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National Cycle VStream Tall Touring Windscreen Review

I’ve found the stock windscreens on motorcycles just aren’t very good at their job. I’m 6′ 2″ tall and the screens on every motorcycle I’ve owned or ridden over the past 20 years seem to be setup for riders much shorter than me. They excel at creating a flow of rough air that hits somewhere between my neck and forehead. Even the Concours 14’s adjustable windscreen hasn’t been able to solve this problem. Now that I’ve had my Connie for 6 years, and have no plans to buy a new bike in the future, I thought I’d spend a little money to see if I could finally fix this issue.

After much research I landed on the VStream® Tall Touring Windscreen. My goal was to find a screen that would provide a clean-ish flow of air over the top of my head, make sure there was sufficient airflow during the summer to keep me cool, and provide decent protection in cooler temperatures. Weather protection in the rain was also at the top of my list. In short, I wanted a do-it-all windscreen for all seasons and riding conditions.  Its been 2 years since I purchased the VStream®, so I’ve given it a fair long term test.

VStream-stock

VStream® Tall Turing Windscreen left, stock windscreen right.

The Positive:

This windscreen is tall, that’s not just a marketing term in the title. At slightly over 2 ft. it’s practically a sail compared to the stock screen. In the highest position on the Connie, I can just see over the top (on straight roads). Coupled with the generous fairing on the Concours it creates a pocket of protection that the stock screen cannot even hope to compete with. When it’s raining, as long as I don’t stop, everything behind the screen (head, chest, shoulders, lap) stay bone dry.  I’ve ridden in some pretty decent storms over the last few years and been thankful for this level of protection.

Being almost as wide as it is tall (height: 24.10 in, width: 21 in.) I was concerned about the tall screen blocking too much air to keep me cool in the summer. This was not the case. The unique “V” shape of the screen creates a relatively clean flow of air over my helmet while allowing a stream of air to slip around the screen. Setting the height of the windscreen on the Connie at the 2nd pre-set position sends this stream of air right along and under my arms. The combination of the airflow over my head and along my sides also pulls air from my back. This is ideal for mesh jackets and those with underarm and back vents.

VS_VortexThe Nation Cycle website for the VStream® Windscreen explains this better:

“The typical airflow pattern of the wake from most windscreens is called a van Karman vortex. At speeds of 50-90 mph, the air swirls off the windscreen in an approximate 90-degree segment of rotation, hits the bottom of the rider’s neck on the way up, and curves off the shoulder at approximately 45 degrees.

We gave the VStream® its name for the shape it takes at the upper edge. The patented “V” shape is so quiet because it pushes this vortex out and away from the side of the rider’s head. The rider’s helmet then resides in still air, and the passenger’s environment is greatly improved as well.”

I can personally attest that these claims are accurate and true. With the adjustable screen on the Connie I can direct where the stream of air created by the “V” shape hits me and in essence control how cool or warm I want to be.  Great for summer riding but also very useful when the mercury starts to drop.

Installation was easy. The screen attached to the existing mounts on the Connie with no additional hardware needed. I had my old screen off and the new one installed in about 15 min., 10 of which was spent searching for my allen socket set.

The Negative: 

As I stated before this screen is tall. At highway speeds it flexes quite a lot. This does concern me regarding its longevity. My hope is that the polycarbonate material is strong enough to not crack where I feel it’s week spot is, the mounting screw holes. According to Nation Cycle, “All VStream® Windscreens are made from thick, durable polycarbonate with National Cycle’s exclusive Quantum® hardcoating or FMR hardcoating.” In two years of commuting and long highway trips I have seen no issues, but it’s still a concern for me.

The flexing can also disrupt the otherwise clean air flow produced by the screen. At highway speeds, in traffic, the disruption of air caused by other vehicles coupled with the flexing of the shield can create some buffeting and noise. No more than the stock shield, but it does defeat the special design of the screen. This is not an issue when riding back roads or at lower speeds at all.

Conclusion:

The VStream® Tall Touring Windscreen has all the features I was looking for when I started my search. It provides good weather protection, clean airflow, and good control of that airflow to keep me cool in the summer and warm in the spring and fall. I’m very happy with my purchase.

National Cycle offers the VStream® series windscreens in Sport, Sport Touring, and Tall Touring sizes to fit most motorcycles. Check out their entire catalog at NationalCycle.com. You can purchase VStream® windscreens from most online motorcycle stores. I bought mine from Revzilla for $179, not cheep but well worth the price.

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Posted by on August 31, 2017 in Gear Reviews

 

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Beginnings

A 1980’s Schwinn Tornado bicycle gave me my first taste of independence.  That black, orange, and yellow bike opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me. I could go farther, and get there faster. It gave me freedom to explore more of my neighborhood and town. Like most kids, everything in my life when I was young was time bound. There was always a curfew. Traveling faster meant I could explore more before it was time to come home. It wasn’t until I learned to drive a car that I experienced another leap in my understanding of time and distance the way I did when I was a kid on a bike. Learning to ride a motorcycle changed everything.

Riding has its rewards, but it also comes with consequences. My more adventurous friends and I commandeered an open field near our neighborhood when I was a kid. One summer we carved out BMX style dirt course there using tools “borrowed” from our dads. It was complete with long downhill runs, sharp turns, and dirt mound jumps that would rattle your teeth when you landed. While riding on this track I had my first physics lesson in inertia (i.e. when your bike stops abruptly, but you do not), though I wouldn’t know it by that name until later in High School. I did learn that it hurt and didn’t do much for keeping a bike in working order either. My friends and I spent summer afternoons repairing our bikes (and licking our wounds) from the punishment the track inflicted. I eventually graduated from the Tornado to a Schwinn Predator, complete with bar pads, hand breaks, and a bright chrome finish. Tinkering, upgrading, and working on our bikes in each others driveways set the stage for later when I’d find myself doing the same thing in my driveway on motorcycles. To this day I blame the chrome finish on the Predator for my attraction to cruisers early in my riding career.

In the late 1990’s my dad purchased a Suzuki Savage 650. The Savage was meant for my mother to learn to ride on, but she quickly decided being a passenger was enough excitement for her. My dad had recently fulfilled a life long dream of owning a Harley-Davidson and he wanted riding companions. His excitement at getting back into riding after many years was infectious and my sister and I caught the bug. She and I quickly took over the small motorbike and spent several Saturday’s with my dad in empty parking lots torturing the gearbox, lurching around, and running into curbs. After taking the motorcycle safety course my sister decided that riding wasn’t for her so I claimed the Savage as my own.  I went over to my parents house, where the bike lived, as often as I could once I passed my riding test. I even “borrowed” the bike a few times when my parents where out-of-town. I was hooked.

The Suzuki was not only the bike I learned to ride on, it was the fist bike I crashed on. Being a new rider I was over-confident and thought I understood the mechanics and physics of riding (see my previous lesson on inertia). It only took a cool, damp night and a steel manhole cover to show me how little I knew. My back tire hit the wet metal circle while as I leaned over coming around a bend to merge into traffic. It was just enough to lose traction. I slid along the road trailing the bike and we both came to an abrupt stop at the curb across the street. I was lucky (at this stage of my riding), as I was wearing a full face helmet, gloves, and a jacket. After checking myself out and finding no serious injuries I surveyed the damage to the bike. It was mostly roadworthy. I was close to my parents garage, so I got up, dusted off, and limped home. If you’ve ever wrecked a vehicle that belongs to someone else, especially your parents, it doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 60, you know that special kind of dread that just sits in the pit of your gut. It is unlike any other fear. Having put more than my fair share of dents and scrapes on my parents cars as a teenager, I was all too familiar with this feeling. I figured my days of borrowing the bike were over. I’m glad that wasn’t the case. After convincing my mom that I was OK, my dad I went to the garage to look over the bike. The forks were a little askew, the foot peg and clutch lever were a little bent. A few minutes with a 5 lbs. sledge-hammer and a bit of muscling the bars and forks back into alignment was all it took to get the bike back in order. I felt like I was a kid again, sitting in a driveway, fixing a bike that had taken some lumps because I thought I was a better rider than I was. It took a little longer for me to repair my parents trust than it did to fix the bike. Visits with the Savage where to be supervised for a while.

When I started living on my own in my 20’s, it took time to realize that I was truly “on my own”. I didn’t have to call home if I was going out late. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going when I left. This realization came to me in stages. Little boundaries that I tested and pushed at until I understood where my limits where. My riding experience evolved much the same way. First with hour-long trips on my fathers Savage, then to increasingly longer trips on other bikes I’ve owned. I slowly expanded my riding from day trips on the weekends, to commuting to work, and eventually to long multi-day overnight trips. The more I pushed and explored how far I could ride the father and more I wanted to ride. Understanding that my motorcycle was more than a machine but a means to explore and experience my surroundings in a new and exciting way. I wish I’d understood that earlier in my riding. I’d forgotten what I learned as a kid when I started riding bicycles, I just needed to remember it. This seems to be the case with a lot of things I knew when I was 8 and had to relearn as an adult.

Since my first riding trips I’ve logged tens of thousands of miles commuting, weekend riding, taking road trips, and camping trips. I still get just as excited to ride today as I did the first time I went on a solo ride. I finally understand that riding a motorcycle is more than just puttering around back roads on a Sunday morning. It is a literal vehicle for adventure, for experiencing the world in a way that cannot be duplicated.  When I ride my motorcycle I am part of the environment I am passing through. I can feel the weather, smell the trees, connect with the road and the scenery in a unique way. It’s hard as you get older to have new experiences. They come fast when you’re young because everything is new. Riding a motorcycle gives me the chance to reconnect with my 8-year-old self. To remember what it felt like to ride through my neighborhood and push against boundaries searching for new adventures.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Motorcycling, Uncategorized

 

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BikeBandit.com Review

Winter projects are a way for me to spend time doing maintenance and other adjustments to my bike that I don’t get to during the riding season. One of those items is always a complete service: Oil, oil filter, air filter, check the tires, spark plugs, brakes, etc. I opt to do this during the off-season because on my Concours anything other than an oil and oil filter change requires removing a good amount of the plastic panels and other bits to get to the engine. I don’t usually have one full day to work on the bike, so it stays in a state of half dress until I can complete the work. That’s why this is a winter project. I hate missing a good day of riding because I don’t have time to put my side panels back on.

One of the pieces I have to remove to get to the air filter is the windshield (I know, right). The Concours windshield is held on with small hex screws. Now, I’m going to admit this but I’m not proud of it, I have a cheap hex socket set. What this means is that smaller screws and bolts that I remove more frequently get damaged. Over time the hex heads get stripped and I have to get new screws. Simple solution would be to buy a better socket set, but that’s hard to justify when the screws are about a buck each.

Yet another reason I work on my bike in the winter. I stripped the head of one of my windshield bolts recently and was unable to get the windshield off, thus not being able to get to the air filter, or the engine, and so I couldn’t complete my service work. I called my local Kawasaki dealer and they would only sell me a whole windshield kit that included all the bolts, mounts, and a new windshield. This was over a $300 and not really what I was looking for. So, off to the internet!

I remembered a friend telling me that BikeBandit.com sold OEM parts and that I should check them out. Off to the site I went. I was pretty impressed with the site. After navigating to the OEM section I entered the make, model, and year of my bike and they had everything I needed. Their OEM section let me navigate to the specific area of the bike I was looking for to find the exact part number from a zoomable online parts diagram. This means I got to pick and order the exact thing I needed to fix my windshield. I found the screw, completed my ordered, and it was in my mailbox shortly afterwards. It saved me time and money and I’m glad I looked them up.

BikeBandit.com has motorcycle tires, accessories, and even riding gear.  They have aftermarket honda motorcycle parts, Kawasaki parts, and just about anything you need for you specific model of motorcycle whether you have a Suzuki, Yamaha, or BMW. Their low price guarantee will match any price if you find a part for lower than they have it. This is especially useful for motorcycle tires. I go through a set of tires every year and they are not cheap for the Connie. It’s to know that I can get the absolute lowest price around on BikeBandit.

I’m hoping to restore a Kawasaki 1981 440 LTD soon. You can bet I’ll be spending a lot of time on BikeBandit once that project gets rolling, but that’s a story for another time.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Gear Reviews, Motorcycling

 

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Fastest Pop Culture Bikes

Bikes have always had a special kind of appeal to both people–even those who don’t ride. When getting a feature in a hit movie and ridden by a celebrity, it’s a combination that makes them a hit and integrated into pop culture.

Remember the bike in E.T.? Of course you do! Even if you don’t remember it being part of the storyline, the iconic scene of the bike flying with the moon backdrop is tough to forget. Harley fans definitely would have picked out the FLSTF “Fat Boy” when it had a feature in Terminator 2.

The folks at Evelo.com created a graphic of famous bikes, both real and fictional, in pop culture and ranked them by speed. Check out all of the bikes and rankings below:

fastest-pop-culture-bikes
Guest Contributor:
Bryan Vu
Community Outreach, EVELO
 
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Posted by on February 17, 2016 in Motorcycling

 

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Baby, it’s cold outside

Photo Credit: ADAM ZUCKERMAN, Rider Magazine

Photo Credit: ADAM ZUCKERMAN, Rider Magazine

Normally in the fall my friends and I take a four or five day riding trip that helps me get through the winter. This year we were not able to pull off our trip and I feel like somethings missing. I really look forward to this long ride capping off the regular riding season, but now it seems unfinished.

I’m not one to stop riding when it gets cold, but I do ride less in the colder months than in the summer. Partly this is due to me being lazy and not wanting to winterize my bike. It’s also because there are always those 60 degree surprise days that pop up all through winter and I don’t want to not have a bike to ride when they come around. Generally I’ll ride as long as the surface road temps are above 35 and the outside temps are around 40. I’ve collected a gear set that keeps me warm on my commute. With a little more layering I can go on long trips without getting cold. A few weeks ago two friends and I took a day trip into Luray, VA for lunch and a to ride the surrounding area. It wasn’t exceptionally cold but we did see snow on the side of the road as we crossed Sky Line drive on Rt. 211.

My winter kit isn’t anything special. It’s gear that I’ve collected over time and found works for me. I have Dainese TRQ-Tour Gore-Tex Boots, Smartwool tall ski socks, FirstGear TGP insulated riding pants, TourMaster insulated/windproof riding jacket, Aerostitch 3 season Vegan gloves, and a fleece neck warmer. For longer rides I will also put on my Cycle Gear FREEZE-Out base layer long sleeve top and long johns. I’ve been satisfied with my winter gear so far. The recent addition of the FREEZE-Out base layers has extended my riding range a lot. It’s light weight and breathes well keeping me warm but not hot and sweaty. My bike also has heated grips which are a huge help and allow me to wear thinner gloves but still have warm hands.

How long into the winter do you ride? What do you do to keep warm? Electric heat or no? Leave a comment and share. I’d love to discover your secret to staying warm so that we can all use it and be able to ride longer into the colder months.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Commuting, Gear Reviews

 

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Dad’s Bike

My introduction to motorcycles was riding on the back of my dad’s 1980’s Honda. I can’t tell you what year or model it was. I do remember my dad taking me and my sister, in turns, on rides through the then country roads around our house in Bennion, UT just outside Salt Lake City. Back then my riding gear was a t-shirt, shorts, sneakers and a purple metal flake helmet that barely fit. I was big enough to reach the pegs from the passenger seat but not tall enough to avoid the pipes. A good number of our weekend rides ended with both my sister and I in the bath tub running cold water over pipe burned patches on the backs of our legs.

My dad bought the Honda after a break from riding for several years. When I was in my teens he would tell me stories about running around in the canyons and fields near Tooele, UT, where he grew up. He had a number of bikes when he was young and spent a lot time fixing their broken parts or recuperating from his broken parts. My grandmother used to tell me she never thought he’d live past 15 the way he tore around on his motorcycles. After having kids and settling into work and family life he decided to get another bike. Unfortunately like many of us life, family, work and in the case of my dad a bad back, caught up with him and he sold the Honda. In all honesty I don’t remember its departure at all. It was there one day and then it wasn’t.

I didn’t think much about motorcycles again until I was in my mid twenties. My sister and I were out of the house on our own and my dad’s work had settled down some. Time to get a new bike. This time he was able to get the bike he had wanted for a long time, a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electrglide. There are few times in my life that I’ve seen my dad happier then when he was riding his Harley.

It wasn’t long before the entire family got excited about the idea of riding motorcycles. Before we knew it dad bought a Suzuki Savage 650 as a learner bike. First my sister learned to ride, then me. Originally the bike was to teach my mother how to ride but she realized early on that the pillion was the place she felt most comfortable. My sister, having earned her motorcycle license, never really caught the bug. I, however, got hooked immediately. So with no home for the Savage, I decided I’d volunteered to take care of it. That was the first of several motorcycles I was to own.

My dad and I went on several rides together. Not nearly enough now that I look back. Our favorite ride was down Rt. 55 to a country store that sold home-made doughnuts. Then it was off to find some country roads and a good lunch. Honestly it really didn’t matter where we went, it was just fun riding.

When I got back into riding I bought a Harley Electraglide too. I’d taken a break for many of the same reasons that my dad had; new family, new house, work, etc. The choice of the Harley was purely an emotional one. When I saw it, I thought of my father who had passed away a few years before. It was a connection to him that I needed to have and so I bought it. The bike was bigger than any I’d ever owned. I really had no business riding it, but I needed it. There were times when I was riding the Harley I imagined I could feel his hands over mine on the grips and sense his smile as we motored through the countryside. I can still feel that now. It’s a large part of what I love about riding.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Motorcycling

 

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