long cruise, but once you get to your destination, you want to remove it. If this is a consideration, check into quick-release mounting. Tinted windshields are a very popular option. A tinted windshield can cut daytime glare by around10 percent, and it can also cut headlight glare at night. As for how much tint is legal, check your state and local laws.
Some riders think that having a windshield can make the bike more susceptible to crosswind. In reality, this is slightly true. While there will be some affect, it is usually minor. While you might feel a small amount of sideways tugging, the air against the windshield during the motorcycle’s forward momentum actually provides a great deal of stabilizing force. Once you’ve ridden with a windshield, you’ll probably notice that wind gusts are now fed around the bike itself, rather than buffeting against you. With less wind working against you personally, you’ll stay warmer and more comfortable on longer trips.
Measuring for the correct windshield height is easy. When measuring on a motorcycle with a fairing, the height is measured from the top of the fairing to the top of the windshield when fitted. If using a complete windscreen, the height is measured from the top of the headlight cutout to the top of the windshield.
Windshield/windscreen mounts come in different varieties. These brackets will mount your windshield to the forks of your motorcycle.
Some universal-mount windscreens/windshields will come with a handlebar mount. Instead of the mounting brackets connecting to the forks, they connect to the handlebars.
Source Memphis Shades www.memphisshades.com