What Are Fairings on a Motorcycle

What Are Fairings on a Motorcycle?


March 21, 2022

You must have observed that there are different motorcycles, but racing bikes tend to have a distinct appearance of their own. Typical touring motorcycles are built to commute the rider at normal speed.

Racing bikes are specifically designed to move at higher speeds. It is not just the engines that are made for that purpose. Fairings also play a significant role in customizing bikes to become faster and better.

Motorcycle fairings are known to improve the performance of motorcycles. They change many things about the bike, including the speed and look. Motorcycle fairings also improve the fuel efficiency. More importantly, they are known to offer the rider better protection against rain or heavy winds when riding.

The advantages of motorcycle fairings are immense. Thankfully, sports bikes aren’t the only types of motorcycles that can have them. Sports bikes are unique, not just because of the particular engines and tires, but the fairings.

Some may ask, “why would I need to know about fairings? After all, I’m not a fan of racing.”

As you will see later on, fairings are not just beneficial for improving the bike’s speed. Several other benefits include fuel efficiency (you’ll need this if you’re considering a long journey) and protection, not to mention a more beautiful, sleek look.

Nothing beats a more aerodynamic bike. So, we’ll be attempting to answer those who’ve been asking, “what are fairings on a motorcycle?” by exploring the definition, the different types of fairings, the benefits, and why you should consider them.

So if you’re interested, let’s dive in.

But first, what are motorcycle fairings?

Motorcycle Fairings Explained

What Are Fairings on a Motorcycle

Your motorcycle has an engine that determines its power, speed, and performance. However, the bike competes with several external factors when moving. No matter how powerful a motorcycle is, it would still experience resistance while moving.

One of such hindrances the bike experiences is a drag, which is a natural resistance resulting from moving air colliding with the motion of the bike and rider. While riding against the wind, you sometimes feel the motorcycle’s effort into overcoming this resistance by the wind.

If you don’t have your helmet on, you will hear the sound—the greater the drag, the greater the bike’s effort into overcoming it. Naturally, the bike would travel more slowly with drag, and to retain the average pace, the bike would have to consume more energy. That means reduced efficiency.

This is where fairings come in.

Motorcycle fairings are panels designed to reduce the impact of external air on the bike and rider so that speed and performance are improved.

Typically made of fiberglass, aluminum, or plastic, fairings are the outer shells of a motorcycle designed to increase the aerodynamics of the bike to overcome drag more easily. Serving as coverings for the skeleton of the bike, fairings are known to change the bike’s appearance and offer protection for the rider.

Because of how the motorcycle now appears, there is little resistance from moving air, and the fuel efficiency is improved. Moreover, fairings offer protection to the rider against strong winds and rain.

Fairings were initially designed for racing bikes to improve their speed but have been included in the workings of other types of bikes due to the obvious benefits. Let’s look at those benefits.

Benefits of Fairings

Benefits of Fairings

By now, you already know the benefits of fairings. But, because they cannot be overemphasized, let’s look at them in more detail.

Reduction of air friction

Perhaps, the most significant benefit of the motorcycle fairings is reducing friction and resistance by moving air. Until you start riding motorcycles, you may not know how powerful, moving air could be. The resistance of the air against the rider and the bike doesn’t only make the journey more stressful, but it dramatically reduces the bike’s efficiency.

So much more energy and fuel are used to maintain the same speed. Fairings improve the bike’s aerodynamics and significantly reduce the impact of moving wind. The air friction is almost nonexistent, and the motorcycle can move conveniently. There’s a reason why speed bikes look the way they do. They are built to have the least air friction.

Protection of the bike and rider

The rider is protected with fairings as well. Heavy winds and rain can cause inconveniences and injuries when riding on a long journey. Fairings protect the rider in such cases. But the motorcycle is also protected.

The less impact the bike has with moving wind and other elements, the better for the bike. Moreover, the inner parts of the bike, especially the engine, are protected against dirt and debris, which are commonly sucked into the internal components of the motorcycle when traveling.

Fuel efficiency

Everyone loves a fuel-efficient bike. Motorcycle fairings improve fuel efficiency by reducing drag. When motorcycles try to maintain their speed against resisting winds, they expend more energy. Even the rider is under strain as well. The bike is under less strain with fairings, and so much is achieved with very little.

Sometimes, the rider assumes the bike has enough fuel but isn’t mindful of the extra energy to overcome drag. This has led to avoidable frustrations when fuel is used up before time. Motorcycle fairings help those going on long journeys to reduce the amount of fuel they use. Even the rider benefits, as less drag means less tiredness.

Improved appearance

Improved appearance

Fairing benefits the look of bikes by improving their appearance. The sleek designs make the bikes more attractive and sporty.

Contrary to what many believe, motorcycle fairings aren’t just for sportbikes. The color and beauty that motorcycle fairings add to bikes make them more appealing. Without fairings, a motorcycle can’t yet be truly called one.

Increases the lifespan of the bike

Greater fuel efficiency also means better maintenance. Because the fairings offer protection against elements like wind and rain, the bike is better protected over time. This reduces the need for constant repairs and eventually prolongs the bike’s life.

Reduces fatigue

Interestingly, fairings reduce fatigue. This is particularly true for those who are riding for a prolonged period. Sometimes, it is not just the length of the journey that causes the tiredness,  it is the air. However, fairings help reduce this by minimizing the amount of air exposed to the body during the journey.

More room for storage

With fairings, you have more space for some extra luggage without affecting the bike’s overall weight. You can now find more space to store some things you may need on your journey.

Remember, most bikes come with attached fairings, but if you don’t have one, you can easily buy and attach them. Let’s look at the types of fairings available.

Types of fairing

What Are Fairings on a Motorcycle

Three main types of motorcycle fairings can be attached to the main body of the motorcycle. They are:

  • Full fairings
  • Half fairings
  • Quarter fairings

These show the graduation in the amount of protection the bike can receive from the fairings. For example, the quarter fairings won’t offer as much cover as the half fairings, while the full fairings offer the most coverage against the wind.

However, other types of fairings don’t involve the main body of the bike. They include the front/rear fairings and handlebar fairings.

The full fairings cover the entire parts of the motorcycle and are pretty common with sporting bikes. Still, the half fairings only cover the upper section, leaving lower components like the crankcase and gearbox. The half fairings are very similar to the full fairings, except for the exposed engine. Meanwhile, the quarter fairings are known only to cover the front of the motorcycle.

Handlebar fairings are known to create specialized barriers for the handlebars and are helpful for those who have devices mounted on their handlebars. Front/Rear fairings, like the name suggests, are designed to protect the wheels to protect against dirt and debris. This type of fairing is essential to keep the tires free from barriers that reduce their grip.

If you want new fairings or wish to replace the one on your bike, there are some things you should consider. The most important is weight. No bike works better with excess weight. So, while fairings are known to improve the bike’s efficiency, be sure that you select one that won’t be too heavy for your type of bike.

Since there are several aftermarket fairings you can choose from, always look for one that weighs little. Another factor is the fit. Drag won’t be reduced if the fairings you find don’t fit perfectly.

Finally, with the fairings, you have the opportunity to change the appearance of your bike. They can make your motorcycle more beautiful and sleek.


Whatever the kind of bike you use, fairings can make it better.

Consult a professional to know which type would be best for your bike. This would depend on how you use your bike and their conditions on the road every day.

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Jeffrey Bryce is an experienced motorcycle rider with years of experience caring for motorcycles. His natural fondness for motorcycles have made him come up with LetsGoForARide.com, which is dedicated to answering and teaching you how to care for your bike with the care it requires. LetsGoForARide is the one of his important lifework in reaching out to communities of motorcycle enthusiasts on how to take care of their bike and choosing the correct spare part.