Some bikes come with windshield standard to the ride, while others don’t come with any windshields at all. Having a windshield on your bike or not is definitely a personal preference; some riders detest them, while others couldn’t imagine hitting the road without one.
However, for the purpose of this article, we are going to assume that you are actively interested in either adding a windshield to or replacing the windshield that is already on your bike. If you decide to do this, there are definitely certain things that you’ll need to take into consideration.
And just like with anything else having to do with bike customization, there really is no specific best aftermarket motorcycle windshield. A lot of what goes into the windshield that you end up choosing is determined by your bike and the way that you ride. You also need to take into consideration the climate where you’ll be riding your bike. If you tend to ride, say, in Southern California, your needs and wants out of a windshield are going to be very different than if you were riding in New England or the Pacific Northwest. You may also be restricted by laws in your local jurisdiction where motorcycle windshields are concerned.
How Many Types of Motorcycle Windshields Are There?
There are hundreds of different options on the market for windshields. When it comes to choosing one for your particular ride, you first need to ascertain what kind of mounting system you would prefer. If your bike came with a permanent windshield attached, you can of course use the hardware that came with your bike if you need to replace the windshield. This is probably the most straightforward way of attaching a windshield to your bike.
If you are installing a windshield on a bike that didn’t come with one from the factory, you’ll need to purchase a windshield kit, which includes the mounting hardware. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase the windshield and the mounting system separately. The windshield kit is generally the easier of the two, but some windshield models don’t offer this.
Some windshields are known as “universal mount windshields” and these can fit on a wide range of motorcycles. Other kinds of windshield are specifically designed for your particular model of bike.
Whether you go with a bike windshield that is specifically made for your ride model or if you choose a universal mount windshield is up to you. However, some models of bike “naturally” sport windshields, and these are the models that are more likely to have windshields specifically made for them. If your bike is not one of these, you might have a hard time finding something that is model-specific. Either way, the universal mount systems are high-quality, so you have nothing to worry about there.
How Tall Should My Windshield Be?
A good ruler for this question is literally your nose. While having a tall windshield can help protect you from bugs, debris, and dirt commonly encountered while riding a motorcycle… they can also become a danger if they are too high. Particularly if you drive in an area that is subject to high winds, if your windshield is too high this can be a hazard due to motorcycle windshield aerodynamics. A strong wind could easily knock the bike out from your control! Additionally, some windshields are prone to collecting rain and this can drastically decrease your ability to see through it, so when the weather is inclement you need to be able to see around the windshield so it doesn’t become a hazard.
As stated, a good motorcycle windshield height guide is to compare it against the height of your nose. If your windshield is at or below your nose, this means that you should be able to see around it easily in the case that the windshield fogs up or is covered in rain.
Of course, many windshields, especially those that are designed for sport bikes, are far, far shorter than this. You typically encounter larger windshields on cruiser-type motorcycles.
What If I Want a Tinted Windshield?
Not only can tinted windshields help prevent you from dealing with unwanted glare from the sun, they also pack a lot of style. However, shields that are tinted too dark can be a hazard if you are riding in inclement weather, or even just generally, depending on the tint.
The type of tint (or any tint) that you get on your windshield, is, like everything else, based on preference. If you are looking to get a heavily tinted shield for aesthetic reasons, we recommend that you get a windshield that can be removed. This way, the dark tint won’t become a safety issue if you must ride in less-than-desirable weather. If you are planning on attaching a permanent windshield to your ride, it is best to get a windshield with a light tint in order to reduce glare but not inhibit your ability to see well.
What Should My Windshield Be Made From?
Most windshields are made from either acrylic or polycarbonate Lexan. Your choice between these two materials will likely be decided either by law or cost factor. Acrylic windshields tend to be on the cheaper side, but many states require that windshields be shatterproof and not all acrylic windshields are.
Generally speaking, the thicker the windshield is the more shatterproof it is. However, polycarbonate Lexan windshields tend to be more durable. Keep in mind that the thicker a windshield is, the more weight it adds to your bike.
Again, your decision here is naturally guided by your preferences as well as the law. You need to decide whether you would prefer a more durable shield, or one that adds less weight to your bike. Also, make sure that any windshield that you purchase complies with your local jurisdiction’s rules on windshields.
Your Ultimate Choice
As you can tell, most of this is decided by your personal preference. Windshields are not at all necessary to riding a bike, but some riders do think that they really help with adding comfort to a ride. No matter what your personal preference is where windshields are concerned, the most important thing to remember is that the best motorcycle windshields are found after doing plenty of exhaustive research.