Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Repair And Restoration

CB500X Screen Improvements

By Ren Withnell

Bodge Date October 2018

Screens. I've always liked the idea of a screen but I'd never got on well with them. All my early bikes were "naked" so I'd no experience of them until I got my Mark 2 Fazer 600. That screen, the standard screen, didn't make a whole heap of difference, it wasn't tall enough to block the wind. There's a small screen on the CBF125, there were small screens on the CBF250 and the SLR650, but these were dinky flyscreens not proper windbreakers.

The CB500X comes with a screen. I rode the bike for a while with the screen but I found that while the wind pressure upon my person was much reduced the turbulence from the screen rattled my helmet. This rattling was sufficient to make a lot of noise and become tiresome over the miles.

The standard screen as fitted to a Honda CB500X
I've used Pocketpete's screen for illustration because it's much cleaner than my own.

I removed the screen and covered over 20,000 happily screen free miles.

Then a couple of months back I was doing something I very very VERY rarely do. I was tidying the kitchen. I found spoons and cups and new forms of penicillin, I found wheel weights and that blasted missing 19mm socket I'd already replaced, I found paperwork I ought to have replied to months ago and I found my screen.

Do I keep it or flog it on Ebay? I tell you what, I'll try it once again and if I hate it I'll sell it. Good idea Ren and refitting it to the bike will provide a good excuse to not look at what has died under the microwave. Yuk.

After the first 10 miles I remembered how much I like not having the wind blast upon me. I also recalled how much I hate the turbulence rattling my head and deafening me. I guess I should sell the damn thing, I've never met a screen I liked. Yes, I know, I've only met 1 proper screen in earnest and a few small ones but those I've experienced on test rides, I hated them too.

Or...or I could experiment. 

I look on the internet. Many people complain about the turbulence from the CB500X's screen. Amidst the griping and complaints are a few solutions to try. The first one is to increase the gap between the screen and the fairing.

The idea is as follows. The screen sits fairly flush to the fairing, as such the wind runs up the nose, over the light, up the screen then over. This creates a pocket of low pressure air behind the screen creating the turbulence. I think this is baloney, the whole purpose of a screen is to reduce the pressure behind it for the rider. 

But, well, yeah? Maybe the pocket is wrong, maybe their needs to be a gap to allow an updraft, maybe this is far far more complex than I could understand? I'm not an aerodynamic engineer, I'll give it a shot.

A made up diagram of the airflow of the Honda's screen
Yeah! I should be working for a Formula One team me.

Armed with 2 pieces of 1 by 2 wood (25mm by 50mm) I inserted these betwixt the screen and the brackets, pushing the screen forward and off the fairing by 1 inch. It had crossed my mind to create a masterpiece of engineering then I remembered I'm a bodger not an engineer.

A piece of 1 inch thick wood between the mount and the screen
I'm expecting a call from McLaren Racing anytime soon.

With much excitement I donned my lid and set off looking forward to being cosseted in a world of wind and noise free tranquillity. No difference. At all. Poop.

While riding with the screen in place and still mounted on the wood I started moving my free left hand around, searching, feeling, trying to understand what the air was doing. Ideally I need a wind tunnel and a smoke machine but doing impressions of an over-enthusiastic 2 wheeled priest blessing the countryside is all I have.

Hmmmm.... Hmmmmm!! If, right, if I place my flat hand atop the screen then things seem better. Could it be...the screen is not tall enough? There are 2 settings and it's on it's top setting but with my hand giving an extra what...3 maybe 4 inches it gets better? 

Back at BAT Towers I have a think over a brew. I don't want to do anything permanent to the screen otherwise I can't sell it. But, well, I'll be fine with gaffer tape and some plastic? I can always remove it, no harm done. So it was I fitted a rectangular piece of plastic salvaged from handguards version 1 to the screen. This raised the screen by 5 inches (13mm).

The standard screen with a piece of plastic gaffer taped on to make it taller
Research and development on a budget. Is that Red Bull Racing on the phone?

Oh. My. Goodness! What a transformation! Please don't go as far as to imagine it's like sitting inside a car - but. The wind pressure is greatly relieved and the turbulence has dropped from godawful and vision blurring to barely noticeable at 30mph and comfortably manageable at 70mph. What a transformation.

After 3 weeks and several reasonably long distance rides I decided this improvement to be worthy of permanent installation. I did consider gluing the piece of opaque plastic in situ but to be honest even with my very VERY low standards this was a step too far.

I looked on fleabay for some perspex. Then I remembered I'm an impatient impetuous spoilt want it all now modern youth (46 is still young right?) I went to B&Q, they sell huge sheets for more than my tight fisted budget. Hobbycraft don't do perspex. Google suggested this weird little signage shop might have perspex. 50p for a random cut-off scrap lying around? That'll do nicely thank you madam. 

4 M6 bolts from the random bolts drawer. A packet of M6 10mm nyloc nuts and a packet of 6mm plastic washers from my local engineering supplies stockist. A hot soldering iron. What could possibly go wrong?

A small piece of clear perspex bolted onto the standard X screen
I amaze even myself at times with my skills and abilities.

I have considered making the screen even higher but there's a good reason I have not. I do not want to make it high enough for the screen to block my vision. I wouldn't want rain or something else to cover the screen rendering me unable to see. At this height I can see over the top quite safely and yet the screen is doing it's job.

So here's my advice. You and I are not the same height, nor do we sit the same. Whatever adaptations I've made to my screen will not necessarily work for you. I recommend using tape and random bits of plastic to experiment, experiment and experiment until you find the size, height and shape that works for YOU. 

I suspect the higher and wider the screen the better the results. Before you install a 1 metre square sheet of bulletproof lexan to your bike consider the following. Imagine if the screen got covered in road salt or mud or anything else. Imagine you can't see through it. Could you still ride safely? If not it's too high, too big, simple as that.

When you have finalised your design and you're happy with it then you can make the improvements permanent. Having ridden to Devon with the heightened screen I am declaring mine a rip-roaring success.

A different angle on the DIY screen extension
Tain't rocket science or the height of fashion, burrit wuks.

Have you been delightfully creative in your search for two-wheeled comfort? Write it up, send it to and we'll share it right here.

Reader's Comments

Rod said :-
Nice job Ren.
One of the things I miss from my time owning a big touring bike is the large screen and weather protection.
I fear that my bikes power would not cope with a barn door on the front of it lol.
09/10/2018 08:00:19 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yes...and no. What is lost to the screen is only lost to your body instead. Save for some incredibly complex aerodynamic truths the net effect is probably not that much.

My concern on a 125 would be stability. A big big screen could have some unforeseen consequences. I'd be tempted to play with some minor adaptations though, if for nothing else than academic research.
09/10/2018 09:09:14 UTC
Rod said :-
Ren, I was joking about the power. But as I am sure you know, you will go faster on the 125 down on the tank than sitting bolt upright (if the gearing is high enough).
You are correct that when sitting upright the high screen will have little or no effect on the speed.
09/10/2018 09:30:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'm being thick aren't I. The problem with text is often the context is missed. Still, it has got me thinking about gaffer taping bits of plastic onto the CBF125's screen. Hmmmm....
10/10/2018 09:22:31 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I briefly had a tallish Givi screen on my SLR650 but rapidly removed it as it made the bars flap especially when coming up behind car transporters and the like. I had a smaller version on the CB400 and that was OK - in fact I'm looking for a cheap one to put on the Guzzi.
10/10/2018 09:30:29 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Nice plastic work Ren the Ed,
10/10/2018 09:51:09 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I must admit Ian I was rather loathe to publish this item for fear that someone fits a huge screen and then promptly crashes. Small screens can be OK - they won't stop as much wind blast but because of their smaller size they tend not to suffer too much turbulence.

Upt'North - Sorry dad! Blimey, I'm being badgered via the internet now. I'd best not show you what the kitchen looks like or you'll give me a right old lecture.
10/10/2018 11:07:41 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
When I had the Tiger I fitted an MRA screen with an aerofoil which was quite good - even better with a taller aerofoil which I made myself (like you an offcut from a local plastics factory).

You can see it in the photo below.

Of course the Tiger fairing was frame-fitted so the instability issue didn't arise.

10/10/2018 12:49:26 UTC
Rod said :-
Took this pic just before I sold her.
Owned for 19 years, the GTR had the perfect weather protection and I would ride in still air at three figure speeds.

10/10/2018 08:14:37 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Millau area Ian? Yes the CB500X has the screen mounted to the fairing and therefore the frame rather than the bars and therefore the steering. I daresay it might still be possible to upset the stability of a motorcycle if the screen is somehow very "wrong" even if it is fairing mounted. Is that the aerofoil you made in the picture or the original.

Rod - 19 years! That's a fair old time to keep a bike. How many miles did you put on it and why, in the end, did you replace it?
11/10/2018 08:31:03 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Yes, looking over the Chaos de Montpellier....

This is the view the other way towards the bridge.

11/10/2018 09:05:13 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yeah, we've all gorra pic of The Millau Viaduct. Tut...

Millau Viaduct
11/10/2018 10:02:17 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Yebbut do we all have one of the Chaos of Montpellier? I think not.....
11/10/2018 10:47:48 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Will this do?

Chaos Montpellier
11/10/2018 11:59:42 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Or underneath the Millau Viaduct in the pouring rain?

Millau Viaduct from underneath
11/10/2018 12:08:10 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Mine's wetter than yours.
Mine's wetter than yours.
Also 50 mph sideways winds trying to ride over the blummin thing. On a slightly more sensible note you can see my MRA is not dissimilar to your handy work except with adjustment or easy removal of top available. Not that I've ever got anywhere to put the darn thing.

11/10/2018 12:47:57 UTC
Tom McQ said :-
Ahaa! This article leads neatly onto what hopefully might become a future one! And the title of that future article?... EAR EAR!

Your battle with screens has caused you to admit that riding motorcycles can be a noisy affair, leading to "a lot of noise" which can "become tiresome over the miles". Well apart from that, it can have serious long-term effects on your hearing which can lead to hearing loss!

I know that you personally don't wear earplugs - you've told me so. But I think that in the interest of your readership, you should review them, because apart from the long-term harm to your hearing, there's also that constant unpleasant wind noise which (in your words) becomes tiresome and it can also disrupt concentration on long journeys.

Once you get over the initial oddity of having something stuck in your ear, you quickly become thankful for the peaceful quiet and calm of the wind-free ride. It's night and day! It's like someone gagging a screaming child, LOL.

Personally, I use the cheap Oxford EarSoft FX which come in a bag of 50 pairs.

Oxford EarSoft FX EarPlugs
11/10/2018 12:50:02 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Oh NO! It's going to turn into a competition as to who's got the most radically ridiculous images and stories regarding the Millau Viaduct. Well right, right yeah, well like right man, we needed aqualungs to like breath and for the engine it were that wet man.

Tom - My problem with discussing earplugs is that I can't form an opinion regarding them as I don't use them. If you or anyone else would like to conjure up an article I'd be happy to publish it here on Bikes And Travels and open up the subject.
11/10/2018 01:15:18 UTC
Rod said :-
I only covered 60,000 miles on her in the 19 years, but I had a company car or van some of that time, and I also had my winter bikes (gs250 and later a gs125) which I used to commute and ride through the winter months.
I finally sold her 6 years ago because I was not using her as much as the smaller bike. The smaller bike was at the front of the garage, and the GTR was a heavy bike to shunt around in small spaces.
I was then 57 years old, built like a hobbit, and thought it was time to get a smaller bike. The bike still ran as it did when it was new, and I sold it for £900.
The bike was never too big when riding it, it was just pushing it around in small spaces which was becoming a problem.
I had a 500 kawasaki for 5 years after selling the GTR but did not like the handling.
I now have the zuma which on paper is a very good bike for my needs, BUT I purchased the zuma with my head, not my heart, and although the zuma is a great little bike I do not think I will ever love it like the GTR. I cried when I sold it, and I am having to hold back the tears even now writing about it.

11/10/2018 02:06:53 UTC
Rod said :-
I only covered 60,000 miles on her in the 19 years, but I had a company car or van some of that time, and I also had my winter bikes (gs250 and later a gs125) which I used to commute and ride through the winter months.
I finally sold her 6 years ago because I was not using her as much as the smaller bike. The smaller bike was at the front of the garage, and the GTR was a heavy bike to shunt around in small spaces.
I was then 57 years old, built like a hobbit, and thought it was time to get a smaller bike. The bike still ran as it did when it was new, and I sold it for £900.
The bike was never too big when riding it, it was just pushing it around in small spaces which was becoming a problem.
I had a 500 kawasaki for 5 years after selling the GTR but did not like the handling.
I now have the zuma which on paper is a very good bike for my needs, BUT I purchased the zuma with my head, not my heart, and although the zuma is a great little bike I do not think I will ever love it like the GTR. I cried when I sold it, and I am having to hold back the tears even now writing about it.

11/10/2018 02:06:53 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Rod, stop it, you've got me going now.
And more to the blummin point, why didn't I see it for sale at £900.00?
Regrets, regrets, regrets, I've had a few, etc. etc.

11/10/2018 03:16:50 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"Will this do?"

Yeah, but where's the bike? I think you went there on the bus.......

Earplugs? Never used them despite people telling me categorically I'd be deaf by the time I reached 50 (OK, that was a long time ago). I have a pet theory that it's only full face helmets that cause damaging wind noise....
11/10/2018 03:45:52 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Dammit Ian! I have no images of the bike at the Viaduct so yes, perhaps I did just catch a bus all the way to Millau just to get some pictures. I've been rumbled.

I think 19 years with a bike might make me shed a tear when we parted Rod. I've been with the CBF125 for 6 years and 70,000 miles now. I know it can't live forever and we will part one day. Alas and alack everything shall pass. In the meantime ride what ya got for tomorrow is uncertain.
11/10/2018 07:35:23 UTC
Ted said :-
Hi Ren, this was the photo I took in October last year and although I have not ridden far nor fast (always within the legal limits of the road available) I have found this mod suitable for ME.

As you rightly say, taller/shorter riders will find their own best height for a taller screen.

My CB500X came with the tall screen, which for me was still about 4-1/4" too short. I am about 5ft 11" tall and have found that when the bike is on the centre stand, and measuring from the floor, the top of my screen mod is 62 inches.
This bike seems to suit both me and my regular pillion passenger.

I did trade in the Yamaha Xcenter 125 scooter for the Honda SH300i, have yet to ride it far and am still getting to grips with this keyless ignition system. I have a screen to fit and my Oxford trickle charger, so plenty to keep me busy under the car port when feel up to it.

On a slightly different note, my fried/regular pillion passenger has a 19 year old grand daughter who needed a lift to a Kings Lynn hospital to visit a friend. She had recently passed her CBT but not ridden, nor been a pillion since.
There was no way I was going to offer to take her up in the car, pay parking fees and (being tight) spend more on diesel.
I told I would take her on the bike.
REPLY "ALL the way to Kings Lynn?"

It's about 25 miles to the hospital lol.

Sooo, When I met her I had to remind her about being pillion.
Don't lean More than the bike, you could fall off, get hit by the car behind and DIE!
Don't lean less than the bike, it makes it unstable and if you fall off I will be too busy making sure I don't ! Again, you could die.
IF be some unfortunate set of circumstances we come into contact with the road, we will have this conversation about paying for the damage BEFORE I phone an ambulance for you.
Erm, should you really die as a result of your own stupidity, I will just have to sue your parents for the repairs.

She still climbed on and went to grab me round the waist.
Opps, steady on girl, 2 reasons.
We really don't know each other that well &.I'm tickleish!

We set of gently along the road and the first time I applied the brake I got hit in the back of the head with her crash helmet.

After about the first 5 miles she had settled and was happy to be going a little faster.
Soon we were on a the main A47 which opens up to a dual carriageway and 70mph is the legal limit.

Whilst at the hospital I get a text from her mum (She Hates bikes ;-)
"Bring her back as fast as you like, just scare the poo out of her so she never wants to go on a bike again".

I showed the girl the text and her face lit up..."Tell mum it was great, I'm buzzing, can't wait to get on a bike again"

Not my problem these days, her boyfriend has bought a sports bike a lot bigger and faster than my CB500X.

Good luck if you can find an original Pre 2014 screen for the 500X. Flea bay.??

23/10/2018 09:42:39 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Ted, great to catch up.

So from what I can work out you have an early CB500X screen mounted up and behind the later model taller screen. Well it works and your engineering seems far more engineered than my usual bodges. Hell you've even used a matching colour of paint!

Now really, should a gentleman of your seniority be taking 19 year old ladies out on your bike? That should be left to middle aged men with mid life crisis issues - such as myself. I'm not envious, no, not at all. Dammit.
23/10/2018 12:31:18 UTC
Henrik said :-
Ren: you have been playing with the scooter idea also ,.. to give up all dignity just for keeping the legs dry :-) and now, this, screen developing into a shelter ,.. maybe its time to go all in, and do something ultimate :-)

I saw this one in Paris, could not decide if I should take a picture or not, in the end I took the picture, becourse I realised that I would not be able to forget about it, and get rid of the memory anyway

08/11/2018 09:26:59 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Now THAT is a screen!! I should imagine the weather protection is quite good especially with the leg shields and leg covers. However I also expect the handling is absolutely appalling. We're starting with a scooter and small wheels then we're fitting a screen the size of a bus door. I'd like to ride it (on a closed road with medics nearby) just to see what it's like.

I can take a guess. It will actually be OKish but when it goes a little wrong it will go spectacularly wrong. Riding around at town speeds will feel fine then a gust of wind, a pothole or a sharp swerve to avoid a pedestrian will just throw you to the mercy of the gods.
09/11/2018 06:27:07 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Ren the Ed, you wouldn't have to worry about injuries, it'll pull no more than 1st gear and 10 mph with that much drag.
And before someone points out that drag only increases proportionally to speed or not, I'm joking.
But seriously, has someone manufactured that on purpose, it doesn't look home made. I'll Google Barn Door Francais and see what comes up.
09/11/2018 09:10:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I must say it looks "properly" made as opposed to my usual bodges. I suspect it was not designed to be fitted to a small scooter in France though.
09/11/2018 09:49:35 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Those screens are very popular in France especially in cities such as Paris and are usually fitted to small capacity bikes and scooters as in the pics. I've even seen them with a half "roof" although that looks even less stable.

You can also see the apron in the pic - that goes across the rider's knees and keeps their legs & feet dry(ish).
09/11/2018 09:57:03 UTC
Henrik said :-
I saw two examples in Paris, 2008, so it is some kind of production

There was also several of the small BMW scooters with both front-screen and roof, the one with safetybelt, and EU permission to drive without helmet as far as I remember
09/11/2018 10:01:28 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I've seen the leg covers before, even here in the UK Ian. However they don't seem to have taken off like they have on the continent. You can get something similar for motorcycles too but you'd be hard pushed to find them.

You're talking of the BMW C1 Henrik. Here in the UK they never managed to get the "no helmet" approval though I believe they did in some countries. Fascinating idea that was perhaps just a little before it's time. I doubt the UK would ever be ready for something as radical as a covered motorcycle or scooter but I'd be interested to see if the broader minded and more scooter friendly countries would take to it.
09/11/2018 03:26:22 UTC
Henrik said :-
More on the same topic :-)

28/11/2018 10:39:33 UTC
Upt'North said :-
It's probably where BMW got the idea for the C1 from.
Why in gods name would ya?
29/11/2018 01:38:33 UTC
Henrik said :-
Upt'North ,.. you are sure right ,.. its terrible
29/11/2018 08:07:40 UTC

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