How to Size a Motorcycle Windshield


Most people prefer motorcycle windshields that they look over, rather than through. People in cooler, rainier climates generally prefer shields that protect more of the torso against the wind, while riders in warmer climates appreciate the airflow that gives them additional ventilation during the hot summer months. The trick to getting the proper coverage to satisfy personal preferences falls in knowing how to measure the windshield height, and its relation to the motorcycle.

Things You'll Need

  • Yardstick
  • Masking Tape
  • 2 markers - keys, stones, etc.
  • If you have a manually adjustable windshield, put it in the lowest position. Some motorcycles have windshields that have an adjustment knob that raises and lowers the screen. To determine the size most suitable for you, place the screen in its lowest setting. If you have an electrically adjustable windshield, put it 1/4 of the way up from its lowest setting.

  • Park the motorcycle on level ground then using a yard stick, measure 30 feet forward from the center of the front wheel, and place a marker at this spot.

  • Measure 30 feet beyond the first marker, and place a second marker at this spot.

  • Tape the yard stick to the existing windshield so that the 20-inch mark on the yardstick lines up with the top of the windshield. The low end of the stick should be down, and the stick should be centered on the windshield.

  • Sit on the bike and bring it to an upright position Look at the first marker and determine what height of the stick matches up with where you see the first and second markers.

  • In a warmer climate, or for a preference of less wind protection the ideal windshield height should fall just above the 30-foot marker. In a cooler or wetter climate, or for a preference of more wind protection, the ideal windshield height should fall closer to the 60-foot marker.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep in mind that for smaller riders, or for those who have a less upright riding position, the ideal windshield height may fall lower than the 20-inch mark. The formula still works, it just results in a lower number.
  • Although most rider look over their windshield rather than through it, keeping the windshield clean and free of scratches can prevent headaches caused by occasional glimpses through a windshield that distorts the ground immediately in front of the bike.
  • Some companies sell motorcycle windshields made from acrylic. Riders should know that acrylic has not gotten DOT approval as a windshield material. In some states, all windshields must meet DOT standards making riding with an acrylic windshield illegal. Acrylic windshields can shatter if hit by flying objects, and according to Mark Lawrence with California Scientific, offer 97 percent less protection than windshields made of polycarbonate.

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  • Photo Credit motorcycle on a road image by Veronika Trofer from
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