Wind Vest

Although I saved various parts, such as the controller and harness for the electric gloves, from my former Road Star (shown in the two photos immediately below) in the aftermath of the attempted-murder-by-automobile three years ago, I didn’t save the busted up stock Yamaha windshield. The replacement for the totaled ’06 was my current bike, a ’99 which had the stock Yamaha shield mounted.

Left: The stock Yamaha Silverado windshield.  

Right: Road Star with stock windshield near Vail, Colorado.

I typically mount the stock windshield in the Fall when the weather begins to turn cold, then remove it in the spring for the warm months. It takes a few miles to adjust to the lack of windshield every spring. The ride is completely different without the shield on the bike. The handling is noticeably better. With the shield mounted, it is much like having a sail mounted on the front of the bike, particularly in gusty wind conditions like those frequently in the San Gorgonio Pass between Banning and Palm Springs, California (there is a good reason why there are so many wind turbines located in the east end of the pass).

A windshield is good when you’re riding over 200 miles (321 kilometers) per day, because it removes the constant wind pressure against your chest. At the end of a long ride you’re fresher. That only applies to anyone of a certain age. When I was in my twenties it didn’t matter to me, so I never had a shield on my bikes. I started mounting them around the time I was thirty years old.

I don’t particularly like the look of the big, wide stock windshields on cruisers. Though they have a classic appearance, I find them a bit ugly, and only use them during the cold months to cut some of the chill from the air, and when I’m going to ride long distances in the warm months, to take the pressure off my chest. Windshields like Yamaha’s “Silverado” typically have a large amount of hardware, albeit chromed, which hides large amounts of the bike’s front end. I like the look of the naked front ends of motorcycles.

With the weather growing warmer, I removed the stock windshield from my Road Star ten days ago. I immediately noticed the improved handling of the bike. At the same time, I experienced the pressure of the wind on my chest on a ride up into the San Jacinto Mountains. A few days after removing the windshield I rode to NoPork in Norco to pick up a couple key blanks. I have had only one key for the bike for nearly two years. Though I’m very careful about keeping track of it, it seemed like a good idea to get a couple spares made.

While talking to owner Brian Erman and his son Eric, Eric brought my attention to a very nicely appointed white Road Star that the shop had for sale. I noticed the tinted Wind Vest mounted on the handlebars, and commented to Eric that I’ve wanted a Wind Vest for years, since it looked like a good compromise between a large shield and no shield. Eric told me that they had one for sale, then walked off to retrieve it from a back room. When he returned with it, I noticed that it was untinted, which I prefer, and the original 14″ size. I talked to Brian and Eric about it for a few minutes and bought it for half of the full retail price, since it was used. Though it is a used shield, I haven’t been able to find a single thing wrong with it.

That experience at NoPork is typical of many experiences I’ve had there. An unabashed plug : They always have the parts I need or can get them very quickly on the very rare occasion when they don’t have something in stock. Often, they will have used parts that are indistinguishable from new for a greatly reduced price, and they are always helpful. If I have a problem with my bike, they always freely give me information to help me solve it. In addition to selling motorcycle parts and accessories, NoPork always has a good selection of used motorcycles, and a full service department. If you need parts for your non-Harley, try their online ordering service or phone direct. If you are fortunate enough to live near Norco, California, drop by the shop at 2585 Hamner Avenue in Norco when you need parts, service, or a used Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, or Suzuki motorcycle (and on occasion a prime used Harley).

Full Disclosure : I have known Brian since 1998, when we worked in the Software Development Department of the Auto Club.

That I believe more people should patronize NoPork is selfish, since I would get a small amount of personal satisfaction if the business continued to serve the motorcycling community as well as it currently does into the 22nd century or longer.

After barely four days of riding with the Wind Vest, I am quite satisfied with it. In my very unscientific opinion, it cuts out about 65 to 70% of the wind that the big shield stops, primarily on my torso, and the handling is as good as having no shield of any kind mounted. In addition, the reflex curve at the upper edge of the plexiglass throws the wind over my head and the turbulence around my ears is reduced relative to the stock windshield.