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What is a Motorcycle Fairing?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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Motorcycle fairing consists of a set of panels affixed to a motorcycle that are designed to reduce drag on the machine to increase speed and decrease fuel consumption. Many racing bikes and performance motorcycles feature motorcycle fairing for these reasons, and other types of motorcycles feature motorcycle fairing to protect the rider as well; the fairing can block road debris from striking the rider, and it can also protect the engine from debris strikes. The fairing may also protect the rider from winds, in turn protecting him or her from wind burn, frost bite, hypothermia, and so on.

Fiberglass and ABS plastic are the two most common materials used for motorcycle fairing because these materials are very lightweight, relatively easy to mold, and mostly resistant to shattering. Early fairing models may have been made from lightweight metals as well, such as aluminum, both for strength and ease of construction. Adding fairing to a motorcycle can help the bike reach higher speeds more quickly because aerodynamic drag is greatly reduced; windshields can even propel air up and over the rider, further reducing drag while riding. On most motorcycles, the fairing can be taken off fairly easily to allow access to the engine and other components.

Many different designs of motorcycle fairing exist and are still in use today. The three most common designs are dolphin fairing, full fairing, and half fairing. Dolphin fairing is common on cruiser motorcycles; this type of fairing mounts to the handlebars and mimics the look and design of the nose of some types of airplanes. It reduces some drag and protects the rider from debris while riding at high speeds, but its aerodynamic benefits are not as great as other fairing options.

Full fairing is a design that covers most of the bike with some sort of paneling to reduce drag. Racing bikes often feature full fairing to reduce as much drag as possible. Most of the engine components are covered, though the wheels are generally left exposed. Half fairing is similar to full fairing, but the lower part of the bike is often left exposed, showing the engine and other operating components. Half fairing offers aerodynamic advantages while still allowing easy access to the engine and other components.

A belly pan is a type of motorcycle fairing that mounts below the engine. This piece of fairing is also intended to reduce drag, but it also helps prevent lift at high speeds, thereby enhancing steering stability while riding. Motorcycles with full, half, or even quarter fairing will often feature a belly pan as well.

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon221938 — On Oct 14, 2011

Nice, well written article. OEM is always preferred, I must say. But there are a couple of good aftermarket motorcycle fairing suppliers, online. You just have to do your research!

By anon201703 — On Jul 31, 2011

Very good article. Just bought my motorcycle fairing for my R6 and I absolutely love it. It took 21 days to arrive but well worth the wait, cause it looks like of good quality and at a very good price. Good deal!

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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