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Parabellum Windshield

Parabellum Windshield Review

Parabellum BMW Windscreen Review

The Chris Blogs by Chris B. for webBikeWorld.com

I'm not really sure what got me thinking about replacing the stock windscreen on my 2000 BMW K 1200 LTC.

I’ve been using it with a Laminar Lip (see my review) for nearly 100,000 miles now and have been satisfied with the performance, although it does have a few drawbacks.

The primary issue I have with it is that if I raise the BMW's windscreen up to completely block the wind (which I admittedly rarely do), I end up looking through a total of four layers of acrylic: the face shield, sunglasses or eyeglasses, windshield and the Laminar Lip.

Searching around for something different, I remembered reading the Parabellum ads in the BMW Owner’s News magazine for years.

Parabellum has been around for many years and their products are very popular with BMW motorcycle owners.

The owner, Charly Perethian, apparently worked for Craig Vetter (remember him?), then left to start another famous brand -- Rifle Fairing (which is still around) -- before he started Parabellum.

Parabellum was originally focused on making windshields for BMW motorcycles, but the company has since branched out to make windshields for many different makes and models.

I suppose it was Parabellum's claim of increased fuel mileage that really caught my eye -- an important factor with the premium fuel that "Big Red" requires now going for about $4.35 per gallon -- but I decided to give it a try.

Two very important requirements I have for a motorcycle windscreen is that I must be able to look completely over the top lip and I must be comfortable when riding with it in the fully lowered position at any speed.

The electrically adjustable windscreen on the BMW allows me to fine tune the height as needed, and I can also lower it when riding in town or in the “twisties”, which ensures a clear, unobstructed view of the road ahead.

So I asked Parabellum about this and after several e-mail exchanges, the sales rep assured me that the windscreen for the BMW K 1200 LT would meet my requirements.

And by the way -- since this is also the bike my wife and I use on our yearly two-week motorcycle vacation, it had to perform well for the passenger too.

During the exchange of e-mails prior to the purchase, which were always promptly and politely answered, Parabellum suggested that because of my height (6’3”), I would probably benefit from a taller windscreen than the stock size.

So on their recommendation, I opted to go with their “Performance/Touring Windshield” in the taller size (2" taller), along with an option I’ve never seen on a windscreen: pop out vents.

One of the drawbacks to a large windscreen is that can do such a good job of blocking the wind that it can also make it too warm for the rider. So the pop-out vents sounded like a nice addition, and since they cost only $49.00 more, I included them also. After all, what did I have to lose?  Parabellum apparently has confidence in their products, because they offer a 30 day money back guarantee.

I received a message soon after the order was placed just to confirm that I did indeed want the taller screen. Apparently, because of the pronounced bow in the Parabellum windscreen when compared to the stock unit, the top edge is located significantly higher. So I thought about this and made the decision to instead go with the standard height.

I really wanted the windshield in enough time to mount it on the bike and give it a trial test before we took off on our upcoming 4,000 mile summer jaunt, so I placed the order six weeks before the trip. Despite being very busy, Parabellum was able to get the windshield to me a week before departure.

BMW K 1200 LT Stock Windshield (L); Parabellum Performance Touring Windshield (R)
BMW K 1200 LT Stock Windshield (L); Parabellum Performance Touring Windshield (R)

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Once I took it out of the box and compared it to the stock BMW windscreen, it's obvious how pronounced the curve on the Parabellum windshield is throughout its entire length. The stock windshiled really flattens out at the top in comparison.

Parabellum’s website claims that the flatness of the stock windshield is what causes the turbulence that can be felt when riding behind it, and this results in significant air drag and discomfort.

Parabellum uses cast acrylic sheets of Lucite L to make their windshields, and I found this one to be optically perfect with no distortion anywhere except at the very edges of the material, which is to be expected.

The stock windshield on the BMW is attached with four Allen head screws, which must be replaced with the four Phillips head screws provided by Parabellum, along with eight slightly conical steel washers that have a rubber washer attached to one side, so installation was a snap.

Once I installed it, I noticed how much higher the top center edge of the Parabellum windscreen was compared to the stock BMW unit. Like a kid with a new toy I could hardy wait to go to work the next day and see how it performed.

Now I have a round trip commute of 100 miles, with the morning half being mostly twisty back roads and the afternoon 95% Interstate at high speeds. Some of the trip takes me up over the mountains of western Maryland, and the temperature and humidity changes can be significant.

I had been riding my “new” R1150GS (see my report) every day recently, but I rode the LT for a week prior to and after the Parabellum windshield was installed so I could get a good idea of the differences and to also record the fuel consumption using both 'screens.

Looking through the Parabellum windshield.
Good optical quality but at this height, I'm looking through the windshield, rather than over it.

Once underway, with the Parabellum windshield fully lowered, I noticed that the top edge cut right through the center of my vision. And as soon as I got above 30 MPH, I experienced a strong “drumming” noise on my helmet, which increased with road speed.

The noise could be eliminated though by simply raising the windshield -- with the windshield raised about halfway, it was dead silent and the air was very calm. But now I was stuck looking through it all of the time; not exactly what I had in mind.

I rode with the Parabellum for a week to evaluate it under various conditions, and I also got my co-pilot’s all-important feedback -- she was pleased with how quiet it was back there with the windshield in the raised position.

But, I’m sorry to say, after using it for a week I removed it just before our departure. I decided that I could probablydeal with the top edge lying right in the center of my vision, but only if that position created no turbulence.

However, the turbulence-induced “drumming” noise on my helmet was intolerable, which made it necessary to raise the windshield up so that I'm looking completely through it, a situation I did not want.

I know a lot of riders with a fixed-position windscreen on their bikes who have no problem looking directly through it, but I have experienced many instances where, due to wild temperature fluctuations during my ride, the windscreen will become completely fogged over in a matter of seconds. This makes it impossible to see the road ahead of me -- and obviously dangerous situation.

By the way, the optional snap-out vents on the Parabellum windshield worked fine. However, I was unable to pull them closed from the rider’s side, so unless you’ve got long arms like I do, to close the vents you’re going to have to pull to the side of the road and perhaps even get off the bike so you can push them closed from the front.

My fuel consumption recordings over the 400 miles prior to and after installation of the Parabellum showed no increase whatsoever; I got a pretty consistent 41-42 MPG, regardless of which windshield was fitted.

After returning from our trip, I contacted Parabellum about my concerns and they offered to trim the windshield to any length I’d like, but I wasn’t convinced that this would really improve things, so I returned it instead.

Conclusion
I had high hopes for the windshield from Parabellum; I was hoping for comfort, better protection and maybe even a little better fuel mileage, but for me, it just didn’t deliver what was promised.

BUT, if you don’t mind looking through a windscreen, then one of their products may be an excellent choice.

wBW Product Review: Parabellum Windshield

Available From:  Parabellum Suggested Retail Price:  Prices vary; the BMW K 1200 LT Performance Touring Windshield shown here starts at a list price of $259.00.
Colours:  Clear and tinted. Made In:  U.S.A.
Review Date: September 2008

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