A motorcycle fairing is an essential part of a motorcycle. Its main purpose is to reduce drag and increase aerodynamics. This in turn protects the rider from the elements and fatigue from fighting wind. Motorcycle fairings also protect against debris strikes and help protect the engine in cases of accidents.
There are numerous kinds of fairings all dependent on the bike. Cruisers usually have full body fairings that allow the rider to sit up-right and allow for greater comfort on long hauls. Racing bikes have fairings that are designed for aerodynamics reducing drag and usually don’t cover the entire bike like a cruiser fairing would. There are several common categories of fairings:
- Bikini Fairing – More common in the 70’s and 80’s this type of fairing is combined with a windshield to protect the rider. It is so called because it provides the least amount of coverage for the bike
- Half Fairing – includes the windshield and the gas tank but usually not the engine. This type is often used for dual purpose bikes such as on/off road, where full fairing would not work.
- Full Fairing – are popular in racing and cruising bikes and provide the most protections from the wind along with the best in aerodynamics for improved gas mileage.
Riding with fairings may be different from non-fairing bikes beyond weather protection in that it reduces fatigue allowing the rider more comfort. On the negative side, fairings do change the aerodynamics of a bike, especially in the yaw, or cross winds. Depending on the fairing used there could be a decrease in mileage due to weight and wind resistance. Also at high speeds the airflow using fairings is considerably different than a naked bike.
The dustbin fairing of the 50’s was banned due to instability, causing the bike to easily lose control. When fitting a bike for fairings, it is essential that the handlebars have full range of motion from lock to lock. Any limitation of this vital function means the fairing is not properly fitted.
Manufacturers of motorcycles often have factory issued fairings. These can be upgraded or changed by purchasing after-market kits. One piece or the entire bike can be changed by a kit or fairing as well as color and designs to spruce up the bike.
Motorcycle fairings are integral to a bike for aerodynamics, safety, gas mileage and style. They come in different styles and colors for personalization. Safety measures have to be taken when adding fairings and it is highly recommended to use only those designed for a specific bike and not force a cross fit that could be dangerous.