Motorcycling and wind go hand in hand. Some people call it wind therapy; others avoid motorcycling because of the wind. Either way, managing the wind is an important factor in getting the most out of riding. ARN contributor Vicki Sanfelipo tells you how.
I can’t explain why wind brings happiness, but I can give you examples. A baby smiles when you blow in his face. A dog sticks its head out of a window of a car going 55 mph. There can be something pleasant about the wind. But when motorcycling, it’s often annoying or downright dangerous.
Many of us have windshields on our motorcycles. While they protect us from many things, their primary responsibility is to direct the wind away from our bodies with the resulting benefits:
- Less fatigue. Many of us would otherwise counter the pressure of wind against our bodies by hanging on to our handlebars more tightly and leaning forward.
- Less drying of the skin, eyes and hair; fewer hair tangles too.
- Better hearing. The wind blowing in our ears can be deafening and causes hearing impairment over time.
- Wind chill reduction.
Not all motorcyclists ride with windshields, but those who drive longer distances typically do. Many bikes come with quick-detach windshields, which allow the rider to choose—and make it easier to clean the windshield. Some motorcycles come with a windshield attached to the handlebars; others have the windshield affixed to the frame of the motorcycle. A windshield attached to the frame stays pointed forward, even in a turn, providing more stability as the wind breaks over the windshield from the front at all times.
Another innovation for riders has been the FLARETM windshield, initially designed by Klock Werks, which creates turbulence that flips the wind over a person’s head. This change makes the bike more stable in the wind as it reduces the kite effect of a standard windshield in the wind.
Wind doesn’t always come from the front, however. I was recently a road captain responsible for the safety of a group of about 20 riders in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The crosswinds blowing from the left side of us were very strong. Riders had to lean into the wind to stay upright. When we added the blustery, 30- to 50-mph wind blowing from in front of us while traveling at highway speeds, we had a situation that required all of our strength and attention. The condition constantly changed. Every time a vehicle passed us, it blocked the wind for a moment and caused even more turbulence, especially when the vehicles were semis. Suddenly the bikes would go from a lean into the wind to full upright position and then, as the vehicle passed us, we would lean again. Maintaining a straight line was nearly impossible.
Because the wind was coming from the left, I moved my riders to the left lane so that vehicles could pass us on the right and then instructed the riders through a hand signal to go single file instead of maintaining the staggered formation they were in. Taking the middle of the lane gave them more room to “blow around” and spaced the bikes out farther. The other vehicles on the road may not have understood why we were in the middle of the left lane, but they could see us struggling with the strong winds. Frequent breaks were necessary. I doubt any of us have forgotten that particular ride, but at the end of the day all of us were safe and that was what mattered the most!
Do you have any tips or thoughts about how you manage your wind therapy?
Allstate Insurance Company is not affiliated with FLARE, Vicki Sanfelipo or Klock Werks. Allstate makes no warranties or representations and is not liable for any goods or services provided by this individual or organization. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the views of Allstate.