You never know what you’re going to ride into when two wheelin’ on the tarmac. From dodging obstacles like pot holes or road kill to enduring the turbulent forces of high speed winds or welt inducing hail sent from Mother Nature, when motoring down the road it’s best to always be attentive of what lies ahead—on the road and in the sky. There’s not a whole lot you can do to protect yourself from inconsistencies in the road or the unexpected deer crossing in your path, other than to always be scanning ahead and have room to quickly maneuver if need be
As for dealing with the elements and forces of nature? Well, that’s where a windshield for your Harley, Victory, Honda or any cruiser motorcycle comes into play. Just as a football player wears a helmet with a face mask to keep his eyes and nose in working order, a windshield protects the rider's eyes and face from dust, sand, road debris, wind turbulence, and pelting rain—or worse, the aforementioned hail. Since its first inception and implementation the motorcycle windshield has come a long way, not only in material composition but in style and function as well. What was once a simple, flimsy, clear screen that would easily deteriorate with little use is now a highly technical component, often developed and tested in a wind tunnel, that not only protects the rider but provides comfort and aerodynamics as well.
These days, motorcycle windshields come in all shapes and sizes for just about any application from touring to sport bikes and cruisers, and are offered in a variety of styles from tinted to clear, permanent to quick release. Manufacturers such as National Cycle Inc. have put a ton of time, money, and research into designing windshields that not only keep the rider’s line of sight clear, but help direct wind up, over, and around the rider in an effort to produce a smoother and quieter experience with reduced buffeting and turbulence. Oh, and let’s not forget longevity and durability. Gone are the days of a windshield only lasting a riding season or two, having to be replaced because it’s too scratched up to safely see through or has turned some unsightly tint of highlighter yellow due to prolonged sun exposure. Mostly you’ll find either Lucite (acrylic) motorcycle windshields or Lexan (polycarbonate) motorcycle windshields. With the advancements in materials, like that old Timex slogan, these windscreens can take a licking and keep on ticking, or should we say clicking…away the miles that is. And while Lexan is the more durable of the two, it often costs much more as well.
When shopping for a windshield there are plenty of options to choose from. Do you want something short and simple to add a bit of style to your ride? Maybe National Cycle’s Flyscreen is what you’re looking for? It won’t provide a ton of protection, but it will help deflect and redirect some wind, and with its dark tint and compact stature it’ll give your bike a bit of racing flair. For those that enjoy riding in extreme weather conditions something with a lot more coverage is a good choice, like the Santa Cruz Windshield from Memphis Shades (above image). This windshield is not only tall enough to keep rain and road dust out of most riders faces, but its sides stretch out to help protect the hands from wind chill while the lower section extends down a bit to help direct wind away from the lower body/upper legs.
On the other end of the spectrum there’s National Cycle’s VStream vented motorcycle windshield. Designed with its patented V shape, this windshield pushes wind away from the sides of the rider’s head while the cut out in the center provides the opportunity to install a vent to direct air flow to the rider’s body to help cool off in high temperatures. For those that want style and function, the Stealth windshield from Slipstreamer (above) offers the best of both worlds. With its curvaceous shape the Stealth looks like you’re in the cockpit of a vintage sports car, yet the extended lowers and sides offer solid wind protection.
Some people like the option of quickly and easily removing their windshield when going for a short putt down the street. For those riders Wind Vest’s handlebar mounted windscreen is a good choice. With basic hand tools you could go from strip down to road trip ready in just a few minutes. Lastly, if you like versatility then look no further than the Deflector Screen from National Cycle. Available in light tint or clear versions, the Deflector (above) is quick and easy to remove as well, but you can also adjust the rake (angle) of the windscreen for optimum comfort simply by turning the wing screws.
Whatever, you’re motorcycle windshield choice is, chances are once you find the one that’s right for you, you’ll wonder how you were able to ever ride without one.