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Our bikes: Screen play

(by Guy 'Guido' Allen, September 2023)

motorcycle screens


Need a decent touring screen? Talk to the Americans

There are a few payoffs for being a little taller than average, and I'm not talking about being a giant. Let's say about 188cm or 6' 2" on the imperial scale.

First, it's surprising how often you bang your head on things. That loses its novelty after the first 40-or-so years.

Second, a spectacular range of motorcycles don't really fit – particularly when it comes to windscreens.

(And here's a little bit of trivia some of you may not have considered until now: It is possible to have a motorcycle seat that's too low. Another story for another day...)

So, for example, you get on a bike with touring pretensions and discover the wind-spill is just low enough to grab the upper surfaces of your helmet and shake it about at highway speeds. Weirdly, that seems to be true even if the model in question has an adjustable-height screen.

Whatever...you learn to cope, particularly if it's on a borrowed demo bike. Make the inevitable commentary ("the sodding screen doesn't fit – again!", or words to that effect) and move on.


But if you own the thing, you don't have to put up with it. Now I'll risk a little diversion: Since we're on the theme, here's another little aside. When I bought my first Suzuki Hayabusa some 20 years ago (which I still have and there's a second on order...), the sodding screen didn't fit.


Yeah, I know, it's not a tourer. The issue wasn't wind-stream coverage but being able to see the instruments. If you were much over six feet tall (in old measure) your sight-line to the tops of the clocks was cut off. That was easily fixed with an aftermarket bubble screen. And the issue was dealt with by the maker on the second and third generation 'Busas.

Moving right along, the touring section of the home fleet has filled out somewhat over the last few years. It now consists of:


A 1999 BMW K1200LT,


a 2001 Honda Valkyrie Interstate (aka GL1500CF),

bmw r1150gs

and a 2001 BMW R1150GS.

indian chief vintage 2009 kings mountain

It's a bit tempting to add the 2009 Kings Mountain Indian, the Chief Vintage, to the list. However it's really a feel-good cruiser rather than serious mile-eater.

bmw k1200lt

Let's get back to the plot. The K1200LT is a great example of why stock screens come up short and how to fix them. In this case the screen had a pretty big range of height adjustment, via a button on the left handlebar. And none worked for a tall person.

What's that song line about 57 channels and nothin' on? I would love to know the physical parameters used by screen designers.

Like the K1100LT before it, the K1200LT failed to make the grade as a long distance bubble, simply because the screen (all the way through its adjustment) wasn't big or tall enough, and there was no adequate factory alternative available as an accessory.

What the hell? If I'm riding and feeding a giant tourer with heated seats and handlebars I expect not to have the top of my noggin belted around.

Based on past experience, I went searching for American suppliers. European makers do elegant and clever, while Americans do just-give-me-acreage to make the problem go away. While I have reservations about a place that makes cup-holders for Gold Wings, it does nevertheless 'get' comfort and long distances on a motorcycle and it definitely gets windscreens.

bmw k1200lt

The short version is I ended up with a giant ZTechnik screen, measuring 63cm in height and over 73cm in width. It's designed and made in the USA, by part of the larger National Cycle group.

Locally, they're distributed by a mob called Mototoys out of Newcastle. What you're seeing here is the Z2461, which is sold here for Au$445 (US$290, GB£230).

In short, it works well. The fitting instructions were clear and simple, while the screen offers close to 30 per cent more area than the stocker. I can see over it on the lowest position, and generally ride with it about midway. That provides a 'bubble' of still air – with a slight back-pressure – perfect.

Fuel consumption remains very good, at 20km/lt at 110km/h on the freeway. Weirdly, though it's physically one of my biggest bikes, it manages to be the most economical.

National Cycle by the way is a believer in polycarbonate over acrylic screens and has a dramatic destruction test video to make its case.


As for the Valkyrie, it was a matter of tracking down a new-old-stock Tulsa screen via Ebay. That was expensive at $720 (US$460, GB£380) by the time it was shipped across the Pacific.

With no adjustment, I'm permanantly looking through the screen, which is okay in most conditions – maybe not at night when it's raining. The payoff is once again a 'bubble' of still air.


Finally, we get to the R1150GS, which is used as my runabout. Again I went for a ZTechnik product, in this case the Z2240 which is the tallest offering. That's priced at Au$419 (US$270, GB£220)

It's a little wider and taller than the stock screen, while using the standard adjustable mounts. First impressions are that it's providing some extra and welcome coverage, which has been enough to eliminate the annoying helmet shake I was getting. There's still some noise and turbulence happening, but the situation is improved. That will do.

I've been careful to put aside and keep the old screens, on the assumption that anyone I eventually sell these things to will want that option. In the meantime they've all been made significantly more useable for relatively little cost. Money well spent, in my view.

See more on these bikes here:



Honda Valkyrie Interstate GL1500CF

Indian Kings Mountain Chief Vintage

Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R

More features here

See the bikes in our shed


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