Other Observations on Madstad (and Freedom) Shields
Caveat: All observations are on a 2002 Roadglide with lowers, crash bar wind deflectors, and Sancho Wings (yea I like the "quiet pocket"). Obviously, does not directly relate to Rushmore bikes. 130,000 plus miles with swing arm bushings and forks rebuilt in January. Also added rear stabilizer link at that time. I am 5'11 with 32" inseam. Been riding over 50+ years.
Acquired the bike from a club Brother last October coming from an FXRT that I'd ridden since 1988. Been lots of other bikes (including road racing for years) but, the FXRT is still my baby. First things I did was replace the shorter shield he had with a 13" Freedom shield, replaced suspension components, and added 15" Bad Seed bars. Fantastic customer service by John at Freedom and was very happy with the still pocket it created. No turbulence at all but, I did notice the air flow was hitting right at the top of my helmet which created some wind noise that interfered with my bluetooth music and nav in the helmet. I read all the great reviews on the Madstad and, since I was getting ready for a trip from SoCal to Missouri, I decided to give them a call and see if I could improve on the wind management. Not because I needed it but, because everyone was raving about the Madstad.
Began the ordering process with a phone call about 3 weeks prior to my trip during which I gave them my order and was given a PayPal address to which I was to send the funds. I was assured the shield would be delivered in time for my trip. After not hearing anything for a week, I placed another call only to find out the hadn't received the funds and therefore hadn't begun production. After a couple more days of trying to find out where the money went, I again called and they let me know they had given me a wrong address. No problem, mistakes are made (would have been nice if they had called me but...). I told them I would be glad to resend the funds if they could expedite the shipment in time for my trip. After another couple of days, I received an email saying they would not be able to expedite the shipment at their expense (even though it was their error). I decided to cancel the order and re-order it when I returned. Not an overt knock on the service, stuff happens. In hind sight, this actually allowed me to do a better evaluation of the Freedom shield.
The trip was the end of April and there was torrential rain in North Texas and Oklahoma. In spite of the downfall the Freedom Shield provided great protection for the entire trip only getting a drizzle through to the face shield. Bike handled well even though headwinds and 40-45 mph crosswinds were bad at times.
Given my experience with the Freedom, I was really looking forward to how the much better the Madstad would do. Before I was able to re-place the order, a used 14.5" system from a 2011 became available at a great price and I picked that up.
I installed the Madstad just before leaving for a trip to Oregon in early Sept. I noticed that I was only able to achieve a maximum angle of around 57* even with the shield tilted all the way forward. Interesting but, with no time to look into I rode to Portland and back with the shield in that position (with a few adjustments at each gas stop along the way). In Portland, I added an 1/8" rubber washer behind the top mounting points of the top shield to get a little more angle. The pocket was great but, not significantly better than the Freedom. In fact the Freedom gave my hands better protection since it's wider at the top.
Both going and coming, the bike handled terribly. At 75-85 in the mountains it kept wanting to run wide in the turns and felt extremely unstable. Can't crank up the compression damping since I haven't been able to afford my Ohlins yet. The best I could do was crank the rear air pressure way up. This helped but, it still felt unstable, particularly in head winds or cross winds.
Last week I was returning from a run into a headwind and noticed that just shifting my weight back and forth would induce a slight wiggle in the front end. Steering head fall-away maybe? Then a realization: in my attempts to get an angle closer to the recommended 58-60* I had set the shield in a configuration where the top edge of the front shield was significantly further away from the base plate than the bottom edge. This was creating a low pressure area behind the top shield as the air slowed down after entering. This was, in effect, an airfoil and was creating lift on the front end at the speeds we run. I set the top edge at just slightly further away than the bottom and, presto, instability gone! In retrospect, the angle of the fairing changed by 4-5* in '04 so it made sense I wasn't able to get the correct angle but, I never thought of the light front end problem.
Called Madstad last week and was informed that the build list is different for 2000-2003 than 2004-2013. Brian was supposed to call me back on Friday regarding what the difference is (it's not the brackets) but, again, no return call from them yet. If it's a baseplate, I will probably try replacing that depending on cost.
In the mean time, I've ordered a 14" Freedom from John (he got back to me immediately when I gave them a call). This should give me a taller pocket roughly equivalent to the Madstad.
1.If you routinely run higher speeds in mountain or twisty roads, be careful regarding setting the distances on the top shield from the baseplate on the Madstad.
2.The Madstad is a great shield and performed as advertised. No buffeting and a great sill air pocket. I was able to get the pocket adjusted the way everyone describes. Don't know about rain yet.
3.The Freedom shield is also a great shield providing (as far as I could tell) almost if not equal protection to the Madstad with added protection for my hands with the higher bars.
4. Again, the Madstad is everything people say it is providing you don't set it where it causes handling problems. Is it light years (or even twice as good relative to price) better than the Freedom? Sorry, not in my experience as of yet. Plus, I believe the Freedom actually gives better down-force on the front end at all speeds
*I ride 95% solo. Effect on the passenger is unknown except my OL has never complained behind the Freedom or the Madstad. I have no idea how much the other wind management items effect this comparison.
Last edited by Kabar1; 10-03-2016 at 04:30 PM.