Motorcycle windshields and wind deflectors - everything you need to know about them!
Table of contents:
Looking at the photos of beautiful cruisers, touring motorbikes and sports racers, you will most likely not find old, scratched large windscreens that spoil their perfect line and streamlined shape. However, when you go on a longer trip, after many kilometers, the wonderful feeling of free fresh wind in your hair turns into tiredness and nervousness because of the constant pressure of rain, wind and thousands of worms hitting your helmet. Then you will realize that the installation of the windshield will be a very good solution, an effective option. In addition, you can do it all on your own without special tools, and the driving comfort will definitely increase! Motorcycle windshields are a very popular modification, they deserve to be called the most popular motorcycle accessory, overtaking even exhaust systems on the list! When you decide to place a windshield on your wish list, you will have to choose it which is not an easy task; but after reading this article, buying a motorcycle windshield will certainly be less complicated.
Generally, when people think about motorcycle windshields, they often imagine the large and bulky pieces of plastic on the front of the motorcycle. Although we can find such windshields like the above ones, there are also some that can look pretty good and stylish. Some of them are very small, even 25/30 cm long. While they are not as effective as the larger ones, they can still provide protection. Some windshields are also made of extremely transparent plastic making them almost invisible to others when driving on the road. If you don't want a clear windshield, you can also get tinted or even colored windshields to make your motorcycle look better. A tinted windshield can also work very well according to glare and reflections that can distract you or the other drivers. In spite of appearances, a windshield can look good even when it comes to “Café Racer” type of motorbikes.
Read more to learn about the benefits of windshields. We will help you to choose the perfect windshield for you. We will also discuss the types of windscreens and their installation, and at the end you will learn how to take care of the windshield properly to make it last for a long time.
Basic information about motorcycle screens:
Both motorcycle screens and wind deflectors improve vehicle aerodynamics, protect motorcyclist from wind and rain, and provide better visibility in adverse weather conditions. They are available in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes. They are made of light and damage - resistant materials. What is more, they are highly resistant to cracks and scratches. You can match the screen color as well as the mounting bolts to the color of your motorcycle. Wind deflectors, on the other hand, are sold in a set with fixings and soft rubber bands that protect the windscreen surface, to which they are attached, from scratches.
Advantages of motorcycle windshields:
The first advantage to be mentioned is definitely protection against sticks, stones or insects, rain and other pollutants that, in higher speeds, collect on our helmet very quickly deteriorating visibility and forcing breaks for wiping it. Have you ever been hit by a small pebble shot from under the wheels of another vehicle while driving at a highway speed ? You perfectly understand the seriousness of the situation! It is not only about the enormous pain that such a projectile can cause, but also the hand shake on the handlebar when a stone hits, for example, the arm. And this, in turn, may cause you to lose control of your motorbike. It is better not be on the "accident statistics" list
The second also very important advantage is the gust of wind that is definitely less noticeable not only while our driving, but also the gust generated by other larger vehicles. In bad weather, along with a gust of wind we are also hit by waves of rain from which the windshield can protect us. Thanks to this, when we are surprised by rain or strong wind along the ride, it will not be as unpleasant as without the windshield.
The other benefit of installing a windshield is the reduction of wind noise. Traveling at highway speeds, where we are exposed to loud noises for a long time, the noise caused by our helmet can be extremely dangerous. Not only can it permanently damage our hearing, but also make us more tired. Installing a windshield will definitely reduce noise and make the sound of our engine more audible, and as we know, each of us likes this sound :)
What is more, riding with a windshield installed can reduce back, neck, and shoulder pain. The neck muscles are the most sensitive group of muscles. The constant fight against the gust of wind around a large helmet can have a negative effect on the neck muscles which can lead to headaches and greater tiredness. A properly selected windscreen can reduce the risk of the above mentioned problems so you can travel much longer without getting sore or tired.
The windshields are designed to be aerodynamic and will, in most cases, help the motorcycle cut through the air better and burn less fuel at the same time. A smooth, uniform surface of the windshield will cut through the wind better than any other exposed parts of a motorcycle that can only randomly pitch the blast. It is logical then that if the motorcycle has a more streamlined shape and thus less air resistance, fuel consumption is also lower, but these are slight differences. Still, think about it; the average motorcycle burns about 4/5 liters per 100 km, and even a small amount of fuel savings can save you from driving another kilometer to the next station. It will also be a small step to protect our planet. Everything helps!
If you use any electronic gadgets mounted to the handlebar or dashboard while driving, you know very well that they are exposed to water, stones, sticks and worms hitting on them. The other advantage of a windshield is the fact that it will certainly provide good protection for expensive navigation systems or mobile phones. Such windscreen is also a good alternative or place to mount different devices. You can place, for example, GPS at the eye level, which will definitely improve driving safety while reading the direction.
Types of motorcycle windshields:
Motorcycle windshields can be divided into three main dedicated types, and universal windshields:
Touring: usually taller and wider, designed for touring motorcycles. These windshields are also distinguished by a special "curvature" in the upper part aimed at directing the air stream over the driver's helmet which significantly improves the vehicle aerodynamics and travel comfort. They are designed to improve the comfort of driving on long distances and make the ride much less exhausting.
Standard: they have standard factory dimensions, perfectly fitting the factory mounting holes. Very often replacements are of better quality than OEM windshields and can cost less. An additional advantage of replacements is large color palette, much larger than that of the manufacturer of the motorcycle you own.
Sports: ("double bubble") – designed for sports and racing motorbikes, they have a special "hump" in the middle. These windshields protect against the wind only in a sporty, inclined position.
As far as universal windshields are concerned, they will be a good solution for naked motorcycles. Their prices are at an average level (around 50-150 EUR), but there are also those for which you have to spend over 250 EUR. Universal windshields are usually attached directly to the steering wheel by means of rods and specially designed mountings. Due to their optimal profiling and elongated shape, they perfectly protect you from wind and reduce air resistance. The above mentioned motorcycle accessories are refined down to the smallest detail which are being tested in the virtual wind tunnel already at the design stage.
What is best material for the production of a motorcycle windshield?
Motorcycle windshields are made of acrylic or polycarbonate. Each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages.
Acrylic has a very good transparency, better than traditional glass, is very economical, costs less than polycarbonate and provides sufficient strength and durability. Acrylic is also well known for being resistant to most scratches. In case of scratches appearing, it can be easily polished. It does not fade or turn yellow under the influence of UV rays.
Windshields made of polycarbonate are even more resistant to damage than the acrylic ones. They are also resistant to chipping and cracks and ensure good transparency. However, they cannot be polished and turns yellow under the influence of UV rays. In addition, the price can be up to 3 times higher than that of acrylic windshields . Polycarbonate is a good solution for people who encounter a lot of pollutants, dirt and dust on their way.
Here you can read more about: What are motorcycle windshield made of?
Choosing the perfect motorcycle windshield / some useful tips:
When choosing a motorcycle windshield, ask yourself a very important question: what kind of protection do you need? If you are a person who likes longer routes and wants to be happy and well-rested when you get there, choose something wide and tall. A gust of wind or drops of rain will no longer disturb you during your travels. However, if you prefer short trips, like to admire beautiful views and enjoy riding a motorcycle, choose the smallest possible windshield, it will improve comfort and thus will not spoil the motorcycle line. Or maybe you want both? No problem, choose a windshield with a detachable function that will allow you to put it on for longer rides and remove it for short trips or motorcycle shows.
If such windscreen is not available for your motorcycle, purchase two separate windshields in order to use them in different circumstances. You can have one for long rides and the other for short trips. Considering the fact that a motorcycle windshield is easy to replace, this could be a great solution. However, if you want to keep your expenses to a minimum or don't want to deal with replacing them, buy one. It's hard to decide, choose what best suits your individual riding style. It will make you feel more confident and give your motorbike the look you want.
Another important issue which need to be considered, is the height of the windshield, which depends on the height of the driver. The windshield should be selected "just right". It should not be too high because when it gets dirty by worms, dust or rain, it will prevent us from seeing the road, and when it is too low, it will direct a blast of air (along with other obstacles) to our helmet, which will become unbearable. There is one simple rule that will allow us to choose the right windshield, it says that the windshield should end at the height of our nose; firstly, it will provide us with good visibility, secondly the air stream will be directed over our helmet. Another way to determine the exact height of the windshield is to place an object on the ground about 50 feet (15.25 m) from your motorcycle. Then we sit comfortably on the motorcycle so that the rear suspension is bent to the driving position, and we observe the object placed there. The windscreen should by no means make it difficult for us to see.
The last advice concerns our motorcycle, if we find a dedicated windshields, let's buy one, but if our motorcycle is modified or ordinary, and therefore the windshield is not available on the market, buy a universal one.
The tilt angle adjustment is also worth noting. This is one of the things that, contrary to appearances, will not be useful but once you have it, you will appreciate it very much. On a warm summer day, you can set the windscreen to obtain a bigger gust of wind on your face; however, on some colder days, it will protect you from the icy wind.
Motorcycle windshield deflectors:
The wind deflector is a small windscreen which is attached to the upper edge of the motorcycle windscreen. It can be also said a kind of extension of the windshield. Is usually made of acrylic glass.
Installation is very simple, each deflector has ready-made fixings that will allow us to attach it to the motorcycle windshield without drilling. The deflector can be adjusted to your preferences by changing the height and angle of inclination.
The main purpose of installing wind deflector is to change the air stream and direct it over the driver's head; it can protect against turbulence and noise. This inconspicuous little windshield can improve aerodynamics, protect against rain, insects and dirt hitting from under the wheels of vehicles towards us.
For more information about deflectors, please read the article "What is a motorcycle wind deflector"
The installation of a motorcycle windscreen:
Each windshield is mounted differently, so we cannot cover all different mounting styles in this guide. However, there is one rule to follow when installing a windshield, namely we should test it beforehand.
First of all, you need to make sure your windshield will fit your motorcycle before trying to install it in case you get the wrong windshield or mounting kit. You also need to make sure that the windscreen height is appropriate. To check this you will need some help. Ask another person to hold the windscreen in the right place exactly where it should be installed, then sit on the motorcycle in usual driving position and make sure that it does not obstruct your field of vision and its upper edge is at the level of your nose. If the windshield is too low, you can use pads to mount it a little higher; and remember that every centimeter matters! If you are satisfied with the dimensions, start installing it :)
How to trim a motorcycle windshield:
When the windshield is too small and the wind hits your face, the solution is very simple - you need to buy a wind deflector. However, if you have not read our article about selecting the appropriate windshield height and bought it too large or simply bought the motorcycle from a tall person and the mounted windshield does not fit, a very good, contrary to appearances, simple solution is to trim it. Follow these rules and you will be satisfied with the effect and you will not have to spend money on another windshield.
1. The most important thing is to match the appropriate height at which the windscreen is to be cut, but this topic is very well described above.
2. Once the appropriate height is determined, we need to copy the upper shape of the windscreen. To do this, place a piece of cardboard behind it and precisely trace its curvature. Then cut the cardboard along the drawn line. Well done, you've got the pattern!
3. Put the readymade pattern to the windscreen and draw a line with a pencil as you want to trim it.
4. To avoid unwanted scratches, cover the working area of the windshield with a masking tape.
5. Go to cutting, you can use a jigsaw with fine tooth saw blade . Cut slowly to avoid burning through the plastic.
6. The hardest part is over, now it's time to sand the cut surface. For this, good 220/400/600 grit sandpaper should be enough, but be careful to sand only the edge. Check periodically with your finger to make sure there is a smooth edge.
7. Finally, rinse the trimmed windshield well with warm water to remove any fine dirt or dust and wash it.
Motorcycle windshield quality:
An extremely important factor influencing the quality of the windshield is the quality of the material used for its production. There are two things to pay attention when it comes to the windscreens: the optical clarity and the thickness of the material. The thin screen will sway and bend at high speeds causing bouncing or jerking. A driver who has been driving at highway speeds with a thin windshield for a longer period of time will certainly confirm this.
There are two materials designed for motorcycle windshields: polycarbonate and acrylic. Both are transparent, stiff and resemble plastic, but each of them has unique properties. Polycarbonate is definitely more expensive and much more durable than acrylic but it can be scratched with your fingernail and turns yellow from UV rays. Acrylic glass is less prone to yellowing, it is softer which makes it easy to polish it and restore its original appearance.
What is "Buffeting"
Maybe you have been riding down the highway on a motorcycle and suddenly felt an involuntary head shake? If yes, you feel as if an invisible force is hitting your head from side to side, top to bottom and front to back. In such situation, it's hard to concentrate on the road and after 10/15 minutes your neck hurts and you feel a terrible headache. If so, you have fallen victim to a wind blast called "buffeting".
Buffeting is the action of hitting repeatedly and violently causing turbulence and vibration. When riding a motorcycle, it is the rotating wind around the windshield that hits our helmet. "Wind buffeting" is not the same as simple wind resistance. Resistance is the constant pressure of the wind blowing on the rider, anyone who rides a “naked” motorcycle without a motorcycle windshield knows the feeling very well. Buffeting is something completely different.
What causes “wind buffeting” (gusts of wind fluttering our helmet)?
The answer is simple, it is of course, a gust of wind at highway speeds, but at some point the wind begins to swirl around the edges and inside part of the windshield, creating a negative pressure. It can also flow under the fairing or on its sides and blow directly onto your chest and helmet. The air circulating in such space is not coherent, so it causes vibrations and turbulences which can have a negative effect on the quality of the ride.
How to avoid “wind buffeting” ?
First, you should start with the correct selection and orientation of the windshield. The wind should slide on the windshield and hit the top of our helmet. The trick is to adjust the windshield so that it directs the wind to the top of our head. If your windshield has an adjustable tilt angle, use it; if not, you can extend the windscreen with a wind deflector or buy a longer one.
However, if at the moment we do not have enough money to buy a deflector or a longer windshield, we can lay washers under the mounting screws to obtain a small gap under the windshield allowing air flow and reducing the negative pressure fluttering our helmet. However, be careful with this procedure, because the more washers under the screw, the less it will tighten the windshield.
If that did not help, we can look for the reason of buffeting on the sides of our motorcycle. The rotating wind blowing from under the fairings also causes fluttering of the helmet. The solution to this problem is the installation of additional fairings to direct the air blast away from the driver.
In conclusion, you can effectively reduce wind buffeting by paying attention to:
● The height of the windshield and the way air flows through the windshield
● Add a deflector to the windshield to direct the wind overhead
● Add space for airflow under the windshield
● Use additional fairings
Motorcycle windshield with vent:
The vent which is at the bottom of the motorcycle windshield is designed to direct the air flow behind the windshield, so that air turbulence and rotation causing buffeting does not appear. Often such opening is adjustable and you can determine the amount of air to enter through the ventilation. In addition, by allowing free air flow, it mutes the noise generated while riding.
This solution is especially suitable for motorcycles where you cannot raise the windshield or adjust it at the right angle to allow some air to fall under it. Ventilation will help to direct a gust of air to your face on hot days, and may be completely closed on cold days. The biggest disadvantage of this solution is its installation. To install a vent, we first need to cut the mounting hole in the windshield, that at worst, may result in a windshield breakage.
The last three important issues according to motorcycle windscreens: cleaning, maintenance and polishing.
Many people worry that the windshield will get scratched quickly and thus reduce visibility and become disturbing. To dispel doubts, let's consider in what situations may the windshield scratched the most. Of course, while cleaning it! Scratches also appear in other circumstances during riding a motorcycle but this is only the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of scratches are created when we take a paper towel or an ordinary washing cloth, spray the windscreen with liquid and try to wash it. Sticky dry dirt or dust acts like a sandpaper, scratching the surface of our windscreen. So how to do it? First, rinse the windscreen with warm clean water to remove sand particles.
If the dirt is small, use a microfiber cloth and screen cleaner. Such a cloth has the ability to absorb dirt between its fibers, which prevents the scratching particles from spreading on the windscreen. If the dirt is much larger, soak a towel in warm soapy water and place it on the windscreen for a few minutes to soften the dirt. When the dirt is softened, slightly wipe it off. Many people use too much force to remove dirt, remember that the windshield should be cleaned very gently.
To keep your new screen in good condition for a long time, you should read also how to clean a motorcycle windscreen properly.
First of all - do not park the motorcycle in strong sunny place, and if you have to do so, at least cover the windshield with a soft cloth. Do it even if the windshield is damaged or its anti-UV coating has lost its properties. It will definitely help to stop the yellowing process.
Second - polish the surface very carefully. Do not use harsh cleaning agents or abrasive materials. While polishing, make gentle, not too sweeping, circular movements. Remember that you should not polish the windshield too often as this may damage its protective coating. If you do not have enough experience in this field, we advise you to seek professional help.
Third - maintain the windshield impeccably clean. Wash it after each ride before insects, dust and dirt have dried on the surface. Wash it with special agents, a soft cloth and warm water, rinse the surface several times. Follow the above-mentioned tips and you will be able to enjoy the good condition of the windshield for much longer.
Fourth - use all kinds of dedicated screen cleaners and preparations which create an invisible protective layer repelling water and sand particles.
Scratches are usually removed with water sandpaper, gradually increasing the gradation, then a polishing paste or polishing milk is rubbed into the dull surface, using a soft cloth or polishing machine. The procedure requires practice, time and patience, so it is better to have it done by a specialist.
Can a motorcycle windshield be tinted?
Can you tint the motorcycle windshield? Yes, of course! Tinting a motorcycle windshield is legal and it is a fairly common activity for motorcyclists, especially concerning street motorbikes. It is advised not to use a really dark shade on the larger windshields found on cruisers and touring motorbikes as this can reduce visibility. If you want to tint a windshield, there are some important things to know about in this article.
Let's start with asking a following question: why do people want to tint their windshield?
-One of the common reasons is unpleasantly blinding glare from the sun
-Hiding the rider image behind a tinted windshield
-Eye protection against glare of lights and sun
-Better machine appearance
Ways of tinting the windshield:
-The most popular of them is the use of foil
-Wrap it with vinyl
Before we move on from words to deeds, it will be a good idea to check your local laws to see if they allow this type of modification. If there are no contraindications, you can get started:
-At the beginning, clean the windscreen carefully and thoroughly,
-Soak the windscreen with soapy water, measure and cut the foil
-When everything fits, remove the backing from the foil and put it on the windscreen
-As long as there is soapy water under the foil, we can move it freely
-When everything fits, remove water and air bubbles from under the foil with a rubber-tipped squeegee from the center to the outer edges
-Then, put the gasket on the windscreen; if necessary, wrap any excess foil under it.
There is only one disadvantage of tinting the windshield and not everyone will see it. Namely, it is about reduced visibility when it is getting dark outside. If you are a rider who looks over the windshield, you will not feel the difference, but if you hide your face entirely behind it, the tinting can be very dangerous. Unless you are a person who rides a motorcycle only during the day, the problem becomes a little less.
Thank you for reading the article!
If you would like to check if a windshield for your bike is available in our e-store, use the search engine on our home page you will go to by clicking this link!
More information about cleaning windscreen: "HOW TO CLEAN A MOTORCYCLE WINDSCREEN PROPERLY"
Also read about the wind deflectors: "WHAT IS A MOTORCYCLE WIND DEFLECTOR OR MOTORCYCLE SPOILER?"
Last update: 23.04.2021
Thanks for great article! A lot of knowledge about motorcycle windshields gathered in one place.
Thanks for this guide. A lot of useful information in one place. Complete motorcycle windshield purchase instructions.