A windshield alternative that provides protection and maintains airflow
It’s not every day that we come across a new product that is completely unique from anything else available in the industry. We see a lot of spin-offs or reproductions that claim to provide advanced or industry-first benefits, but a completely new product is hard to find.
Back at the 2015 SEMA show we ran across a new product that is simple in concept but unlike anything we’ve seen in the industry. The Bug Buster is a high strength mesh windscreen that provides protection from bugs, roost and flying debris while maintaining airflow through the cab of the vehicle. Initially we were put off by the name as bugs aren’t much of an issue in most of the places that we ride. However, after giving it some thought we began to see the benefits beyond just blocking bugs.
Where necessity is the mother of invention, the Bug Buster Windscreen was born as a solution to a problem. “We operate a large ranch in Texas and just couldn’t find anything on the market that would work for us” said Mike Johnson, president and CEO of the company. “We needed something that could block debris, branches and bugs but keep the airflow through the vehicle when it gets hot out.” Visibility was another issue they faced as windshields tend to scratch and collect mud, dust and even pollen.
Aside from keeping the occupants cool, airflow is important to carry dust and exhaust fumes out of the cab of the vehicle. Traditional windshields can create a vortex, or an area of suction behind them as the wind moves around the shield and into the cab of the vehicle. Without airflow, dust and exhaust fumes have nowhere to go and remain in the cab where they can be inhaled by the occupants of the vehicle. For that reason we’ve seen a lot of windshield manufacturers offering split level windshields or finding creative ways of making sure there is some level of airflow available.
For those who generally ride in colder climates, maintaining airflow might not be a priority, but a windshield can still pose a few problems. In muddy conditions, splatter can limit visibility, forcing the user to regularly exit the vehicle to clean it. And since these are off-road vehicles, most windshields will eventually see some scratches and dings from general use.
While at the UTV World Championships recently, we ran into the folks from Bug Buster again and had an opportunity to take a closer look at the screen as well as get behind the wheel and try it out for ourselves.
The screen itself is easy to mount and convenient enough for one person to do it with no tools required. Neoprene foam on each end of the windscreen stretches round the cage of the vehicle providing a snug but not overly tight fit. Marine grade zippers fasten the screen to the roll cage and were easy to connect and zip closed. Not all zippers are created equal and Bug Buster claims theses zippers are specifically designed to work well around corners. We had no trouble fastening the zippers, even as the screen got tighter.
The neoprene foam features a no-slip surface to help hold it in place on the cage and high strength Velcro on the inside of the windscreen attaches the top portion to the OEM visor and the bottom of the windscreen to the dash of the vehicle, providing a good seal against the contours of the vehicle. Peeling and adhering the Velcro is about the most involved part of the installation process.
All of the materials, from the webbing to the neoprene and even the thread used to hold it together, are UV resistant. Unlike traditional polyester or cotton thread that can lose up to half of its strength in a year, the Gore Tenara thread maintains its strength and color and will generally outlast the material that it’s sewn to. “We’re constantly on the lookout for new materials to ensure our product is as durable as it can be,” said Johnson. “Our current webbing has a penetration strength of 95 lbs per square inch and we’re currently testing a material woven from a fiber that is 40% stronger than Kevlar.” All of the windscreens are designed and manufactured in the company’s Dallas, Texas facility to keep a close eye on production and be quick to react if changes need to be made.
One of the biggest questions everyone will have is “how is the visibility?” We got to spend a few minutes behind the wheel out in the desert and quite honestly, stopped noticing it almost immediately. You can certainly see the screen from inside the vehicle, but as soon you start moving and your vision begins focusing on the terrain ahead of you, you tend to look right past it and not even notice that it’s there.
“What about airflow?” While it wasn’t overly hot that morning we could definitely feel the cool desert breeze flowing through the windscreen. Maybe not quite as much as having a completely open cab, but certainly enough to keep you cool and maintain steady airflow so dust flows out of the cab.
Another product they were testing in Laughlin was a similar screen that attached to the top of the vehicle providing protection from the sun but remaining transparent so drivers could still see through it. “One of the comments we heard at SEMA was from dune riders needing the ability to look up through the roof to see oncoming dunes while also providing some sort of relief from the scorching desert sun” said Tim Bascharow, director of sales for Bug Buster. That is something we can absolutely relate to after driving vehicles in the dunes with custom cages and roofs.
This was actually the first prototype, but it seemed to provide adequate shade and was obviously transparent enough to see through since it is made of the same mesh material as the windscreen.
From a uniqueness standpoint and for coming up with a functional product unlike anything else on the market, we give the Bug Buster Windscreen an A+. Cold weather riders may prefer a standard windshield to shield them from the cold, but we have a feeling a lot of desert, dune and trail riders who are looking for forward protection will appreciate the windscreen’s ability to maintain the breeze while blocking roost and debris from trees, brush and other vehicles.
The Bug Buster Windscreen starts at $299 and is available for a variety of sport and utility models. For more info and to see the Bug Buster Windscreen in action, check out BugBusterWindscreen.com.