A few months ago I foolishly left Aphrodite, my Vespa GTS, outside in the driveway overnight – a moment of laziness proving to be both expensive and time-consuming. The GTS took an ill-fated tumble into the rock wall outside my apartment, cracking the new Faco mid-size windscreen in half.
I wasn’t in a rush to replace the windscreen over the summer as I mainly use it to deflect rain. But I did find that long trips on I5 lacked their usual comfort; the day after a lengthy journey on the highway, my neck and shoulders ached from absorbing the sustained wind pressure of 75 m.p.h.
I wondered if motorcycle riders experienced a similar discomfort, especially since they tend to spend longer periods of time at higher speeds. Then I realized it’s likely the upright seated position of the scooterist that makes us less aerodynamic and therefore more prone to wind drag. And maybe I would build up muscles in my neck that I don’t presently have. (And maybe I should get a full-face helmet that doesn’t scoop up the wind like a sail, so I must tighten my chin strap lest it fly off my head at high speeds.)
In any case, with the impending Seattle rainy season (September through July) upon us, I realized it was time to admit the windscreen dilemma must be solved or I was destined to continue showing up for work like a drowned rat.
I briefly employed my Yankee ingenuity in attempt to rig the windscreen I had in storage to fit on the Vespa. It’s a Genuine windshield for the Stella, with the curves in all the wrong places. But I swapped the hardware on the Stella windscreen with the hardware from the broken GTS windscreen, and the design did not translate.
The Vespa windscreen attaches underneath the headset with built-in sockets, while the Stella windscreen attaches externally with additional plates that also hold the mirrors. I was hoping some bending and angling could get the job done, but quickly realized that it was a lost cause.
If you’re trying to decide on a windscreen size, here’s my $.02 (read quickly – with the current economy, it will soon be worth half that).
Scooter windshields generally come in four sizes:
. The flyscreen looks very cool and is supermod, especially if you get the black and white checkered one. I can’t imagine it actually does keep the flies off, but I can’t speak from experience.
I found this height windscreen on the Stella to be pretty useless. The smoke one, which is tinted a slinky gray, is sharp and pretty, but again, I found it didn’t block the rain and deflected the wind directly into my face. Please keep in mind that I am six feet tall and have very good posture. (Thanks, mom.)
This size has worked well for me. At my height, the top of the windscreen lines up nicely with the bottom of my helmet’s face shield, deflecting rain off my chest and channeling the wind up and over the top of my head.
4. Riot shield
I had one of these on my Elite 250, and it did a fabulous job of creating a windproof tunnel to ride in at high speeds. It also made for a very quiet ride. I did, however, find it impossible to see out of in the rain, especially at night. Both the windscreen and my helmet’s face shield would collect water, and the multitude of drops obscuring my vision and reflecting light all over the place blinded me. Rain-X didn’t help. This is why I settled on the mid-size.
I like to support local business, and there’s some serious eye candy down at Vespa Seattle in both scooter and human form, so I headed down to the showroom on 1st and Denny after work on Friday to see if they had any mid-size windscreens in stock.
After a bit of rummaging, a mid-sized windscreen was unearthed. It was a Vespa model – these are a bit wider than the Faco and shield your hands. I find it a little more obtrusive, but was willing to give it a shot. The only problem was the price tag; at $270, it was $100 more than I wanted to spend. Or needed to spend, given that Scooterworks has the Faco mid-size windscreen for $150 plus shipping (Scooterworks also carries the tall size for the same price). I was told the high cost was because Vespa didn’t actually make mid-size wind screens; the dealership has a guy at Boeing custom cutting the tall ones down for them.
So it was back to the drawing board. Having purchased enough chrome to outfit an army of mods, I know that the shiny stuff is tres expensive. So I figured that a large portion of the price of the windscreen is the chrome hardware. Since the hardware from my broken windscreen is fully functional, it seems I could potentially get a discount for only needing the plastic piece. When I received the first windscreen, the hardware was wrapped separately from the plastic, so it’s not like it’s all pre-packaged together in a kit. I decided to call Scooterworks and see if I could just get the plastic. I can’t be the only person on the planet to need a replacement.
The gentleman on the phone didn’t seem to catch my drift; he kept telling me that I didn’t have to use the hardware if I didn’t need it. When he finally understood that I was seeking a discounted rate for purchasing only half the product, he said, “Oh I don’t think we do that.” I paused, waiting for him to offer to find out. When he didn’t, I said, “Can you find out?”
He put me on hold with audible foot-dragging. I imagined him just sitting there watching the clock while I was waiting. I was surprised by this exchange because I’ve always found the folks at Scooterworks extremely helpful, and while they don’t necessarily need to honor my request, they could at least humor me.
Big shocker: they wouldn’t sell me just the plastic. Reason unknown.
One other option that I decided not to pursue was a trip to my neighborhood Tap Plastics. It’s quite feasible that they could custom cut me a piece of polycarbonate to match the broken one, but I can’t imagine this being cheaper than ordering a new one and it would certainly require more time and work than I’m willing to invest right now.
Back online at Scooterworks, I noticed they also have a Prima mid-sized windscreen that’s only $109. Their description says it’s “super high quality”. I decided to go with that one. Chrome and rubber hardware is chrome and rubber hardware, and I can’t exactly say the Faco was “super high quality” given that it didn’t withstand its first – and only – blow.
The new windscreen ships today. In the meantime, I’ll cross my fingers that trips to West Seattle will not involve rain. Of course, there’s always that Stella windscreen for Celeste, and since I’ve been riding her almost exclusively, it might be worth dragging out the Yankee ingenuity again and re-assembling it.
Welcome back, K! Your posts are always a delight! In this new ‘recession-to-come’ economy, your tips and perceptions are most welcome indeed! Please keep us posted on the windscreen option that works best, because more and more of us may be compelled to take 2 wheels to work instead of 4! Please keep up the good work!
Best wishes, RT
Great writing Kris,keep up the good work Dad