Friday, 30 July 2010

Playing with windshields

Until I got my Dyna I had never ridden with a windshield. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of miles over decades of riding and I never once felt the need or desire to have a windshield in front of my face.
hd windshieldThen I got the Dyna, and it came with the H-D quick-detach windshield. It didn’t take too long for me to become a convert – especially if the weather was wet or cold. I decided I liked riding behind a windshield, but I sure didn’t like riding behind that one - the helmet buffeting was exhausting. After an hour or so I felt like my eyeballs had finally rattled loose and Excedrine Headache No. 236 was on its way. It didn’t seem to matter how I adjusted it – up, down, tilted in, tilted out – I felt like one of those bobble-head dolls bouncing around at warp speed.
So off it came and the research began. Turns out there’s a whole lot more to this windshield thing than meets the eye. The first thing that surprised me was that most of the buffeting is caused by air coming up from below the windshield and in around the headlight. I found that out when I had the forward controls on. The buffeting was actually worse with them because the position of my legs would direct even more air up in front of my body. Further proof was when, by holding my left arm horizontally across in front of my chest, the buffeting almost entirely disappeared.
The second thing is helmets. I have 2 virtually identical 3/4 helmets. One of them bounces around much more than the other, although neither is particularly good. My full-face has the least buffeting of all, but I don’t like wearing it in the heat of summer, especially behind a windshield. And with its extra weight being shaken around neck pain is inevitable.
With windshield prices in the stratosphere, buying different models to try is not in the cards. And few if any dealers carry stock that they will let you mount on your bike and take for a quick ride. So that’s where asking people for their opinions and experiences comes in. Which, of course, gives you as many opinions as the number of people you ask. --- Yeah it’s bad, but I just ignore it. No, I don’t get any buffeting at all. Only a wuss rides with a windshield. --- Very helpful.
So once again it’s eBay to the rescue. Since it’s such a personal thing, there’s always someone getting rid of a windshield they hate. And that’s how I came to own a Memphis Shades unit for cheap-cheap. What a difference! If the original wind buffeting was 11 on a 10-point scale, this windscreen dropped it to about a 4 or 5. It’s narrower so I lose a bit of weather protection but it’s a price I’m willing to pay. And while the head shake is still there, but certainly much more bearable.
Now I’m keeping an eye out for a set of used lowers. Since so much of the problem is with wind coming up under the windshield, lowers should go a bit further to reduce that air flow. But I’m not prepared to spend $100s to find out so here’s hoping eBay comes through again.


  1. lowers, cat whisker looking plastic or metal panels, hmmm willyd may have info as i believe he customized something for his heritage...

  2. Lowers are you friend! I had a standard HD quick disconnect windshield. I would get a lot of buffeting from air under the windshield giving me a headache. I bought a national cycles plexifairing 3 which has lowers. All the buffeting is gone. If NC doesn't make a fairing for your bike, look for some after market lowers.

  3. The national cycles PF3 is $200, much cheaper than HD's windshield. It's clear plexiglas. You can have it painted to match your bike.

  4. Ms. M., Dave - Thanks for the suggestions. Some good ideas to look into.

  5. At one time Ian had a Moto Guzzi windscreen on his Cali, this was after taking out a similar bike with one on. What works for one does not necessarily work for another. This turned out to be a £100 disaster.
    He eventually bought a small flyscreen for £27, result a very stable motorcycle, three up (Ian, Guzzisue and myself), with luggage and speeds of up to 100mph.

  6. bikerted - You're right; it is a very personal thing.


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