If you’ve been driving UTVs for a while and know people who’ve installed windshields onto theirs, you’ve probably asked if you should be doing the same. It’s a rather hotly debated topic, and all manner of UTV enthusiasts have different preferences.
We’re here to answer all your questions about UTV windshields today. This way, you’ll be able to make the best decision for yourself with more information. We’ll be going over the different types of UTV windshields out there, their pros and cons, and even comparing the various materials they come in. So read on as we tell you all you need to know to make the best decision for yourself!
Why even get a windshield in the first place?
If you haven’t gotten one for yourself or ridden in a windshield-equipped UTV, you might be asking what’s the point of one? If you’re out riding in a UTV in dusty and gravelly conditions, you’ve probably already had experience roughing it out with a pair of goggles and a mask; both a fair bit cheaper than buying a full windshield on its own. We recommend the Riding Goggles with Removable Face Mask set if that’s more your speed!
The main reason many other UTV drivers have given is how it helps break the wind in colder weather, and helps provide some moderate shelter in the rain. Both half and full windshields work well to help deal with weather conditions, and can keep the inside of your UTV less dusty as they can help direct sand and gravel over and away from your UTV. Do note that you’ll also need to get a windshield for the back as well, because driving at higher speeds often leads to the wind that passes your windshield blowing into the back of your UTV and even getting it dustier than without a back windshield.
Which windshield is better? Full, Half, or Flip-Ups?
Full Windshields are typically the main type of windshields that come to mind when talking about them. They cover the full front of your vehicle, meaning they break the most wind; perfect for cutting through cold weather and icy breezes when driving fast. They also deflect sand and gravel away, meaning you won’t need to have goggles on. Great for hot summer days that make wearing extra layers a hassle.
But drivers who frequent muddy and wet trails often warn against full screens. Some don’t like having to periodically wipe their screens, and the wiping and washer kits are costly on their own too. The Universal 12V Electric Motor UTV Windshield Wiper Kit and YiCross Universal 12V Electric UTV Windshield Wiper cost around $82 and $72 respectively. There’s the issue of safety too, since a large enough splash of mud can just tank your visibility in one shot. Many other drivers aren’t too keen on using full windshields in hotter climates too since they prevent the wind from cooling you down as you drive, though you could also get shields with vents that let some air in.
Half Windshields, on the other hand, only take up half of the view in front of you. They break wind and deflect dry debris about as well as a full windshield might, and let in enough wind to make it so that driving in them is still pretty cooling. They’re a good middle ground between going windshield-less and having a full one, since you won’t have to worry about a splatter of mud just completely blinding you. They’re even modular in some cases, so you can remove them when you want or according to the conditions of the road. Of course, the standard cleaning still applies, and you won’t quite get as much protection from wet elements.
However, if you want the best of both worlds, you’ll like Flip-Up Windshields. Flip-ups (also known as tip out and flip down windshields) give you a great deal of flexibility, letting you switch between a full and half shield set up on the fly. They’re great for temperate climates or if you’re using the UTV in a variety of terrains due to how versatile these windshields are.
However, you’ll also have to consider their mechanics and how they work. Some come with more complicated systems that can be hard to adjust, meaning changing between a full and half set up will take a bit of time. Plus, as any UTV driver needs to consider when picking out their equipment, durability is something to keep in mind with these adjustment systems.
You might also find this video helpful for comparing between these 3 styles of UTV windshields!
And if you’re looking to check out different styles of flip out and folding windshields, this video shows them in action:
And speaking of durability, you’ll also want to make sure that the windshield you’re buying actually withstands whatever harsh environment you’re going to be putting them through. If your screen looks fuzzy after going through sandy and gravelly terrain with debris messing and scratching it up, you’ll probably want to trash it. When considering windshield material, you need to consider their strength (breakage and cracking resistance), hardness (how resistant they are to scratching) and clarity.
UTV windshields typically come in 3 different materials: polycarbonate (or ‘poly’ for short), acrylic and glass. Each come with their own benefits and cons, which we’ll be running through here.
- Polycarbonate or ‘Poly’ is a great choice due to its strength and solid clarity (better than glass, but not quite as good as acrylic. Do watch out for whether you’re purchasing coated or uncoated polycarbonate, because uncoated polycarbonate is the least scratch-resistant in this group. Coated versions, however, come close to matching the hardness of glass and even come with the bonus of UV protection, but also cost a fair bit that might turn you away if your budget can’t accommodate it.
- Acrylic might be a better choice for those on a tighter budget. Average in hardness, strength and clarity, they’re usually the most affordable ones on the market. Plus, minor scratches can be buffed or polished out fairly easily in acrylic, offering a fair bit of longevity because of that.
- Glass is a good choice too, given its highest resistance to scratching and fair bit of clarity provided. The only concern you’ll have is that it tends to be more prone to cracking. This isn’t as much of a concern if you’re getting more reinforced glass like tempered or laminated ones, but will definitely net a higher price tag than regular glass.
For a more in depth dive into these materials, we’ve got this video that even tests material resistance to scratching in real time:
We hope we’ve managed to help you learn more about UTV windshields! Getting upgrades and equipment to supplement your UTV can be a costly process, so knowing what you’ll be getting into is important so you make the choice that gets you the most utility you need out of your purchase. If you’ve got any advice or questions about windshields for UTVs, share them in the comments!