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Rider Education Article
Submitted by: Joe & Gracie Mazza
Assistant International Rider Education Director

Windscreens

by: James R. Davis

I would like to present an article by James R. Davis and then comment on it.

There has been a trend over the past few years of even bigger windscreens showing up on our bikes. You cannot attend a major rally without seeing at least one vendor of these "super duper", "larger-than-life", "aerodynamic", "custom made", "Co-rider friendly", pieces of plastic.

I like having a good windscreen in front of me. I like cutting most of the wind that buffets me during a long ride. I like having the bugs hit something other than my teeth. I like raindrops splashing on the plastic and then sliding up over my head.

But, I do not like the cost in terms of gasoline mileage or top-end speed. I do not like banging my forehead (excuse me-my helmet) on the windscreen when I mount my motorcycle. I dislike greatly not being able to look OVER my windscreen when things around me get dicey or visibility gets poor. I dislike reports of melted dashboards for leaving a bike in the sun at exactly the wrong time of day and pointed at the wrong angle to the sun.

As to aerodynamic, says who? Wind resistance is not just an angle at which you hit the wind. There is as much resistance caused by the vacuum behind your windscreen as there is from the wind hitting it in the front. The greater the apparent surface area your windscreen has, the greater its resistance is, in one form or another.

As to "co-rider friendly", what about "rider friendly" first? Have you ever driven at night and had difficulty seeing through your windscreen because your dash lights are all being reflected back at you from your new "super-duper-swept-back windscreen MIRROR? And should you get into an accident and find your head forced down by that windscreen that is levered over your head, what part of that new windscreen do you think your co-rider is going to hit first? (notice how close the edge is to her eyes.)

Like having that windscreen sweep around your grips? I guess you never did like the convenience of hanging your helmet using it's D-ring and the peg it was designed to fit it?

Well, the larger screens look good. They are just right for some people. But, do yourself a favor and take a ride behind one of them for a few hundred miles, day and night, before you decide to give up what you know works for one of these "custom-made" monsters. The old one you have just might be better than you think.

I would like to comment on a few of the points made by James R. Davis. I have referred to, and agreed with, a number of his safety articles in the past. However, I disagree, to some extent, with his thinking when it comes to aerodynamic verses comfort. Whether the larger windscreens are aerodynamic or not, does not concern me.

The very first long ride my wife (co-rider) and I took was to the South Carolina District Rally in 2002, on our new, and just purchased, Gold Wing. The windscreen was stock and the wind made for a very uncomfortable trip for my co-rider. At the rally, we purchased a Tulsa windscreen, one of the windscreens Davis refers to as a "monster," which completely solved the comfort problem. I have been riding with large windscreens ever since.

Davis makes reference to windscreen positioning during an accident where he said the windscreen is bent backwards to eye level with the co-rider. Although this may have happened on occasion, I feel the positives of a large windscreen, for we "mature riders", far outweigh the negatives in reference to safety and comfort.

Davis asks, "what about rider friendly?" What about it? With the larger windscreen I feel safer, more comfortable and, most importantly, more relaxed knowing my co-rider is enjoying the ride as much as I am. Her comfort and enjoyment is paramount in my mind if we are going to continue this journey through life together.

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