Windshields were introduced to motorcycles sometime around 1928 after Rohm and Haas began producing polymethyl methacrylate in Germany. This plastic was referred to as Perspex in Great Britain and has also been marketed as Plexiglas, Acrylite, and Lucite. Those first windshields were small. In the 1930s and 1940s, motorcycle windshields gained popularity, especially with the introduction of large touring motorcycles. Today, many riders have strong opinions on riding with or without a windshield.
Aerodynamics And Fuel Efficiency
Motorcycles are not especially aerodynamic or fuel efficient, especially the styles that have riders sitting straight up, such as cruisers. Despite many large-displacement bikes getting 40 mpg or more, an upright rider causes significant drag, negatively affecting fuel efficiency.
Attaching a windshield to a motorcycle diverts air over and around the rider’s body, reducing drag and increasing fuel efficiency.
Safety And Weather Protection
Two primary reasons to ride a motorcycle with a windshield are to keep the weather, such as precipitation and cold air, and road debris and insects from striking the rider’s body, face, and head. Riding without a windshield in cold weather allows the air to directly contact the rider’s body, robbing it of heat. A windshield provides a cushion of relatively still air, mitigating the effects of the cold air. A windshield will also protect from precipitation, though even with a windshield, a rider will get wet if he rides in the rain.
At highway speeds, insects and pebbles striking a rider can be painful and distracting. If not properly positioned, it can harm a rider’s vision. Most motorcycle windshields are designed so that a rider looks over the top. Some taller ones require a rider to look through them.
Accumulated dirt and dead bugs can impair vision. And in fog or rain, vision can also become more obscured with a windshield than without one.
The Look And The Ride
Riders who prefer riding without one often cite how it affects the look of a motorcycle, interrupting the design flow. Another criticism of windshields is that they limit or eliminate one of the best parts of riding, the feel of the wind in the rider’s face. An improperly positioned windshield can also cause severe wind buffeting to the rider’s head.
Riding at highway speeds for an extended period without its support can cause fatigue as the wind is in direct contact with the rider’s upper body. The pressure generated by wind buffeting at those speeds, even with a full-face helmet, can cause hearing loss. Click here and learn more about windshields.
Some styles of motorcycles usually come equipped from the factory with windshields. Sports Bikes with fairings generally have windshields that are integral to the fairing. Touring bikes are also shipped with it attached. The decision of riding with or without often comes down to the type of riding. Long-range touring riders often find the advantages of a windshield outweigh the disadvantages. Riders who live in areas with cold winters often turn to a windshield to extend their riding season.
Motorcycle Windshield Buffeting Tips
If you’ve ever experienced a lot of pain after a hard day riding your motorcycle, perhaps it’s the wind causing your problems. It doesn’t matter what kind of bike or windshield you have; buffeting from wind can affect every rider. Fortunately, you do have some options to make your ride more comfortable.
When you ride your motorcycle, especially at higher speeds, the effects of the wind can become increasingly difficult for you to handle as a rider. If you and your bike fit each other so that the aerodynamics of your bike and your body allow the wind to pass right over you, this isn’t a problem. However, if you’ve noticed greater stress and possibly even soreness being placed on you when you ride at high speeds, it’s quite likely the pressure of the wind on your head and upper body as you ride.
If you’ve ever gone out for a ride feeling great and come home feeling as though you got beat by a sack of hammers, chances are excellent that you’ve been experiencing buffeting problems. This can happen no matter what type of bike you’re riding or what type of windshield you have.
Aerodynamics is affected by everything exposed to the air as you move through it. That includes your helmet, jacket, and body, as well as how and where the air hits them.
Since the combination of you, your bike, and your chosen riding gear has unique aerodynamic qualities, there’s no single solution that works for everyone. Riders have experienced varying levels of success by utilizing three main methods of attack. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, use washers to mount your existing windshield a bit higher than it currently sits on your front bodywork. Your success with this will, of course, largely depend on how your windshield attaches to your bodywork currently. In some cases, it may not be possible with your bike’s configuration.
Evaluate carefully before attempting, and consult your bike’s shop manual for specific information on your bike. Some companies offer aftermarket lips that you can attach to the top. This help deflects the wind away from your head and chest as you ride and may just be what you need to make the difference between an uncomfortable and a smooth ride.
If your bike has no windshield at all, or if you’re completely dissatisfied with the job your current one is doing, aftermarket windshields are available for most bikes. Research and talk to other people about your model of bike. If you purchase an aftermarket online, check the vendor’s return policy to see if you’ll be able to return it if you get it and decide that you don’t like it after all before you’ve installed it.
Do Motorcycle Windshields Make A Difference?
Motorcycle windshields do make a difference when it comes to riding your motorcycle. Windshields make for a safer and more comfortable experience. It protects you from wind, rain, flying debris, bugs, and rocks. This significantly affects the rider’s ability to ride for extended periods.