Here at Slipstreamer, we deal with a lot of windshields. Because we specialize in making parts easy to find, we’ve got tools like our Dealer Finder that make getting the right parts for your bike a breeze. But even after you’ve narrowed down all of those parts to exactly what you need, you will still often be faced with that age-old question: should you go with OEM parts or aftermarket parts?
What’s the Difference?
OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, indicates that these are parts that come directly from the company that built your bike. For the most part, OEM windshields and other OEM parts are the ones that came on your bike when you bought it brand new, even if you opted for upgraded parts made by your motorcycle manufacturer.
Generally, OEM windshields and other OEM parts are built in-house in the same factories where your bike itself was built. Often, however, manufacturers will subcontract other major companies to build parts for their bikes that come as original equipment. Even though these parts are built by someone else, because they come on your bike from the factory, they are still considered “original equipment” since they were part of the original bike.
Aftermarket parts are any parts manufactured by third-party companies. These are the parts and accessories that don’t come on your bike from the factory, but are built as replacements or upgrades for those parts. Aftermarket parts usually serve one of two purposes: either they are suitable replacements for OEM windshields and other OEM parts at a lower price, or they are built to be higher-performance, more stylish, or serve a more specific purpose than a generic part that came factory with your bike.
OEM vs Aftermarket: A Matter of Personal Taste
As direct replacements and exact replicas of what originally came on your bike, OEM windshields and other OEM parts are pretty much guaranteed to work. The fit and finish with OEM windshields and other OEM parts is usually flawless, they’re as reliable as the original part, and require no custom fitting or tuning. They do to tend to be more expensive and won’t necessarily “wow” you with performance or style.
An aftermarket parts fit as well as the OEM parts but occasionally may require some custom fitting or tuning, but most motorcycle owners find this to be an easily remedied tradeoff for the ability to customize and upgrade the performance of their machine. Aftermarket companies often have tutorials and are experts at getting their parts to perfectly function with your equipment.
If you’re looking for a replica replacement part (OEM) for your motorcycle and want it to look just like it did when you bought it off the floor, grab an OEM part. But if you’re looking for something more customized and reflective of your personality, get an aftermarket part perfectly suited to your style.
Head to our Find A Dealer page to locate local dealers of OEM and aftermarket parts and contact Slipstreamer with any questions about replacement parts on your machine.