by bj max
I needed a new windshield for my motorcycle so this past Saturday morning I jumped in my pickup and drove over to Bubba’s Esso Station, Motorcycle Shop and Farm Implement Museum. I thought Bubba might have a windshield hanging on the wall. He’s got everything else hanging up there but to my surprise and disappointment, he didn’t have no Gold Wing Windshield. He suggested that I call DeSota Honda in Southaven, Mississippi. So I did.
DeSota Honda is named after its location, DeSota County, Mississippi. Well, actually it’s named after Hernando DeSota. Hernando DeSota was one of the Spanish Conquistadors and is credited with discovering the Mississippi River. However, there’s a few local Indian tribes that dispute that little piece of history since their ancestors had been living, fishing and trapping the Mississippi ten thousand years before Hernando was even born. Anyway, DeSota Honda didn’t have a windshield either but said they could get me one PDQ if I wanted. “How much?” I asked. “Two hundred and twenty six dollars”. I nearly’ bout’ swallerd’ my chewing tobacco. “Ya’ gotta’ be kiddin.” I gasped. Well, I ain’t paying no two hundred twenty six dollars for no stupid windshield, I can tell you that right now. Then what are you going to do I asked myself? Well, I’ll. Eh, well I don’t know yet but I’ll thinka’ something.
As I pondered this dilemma my wife suggested E-bay. E-bay? Good idea I thought. I’m not experienced in auctions but hey, how tough can it be? So I logged on, created a password (that I forgot immediately) and began my search.
I found a windshield. Well, actually I found several but I wanted a Hondaline OEM windshield, not one of those acrylic aftermarket copies. You see, the stock Gold Wing windshield is made of Polycarbonate and Polycarbonate is tougher than acrylic and more flexible. Acrylic will also yellow over time. I became a connoisseur of Polycarbonate back in 1996 at a rally in Oklahoma City. A big storm blew through while we were there, a lot of trees were uprooted and one of ’em fell on top of my friend’s brand spanking new Gold Wing. Luckily most of the energy from the falling tree was absorbed by it’s branches so the motorcycle itself wasn’t damaged but the windshield was bent double. We just knew it would have to be replaced but later that morning when the city lifted the tree off the bike, that OEM windshield popped back to its original position with nary a scratch. Not even a stress mark. Amazing. But even more amazing was the fact that it was bent forward towards the front of the bike, not towards the rear. So, ever since that day I’ve been a believer in Polycarbonate.
The windshield I found on e-bay was supposedly in mint condition. The price when I logged on was $9.95. I knew it was worth at least fifty bucks so I decided to jump in with both feet and scare off the competition with some big bucks. What should I bid? After a careful redneck analysis of economics, I settled on the astronomical figure of $25.00 and placed my bid. There were three bidding days to go so I logged off, confident that I had just bought myself a windshield. Told you I didn’t know nothin’ about auctions didn’t I?
The next day I logged back on just to see what was happening. Good thing I did too, ’cause while I slept some dirty rotten scallywag snuck online and bid a dollar more than me. What a cheapskate. One measly dollar. I raised him five dollars and became high bidder with just twenty minutes to go. It was around noon at the time and I figured that, like most people, my adversary would be at work so I ran some errands thinking I had won the bidding war. To make a long story short, I didn’t. The bum snuck in with just three minutes left and upped the bid by another dollar and my Hondaline windshield was history. Don’t anybody work decent hours anymore?
Now what? I still needed a windshield in the worst sort of way but had no idea where to look. I finally admitted that I might have to spring for a new one. My windshield was in such bad shape that it had become a safety hazard. My riding partner, Hillbilly, said I should post a message on the GWRRA message board. For those of you who live in the middle of the Sahara Desert, a cave or West Texas, The GWRRA is a huge International Gold Wing club with thousands of members all over the world. If you’re a member, and I am, then you can post a message on their “Parts Wanted” board. It’s a great service and this plus their Gold Book make the annual dues a bargain.
I took Hillbilly’s advice and logged on, created yet another password and posted the following message;
Wanted: OEM GL1500 Windshield. A lot of you good people have replaced your stock windshield with the bigger Tulsa windshields so there has to be several hundred stock windshields floating around out there somewhere. If you have one gathering dust in your attic or cluttering up your shop or storeroom, here’s a good opportunity to turn it into cold cash. Contact me at……
And I posted my phone number and e-mail address. I got five hits immediately and before it was over twelve eventually dribbled in. I had so many to choose from I didn’t know which one to go for so I answered four of the best and vowed that the first one to get back with me would be the one I would buy. Strangely though, only one responded. In a phone conversation he explained that he had indeed replaced his stock windshield at 10,000 miles and that his was in mint condition. Great. I wrote a check and put it in the mail that day. The next morning I got a call from this guy and learned that after digging the windshield out of his storeroom he found that the outer coating of the three piece laminated Hondaline piece, due to some kind of chemical reaction, had spider webbed into thousands of hairline cracks. Hmmm, Windshields with a shelf life? Never heard of that. He was a nice guy though, apologized and my bank account reflected later that he had indeed shredded my check like he said.
Now what? I had already e-mailed the other responders, thanked and informed them that I had bought a windshield. Not only that, but I had also deleted their e-mail addresses. Stupid! At one point I had my hand on the phone and was about to dial the Honda dealer and order a new windshield but something told me to hang in there a while longer. So I did. And sure enough a late e-mail arrived the next morning. Fellow said he had a mint Markland windshield in his attic and after reading my posting he got it down to make sure it was still in good shape. He assured me that it was. Not only that, he lived only twenty miles from my front door and the price he quoted was fair. It wasn’t a Hondaline, but by now I was tiring of the chase and for forty bucks, even if it only lasted a couple of years it would be worth it. My wife and I jumped in my old pickup and an hour later, after a two-week search, I was on the way home with a sparkling new windshield.
I used to consider a search like this fun. Going to junkyards and searching for a hard to find piece for a ’56 Ford or an old restorable pickup was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The love of the chase. It was almost a hobby for me at one time and when I came out on the right end of a deal it gave me a lot of self satisfaction. But it’s not fun anymore. I don’t know why but it’s just not the same. Maybe it’s because, unlike in the past, I could have bought a new windshield if I had wanted to. I could have. It wouldn’t have broke the bank. I could have just picked up the phone and in a couple of minutes a new OEM windshield would have been on its way. So why didn’t I? I don’t know. Because I’m a man I guess and man was born to hunt. I’m like Old Blue I reckon. I just can’t help myself.