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Thursday, September 13, 2012

CalSci FJR Windscreen Review

Diagram ©CalSci
Oh hell yeah!


Sorry for swearing in the title shot, but the difference is so remarkable after swapping out the stock windscreen for a CalSci medium, I couldn't help it. I rode into work this morning for the initial test run, grinning ear to ear. I'm loving life again.
If you'll remember from my Maine ride report, the stock screen beat me up so badly I was tempted to rip it off the bike and leave it somewhere in New England. After researching the 'net extensively (primarily FJRforum, FJRtech, FJRowners), considerations for replacement windscreens came down to three vendors for me: CalSci, CeeBaileys, and Rifle.
Always reticent to drop my own money on a guess, I got completely obsessive trying to determine which one would grant me a ticket to windscreen nirvana. Like most things, the real answer on which one would be best came down to personal preferences and a whole list of uncontrollable variables (height, weight, riding posture, pillion preference, and even where one lives - warm and humid Southeast versus cool dry Northwest)
Overall, my impressions from hundreds of hours of scouring the forums (yes, mostly at work) led me to believe that the CeeBailey's, while better than stock, was considered by many to be just marginally better.
Next up the list were the products from CalSci, made by a real person (Mark) who happens to be an engineer and physicist who develops neural network based artificial intelligence software. He also happens to design aerodynamic accessories for motorcycles. Mark has worked over the years with GenI and GenII FJR1300 owners, (as well as many, many other riders of many other motorcycles) to continually develop and improve his windscreens. While few people claim to have found absolute FJR1300 Nirvana with CalSci screens, they are well regarded, and almost everyone is happy with them.
Finally,  the windscreens for the FJR by Rifle, with their "tuning blocks", are considered by many FJR owners to be the closest thing to windscreen nirvana in practice. Problem is, some like me also think they're pretty ugly, as the tuning blocks cause the screen to angle back severely and stand out from the bike, as if it looks broken. Now, this "look" is precisely what makes the Rifle screen work so well, but when it came to spending my hard earned dollars, I couldn't actually pull the trigger on something that I personally thought made the FJR look uglier after seeing photos, vain as that is.
And, price versus perceived results was a factor in the decision:
CeeBailey: Mixed reviews, looks good (to me) $140
Calsci: Good to great reviews, looks good, $185
Rifle: Great reviews, looks: sorry, can't go there, $224

So I pulled the trigger on a CalSci, after Mark's sizing guide steered me to a "medium", which is about 2.5 inches larger all around than the stock yamaha screen. This was based on my height, inseam, and focal-point where I like to look over the screen (5foot, 9.5 inches, 31 inch inseam), and also based on a video from JimNtexas on a medium CalSci install on a GenII (post-2006) FJR.

Stock versus CalSci medium. Smaller stock screen is shaded grey for illustration purposes,
its normally clear.

The CalSci windscreen arrived packaged very well and shrouded in its own soft "pillow" case, along with some proprietary windscreen cleaner, microfiber cloth, stainless steel phillips screws to replace the plastic OEM ones if desired, and a bonus air guage. Installation was straight forward. I did notice that the stock screen had a thin foam gasket applied where it contacted the mounting hardware of the articulated arm on the FJR. There isn't one on the CalSci replacement. When I first "dry-fitted" the CalSci, I noticed that there was a gap between the lowest and top-most screw-mounts that seemed like it would be taken up if there were a gasket there like the stock screen had. So I traced out a copy gasket from some rubbery shelf liner I had on hand, from making a protective pad for my tank-bag, and placed that in between the CalSci and mounting bracket ala the stock screen:
The stock screen is above, with my homemade gasket to match, below
This took up the space exactly, which made me wonder if I were missing this in the CalSci shipment (Mark?) although no one in any of the forums mentioned a gasket that I remember.
I decided to stay with the OE plastic mounting screws, as I'd rather one of them snap than run the risk of cracking the new windscreen by applying too much torque with the Stainless screws. CalSci places a small warning sticker on the screen spec'ing the torque at only 4 (four) foot pounds to prevent cracking the screen. My regular torque wrench isn't that sensitive, so I used my "inch-pounds" torque wrench set just below 48 inch pounds to torque the screws back in, making sure the acrylic didn't show any signs of "dimpling", mal-forming, or other stress that might cause stress fractures down the road.

4-ft/lbs sticker. Note also the"back-pressure" relief hole above the sticker


Here are some photo comparing the full-up and full-down positions of the old stock and new CalSci medium screens:
Left:stock.               "Down" position comparison           Right:CalSci
Blue line marks top of CalSci


Left: stock        "Up" position comparison       Right: CalSci
Blue line marks top of CalSci
In the photos above, you can see that the top of the CalSci, at its upper limit, is very near my line of sight. By the blue line you can see that if I "slump" like on the left photo, the top of the screen will bisect my sightline. Because of this, I'm glad I got the medium, as I don't want to look "thru" a windscreen, and any taller would have me looking thru the screen near upper limits of travel. You can also see that the new screen is wide enough to shield most of my shoulders and arms. (As I live in the woods, you have to look closely, I know, as the shields are clear, and there are lots of reflections from the trees - sorry)

Here are the same comparisons, from the side:

Left: stock             Full "down" position           Right: CalSci
Blue lines mark screen top edges


Left: stock             Full "up" position           Right: CalSci
Blue lines mark screen top edges

First impressions riding into work this morning (72 degrees, low humidity): absolutely fantastic!

From speeds up to 60 mph, placing the screen about 2/3rds of the way up kept me behind quiet stillness, and I was able to ride with my visor open. Up to 75+mph, moving the screen another inch higher kept me in this pocket. I was able to clearly hear intake noise, the engine's top-end noise, the tires humming on the tarmac, and the brakes "zuhzzing" to a stop. At this point, I was still about 1-2 inches from reaching full stop at the top of the windscreen travel.
There was a complete lack of back-pressure (relative to stock anyway, which will try to break your neck), at any speed and screen position. And with the screen fully retracted, I could still ride with my visor up till about 40mph.
The wind-blast from the sides has been pushed out to my pinky fingers and elbows at all screen positions, but I still feel a nice movement of air into the cockpit, just not rushing air.

Until I was behind some very dirty air sitting behind a semi, and later a large SUV, the cockpit remained very quiet, and even when the air was hitting me at speed with the screen fully retracted, it was smooth and even - no perceived buffeting or turbulence. And in the very dirty air behind the semi (I hung out there on purpose for awhile), the screen remained solid - no excess wobbling (70+mph)

Conclusion - I'm very happy with this screen. Its by no means a barndoor, and has greatly civilized the FJR, while still looking quite nice and complimentary to the FJR's lines (IMHO). Money and time well spent. Thanks, CalSci!

18 comments:

  1. Whatever happened choppers and letting your hair blow in the wind? Changing out your windscreen seems like a pane in the glass.

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  2. Have you seen how much hair I have lately?

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  3. Nice review ... well done. I was wondering why the VStream was not mentioned however ... I would be interested in reading your opinion on that one as well, as many FJR owners swear by that screen.

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    1. Thanks for commenting!
      Yes, the V-stream was in my initial considerations but, even quicker than the rifle, I dismissed it for its otherworldly "UFO" appearance.
      Vain, I know. And I'm surprised myself, as I'm usually a "function over form" guy. But I've spent decades behind "air so dead you could blow smoke-rings at 70mph" screens (Craig Vetter Windjammers, Honda Pacific Coast, Kawi Concours) that I was ready to ride in a little air.
      I rode 20 miles to work in high-forties this morning, and only put the screen up halfway, with my visor cracked a good bit. Could not have done that with the stock screen. Very quiet, low volume of air, and very controlled stream - no buffetting, no back-pressure, looking over the screen the whole time, no earplugs.
      Closing in on 50 yo, I find the CalSci a very, very nice improvement over stock. I basically have a new bike experience.
      But, it does let "some" air in, about like if you were running a box fan on low. Very little, quiet and smooth. But if you want that barndoor, still-air pocket, vetter 'jammer experience, and are not as vain as I, then I would say spring for the VStream, or better yet, the Rifle.

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  4. After reading numerous reviews on windscreen options for the FJR, I just wanted to say your illustrations and comments are by far the best I've read. Unbiased on brand citing situations most all of us encounter while riding. Thanks for your time! You have answered most every question I had. I too have the maroon '07 with a stock shield looking for something better. I think the FJR with the stock shield is a sharp bike and would want a shield that would still compliment the look while improving on the function. I'm guessing all the shields you mentioned, including the V-Stream, are all great shields. It's probably just a matter of everyone picking the one that best suits them. Thanks again for your review...REALLY well done!

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  5. This was great. Thanks for sharing. I just bought 04 fjr yesterday, and got knocked around pretty bad on the 250 km ride home. Out of curiosity, how tall are you? I'm 6'1" and thinking the large is right size for me (based on the chart on calsci site) - I'm too damn lazy to do the measuring method they describe.

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    1. Glad it was helpful, Greg. I'm 5'10", so perhaps the Large is right for you. But I will say that I rarely have the screen full up. It seems that just shy of 3/4 up is the sweet spot for me, both solo and with a passenger. So, A med at full-up may work for you, or a large at 3/4. Another benefit of a large may be the extra width of protection out past your shoulders.
      Some folks have mounted the screen as packaged - with the protective film - and tried it for a short spin, as I believe Cal-Sci will take a return/make exchange this way.

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  6. One more question: if looks didn't matter to you, would you go Rifle or Vstream? Which of those two seems to work magic for largest number of "pilots"?

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    1. I'm really happy with the compromises of the CalSci, although on cooler rides (sub-40º), I sometimes think the V-Stream would have offered more "barn-door" wind protection. No lie - the CalSci will not eliminate any and all air reaching the pilot, but certainly diminishes it to "slight-breeze" status, and what there is, is very smooth and quiet. Its light years ahead of the stock screen, but then again, I think a mounted tuna can would be better than the stock screen.
      If it helps, I would hazard to guess that if you're coming off of a naked or sport bike to the FJR, you'll find the CalSci more than enough wind protection, maybe even too much. If you're coming off of a cruiser with a big shield, windjammer, gold wing or concours C-10, and want to repeat that experience, you may want to lean towards the V-Stream.

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  7. ...and the "screens" threads on the FJR forum are almost as legendary as tire and oil threads, but from what I remember, opins were equally split between CalSci, Rifle and Vstream, so I do not think you can go wrong with any of those, but I thought the CalSci closest to OEM shape for "fitting in" with the look of the bike.
    Congrats on owning an FJR - replacing the stock screen will be like hearing angels sing when you do it.

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  8. Me again: how does Vstream give barn door effect? Dimensions are smaller than calsci, no?

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  9. I'm not sure about it compared to med and lrg versions of the CalSci. Regardless of actual dimensions tho, reading the forums leads to a trend of vstream offering the most wind blockage.
    Its pretty wide up top: http://www.nationalcycle.com/newrelease/VStream.html
    All you can do short of pulling the trigger on one or more designs, is to read, read, read the forum and make your best guess based on your own preferences.

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  10. Well...I put my money on you, my friend. Ordered large CalSci this morning. They're processing today, shipping tomorrow. Me and a buddy from Calgary (AB) are heading out June 18, down to the Black Hills SD. We'll likely stay in Sturgis or Rapid City, and do day trips from there. There is supposed to be some great riding down that way. Can't wait to install the new screen and hear those angels :-) Thanks again. Greg

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    1. So its been almost a year Greg - How'd the CalSci work for you long term?

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  11. Thanks for the great review , sold me . Hate the V-Stream fairing that came with my used 04. Buffeting ,with excessive wind noise and loads of backpressure. Hopefully I have found nirvana.
    Cheers

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    1. Its been 2+ years and I'm still happy with the install. Glad the review helped you make a decision - Feel free to chime back in here as to your own experience after your install. Good Luck!

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  12. Kudos meant for giving you newly released tweets regarding the headache, That i will enjoy look over even more.
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