Automotive

I Put A New Touring Windshield On My BMW R1100GS Because I Can’t Leave Anything Alone


Image for article titled I Put A New Touring Windshield On My BMW R1100GS Because I Can't Leave Anything Alone

Image: Bradley Brownell

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.

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Image for article titled I Put A New Touring Windshield On My BMW R1100GS Because I Can't Leave Anything Alone

Image: Bradley Brownell

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!


Image for article titled I Put A New Touring Windshield On My BMW R1100GS Because I Can't Leave Anything Alone

Image: Bradley Brownell

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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.


Image for article titled I Put A New Touring Windshield On My BMW R1100GS Because I Can't Leave Anything Alone

Image: Bradley Brownell

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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.


Image for article titled I Put A New Touring Windshield On My BMW R1100GS Because I Can't Leave Anything Alone

Image: Bradley Brownell

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As it turns out the beak of a GS is a great little work table for hardware while you’re wrenching on the bike.


Image for article titled I Put A New Touring Windshield On My BMW R1100GS Because I Can't Leave Anything Alone

Image: Bradley Brownell

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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.


Image for article titled I Put A New Touring Windshield On My BMW R1100GS Because I Can't Leave Anything Alone

Image: Bradley Brownell

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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.

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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.

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