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The Buyer's Guide to Motorcycle Windshields


>> Ashley Benson


Motorcycle windshields never win first place in the Coolest Looking Motorcycle Accessory category. But there's a reason why they have become one of the most requested motorcycle accessories nationwide. Riders consistently find themselves wishing that they had installed one on their bike in the middle of a long ride or when some rain sneaks up on them. While windshields aren't the most aesthetically pleasing thing, they'll definitely keep your face from dealing with the elements all on its lonesome.

So when you just can't take the wind in your face on a long ride any longer (or you had a bad experience with a swarm of bugs on the freeway) and you want to bite the bullet and install a windshield, how do you know which one will do the trick? After all, having a windshield is all about functionality and it won't matter if your windshield looks cool but really doesn't do the job. You'll need to buy a windshield that is based off of the type of bike you ride, the height, your headlight and what style you want.

Fitting your bike

A lot of motorcycle manufacturers make it easy for riders to find the perfect windshield for their bikes; Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki and so on all produce windshields that are make and model specific. But when you can't find one of those for your bike, it's still amazingly easy to find a windshield that might as well have been made just for your ride. BikeBandit.com's windshield shop has tons of windshield manufacturers that make universal windshields and can tell you which is compatible with your machine. And we're not just talking about cruisers. Sport bikes need windshields too and there is a vast selection of them, such as these Zero Gravity Double Bubble Windscreens

Height

Once you've found a windshield that will fit your model, you'll need to pay attention to how high it will come up once it is installed on your bike. First instinct makes a lot of people want to get windshields that come up over their eyes like a car windshield does. Sure, this may seem like it blocks a lot more wind from hitting your face, but you'll actually end up wanting to buy something a little shorter. The general rule for how high a motorcycle windshield should come up is just to the tip of your nose when you're sitting upright on the seat (this rule is generally for cruiser and tourer bikes rather than sport bikes). This will allow the wind to have a slip stream affect and go up over your head while still protecting your chest from wind, bugs and any other nasty debris.

If you get a windshield that comes up too high, such as up over your nose and above your line of sight, the windshield will end up blocking your view of the road. You'll want to be able to look over your windshield in case you are ever stuck in a situation where you can't see through the windshield such as in rain. If your windshield is free and clear, you can always drop your head slightly so that your eyes fall below the windshield while still being able to look above it if you need to.

Plus, you'll find that the wind being blocked from just your chest will greatly help with any wind fatigue. If you're eyes are still having a hard time battling with the elements, we recommend that you invest in a good pair of goggles like these Bobster Crossfire Goggles.

Headlight

Motorcycles come with so many different shapes and sizes of headlights. You may have even switched out your OEM headlight for a snazzier looking one somewhere along the line. But you'll notice that your windshield is going to have to fit in close proximity to your headlight. In other words, before you buy a windshield, measure the diameter of your headlight and make sure that the windshield you're planning to install is compatible.

Handlebars

Most motorcycle windshields attach to the handlebars. Before you buy one, you'll want to decide how you want them to attach. There are typically two ways: with a mount or by bolting it directly to the bar. The later of the two options is more permanent but will require that you drill holes in your handlebars. If you want to avoid making any kind of incisions on your bike or if you have handlebars that aren't tubular and can't be drilled into, make sure that you buy a kit that comes with the mounting option as well. Often times, you may have to order the mounting, or hardware kit, separately.

Style

Of course no aspect of a motorcycle comes without any sort of style variation. The top of a windshield should typically remain clear as to make it easy to see through both day and night. But as it gets a little closer to the bottom, try adding a little tint to spice it up. Memphis Shades even puts out a lot of different colors. Don't be afraid to pick a windshield that fits your personality as well as keeps the wind down. After all, making your bike custom is what it's all about.

Installing

Before you slap on that shield, take a look at the area around where it will be mounted. You'll want to make sure that it's clear of any wires or parts that could get damaged in the install. Mounting a windshield should be easy and you won't want it to end up costing you more in repairs on a busted part.

Take a seat on your bike and hold the windshield up around where it will be mounted. You'll want to make sure that it's the right height before you mess with all of the other bits and pieces. Often times, you may find that your measurements were off just enough that the windshield comes up to your line of sight rather than your nose and will get in the way while you're riding.

If the windshield holds up to the nose rule, follow the instructions in the packaging on how to install the windshield. We'd like to be a little more specific here, but there are tons of different mounting systems and pieces when it comes to different windshields and we're sure that the instructions in the package will do a great job. If you happen to have any questions on a windshield that you purchased through BikeBandit.com, feel free to contact our help center.

Once you've got the windshield mounted on your motorcycle, you'll notice that the angle of it can be adjusted. In order to get the best line of airflow and to reduce the wind vibrations, angle your windshield to be in line with your motorcycle's front forks before tightening it down.

Cleaning

So you've had your windshield installed for some time now and you're beginning to see pictures form in the amount of bugs that have accumulated there (at least they're not on you). In order to get bug guts, dirt and water spots off of your windshield, it's not as easy as grabbing an old rag and some warm water. Unlike a car windshield that is made of glass, motorcycle windshields are made of a type of plastic that it easy to scratch and streak and won't easily give up the guts. We highly recommend that you use a windshield or plastic cleaner, like this Plexus Plastic Cleaner Protectant and Polish. If you can't get your hands on any of that, you can use a very mild soap and warm water to soak off the grime, though you'll probably get less of a clean shine.

When cleaning your windshield, try to do it in a shaded area. You'll find that the sunlight will dry out the moisture in the cleaner and leave you with a nasty film that will cloud up your windshield. You'll want to use a microfiber cloth such as these BikeMaster Micro Fiber Towel in order to avoid any scratches. DO NOT use paper towels to clean your windshield or it will end up with scratches.

Another tip in order to keep your motorcycle's windshield in good condition is to never use a squeegee to clean it. On a long touring ride you may be tempted to try and clean your windshield when you fill up for gas. But those little contraptions are full of dirt and harsh fibers that will scrape up your windshield more than it will clean it. Leave those for the cars and bring with you a small thing of cleaner and some of your own clean towels for pit stop clean ups.

Motorcycle windshields may be fairly inexpensive, but a scratched up or dirty windshield can have a huge affect on the look of your bike. Keep it clean and looking shiny and the rest of your bike will follow!




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