Your Ultimate Guide: Windshield or No Windshield

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Windshields are extremely helpful while riding any sort of vehicle that’s going high speeds. This category can also include motorcycles. But you’ve probably noticed that some motorcycles don’t have a windshield at all.

That’s because windshields are not a mandatory feature for motorcycles. Some prefer having them, some don’t. It is possible to get caught up in the debate about whether you should buy a windshield for your bicycle.

What are the benefits versus the drawbacks of having a windshield mounted on a motorcycle A windshield can be a great addition to a motorcycle. It will improve the riding experience and prevent debris from hitting the rider. Its disadvantages include its appearance, which can distract from riding and cause it to pop into your ears if installed incorrectly.

I have ridden and owned motorcycles that had windshields as well as owned many that didn’t have a windshield. I’ve been able to tell the differences between the two and have compiled an unbiased list of what they’re like versus each other.

Windshield vs. no Windshield

There are many parts to a motorcycle that can make or break an individual’s experience, depending on their liking and taste. A windshield can make or break an individual’s experience.

A windshield on a motorcycle has the obvious advantage of blocking wind. It blocks the wind, hence its name. This protection is very important on a motorcycle because wind can really affect you, especially on long rides.

You can feel your limbs go numb from the constant wind that blows by you. The windshield can be used to keep the wind out of your face, which will make the ride more comfortable.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a bug or a small rock hit you going 70 miles an hour, but if you haven’t just know that it really hurts. It’s amazing how something so small can cause so much pain. A small rock or jab can cause you to jerk your arm back, which can be dangerous.

A windshield can protect you from bugs and other small objects that could be hitting you unintentionally. Even if you’re wearing a helmet, not having to worry as much about stuff flying past you can also make you a little more comfortable.

The third benefit of having a windshield on your bike is the support it provides to your stereo system, if you have one. Although listening to music on a bike can be more fun, the rushing wind can severely limit the enjoyment. Having a windshield will block that wind thus giving your stereo a chance to let you hear the music you’re playing. See my other article for additional ways to enjoy music while riding.

Now that we’ve discussed some of the advantages of having a windshield on your motorcycle, let’s discuss some of the disadvantages. The most important is probably looks. That’s usually the number one reason someone takes the windshield off their bike. It’s pretty uncommon to see a windshield on certain motorcycles such as cafe racers or bobbers because it simply cramps the style and goes against the minimalist look that deems them as that type of bike.

A windshield that isn’t installed correctly can cause a major distraction and can pose a danger to your safety. While installing windshields is relatively simple, it is easy to make mistakes. If it’s flapping around while riding, the rider is likely to fidget with it. It can strike another vehicle and cause serious damage if it flies off.

A motorcycle’s windscreen can cause your ears to pop. This may sound a little strange, but if you’re at the right speed and the windshield is at just the right angle, you’ll experience a low thumping sound, similar to what it’s like if you slightly roll down one window in a car going really fast. It can be very annoying and cause headaches.

There are times when you should use a windshield

You may not like the look or feel of a windshield on your bike, but there are some situations where it is necessary. It’s always a good idea to have a windshield handy despite the type of motorcycle you have and to make sure it is the right fit.

The first instance you’ll always want to use a windshield is during harsh weather such as rain, snow, and hail. Not only is this a safety issue, but it’s a comfort issue as well. If you’ve ever had to ride in the cold rain or snow, you’ll know it’s an experience you’ll never want to do again. Motorcyclists are very susceptible to hypothermia. They can easily get it in five minutes if they’re soaked in rain or snow.

Though having a windshield doesn’t keep you from getting wet, it’ll prevent a lot of splashes that wet weather has to offer. It will keep your helmet dry, prevent water splashing onto your helmet, and make your ride more comfortable. People aren’t going to notice the big and bulky windshield anyway because they’ll be too distracted with trying to stay safe themselves in such weather.

A windshield is also recommended for long rides. It doesn’t matter whether it’s supposed to be raining or if it’s sunny the whole time, having that windshield will be incredibly helpful.

As I have mentioned, riding on a motorcycle can cause some of your limbs to become numb from the constant wind blowing. You’re already reducing your circulation anyway from sitting so long on a motorcycle, so that can decrease your discomfort altogether. Your long-distance trip will be more memorable if you prevent debris and wind from hitting your face.

How to make a windshield look better

People often associate motorcycle windshields with the bulky, heavy pieces of plastic at the front of the bike. These windshields are not the only ones available. Some can even look quite stylish. There are some modifications you can do to them to help with the looks of your bike if that’s something you’re worried about.

Some windshields can be ordered in very small sizes. Some windshields are even smaller than six inches in height. Though these won’t be as effective as bigger windshields, it can still hold some protection. Some windshields also come with extremely clear plastic so they’re hardly detectable by others while riding down the road.

If having a clear windshield isn’t really your style, Tinted ones can be ordered to match your motorcycle better. Tinted windshields can help reduce distractions from other drivers and glares.

I’ve seen cafe racers with windshields that looked great. It’s easy to shop around and find the best one for you and your bike.

Windshields & Gas Mileage

Motorcycles have been designed to be aerodynamically friendly. This means that they are less wind resistant than other vehicles. Many people wonder if motorcycle windshields can improve or reduce gas mileage.

Windshields actually don’t have that big of an impact on gas mileage. It may decrease gas mileage slightly, but it will probably not be anything noticeable from your wallet’s perspective. Some people expect it to have a huge impact when it really doesn’t.

Windshields do create a blunt surface area that wind and resistance have to work against which is why it’s possible for it to affect your gas mileage. But this probably isn’t something you should be too concerned about if you wonder whether or not you should get a windshield in the first place.

Similar Questions

Can wind blow over a motorbike parked on its side? A parked motorcycle can be blown over by wind. It all depends on the size of the motorcycle, its location, how high it stands up and the strength of the wind. The average 400 pound motorcycle can blow over starting at winds that are 50 – 60 miles per hour. You can click here to read my article.

What is wind buffeting exactly? Wind buffeting while riding a motorcycle can be used to refer to wind turbulence. When this happens, you may feel vibrations and shaking from your helmet and your motorcycle.

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