Minimize Helmet Buffeting and Wind Noise with the Right Windshield
Windshields get the wind off your body, chest and head, funneling it around you and protecting you from rain, insects, grit and small rocks. A good windshield will create an effective pocket of wind protection, minimize helmet buffeting and reduce wind noise.
The height of your windshield determines the area of protection.
As I learned while working with Memphis Shades, the rule of thumb is that the top of the windshield should come to nose level when you’re sitting upright on the seat (or between upper lip and nose). This creates a ‘slipstream’ effect to push air up and over your head; it also allows you to look over the windshield if you need to (which I do when it’s raining hard!).
That said, I personally find that having a windshield on the tall side gives me a little more protection from wind in particular.
Rain can affect visibility (and so can sun glare), so get a high-quality windshield with good optical qualities (ask for DOT-certified clarity) and anti-scratch properties such as windshields made of Lexan polycarbonate. It may cost a little more but like so many things in life, you get what you pay for!
- If you can, visit windshield manufacturer’s booths at rallies or trade events and ‘try on’ different windshields.
- Remember that the ‘height’ of the windshield will start about an inch above the headlight on most motorcycles.
- Many riders like ‘quick detach’ or ‘quick release’ windshields so they can be removed in warmer weather.
- Tracey Cramer
Motorcycle Travel, Part III: Comfort & Convenience
Here at Leader we’re all about comfort and convenience! So now that we’ve covered planning tips (see articles "Dreaming" and "Planning"), it’s time to start thinking about the ‘little things’ that will make your trip so much more enjoyable.
Packing is super important on a bike because you have such limited space. You don't want to look like this guy!
Think about the weather where you are traveling and realize the temperature may swing from high to low in the span of a day.
Layer clothing whenever possible, and make sure you have the essentials: jeans, underwear, extra socks, long-sleeve shirt and your favorite T-shirts. Another must: rain gear and good-quality leather chaps.
Know the helmet laws in the states in which you’re traveling. Don’t get caught without one in a helmet-law state! (No fun to get a ticket on your dream trip.) Check out this site for a map of the states where helmets are required.
Don’t try to do too much
If you’re not used to riding long distances, don’t force yourself to stay in the saddle for hundreds of miles. Plan stops along the way: for hydration, a bathroom break, or just to walk around and get the blood flowing (and give your rear a break). Plan the total number of hours or miles to be comfortable for you and you’ll have a much more enjoyable trip.
Invest in a set of Desert Dawgs for rain and wind protection; a butt cushion (or custom seat if your budget allows); or some music… anything for comfort and convenience.
NOW you’re ready to go! Or are you? We’ve got a few MORE tips for you in this article, such as recording memories, taking precautions and preparing your bike.
- Tracey Cramer
Motorcycle Travel, Part IV: Memories and Maintenance
Okay, you’ve picked your destination, planned your route, and found some fun places to visit along the way. You know which states to wear a helmet in and your bags are packed. What are you forgetting?
Many wonderful memories are going to be made during this trip. Have you thought about how you’re going to save them? Your own brain, you say? Well, if you're like me things don’t stick in the old noggin like they used to. What’s the solution?
Make a video!
Now that you’re finally taking your dream trip, there’s nothing cooler than recording it in both picture and video. The scenery and shots are amazing!
Must have for this trip is a video camera! Naturally, we have what you need: the Swivel-CAM, a perfect mount for shooting video:
- A clean, streamlined design
- Ultra-Swivel for unlimited angle-ability
- 360-degree rotational swivel at top
- Built-in anti-vibration
One last thing to think about
Have you taken your bike for a “wellness” check? The two of you are going to be spending a lot of time together on this trip.
Make sure your motorcycle is roadworthy and reliable before setting out. Ensure all equipment is working and can withstand the rigors of the road. The tires should have plenty of rubber and be properly inflated, the oil and other fluids should be clean and topped off, and all lighting should be working.
If your bike has a chain drive, the chain should be properly tensioned and lubricated, and if belt driven, the belt should be inspected for wear and properly tensioned. Make sure all nuts and fastening hardware are tight.
Make sure someone knows where you are going and all of your contact information and insurance information is up-to-date.
Now with all of this proper planning it is time to go! You are prepared, packed, organized, and it is time to hit the road. You can do it knowing you are prepared and are going to make memories that will last a life time! Enjoy!
- Tracey Cramer
How to Mount a Camera on a Motorcycle: HelmetCAM, Suction & Fixed Mounts
Now that you’ve thought about what you’re planning to video and how you’d like to do it (see previous post), here are some thoughts about ways to mount the camera.
We’re aware that Helmet CAMs are all the rage. We even own a GoPro ourselves. But we’re not fans of the helmet-mounted camera and here’s why.
- You can't change the angle of the shot. Wherever you are looking, that's what you're getting. If you look down at your gauges, so does your video. If you look behind you to check traffic, guess where the HelmetCam goes?
- You can’t easily adjust the camera. I once lost an entire sequence because I thought it was powered on when it wasn’t (I couldn’t see it up on my head!)
- Depending on the camera you may not have a good zoom function; you might find your target turned into a speck on the horizon.
Apparently we’re not the only ones who feel this way:
“Mounting a video camera on a motorcycle helmet is difficult. Modern helmets have all sorts of wacky curves, put there for either styling or aerodynamic purposes. The larger the camera the more difficult it is to mount on a helmet.” ~ WebBikeWorld Review
Camera Suction-Cup Mounts
These usually stick to the bike's tank or windscreen. Again I’ll be blunt: we're not fans of using suction cups on motorcycles - period. (And if you worked here, and heard how many customers had their phone, GPS, etc fall off their bike, we think you'd feel the same.)
The potential for the suction to become loose and disengage with all that road vibration is just too great. And there are better ways to get the shot you’re after.
Fixed Camera Mounts
A reviewer on WebBikeWorld noted: “In mounting a video camera on a motorcycle, the mount becomes very important and must have a wide range (degrees of freedom) of movement to compensate for the crazy angle at which the camera will be mounted. But after the camera is lined up, the mount must lock down solid to hold the camera steady.”
We noticed the same things as we experimented with taking video ourselves. In addition to the above, they were also terribly ugly and/or too shaky. In fact, vibration is the #1 problem cited by most riders (especially given the shape of our roads these days).
So we designed our own motorcycle camera mount. Thanks to our patented ‘third generation’ design, the Swivel-CAM motorcycle camera mount solves some key problems:
- Rotation: 360-rotation and Ultra-Swivel at top and bottom to give you a huge range of positioning and angle-ability
- Aesthetics: Ultra-slim rod gives it a streamlined look
- Heights: Available in different height options
- Universal: Works with any camera with tripod threading – even popular action cameras like the GoPro
- Vibration: Anti-vibration features are built in
Does it really work? Check out the video below, taken with our GoPro and the Swivel-CAM motorcycle camera mount!
- Tracey Cramer
Shooting Video While Riding a Motorcycle
Many riders have discovered the possibility of re-living their grand "adventure vacations" through video. The problem is, after a minute or two, an unchanging view from the saddle becomes… well… boring. If you want to make your video as exciting as your motorcycle ride, here are some things to consider. Your answers to these questions can also help you decide what equipment to get.
What and Where
What – specifically - do you want to video? Will it be mostly scenery alongside the road? I’ve pointed my camera to the roadside to catch onlookers during the Patriot Ride and action along Main Street in Sturgis.
Maybe you want to video your buddies either ahead of you (I’ve got some cool footage of a long snake of bikes through a big curve) or behind you.
The answers to these questions lead us to the next set of questions: what angle do you intend to shoot from?
- Mainly straight ahead?
- Off to the side or beside you?
- Behind you?
Windshield: Through it or Around It?
There are pros and cons to both. Shooting through a windshield cuts down on wind noise immensely (a video is barely tolerable with that kind of wind noise). If you’re going to edit your video you can drop out wind noise. A disadvantage of shooting through the windshield is that you may get reflection from the sun on the curve of the shield.
If you want to shoot around bikes with fairings or large windshields, you’ll need to look for a longer-reaching mount or one that attaches away from the center of the motorcycle (such as the Swivel-CAM).
Watch for a future post on the different styles of motorcycle camera mounts!
- Tracey Cramer
Four Tips for Choosing a Video Camera for your Motorcycle
In other posts, we've talked about things to consider before you shoot video, and compared different styles of camera mounts.
Now let's talk about the camera. We’re not going to try to recommend a camera; we’re simply not experts in this field and they change too quickly anyway. But here’s what we’ve learned in 6+ years of shooting video while riding a motorcycle.
- Quality matters. Cheaper cameras will be susceptible to every vibration, and - let's face it - you can't eliminate vibration entirely when you're on a motorcycle (even if you're using the best Motorcycle Camera Mount on the planet). So get a quality camera. Depending on how you're mounting it, the size and weight of the camera matter as well; generally, the smaller/lighter, the better.
- Learn how to use your camera. Make sure you know when it is and is not recording. (On some cameras it's hard to tell, especially if it's a HelmetCam stuck to your head where you can't see it. I once lost a key sequence because I thought the low-battery light meant the camera was recording.)
- Practice. Pick a time when traffic is light on your favorite short twisty road. If you can get a friend to help, all the better - you'll find you can use the extra help. Don't be surprised if it takes an entire afternoon to get comfortable with all your motorcycle video taking options.
- Speaking of the ROAD ... The quality of your video (or photos) is directly proportional to the quality of the road. If you're on a road that looks like this one (like most of the roads near our home!), getting good video is a challenge no matter what kind of camera or mount you choose (but starting with the Swivel-CAM Motorcycle Camera Mount is a good bet)!
- Tracey Cramer