How To Clean and Protect Your Windshield
Allen Smith begins the initial step by washing the windshield with water.

With very few exceptions, little by little, motorcycle riders clean their windshields to death. Take a stroll around the parking lot outside a restaurant where a motorcycle gathering is going on. Look through all the windshields. Except for the brand new machines, almost every windshield shows evidence of well-intentioned abuse by the bikes' owners. (While that's what keeps those of us in the business of supplying aftermarket windshields and accessories in business, it's largely unnecessary and can be avoided with a bit of care.) Sure, you need to keep your windshield clean, both for appearances and safety, but you don't need to go about it the wrong way!

First of all, you should know a bit about your motorcycle's windshield, especially the Gold Wing. Unlike most automobile or truck windshields, it's not made of glass. The original equipment Honda Gold Wing GL1500 and GL1800 windshield is made of hard coated polycarbonate. Most other manufacturers shields are the same. While polycarbonate is great stuff, if you use cleaner containing alcohol or ammonia (including Windex® or Pledge®), you start softening the hard coating , exposing the windshield to greater tendency to scratches or pitting. Windex, Pledge and other alcohol-based household cleaners work great on glass, but aren't meant for synthetics.

WARNING: Do not use Rain-X® on any coated windshield!

Smith cleans crosswise using a soft cloth and plenty of water

Second, if you grab one of those service station scrubber wands, you don't know what kind of abrasives are imbedded in its spongy or squeegee surfaces. It's worth it to carry your own cleaning materials. At service stations, the temptation is to do a "final wipe-off" with those handy paper towels. Resist the urge! Paper is processed wood pulp. You're essentially scrubbing your windshield with a handful of ground-up twigs! Is it any wonder your windshield quickly goes from crystal clear to a crazy-quilt pattern of swirls and whorls that's especially annoying when riding in the rain or in the glare of on-coming headlights!

Alcohol or high-petroleum-content cleaners are even more destructive to aftermarket windshields made of Lexan®. Spritz a little alcohol on one of these windshields and it immediately turns milky white. I had a customer tell me he destroyed his windshield while refilling his fuel tank. The hose nozzle sprung loose, gushing gasoline all over the inside of his Lexan windshield. Was he angry!

Here's how I tell my customers to clean their windshields.

Step 1. Use a wet, not damp, wash cloth or hand towel you keep for that purpose in a plastic zip-lock bag inside your travel trunk. Allow the water to soften the dried-on bugs. Work crosswise and up and down; if you use a circular motion, you tend, unconsciously, to increase the rag pressure and scrub harder than you need to. Also, if there's any grit on the cloth to gouge the surface, circular scratches are more annoying to the eye than straight ones. (By the way, I don't use diaper material because the tightness of the weave tends to pick up and retain grit.) Soft terry cloth is the best for the initial soaking and wiping.

Step 2. With the windshield still wet, sparingly spray on some of Sumner Laboratories' product called 210®. Using clean tee-shirt material, gently wipe the windshield dry, again, using straight back-and-forth motions. Sumner's 210® is available through many motorcycle and plastic supply houses ( and Tulsa Enterprises carries it too!) It's specifically formulated for use on Lucite or Lexan. Besides being anti-static and anti-fog, it helps seal the pores of plastic and leaves a protective coating. From Tulsa Enterprises, a seven-ounce can of 210® costs $6.50 plus shipping. Sumner Laboratories' 210® Plus scratch remover can improve lightly scratched surfaces. As with any product you've not tried before, do a test sample in a small (preferably out of the line of sight) area of the windshield to see if it makes things better or worse.

Of course, in the final analysis, for severely scratched and pitted windshields, the best thing to do is start over with a fresh one, promising yourself to give it better care than you gave the last one. Just as investing in a fresh set of motorcycle tires makes a world of difference in how your motorcycle rides, by making the relatively small investment for a new windshield, you can improve your whole outlook on life!

He finishes off using a light coating of 210®