by Dennis Schmidt
After a lengthy investigation and many interviews with hundreds of attendees at the Daytona Bike Week event this year, enough solid information has been pieced together to determine the cause of the UFO sightings near the campgrounds. As many of you have already heard, during the early morning hours, a number of campers reported seeing a large disk shaped object hovering momentarily over the campgrounds before rapidly disappearing from sight. Several of the witnesses also reported a muffled explosion about the same time. The investigation eventually revealed that it had nothing to do with “visitors from outer space”. It seems as though the evening prior to the “sighting”, one of the motorcycle clubs had sponsored a bean burrito eating contest. The UFO was actually the lid to the campground septic tank, which had blown off.
Speaking of breaking wind, let’s talk about motorcycle windshields, or windscreens for all of our British readers.
If you page through any of the major motorcycle accessory catalogs you may find as many as six or eight pages of windshields in every color of the rainbow. There are windshields for cruisers, standards, and sport-tourers in every shape imaginable from the tombstone style to the sport fairing style.
Over the last ten years I have had at least, ten different windshields on five different bikes. On two of my current bikes I have tried three or four different styles. I now consider myself a card carrying, semi-professional, above average, motorcycle windshield consultant. It is my semi-expert opinion that in spite of all the models and colors there are really only two major categories of windshields: too small and too big.
The small ones seem to be the most cosmetically pleasing, (they look cool) and they keep the wind off your chest. If you ride a standard or a cruiser on a long trip getting the wind off your chest can be important. It gets tiring after a while holding your self up right while being pummeled by the force of 75 MPH winds. Er…I mean 55 MPH winds.
However, there are trade-offs. The wind that was trying to push you off the back of the bike before you installed your little windshield, is now re-directed so that it creates turbulence around your head. This often creates wind buffeting around your helmet (or bare head) which may require you to wear earplugs. If you ride helmet-less you may have to fasten your riding glasses down by duct taping them to the side of your head. The small windshield will also help you keep the bugs off of your expensive riding clothes by deflecting the little critters so that they crash into your forehead or helmet visor.
The large windscreens give you the most protection from the wind and airborne debris including rocks, bugs and the junk that flies out of the back of fishing boats being towed. Large, fork or handlebar mounted windshields can also serve to increase your adrenaline level on a windy day. With a big windshield strong cross winds can negatively impact your directional stability–even making it difficult to negotiate a long sweeping curve if your try to lean into the wind.
And for style? Lots of bikes don’t look real cool with a big barn door windshield. Let’s face it, styling is part of the motorcycle experience isn’t it? If you are riding a CB350 or something and have one of those big honking windshields on, you might as well get yourself a pocket protector full of pens and wear some broken, taped together sunglasses to complete the outfit.
So then, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Mr. Windshield consultant sir, just what are your recommendations for purchasing and fitting a new windshield?”
Well I’m glad you asked that question.
If you’re thinking about a new windshield, look at all the catalogs, study the styles, make note of the height, width and shape. Hold the tape measure up to your bike, go back and look at the pictures again. Then ride over to the dealer or to whomever you buy your parts from. Pick out a windshield and see if he will let you take it outside and hold it up in front of your bike. Look at it, study it, think about it, and make your decision based on maximum protection or maxim style or the best compromise.
Or, you can do what I do, buy a windshield that’s too big. Throw away the instructions and install it. (Or for our British readers, get it fitted.) Go for a test ride. Readjust, go for another test ride, readjust, go for another test ride. Repeat the testing and adjusting until it gets too dark or the mosquitoes start eating you alive or both. After a week’s time you will come to the realization that the thing is too big and ugly. Then, get some fine tooth hacksaw blades. Trim the bottom and around the headlight opening in an effort to customize it. Sometime during the customizing process you will either break it or come to the realization that you are actually making it uglier. When this happens, throw it in your junk box and order a smaller windshield that looks much better.