We like to fantasize that motorcycling is all about the wind in your hair and your knees in the breeze, but when you come right down to it, there can be too much of a good thing. Like the wind…pushing against you at 60-70 mph for hour after relentless hour…in the cold…in the rain. To counteract this, a windshield will deflect at least some—if not most—of that windblast away. So we have put together this buyers guide of windshields for various kinds and types of street and dual-sport motorcycles.
Choosing a Windshield
The first consideration in choosing a windshield is size, but with that said the shield must not be positioned so high as to interfere with the rider’s vision; position it low enough for the rider to see over. An accumulation of dirt, bugs, fogging or rain will quickly render a windshield opaque. Also, oncoming lights at night can reflect in the shield and limit the rider’s ability to see.
To determine the proper height shield, sit on the bike with the shield in place and have a friend measure out from it to a spot ahead, slightly below eye level, where you can comfortably see the road. This spot should be no more than about 20 feet ahead. If it’s farther out, position the shield lower.
While tilt is the major adjustment, most shield brackets will allow them to be positioned an inch or two up from the headlight. If you’re ordering a shield that comes in length increments of two inches (as is common), and your “ideal” length splits the difference, choose the shorter. A slightly too-tall shield 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.
If you’re seeking a replacement for a stock shield, either because it was damaged or you want to change the size, mounting is usually easy as they generally utilize the same mounting holes as the stock windshield. For a bike that previously carried no shield, many shields mount with a pair of handlebar and fork-tube clamps.
The rake of the shield should follow that of the fork, though the shield can 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, its angle will usually deflect the windblast and bugs above eye level. If the rider is unable to look over the shield, it should be trimmed to proper length.
Before grabbing the saw, determine if trimming really is necessary. Loosen up the adjustments and attempt to slide the shield down farther, or angle it differently. If this won’t work, determine how much needs to be trimmed and mark it off with masking tape. Use a ruler or make a template for the best results. The safest tool to use for trimming is a band saw, as it makes a very even cut in one direction. I do not recommend using reciprocating, saber or jig saws as these can produce a much less even cut and can promote cracking. Use a hack saw if you must, but be very careful to not let it bind. Once the cut has been made, finish it off by sanding or filing with a coarse 60-80 grit file.
For most riders, quick detachment is a plus. You may want the shield on the bike for touring, but once at the rally you may want to remove it for cruising around town. If this is a consideration, check into quick-release features.
A windshield may also increase the amount of backpressure when you ride, creating a partial vacuum behind it. Not only is this annoying, but lack of airflow may cause you to become too hot in warm weather. Many shield manufacturers offer a controllable vent to alleviate both situations.
A lightly tinted shield can cut down daytime glare by perhaps 10 percent and, at night, it can also cut headlight glare. As for how much tint is legal, check state and local laws.
Some riders suspect that having a shield can make the bike more susceptible to crosswinds, but the effect is usually minor. Yes, there may be a slight bit of sideways tugging, but overall the gyroscopic action of the wheels and the forward momentum pushing the bike straight provide a great deal of stabilizing force. With that said, once a shield of this type is in place, take greater care with tire inflation pressures and suspension settings.
Once you’ve ridden with the shield installed, you may notice much more sound being reflected back to you from the engine. You also may notice that wind gusts are now fed into the bike itself rather than buffeting you. With less wind reaching you, you’ll stay warmer, less frazzled and more rested on longer trips. As with any newly installed product, check all fittings for tightness and adjustment after about 100 miles.
Windshield Buyers Guide
We asked each company to send us a photo of whichever windshield they wished to spotlight, along with a brief description of it and the other types of shields they offer. The manufacturers provided the following information.
Windshield Buyers Guide
In addition to this shield, Big Bike Parts also makes them for a wide variety of motorcycles. See the website for full details.
Cee Baileys also carries windshields for motorcycles from all major manufacturers including BMW, Ducati, Harley, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory, Yamaha and more.
Now in its 27th year, Clearview designs and manufactures windshields for more than 100 models from nine manufacturers including BMW, H-D, Honda, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.
These direct-replacement windscreens are molded from Lexan polycarbonate, and treated with FMR hard coating for scratch resistance. The manufacturer states they will not fade, scratch or peel, and are said to have 20 times the impact and abrasion resistance of acrylic.
Drag Specialties offers a low version in clear or smoke, and higher versions for improved wind protection on the 1998-2013 FLTR/FLTRX, 1996-2013 FLHT/FLHX, and Harley-Davidson FL Trikes with taller-than-stock options without sacrificing appearance. The shields are made in the USA and available in many styles including Military, Red Skull and Gray Skull designs. Prices start at $84.95.
F4 Customs also offers windshields for Harley-Davidson FLHTs (Ultras), Springers, Heritage Softails, Softail Deluxes, Road Kings, Road Glides, Sportsters and Dynas in tinted or clear. Honda applications include the GL1200, GL1500, GL1800, Valkyrie Tourer, Valkyrie Interstate (1500 & 1800), tint or clear, vented or non-vented. Other fitments include the Yamaha Royal Star Venture (vented or non-vented), Can-Am Spyder RT and the BMW K 1200 LT.
In addition to the Airflow System, Givi also offers universal and specific screens, along with spoilers and scooter screens.
Küryakyn AirMaster fairings and Sportech Detachable fairing models include the 1361 Zombie, 1362 Flame, 1343 Firefighter, 1347 Patriot, 1348 Armed Forces and 1375 Crosses & Thorns. All windscreens retail for $109.99.
The entire Memphis Shades line features seven colors in classic and sport-shield styles, in various styles and heights, as well as a selection of fairings and replacement plastic for OEM Harley shields, fairings and Honda Gold Wing models.
Moose Racing manufactures windshields for all BMW GS models, the Kawasaki KLR650, KTM 950 Adventure and the Suzuki V-Strom 650 and 1000.
In addition, National Cycle’s extensive windshield lines include the SwitchBlade, Heavy Duty, Dakota, Flyscreen, Street Shield, Deflector Screen, F-Series Sport Screen, Plexifairing and replacement shields for all types and sizes of bikes.
National Cycle says its Quantum hardcoated motorcycle windshields are so smooth they already shed water better than other windshield materials. Yet its new RainZip Rain Repellent can help keep your windshield even clearer in the rain. RainZip is formulated for National Cycle products but is safe and effective on any windshield. It causes rain to quickly bead up and blow away, even at speeds as low as 35 mph. RainZip retails for $23.95 and comes in a 3-ounce bottle with application cloths, enough for two large windshield applications that will last 3-4 months each.
Parabellum also offers windshields for select models of most makes including BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki and Triumph. They cover all styles of riding such as touring, sport, adventure and dual-sport including such models as the KLR, V-Strom, DR650, XR650L, Super Ténéré , Versys and NC700X.
Slipstreamer offers motorcycle wind protection and manufactures shields for motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs and scooters.
The MRA X-creen is an add-on variable blade that can be added to any existing windshield. It is infinitely adjustable with two pivot points, one at the blade and the other at the shield. Its pivot axis accommodates installation on curved shields of various angles, and there are two mounting options. The bolt-on kit includes an electrostatic template to ensure a quick and easy install. If the installer is uncomfortable drilling holes in their windshield, a pair of clamps ($20) is available with the bolt-on kit.
MRA also offers touring, replacement and other shields for a variety of motorcycle models.
These shields are designed with the same unique shape as its traditional WindVest that has a flip at the top to re-direct the wind higher. According to the company this feature allows it to perform three to four inches taller than its size would indicate. Installation is easy, it’s available from 8- to 16-inch and comes in clear, smoke or gun smoke (available in black for 8-inch screen only). WindVest also offers windshields for many popular motorcycle makes and models.
ZTechnik is a division of National Cycle that manufactures windshields for a wide variety of BMW models. They’re made from 4.5mm Lexan polycarbonate with an FMR hard coat for optical quality and scratch resistance. Because polycarbonate is so impact and crack resistant, VStream windshields are backed by a three-year warranty against breakage.
The VStream windshield has an eight-point mounting system that utilizes the headlight mount points, yet retains full headlight adjustability. According to the company, installation can be completed in less than 15 minutes. They retail for from $149.95 to $199.95.
(This article Windstoppers: A Brief Primer and Buyers Guide for Motorcycle Accessory Windshields was published in the May 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)