Sunday, June 3, 2007

Motorcycle Windshields Do More Than Add Oomph To A Bike

by James Gunaseelan

Motorcycle windshields do not just add oomph to a bike, they do much more. Among other things, they intercept discarded cigarette butts, bugs and other assorted highway missiles. They also conduct the all important task of redirecting airflow away from the rider's head and torso thus saving him from wind fatigue on long hauls.

Little wonder then that windshields are the most sought after accessory in the market. The demand has also spawned a whole range of windshields, each claiming its own USP. However, before buying one you must keep the following five points in mind:

1. The Fit: Try and get a windshield that's made by your own bike manufacturer. They are more likely to fit your bike seamlessly. You can also try the universal shield. This type is lightweight, handlebar-mounted and can be fitted on almost any bike. Universal windshields provide just a very basic shield between you and air.

2. The Plastic: It is important that the plastic has good optical properties. Distortion around the edges or near the curvature of a shield can be especially dangerous.

3. The Size: Bigger windshields do not always mean better protection. A high windshield might work well to block the icy wind but during the rains, it could become a wet wall that you can't look over. Short windshields are good because they let the cool breeze fan your face in hot weather, but they can cause havoc to your helmet when the wind is sharp. Much depends on the kind of bike you have and how you sit on it. The best is to sit on a bike and then check how the windshield will work.

4. The Height: A windshield that sits just below your line of vision while seated comfortably is a good option. You should be able to see over it without straining and yet be comfortable dropping your head down to look through the glass. In any case the height at which you are most comfortable is probably the right height. Sit before several windshields and you'll know which works for you.

5. The Mounting System: Check the mounting system before you buy the windshield. Mounting hardware can vary radically from shield to shield. While putting up your windshields make sure you don't bind cables or block either lighting or brake lines. Give controls and mirrors ample space. Make sure that nothing touches the windshield when the fork is fully compressed. Also make sure that the shield doesn't interfere with steering. Take a short test ride, but take it slow.

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