The riding season is pretty much behind us now. It’s nearly December, and I really only took one good road trip with my new-to-me 1996 BMW R1100GS oilhead. I hauled this bike up to Seattle and back for a Radwood, and it served admirably. I can’t help but think that this bike isn’t mine yet, though, because I usually set about immediately modifying everything I own. This bike as I bought it was already pretty close to perfect. So I had to change the windscreen.
The bike came to me with a two-piece MRA screen that is ostensibly adjustable, but I’m 6’2″ and found I was just leaving it in the up position. Aside from looking as dorky as a pocket protector, it was a little flexy at highway speeds, and didn’t do much to keep my head out of the wind. So let’s try something new?
When I got back from that trip a couple of months ago I hopped on eBay and looked for something period correct-ish that would be a little sturdier and maybe a little taller. I placed an order for a cool-looking piece custom made to order for just under a bill. It was coming from Poland, so I settled into a long wait. I actually forgot I’d ordered it by the time it arrived!
This weekend I had a rare few spare hours, so I set about trying to fit it. At first glance it looked totally wrong, like not even close. Then I realized there were a pair of brackets on the side of the cowl which were intended to be removed with the two-piece unit. Okay, now I can get something lined up and close. Still not quite close enough, though. Initially it was heartbreak and disappointment, as I loved the look of the new screen, but it was still about an inch and a half too wide for the factory mounts.
Ten or so minutes of noodling and measuring I came up with a plan. I walked a few blocks down the street to the local Ace Hardware and picked up a pair of longer bolts and a pair of steel bushings to use as a nice thick spacer. I also got a second set of bolts in the factory length because the factory pieces were shiny and I wanted all four bolts to match the blackened longer pieces. They look better dark anyway, given the smoked nature of the screen.
As it turns out the beak of a GS is a great little work table for hardware while you’re wrenching on the bike.
The new longer bolt goes through the screen, then the spacer, then the bracket, then the semi-captive nut with a rubber anti-vibration mount. It’s not the easiest thing to assemble, but once it’s all together it looks the part and gives the screen a seriously solid mounting position that feels like factory.
Ultimately I’m happy with the result. This is a nice piece that is worth the cash outlay for it. The new screen is a little narrower than the one I replaced, but it’s a little taller and hopefully will keep my head out of the turbulent air. I rode the bike around town a little, but with temps down in the 30s I’m not going to take it for highway rips until I get my heated gear wired up.
Here’s hoping that this isn’t just form over function and will actually keep me from getting bodied by the wind.
For my next trick, I’ll be taking the aftermarket dual-round headlight surround off, getting it painted to match the Kalahari Yellow bodywork, and working with a graphic artist to develop a decal package I like better than the factory garbage. Stay tuned.