Some people just want to look cool on their motorcycles—even if being cool sometimes means being cold. Others—and I count myself one of them—don’t care two hoots about being cool, we just want to be comfortable. The difference, and the distinguishing mark in many cases, is the presence or lack of a windshield or fairing.
I wouldn’t own a highway bike without some kind of wind protection. On most of the serious road machines, such as Yamaha’s Royal Star Venture S or Kawasaki’s Concours 14, a full fairing is standard equipment. On others the wind screen is optional, but even when the manufacturer doesn’t offer something there is always the aftermarket. No one has to ride with the wind blasting them in the chest.
But some people like it. My friend Bill is one of those. He’d be right at home on a Star Roadliner S, and even though they offer a windshield as an option Bill would not buy it. In addition to wanting to look cool—which he admits is the primarily reason he has no wind protection—he also just plain likes that feel of the wind blasting him in the face. Of course, he doesn’t like it enough to cruise at interstate speeds. On the rare occasions where we get on the interstate we’ll generally end up going about 60-65 because the wind blast is too uncomfortable for him.
Of course, that drives me a little crazy because my Concours is built to cruise fast on the big road, and the engine’s sweet spot is actually at about 80. Plus, if we’re on the interstate at all it is usually because we need to burn up some miles and I’d just as soon burn them in a hurry.
So the blast is one thing. For me, it is just not comfortable to be riding with that wind buffeting me. Plus, at times when we have traded bikes for a while, I’ve ended up with my eyes running so badly from the wind in my face that I’ve been almost blinded. Maybe wrap-around sunglasses would help that, I don’t know.
But the other thing is the cold. I ride all year round, and in winter that sometimes means I’m out there at sub-freezing temperatures. One of my bikes just has a windshield, while the other has a full fairing. What a difference between the two! On the bike with the windshield I get cold pretty quickly. On the one with the fairing I will get cold after awhile but that fairing does its job. It comes up high and is wide, so there is a nice calm space behind it, which is where my upper body is. Then, down lower, it deflects the breeze away from my legs, while the engine heat helps keep them warm. I do still get cold eventually, but that fairing keeps me semi-warm at least twice as long as the windshield.
How quickly would I get cold without either? I’m thinking about 3 minutes. Even with five or six layers on and gauntlets that keep the wind from blowing up my sleeves and a scarf around my neck, that wind is going to find a way in.
And you know what? Bill doesn’t ride much in winter. Oh sure, when the temps are in the 50s he’ll get the bike out and go for a little scoot. But really get out and put some miles on the thing? No way. I can’t imagine why. Can you? You don’t suppose it could be that he’s uncomfortable in all that cold air could it?