A Guide to Motorcycle Fairings

Are you familiar with motorcycle fairings? These are actually the shells that are being placed over the frame of certain motorcycle models – like those racing bikes and sports bikes – in order to reduce air drag. Another reason why drivers would want to put fairings on their motorcycles is to protect themselves from airborne hazards of even from wind-induced hypothermia. Most of the time, a motorcycle fairing comes with a windshield.

Types of Motorcycle Fairings

There are basically two types of motorcycle fairings: one for the front and one for the back. Front fairings come in many different shapes and sizes and can be any one of the following:

  • Dustbin Fairing

Otherwise known as the torpedo fairing, this basically looks like the nose of an aircraft and is streamlined to cover the front half of the motorcycle. While it did reduce the drag dramatically, it was banned by the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) in 1958 because they believed that the wind pressure at the front made things highly unstable.

  • Dolphin Fairing

This type of fairing looked pretty much like a dolphin’s snout when viewed from the side. The design was further developed in the later years after the dustbin design was banned.

  • Full Fairing

This design covers both upper and lower areas of the motorcycle. Full fairings in race or sports bikes are often used to reduce aerodynamic drag and the windshield is not really used as it should be. They do help in protecting the driver from the worst cases and even the engine, as the fairings are the ones that hit the road when the bike slides, instead of the engine or the chassis.

  • Half Fairing

Half fairings have a windshield and extend until the lower portion of the handlebars. The cylinder box is most often covered but, most of the time, the crank case or gear box is not. It is possible to extend a half fairing to a full one through aftermarket kits. Because of the popularity, most manufacturers produce their own full fairing conversion kits instead.

  • Quarter Fairing

This type has a windscreen and a very minimal fairing around the headlamp. The quarter fairing is otherwise known as the bikini fairing or the café fairing.

  • Belly Pan

Quarter and half fairings can be added with a belly pan to help divert the air flow away from the engine thus reducing lift. They are also used for aesthetic purposes.

Rear or tail fairings are also available and are placed behind the seat and the rider. They are mostly used to extend the bottom and sides of the saddle.