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Stupid Usability #115

Enter the Vortex

Written By: Joel Baglien
Posted: 9/14/2015

From the mind of Joel Baglien, VP of Business Growth at High Monkey:

Motorcycles have a few categories.  There are touring and sport touring bikes that have windscreens to offer the rider some protection from the elements and relief from buffeting by wind.  Some bikes without body plastic and windscreens are referred to as "nakeds" or "riding naked".  I have a naked bike and a sport touring bike - the latter with all the body plastic and a windscreen.  What happens when a windscreen falls into the category of stupid usability because it makes the riding experience worse than riding naked?

I recently bought a used (2006) Yamaha FJR.  It's a big bike - 1300 cc, 145 HP, and just under 600 pounds.  It still sported the stock windscreen.  After riding for a few hundred miles and having my son ride the bike to confirm my observations, here is the stupid usability we discovered:

  1. The stock windscreen is narrow at the top.  It looks stylish however, the stock design allows significant wind turbulence to buffet the rider around the head and shoulders.
  2. On the FJR, the windscreen has servos to raise it up 2.5 inches.  Even raised, there was significant wind at the helmet level resulting in a lot of wind noise. At some speeds, the wind noise level was worse than riding naked.
  3. At speeds above 60 MPH, the windscreen in the raised position creates a vortex that pulls the rider forward just enough to put a constant pressure and eventual strain on the lower back.  It is a very strange experience to be riding at highway speed, raise the windscreen, and feel yourself get pulled forward onto the gas tank - hence the vortex.

The image below illustrates the effect of wind on the rider.  Red is the stock windscreen, blue is an aftermarket windscreen.

My son and I are both 5' 10" tall.  Our surmise is that the Yamaha factory did their road testing with someone at least 2 inches shorter than us.  We could not imagine a test rider giving their stamp of approval to a stock windscreen.  The photo below shows the stock windscreen on the left and it's taller and wider aftermarket replacement on the right.


On the one hand aftermarket windscreens is a big business for a lot of small and medium manufacturing companies.  It's unfortunate that part of their product strategy depends on many motorcycle manufacturers falling into the stupid usability trap of style over function for their stock windscreens.  

In my case, $159 solved the problem of windscreen stupid usability.


Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 9/14/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments