Other than a short stint after my wife surprised me for my birthday with the purchase of a Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic (I didn't have the heart to tell her I would have preferred a different bike without a windshield and tour pak), I've never owned a motorcycle with a windshield in the decades that I've been riding. My present ride, a 2011 Road King, donned with 16"ape hangers, is virtually always ridden without its windshield. It is a rare day that I wish I had a windshield in front of me, usually a day when we are hours on the interstate traveling at high speed into a strong and constant headwind. Holding on is work. Frankly though, other than then I see no need for a windshield. Wearing a face mask takes care of the bugs, and donning good snivel gear takes care of the cold in the winter season, obviating the need for the windshield. And I actually think that for the most part having a windshield takes away from the riding experience.
Windshields, though having been around since the 1920s, became ever more popular with the advent of the larger touring motorcycles of the 1930s and 1940s and with the advent of more paved roadways and highways which allowed for greater speeds. We've all seen photos from the 1940s and 1950s of bikers lined up posing while sitting on their motorcycles behind windshields, sort of the quintessential look from those days. I still find that fact quite puzzling given that back then most highways were still limited in speeds to 45-55 mph and there was little real need for a windshield.
The 1960s and 1970s, a time when the new interstate highway system was being constructed and motorcycle companies were offering greater numbers of bikes with windshields, ironically saw the change to more motorcycles without windshields. Choppers became the rage, and in lieu of a windshield, bikers on road trips attached their sleeping bags or other gear to the handlebars to cut the wind. That works, by the way. Bikers of that generation were more about expressing themselves in the new anti war freedom rebellion counter culture anti establishment symbolism of that time. It was a time of nonconformity when less was more when it came to your ride.
Now the rage is the fully tricked out bagger with the requisite windshield. Harley Davidson's Street Glides and Road Glides, and many of the smaller companies' (e.g., Yaffe) bagger bike designs dominate the sales in motorcycles. Consequently, a whole new generation of bikers that ride always behind a windshield have little understanding of what it's like riding without one, which gives one a whole different sense in riding.
However, there is also now a burgeoning group of bikers that are returning to the bike styles of the 1960s and 1970s, choppers and bobbers, bikes now widely being branded by the new Retro culture of riders. These mostly 20 something year olds get it. Riding without a windshield, GPS type gadgets, and 1000 watt stereos offers a different experience, and without these luxury items this new set of rebels seek the freedom of the road in more of a raw approach, keeping it to basics and enjoying just the the wind in their faces.
Give it a try; it truly is a different riding experience.