Like an old bull among so many impatient young bulls, Rider’s 2000 Honda Gold Wing GL1500SE photo bike looks on as we break in newer, faster machines. Ridden often by cowboy shooters like Rich “Racer” Cox, its pegs have been ground down, its tires worn to the edges. On multiday photo shoots, the Wing’s rear trunk is packed with camera gear and its saddlebags filled with cleaning supplies. With a spritz of Windex and the wipe of a rag, one part of the GL1500 that still looks brand-new after more than two years and thousands of miles is its F4 Customs windscreen. Bugs, dirt, rock chips, wind, rain, sun…it has withstood them all.
A defining characteristic of a touring bike, particularly a luxury tourer like the Gold Wing, is its windscreen. It should block fatiguing wind, reduce noise and protect the rider and passenger from cold air and rain. Like plastic body panels, over time windscreens degrade from exposure to the elements and repeated cleanings. They crack, warp, become discolored and accumulate thousands of tiny scratches that distort light at night.
Rather than reproduce OEM windscreens, F4 Customs manufactures high-quality upgrades. We’ve been running a stock-height ’screen, but +2- and +4-inch heights are the most popular because of their extra wind protection. Because it has the same shape, angle, width and adjustability as the original, we didn’t notice any difference in the bubble of still air behind the windscreen. But the F4 Customs windscreen is 1?32-inch thicker, so it is more rigid and buffets less.
F4 Customs manufactures its windscreens according to ISO9000 quality standards from High Optics Lexan polycarbonate, which is 30 times more impact resistant than acrylic and offers superior optical clarity. Then it uses a patented process to apply a proprietary, three-layer coating developed for the rigors of NASCAR and off-road racing: a UV inhibitor, which protects the windscreen from becoming brittle; an anti-fog coating that seals the surface, making it easier to clean (bug guts and grime don’t get lodged into tiny pores) and reducing surface tension for better rain shedding; and an abrasion and chemical resistant hard coat. We didn’t splash it with race gas or whack it with a tree branch, but using elbow grease and a scouring pad in one corner left nary a scratch! So, feel free to clean it with paper towels or that skanky squeegee at your local gas station.
We ordered our windscreen with a vent hole, and had the stock vent swapped out when a local dealer did the installation during routine service (nonvented ’screens also available). It is also compatible with the higher-quality GL1800 OEM vent, which F4 Customs sells for $59.95 (not tested). Complete installation instructions are provided, and there is a very helpful video on YouTube. All you need is a Phillips head screwdriver and 15-20 minutes.
We’ve been very pleased with our F4 Customs windscreen, which is crystal clear, stands up to abuse and isn’t a hassle to keep clean. It comes with a four-year warranty, and costs $279.95 for the GL1500 (stock height; add $10 for +2 inches or $20 for +4 inches). Windscreens are also available for the Honda GL1800 and Valkyrie, Yamaha/Star Royal Star Venture and many Harley-Davidson models; BMW windscreens should be available in June.
For more information: Contact F4 Customs, (330) 968-4644; www.f4customs.com