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Comparison: Ninja 1000 Vs. Concours 14 Part III – Wind/Weather Protection

19 Jul

The first two motorcycles I owned had no wind protection, meaning they had no windshields. Being cruisers, they were also absent any protection from the weather, other than what I was wearing. It wasn’t until I purchased my Harley-Davidson Electra Glide that I even understood how much wind and weather protection can improve the pleasure of riding. Now after riding the Ninja 1000 and the Concours I understand even more. Both bikes have adjustable windshields, the Ninja’s manually adjusts to three preset positions and the Concours’ is electronically adjustable.

Ninja Up Ninja Mid Ninja Down
Connie Up Connie Mid Connie Down

In addition to their windshields, both bikes also have a fairing to help with airflow and protect the rider from the elements. The fairing in both cases also serves to push hot air from the engine away from the rider and they both do this very well. I am pleasantly surprised at how well both bikes manage heat. I’ve been stuck in hot weather in stop and go traffic and been cooler (relatively) than I ever was on my Harley. Part of that I’m sure is that these are both liquid cooled bikes, but I have to give credit to the engineering that went into moving the hot engine air away from the rider. No longer do my thighs burn as I stand at a stop light in 90 degree heat waiting for the light to change. Don’t get me wrong, there is heat, but not nearly the level of what is put off by an air cooled engine on a hot day. The similarity in the bikes regarding wind and weather protection pretty much end there.
 

For pure, clean airflow from the windshield to the rider the Ninja is better than almost any other bike I’ve ever ridden. In all three positions the air stream is clean with only a little buffeting in the tallest setting. I’m 6′ 2″ so that’s saying something for this little windscreen. The windshield is not adjustable on the fly (while riding) like the Connie (and as also indicated on the warning label next to the adjustment latch) but takes only a second to change at a stop light or sign. There’s no tools needed, just push down on the latch tucked into the fairing on the right side under the display screen. Not being able to adjust the screen while riding has not been a problem. I usually keep it set to the middle height which still allows air to reach me but does not blow me off the bike when at higher (legal) speeds.

I wish that I could say the same for the Connie’s windshield. In all possible settings there is wind noise and buffeting. The lowest setting is the quietest and the cleanest but it’s still produces some rough air and noise. The benefit to an electronically adjustable windshield however is that, in the few instances where I’ve encountered rain, being able to move the much larger Concours windshield all the way up has kept me pretty dry while in motion. The same cannot be said for the windscreen on the Ninja 1000, it’s just too small to really provide great weather protection. At it’s highest setting the Connie’s shield works well to keep most wind from reaching the rider. I know that this is helpful on the highway from personal experience and I’m sure that it will come in handy when the temperatures start to drop. Wind noise and buffeting when the screen is fully erect though almost negate these benefits. I’m just glad I wear ear plugs. A nice feature of the Concours is the ability to preset the windshield to one of 4 factory set heights so that the shield raises to that height when the bike starts. Setting 1 is full down and setting 4 is full up while 2 and 3 are mid-low and mid-high respectively. The shield retracts to full down when the bike is turned off.

On weather protection, the clear advantage goes to the Concours. It’s designed to push wind and weather past the rider and creates a nice bubble to sit in and just enjoy the ride. The Ninja’s fairing seems primarily built to decrease wind resistance and move engine heat away from the rider, but not for weather protection. In a side-by-side picture it can be seen that the Connie allows the rider to tuck in behind the fairing and the windshield where the Ninja 1000 just does not have the same level of protection.

It’s no surprise to me that the purpose built sport-touring motorcycle, the Concours, has better weather protection. It is surprising that the Ninja 1000 provides the cleaner wind flow and does that with a much smaller windscreen. I’d still not want to take the Ninja into a hard rainstorm, but I’d love to see a windshield built for the Concours that moves air past me like the Ninja does.

Next Up for the Comparison: Ergonomics, a chat with Isosceles …

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