You just bought your first side by side and ran out to go on your first ride. Obviously you’re having a blast, but you quickly realize how annoying the wind can be. You also take a bug to the face and spend several minute cleaning the dirt out of your eyes.
Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. One of the most common accessories people buy for a new UTV is a front and back windshield along with a roof. As amazing as these machines are, they do not come set up with much protection from the elements coming into the cab. Thankfully there are many windshield options to help keep you protected.
Front Windshields – Protect that pretty little face
UTV Windshields come in several styles and materials giving you a large price range of options. Styles range from half windshield, full windshields with folding option and full windshields fixed. Materials come in acrylic, poly carbonate, coated poly carbonate or glass. Each of these styles and materials have their advantages ranging from price to strength to scratch resistance. Let’s dive into the benefits of each.
Half Windshields – Half windshields help deflect the wind and dust up and away from your face while maintaining enough airflow to keep you cool. Usually if you have a half windshield, you don’t need a rear one. Half windshields are generally the cheapest of the bunch, however the material can affect the price.
Full Fixed Windshield – Fixed windshields are just what they seem to be, a full coverage windshield that mounts semi-permanently to your machine. Most windshield manufacturers have done a great job in utilizing existing hardware on your side by side for installation. One downfall to full windshields (fixed or folding) is that they create a vortex of negative pressure in the cab which can cause dust to still be an issue. One option to help with this is to have a windshield that is made with vents that allow airflow (usually on the bottom side), thus avoiding the negative pressure in the cab.
Full Folding Windshield – Folding windshields are a very popular option because they can completely block the front when needed or they can be folded up or down and out of the way when more airflow is needed. These windshields are nice because they usually have a quick disconnect or latch that allow the change to be made on the fly. Some will fully fold out of the way and also pop out a little on the bottom to help with the negative cab pressure while maintaining the protection. These are usually the most expensive option as far as style goes, but many riders like the versatility they offer.
Acrylic – Acrylic windshields give you great clarity for an excellent price. They can be polished if scratched and they do scratch and break the easiest of all the materials. That being said, they still are difficult to break. Acrylic has great UV resistance and is a great option for the price conscious riders.
Poly carbonate – Much harder than acrylic, the poly carbonate windshield (sometimes referred to as Lexan) is more scratch resistant than the acrylic. Both materials are a type of plastic, but the poly carbonate is easier to clean and able to be cleaned with a wider variety of cleaners. Poly carbonate is extremely resilient to impact, but all those benefits come at a cost.
Coated Poly carbonate – This coated version of the poly carbonate windshield is much like the uncoated version except for when it comes to the scratch resistance properties. The coating on this windshield makes it much more resistant to scratches from things like branches or cleaning cloths. The majority of the windshield being made these days are made from this coated poly carbonate despite costing a bit more than the other two materials discussed. This convenience of not having to worry about scratches distorting your view is definitely worth the extra cost.
Glass – Just like the glass windshield in your car, the glass windshields for UTVs are make from laminated safety auto glass. These windshields are virtually impossible to scratch and are very durable. If optimal clarity and UV resistance is what you seek, this is the windshield for you. However, glass is much more expensive than the rest of the group.
Rear Windshields – Don’t forget to C.Y.A. (Cover Your A**)
Rear Windshields are often overlooked, but are extremely important to keeping the dust out of the cab. As mentioned above, a full windshield on the front creates a negative pressure in the cab which basically pulls dust back into the cab. The rear windshield helps to stop the vortex and thus helps keep the dust out, along with any other elements that try to attack from behind.
Most of the materials mentioned above will be available for rear windshields. One materiel that I didn’t mention is vinyl. Vinyl is light and usually very easy to add or remove and can be rolled up for storage. Although less protective when it comes to impact or flying objects, vinyl is great for stopping the negative pressure creating vortex mentioned earlier. Many riders like this options because they get this desired effect for very little cost!
Now go get some protection!
Before you go out on your next adventure, get your UTV windshield for a more comfortable/enjoyable ride. For the money, I like a full, coated poly carbonate with vent or fold options. For the rear, I like things to match, so I also like the coated poly carbonate here as well. There are tons options withing each material and style, so there’s sure to be one to fit your fancy. Which windshield are you using or planning to buy? Let us know in the comments along with your pros and cons!