Monday, 18 June 2012

To windscreen or not to windscreen?

A few weeks ago Lady R posted about test riding a Fat Boy (of which she is now the proud owner – hooray for her!) and her newly discovered joy of riding without a windscreen. That post got me thinking about my own choices in that regard.
Unlike Lady R who had always ridden with a windshield, I had never ridden with one until I bought the Dyna. None of my bikes had a windscreen (you can’t really count the 1/2 race fairing on the RD350LC) and so I was quite used to hanging on for dear life at 80 or 90 and dodging June bugs as they headed straight for the tip of my nose or those big juicy grasshoppers that leave a bright yellow smear across your glasses, forehead, and helmet.
But since the Dyna did have a windshield I decided to try it out. It took a while but eventually I found a position that resulted in maximum wind shielding and minimum helmet buffeting. And I got hooked – or probably more accurately, lazy. Even though it was a quick-detach model, it just became easier to leave it on all the time, and so I did.
Then I read Lady R’s post and decided to ride naked for a change. (Clarification:  without windshield, not without clothing. I may not be ATGATT but I draw the line at exposing certain bodily parts to sunburn, flying and biting insects, and the possibility of road rash – not to say arrest.) One trip and I realized what I had been missing.
So now the default position is off. Certainly if there’s rain  or cold temperatures in the forecast, or a long’ish trip is in the works I’ll opt for the windshield – it’s much more comfortable and far less tiring than being out in the wind at speed – but for quick trips into town or over to the golf course the windshield stays in the garage. But my riding glasses need cleaning more often.
bug splatter


  1. Canajun:

    for me a windshield is a safety item. It stops pebbles and rocks from car tires becoming projectiles. It stops sand, dust and bugs from going into your eyes. It stops wind fatigue on the highway. It stops rain from becoming pellets.

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

  2. I have been going without the windscreen this summer and have enjoyed it. I had always ridden with a screen before. It has been interesting to feel those grasshoppers hit my jacket. Not had that before. My ride doesn't go very fast. I'm not sure how I'd like it at higher speed. Come fall I'll definitely be wanting the windscreen back.

  3. Bob - Agree with all of that but it also stops the wind in your face, the feel of a summer day, and gives you that bugs-in-your-teeth motorcyclist smile. :)

    Keith - I expect cooler temperatures will change my preference as well, but for now I'm enjoying motorcycling the way it was meant to be - man versus bug! (I also checked out Twists and Leanings. Nice blog and so I've added you to my blog list.) Thanks for the comment.

  4. My Road King has the detachable windscreen but I've never removed it. I'm mostly concerned about being blasted by wind at 60mph, and of course maybe taking a pebble or a bumblebee in the face. Also, along the Front Range here, just west of Denver, we can get gusty wind conditions that are challenging enough even with the windscreen in place. But, the next time I take the bike out just to putt around town for an hour, I'll try it without the screen. Just so I can say I tried it.

  5. (No Name) - I find side and quartering winds can be even more problematic with a windshield - more surface area I guess. Anyway I'll be interested to see how you make out riding without - topic for a new post perhaps.

  6. I loved this post and seeing other peoples opinions on with or without. I have always ridden without. Even when I had a Gold Wing,I rode it around for a while stock, then the first Mod I made was to get rid of the windshield and Fairing. I've never looked back and never had windshield envy either. I love the raw power of being in the wind. When it comes time that I feel I must have a wind shield, I guess I'll have to look more seriously into the Street Glide. I'm still not sold on that though. Seems so much more like a 2 wheeled convertible to me than a motorcycle.

  7. Dear Canajun:

    I would no more ride without a windscreen than I would without a helmet. I have discovered that the summer wind, in temps above 90ยบ (F), is like riding in the exhaust of a jet plane. And while it may seem like overkill to be wearing a full-face, Nolan helmet behind a windscreen, I m still amazed at the crap that the screen deflects. I never see a lot of it... But I hear it, and find the chips out of the plastic when I get back to the garage.

    I have noticed a difference in handling between a fairing and screen that is mounted to the frame, and one that is mounted to the forks and handlebars. The frame mount is less susceptible to truck buffeting or crosswinds. In all honesty, my next bike will probably have a larger screen, that is electrically adjustable on the fly. In fact, I will be looking for it as a matter of course.

    Then again, I do not deny I am a bit of an eclair when it comes to personal comfort. I am grounded for the next five months, owing to a slow recovery from a stupid illness. But I am looking forward to making up for lost time next year.

    Fondest regards,

  8. Mr. M. - I think the definition of too much windscreen is when you see some guy riding along at 75 smoking a cigar.

    Jack - The safety issue is legit, especially on roads covered with debris as a lot of US highways seem to be in my experience. But like everything in life, it's a tradeoff. Sorry to hear you're grounded for the season, but consider it free time to plan the roads you'll tear up next year. Cheers.


Please feel free to comment, but any comments with commercial links will be deleted. You have been warned.