Windshield vs. No Windshield On A Motorcycle: Your Ultimate Guide


Windshields are extremely helpful while riding any sort of vehicle that’s going high speeds. Motorcycles can be included in this category. 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. You may be caught in the debate of whether or not you should get a windshield for your bike.

What are the advantages vs. the disadvantages of having a windshield on a motorcycle? The advantages of having a windshield on a motorcycle include improving the riding experience, preventing debris from hitting the rider, and being able to listen to music easier. The disadvantages include how it looks cosmetically, it can be a distraction if not installed correctly, and it can pop your ears in the right settings.

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. Having or not having a windshield on can be on of those experiences.

The first advantage to having a windshield on a motorcycle is an obvious one. It blocks the wind, hence the name of the product. Having that protection on a motorcycle is valuable because the wind can really get to you while riding, especially on long rides.

Constant wind rushing past you can make some of your limbs go numb. Having the windshield to block that wind can help keep you comfortable on your motorcycle which ultimately makes the experience a little more enjoyable.

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 jab in your arm by a small rock can make you flinch or jerk your arm back which can be dangerous.

A windshield can help prevent those bugs and other small debris that might be coming your way from hitting you unexpectedly. 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 advantage of having a windshield on your motorcycle is the assistance it gives to a stereo system if you have one. Listening to music on a motorcycle can make the experience more enjoyable, but the rushing wind will hinder the sound immensely. Having a windshield will block that wind thus giving your stereo a chance to let you hear the music you’re playing. For additional ways to listen to music while riding, see my other article here.

Now that we’ve discussed some of the advantages of having a windshield on your motorcycle, let’s discuss some of the disadvantages. Probably the biggest one is 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.

If a windshield is not installed correctly, it can be a huge distraction which can be incredibly dangerous. Installing windshields can be pretty simple, but it is also pretty easy to get it wrong. If it’s flapping around while riding, the rider is likely to fidget with it. If it flies off it can hit another vehicle and cause damage to them.

Windshields on a motorcycle also have a tendency to make your ears 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. That can literally cause a headache and make your ride very unpleasant.

Times You Should Use A Windshield

Whether or not you like the idea and look of having a windshield on your motorcycle, there are a few instances where you should have and use a windshield no matter what. 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 actually very prone to hypothermia and can get it within five minutes if they get soaked from 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 you a little more dry, prevent some water from splashing onto and into your helmet, and ultimately make you a little more comfortable during your ride. 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.

The second instance you should always use a windshield on your motorcycle is when you are doing long trips. 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 had mentioned before, the continuous blowing of the wind on you during a ride can make some of your limbs go numb. You’re already reducing your circulation anyway from sitting so long on a motorcycle, so that can decrease your discomfort altogether. Preventing debris and constant wind from hitting you during a long trip will make your trip much more memorable in a good way.

What You Can Do To A Windshield To Make It Look Better

When people think of motorcycle windshields, they often think of the large and bulky pieces of plastic that sits at the front of the bike. While there are windshields like this, there are also some that can actually look pretty 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 come in very small sizes. Some come even as small as six inches tall. 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, you can also get tinted ones that match your motorcycle a little better. Having a tinted windshield can also help with glares and reflections that could be distracting to you or other drivers around you.

I have seen several cafe racers with windshields on them that actually looked really good. You just need to shop around a little bit and find the right one for you and your bike if you are in need of one.

Windshields And Gas Mileage

Motorcycles were made to be more aerodynamic friendly, meaning the wind resistance on them is a lot less compared to other vehicles. Some may wonder if windshields on motorcycle help improve or impact gas mileage at all.

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.

Related Questions

Can wind blow over a parked motorcycle? It is possible for wind to blow over a parked motorcycle. A lot of it depends on how big the motorcycle is, where it is parked, how it is standing up, and how strong the winds are. The average 400 pound motorcycle can blow over starting at winds that are 50 – 60 miles per hour. Click here to see my article for more information.

What is wind buffeting? Wind buffeting on a motorcycle is used to describe wind turbulence while riding. You may experience shaking and vibrations with your motorcycle as well as with your helmet when this happens.

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