Threading the needle

I was going to go to Sturgis today but figured I’d just be watching a bunch of bikers drinking. Myea. Nope. Didn’t come here for that.

Went to grab a bite and got pinged by someone following my blog. He recommended Needles Highway, or SD-87. Wow am I glad I checked it out.

Didn’t get much of a chance to take pictures of the three *really* tight tunnels we had to go through. One was barely 8 feet wide, and two of three were single lane. All three were awesome. Here is Wikipedia shot:

On the first tunnel a mountain goat held up traffic. The nerve of the bastard, drinking water flowing across the road. The most exciting part of that was watching it jump 10′ or more up the rocks after he interrupted us.

A small group asked me if I knew how far the nearest gas station was. He was out of gas. I let him have the 30oz out of my fuel bottle since I had over 1/2 tank left, plenty to get through the ride.

After the climbing and threading the needle, stayed on 87 towards Hot Springs. I planned on camping but today ran late so cheap hope it is!

In the last few miles I ran into two Bison (figuratively speaking), ran over a chipmunk (like literally…*crunch*), and nearly hit a deer (scared it off with my pipes!).

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My favorite part of Needles Highway were all the rocks. These things stood up as if something nasty happened millions of years ago. I hope when the next nasty event happens, it ends human life on earth quickly.


The route included what I think might be the first 240 degree turn I ever saw.

Todays route:

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Sturgis Trifecta and Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I have mixed feelings about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I decided to get there for the second half, since the first half is crazier than the second, even if more is happening. Sturgis Rally isn’t my goal though. As historic and significant it’s been for motorcycling.

Even if I plan to spend a couple hours there. The ride is what I’m after. The scenery, giving and receiving peace signs from tens of thousands along the road, and the ungawdly number of bikes in the area (500,000 latest estimate).

My plan was to complete the Sturgis Trifecta. What’s that? I dunno, just some shit I made up as an excuse to see three sights I’ve dreamed of for years. Sounds cool, and catchy.

Mount Rushmore is awesome. I got as close as the visitors center, but was able to see it from a mile away.

Crazy Horse Memorial was an incredible sight. Even if it’s not finished yet. It might never get finished. IMHO this is something Native Americans deserve. Wouldn’t it be great to see it I’m finished? Maybe not in our lifetime.

Devils Tower was my favorite. Even if it looks a lot bigger in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Not even sure if the top is flat.

Thanks to a buddy at work, I’m now a member of KOA, and am camping for the first time since I left the US Army. Unlike back then, I didn’t have to schlep 40 pounds of gear and pitch a tent in -20 degree weather.

On a side note I’m glad I picked this tent. Took 8 minutes to set up (timed it), and was easy to take down and pack. I watched other motorcyclists struggling with larger tents, even though they’re traveling alone.

This KOA is a mile or two from Devils Tower. And they have a nightly movie showing…

Route (excludes ride to first sight).

ďżź

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Soooo close…

Today was supposed to be a 550 mile day. I was supposed to get an early start, take calculated rest/water/food stops, and be at Sturgis before dark. Sounded like a reasonable plan, didn’t think there would be any issues.

Where did things go wrong? To rent a small piece of land to pitch a tent requires a reservation. That’s right. Not sure how our forefathers handled it, but fast forward to the 21st Century…

So nice spin Don, but why aren’t you in a tent right now? Well, since I was *going* to get to Sturgis after dark, I needed to call KOA *before* 1800MT. Myea. Nope. I’ll get it right tomorrow.

So what’s this 87 octane shit here in South Dakota? Is this the best gas they have here? I rode 10-15 miles looking for 93 octane gas. Nada. Zilch. WTF is going on here?! Are they out? Harleys need 93 octane.

Ok so at lunch I asked Google and it told me due to elevation, 87 is the same as 91. So if you are lucky to find 91, it’s the same as 93. Wait, I have 93 in my new 30 oz MSR fuel bottle…oh, that’s the same as 97 (um, I probably shouldn’t use it). With all that said, pinging doesn’t give a rat’s ass that you’re running 87. #pingPingPingPing

Water is a thing. So is hydration, as well as dehydration. Today I learned its better to have to pee all the time (from drinking too much water), than to not have to pee and end up dehydrated. I came close today, but I caught it early. Drank like a mule the rest of today’s trip.

So what did I see today? To be quite honest? A lot of long stretches with 80 mph speed limit.

During lunch I found a very old Ford that amazingly had no parking tickets.

I also saw what appeared to be a teepee. Although it must suck when it rains.

Today’s route was a little boring, and again it was 400+, forgot again to un-pause Relive a few times. 🙂

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PS, so after posting this video, it looks like those long straight lines that don’t seem to follow a road are those times when I forgot to un-pause Relive. Lesson Learned.

Tuesday shmoozeday!

I got an early start today, but after 100 or so miles I had to stop at Harley-Davidson. The front brake reservoir seal was leaking. The mechanic told me it wasn’t a good idea to put a RAM Mount plate there. Who would’a thunk it. To be safe I asked them to replace the lid, seal, and bolts. Because I not only want to GET to Sturgis, but I also want to STOP there. ÂŻ\_(ツ)_/ÂŻ

Back on the road, today I decided to pick it up a notch and do 80-85 on the flats, so I can have some time to enjoy the sights. Lots of beautiful farm land, rolling hills, and boy oh boy so many flags. Including this 80 foot flag at Camping World!

The folks there were happy to let me drive my Harley-Davidson onto their gravel lot to get a couple selfies. Man you’ve GOT to see this in person, please visit your local Camping World, its a sight to behold!

I spent most of the day on the highway, but then realized I made up enough time, so I started looking for side roads. That’s right Google Maps today I thumbed my nose at you!

I stopped by Bass Pro Shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to get a fuel bottle. Since I ran out of gas on the first day. Long story, to calibrate the Dakota Digital speedo/tach, I need to empty the tank. Well, the only way that’s going to happen is if I run out of gas on the road. Which is fine now that I carry 30oz of gas in this bad boy.

I got to the hotel early today, so I can rest up for tomorrow’s 550 mile leg into Sturgis! Lucky me, there’s a Veteran parking spot, and yes of course I showed them my DD-214 and Florida Drivers License that also shows I’m a Veteran (it also shows I’m an organ donor, aren’t all motorcyclists?!).

I keep forgetting to un-pause the Relive app. Today it shows 365.9 but I know it was 400 or more:

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TN > KY > MO > IL > MO (465 miles)

Third day, and I haven’t camped yet. I’m a little disappointed. But then, didn’t count on it raining for the first two days. Well, on this third day, I had no pansy ass excuses. Clear sky, dry roads, finally!

Started out having breakfast at Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Manchester. Wow. There’s a mouth full. Someone fire their marketing departement. Good thing their breakfast was awesome. Awesome, insofar as it reminded me of my days in the US Army (ala Anton Ego having a flashback in Ratatouille).

Funny how today shaped up. At one of the gas stops I saw a bunch of 101st Airborne Division troops. I thought, wow, Fort Campbell was probably close by. I took off and a few minutes later I saw signs to Fort Campbell!

I rode up to the visitor center and took a quick little video, and just as I was finishing, a snot nosed 2nd Lieutenant asked me if I had permission to be there. He was there with his wife and child, so my response was snarky but not too harsh: “Your mom gave me permission.”

His wife took the kid and briskly walked away. The dickhead stood there in disbelief. Then he told me he was calling the police. My response: “Do I look like I give a fuck?” Boy that military breakfast had me feeling my oats! I was ready to high-tail it out of there once I got my selfie!

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When the Military Police Officer showed up I showed him the respect he deserves, and asked him if he served. When he told me retired, and was volunteering at the base. I thanked him for his service and whipped out my DD-214 to show him I’m a Veteran. The Military Police Officer told me he joined the year I got out, he thanked me for my service as well.

I could tell the snot nosed 2nd Lieutenant didn’t like it one bit, standing there with his arms crossed. I asked the Military Police Officer if I should leave, and he said no. As it turns out the 2nd Lieutenant was a dickhead that nobody liked.

The Military Police Officer was so cool, he asked me I’d like him to take a picture of me with the bike by the sign. I asked if he was going to let me ride my Harley onto the tiny walkway. He said “Of course, I won’t arrest you.” So I did, he took the picture, and I left without going to jail. I flipped the snot nosed 2nd Lieutenant the bird on my way out.

DISCLAIMER: Of course I’m paraphrasing all the above…that means I can make shit up and not give a fuck because nobody will ever know. Hey, its a fucking blog. 😛

Here’s today’s route:

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Georgia and Tennessee (385 miles)

Drizzle today but roads were safe and drivers were polite. Starting to hit some hills. You know you’re hitting decent hills when truckers are told to shift down for next 5 miles.

Had a minor mechanical glitch. My front tank bolt nut popped off. A trip to a nearby Ace Hardware and 50 cents later I’m back on the road. the Route video shows where I turned back to get the nut.

So today I realized that I bought the Biltwell EXFIL-80 for the tool holder, but I didn’t think to put the tools in it. DUH! #done

Some nice roads, even with the drizzle. 🙂 I took this video before I decided to cut today a bit short. Now that Alaska is off the list I have a bit of a cushion.

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Route:

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The sun really does come out tomorrow (220 miles)

Looks like the rain stopped. Forecast is for rain at 1000ET. If I head out now I’ll beat the rain.

New Orleans is out since it would be a pretty miserable place in pouring rain. Maybe I’ll go through it on the way back.

Quick check of the bike (air, gas, tires, etc.) and off I go! I’m trying a new app (Relive) recommended by a biker buddy, will post the route if it works for me on this first go.

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Here’s today’s track, consider it a dry run.

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Packing is the hardest part…

Last October I had to pack for a 6 day CA>FL relocation. I had to bring 2 sets of clothing for the road trip, and 5 sets of work clothing for work. I didn’t think too much about how I packed, so I wasn’t able to get to my rain pants during the trip. #ouch

Now I’m packing 5 sets of clothing for a 3 week road trip vacation. This time I’m a little smarter. All socks/briefs/t-shirts are wicking (no cotton!), and I’ve got my rain suit packed in an easy to get to location, and a 3 weather upper for the Northern states where it might get cool/cold.

I don’t plan to ride at night, because unlike in October when I just needed to get there quickly, this time I’m in it for the scenery, enjoy nature, and have fun. This time I called Geico to make sure they were aware of the trip (amazingly no rate increase, just a “wow enjoy!”).

Its almost 1am and I’m updating my blog, shouldn’t I be sleeping? Shouldn’t I pack those last few things, so I’ll only need to shower, get dressed, and hit the road? Myea, I probably should.

My guess is it’ll rain tomorrow, since it rained all day today, and its gonna rain for the next few days…so I need to get moving early tomorrow to get to the Mid West sooner than later. 🙂

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So where are you going on your trip?

Waypoints! Two years’ vacations worth of them. Hope to hit all of them in the next 3 weeks. 🙂

Arizona

Sedona
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sedona,+AZ+86336/@34.8697395,-111.7609896,11z

Horseshoe Bend
https://www.google.com/maps/dir//Horseshoe+Bend+Parking+Lot/@36.879509,-111.5105057,15.08z

Grand Canyon
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Grandview+Point,+Grand+Canyon+Village,+AZ+86023/Horseshoe+Bend+Parking+Lot,+Page,+AZ+86040/@35.9947934,-112.0072275,13z

Upper Antelope Canyon
https://www.google.com/maps/search/Upper+Antelope+Canyon,+Arizona/@36.8776579,-111.4063987,13.17z

Colorado

Rocky Mountain State Park (loop 14 & 34)
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Alpine+Visitor+Center/@40.4102867,-105.744501,13.41z

Colorado National Monument (Scenic Rim Rock Drive)
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Colorado+National+Monument/@39.0575219,-108.6938999,15z

Idaho

Shoshone Falls
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Shoshone+Falls+Park/@42.5934978,-114.4028691,17.49z

Montana

Logan Pass
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Logan+Pass/@48.6569284,-113.9692364,10.11z

Montana and Wyoming

Beartooth Highway
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Beartooth+Hwy,+Montana+82414/@44.9615908,-109.8897611,9.64z

Nebraska

Toadstool Geological Park and Campground
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Toadstool+Geological+Park+and+Campground/@42.5281798,-104.0020733,7.96z

Nevada

Valley of Fire
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Valley+of+Fire+State+Park/@36.487393,-114.570493,13.11z

Las Vegas (cheap hotels!)
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Las+Vegas,+NV/@36.1246738,-115.4551869,10z

New Mexico

White Sands National Monument
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Alamogordo+%2F+White+Sands+KOA+Journey/@32.8511898,-106.2594752,11.62z

Ship Rock Campground
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ship+Rock+Campground/@36.6895741,-108.7112184,18.52z

Oregon

Hells Canyon
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Copperfield+Campground/@44.8794083,-117.1864422,9.66z

Crater Lake
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Crater+Lake/@42.9415361,-122.1773804,12z

South Dakota

Sturgis
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sturgis+Harley-Davidson/@44.3953611,-103.7639079,10.48z

Crazy Horse Monument
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Crazy+Horse+Memorial/@43.8357937,-103.6330292,15z

Mount Rushmore
https://www.google.com/maps/place/13000+SD-244,+Keystone,+SD+57751/@43.8766478,-103.4584532,16.5z

Tennessee and North Carolina

Cherohala Skyway
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Cherohala+skyway/35.3670695,-84.3002515/@35.3474073,-84.1512321,11.4z

Utah

Bonneville (Speedweek!)
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bonneville+Speedway+Road,+Utah+84083/@40.7625049,-113.9348824,17z

Bryce Canyon
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bryce+Canyon+City,+UT+84764/@37.623462,-112.2066482,12.79z

Delicate Arch
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Lower+Delicate+Arch+Viewpoint/@38.7341916,-109.5023333,17z

Utah/Arizona

Monument Valley
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Monument+Valley+Navajo+Tribal+Park/@36.9974024,-110.1042684,16.01z

Washington

Mount Rainier
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mount+Rainier+National+Park/@46.7768004,-121.7552675,14.12z

Wyoming

Yellowstone
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Old+Faithful/@44.4604826,-110.8303317,17z

Jackson Hole
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Jackson,+WY/@43.4745759,-110.8107026,13z

3 days before heading on the road – gear time

Getting my sissy bar reinstalled for the trip. This trip is going to be significantly longer than my October cross country trip. So I decided to switch from my very awesome Saddlemen S3500 to a more weather resistant Biltwell Exfil 80. Both come with a rain cover, but this time I’ll be doing more camping so had to rethink my storage options. Added a Biltwell EXFIL 11 to the gas tank, and a Biltwell EXFIL 7 to the fork.

After spending weeks deciding on a three season jacket, I decided to go with the Alpinestars Andes v2 Drystar Jacket (10% Veterans discount at CycleGear). Took it out today, it passed the warm weather test. 🙂 Lots of vents, and includes shoulder/elbow padding.

alpinestars-andes-v2

I spent months looking for motorcycle jeans that would fit me, wasn’t having much luck. Then I stumbled upon Draggin Jeans, who make jeans for “bigger men”. Well, alrighty then! I ordered two pairs of jeans in two sizes, and ended up returning the smaller pair. No, I didn’t go up one size, they told me to go with the bigger size due to the kevlar lining. 😉 Tried them on, perfect! Washed them an they’re ready for Saturday!
draggin-jeans-big-men

Since I’ll be camping this trip, decided to leave my favorite Harley Davidson boots at home and instead picked up a pair of KEEN Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots (5% Veterans discount). Learned long ago, gotta go with something that’s waterproof…plus Keen wide toe box always fits me well. 🙂

keen-boots

Avoiding cotton like the plague, picked up half a dozen pairs of their Instinct 2.0 Over-The-Calf Crew Socks while I was there. Decided not to over spend on underwear, so went to Walmart to get some Jockey wicking boxer briefs, and some Fruit of the Loom wicking t-shirts. Figured 6 pairs of each should cover the trip, since I plan to camp out as much as possible to save money, then when I stay at a hotel I can wash/dry the stuff without too much of a hassle.

Stay tuned for…Danali D2 2.0 install and Gasbox Sissy Bar reinstall…

COUNTDOWN: 21 days left

Thanks to Florida’s “use it or lose it” law, I have 21 days before the beginning of my 3wk road trip!

Planning my road trip to wherever is a lot of work. The route is the easy part. Avoid cities. Camp wherever possible to save money. Blog every day. Hope for good weather, be prepared for the worst weather.

For emergencies I have my Garmin inReach Explorer +, which supports GEOS (24/7/365 search & rescue), so if the shit hits the fan out in the middle of nowhere I’ll be able to get help. Paired with Garmin Earthmate iOS app and you’re ready for anything.

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I picked up an REI Co-op Quarter Dome 1 tent and footprint, and a Big Agnes Dumont SL 30 sleeping bag (had my eye on it – who would’ve thought the price would go down 50%?!). I couldn’t believe how small these items were. The bag will easily slip into the sissy bar bag, the tent will have to be strapped on the outside.

I have no idea what route I’m taking, except that I plan to avoid states that don’t have a reciprocity agreement with Florida (sticking to the blue states).reciprocity

The biggest issue I have right now is I need to put my sissy bar back on to mount the sissy bar. This means my Pelican saddlebags will only open to 45 degrees. #firstWorldIssue

I’ll have to call Anarchy Motorcycles to schedule my 30,000 mile maintenance a little early,

Hello WordPress…goodbye Bluehost

I’ve been using donmontalvo.wordpress.com for years, and have been planning on transferring donmontalvo.com. I got an alert from Bluehost that my domain auto payment went through on July 5, so now I have a 60 day wait before I can transfer.

Not happy.

easter-bunny-fight

I needed to get this done now so I called WordPress and was told I can use an A-record for now, until the 60 wait is over. At that point I’ll be able to complete the domain transfer. They helped me set things up in less than 10 minutes:

Changed nameservers to:

NS1.WORDPRESS.COM
NS2.WORDPRESS.COM
NS3.WORDPRESS.COM

Set A records to:

192.0.78.12
192.0.78.13

I’m a happy camper. I’ll be happier once the domain transfer is complete, so I can get rid of Bluehost once and for all.

If you want to blog, there’s only one game in town…WordPress (personal opinion).

cosmo-kramer-shocked

Dakota Digital MLX-3012-K

Whether its a car, or a motorcycle, speedometer design is important. When I bought my 2017 Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob (FXDB), the dealer upgrade the gauge so I could more easily see the RPMs. I love the upgraded gauge.

Or should I say I loved it. It had an issue fogging up in humid weather. Noticed it from the first month when I was in California, and the issue persists today. I called Harley-Davidson but didn’t get a response.

I did some research, and found this can happen to any speedometer, but folks who bought a Dakota Digital gauge have reported it doesn’t happen to them. Not sure what the difference is, but I’ve had enough of being on the highway and not being able to read the digital numbers at the bottom of the gauge.

Whether I’m checking the time, or the trip mileage, the fog in the gauge made it unusable. I decided the cost of a speeding ticket, or the inconvenience of running out of gas warranted looking into an alternative.

Looking through the Dakota Digital site, I found the model I need for my motorcycle is MLX-3012 (chrome) or MLX-3012-K (black). I was pleasantly surprised to find that every retailer was out of stock. To me, that means its a hot item!

I called Dakota Digital and they pointed me to Dennis Kirk, who had a couple in stock. Ordered it, should be in by Saturday. The instructions say its a straight swap, not sure yet if I’m going to risk doing this on my own. FWIW within a few minutes of ordering mine, the second one flew off the shelf.

It isn’t the prettiest display, but the numbers re huge, and you can customize colors, criteria to display, etc., and amazingly offers a Bluetooth app to manage these things!

Can’t wait, will post a full report once I get this baby installed and give it a whirl.

[UPDATE] Device arrived, installed it but it’s raining so didn’t get a chance to take photos of it installed yet.

The unit appears to be made of cast aluminum, and machines do the edges are smooth. Excellent workmanship.

The Harley-Davidson upgraded unit is a lot lighter, appears to be make entirely of plastic.

UPDATE: It’s installed! I set all the display items to white. There are a ton of possible display items, and colors, and even inverting the center of the display (for a white box and black characters). For now I’m displaying voltage, gear, and time. Very happy with this baby!

IMG_6477

Rainy weekend mods

It was raining a few weeks ago so I did a couple mods that were on the back burner. I had Anarchy Motorcycles replace the derby cover.

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A month or so ago I swapped out the old chrome engine guard and highway pegs, I finally got a chance to circle back to replace the Harley-Davidson pegs with proper Kuryakyn Longhorn Offset Highway Pegs.

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Gas cap and gauge recap…apparently Arlen Ness gauge wasn’t CAN bus compatible. So replaced with Harley-Davidson, and couldn’t be happier.

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Fuck off love-bugs; hello Memphis Shades

Why_i_went_with_bigger_size

Having survived my first love-bugs season, I decided it was worth moving up from a 14″ to a 17″ windshield. I put that on the back burner because I wasn’t ready to spend another $400 on a Harley-Davidson brand 17″ windshield.

Then someone on hdforums.com pointed me to Memphis Shades‘ site, where you can buy a replacement windshield, while recycling the mounting hardware. I was ecstatic, since I’m a huge fan of Harley-Davidson’s fork clamps that leave nothing on the bike when detached (vs Memphis Shades’ unsightly clamps).

holes

A 17″ replacement windshield set me back $92 plus shipping. A couple days later, I spent an hour or so swapping the windshield. Boom! I had 3″ more clearance. As an added plus, the headlight cut-away gave me more options for raising/lowering the windshield. So I could lower it and be 2″ higher than the 14″. After playing with the placement I ended up 2.5″ higher than before, which is perfect.

The Memphis Shades windshield is made of Lucite Acrylic (harder to scratch; easier to shatter), where the Harley-Davidson windshield I’m swapping out uses Hard-coated Polycarbonate (harder to shatter; easier to scratch, although they coat theirs so not really sure).

Harley-Davidson’s windshield is about 10-15% darker as well, probably due to the material. I would say maybe it is age too, but I do remember when I installed it that it had that bit of density. The Memphis Shades windshield is as close to transparent as you can imagine.

Density_comparison

Memphis Shades windshields is about 30% thicker than Harley-Davidson windshields (took a close up of them side by side).

IMG_6433

So I had to move to the next longer bolt size, from .75″ to 1.0″, which meant I needed to use counter sunk washers for the nuts to set properly. I have to admit, the counter sunk washers do give it quite a custom look.

IMG_6431_screws.png

If you have a Harley-Davidson windshield and plan to go to the next higher size, or lower size, or even if you’re just replacing a scratched one, go with Memphis Shades, you won’t be sorry. 🙂