A fairing is a protective accessory that makes a motorcycle more streamlined, improving aerodynamics, optimizing engine performance, and providing wind protection. Motorcycle enthusiasts who enjoy high-speed freeway rides and long-distance travel are more inclined towards getting a motorcycle fairing. When traveling on highways, motorcyclists are exposed to harsh winds, extreme temperatures, and road debris. A fairing shields them from these elements and ensures better fuel economy by reducing air drag.
But because this aftermarket part increases acceleration, many motorcyclists argue that beginners should not ride motorcycles with fairings. This article discusses how fairings impact the handling and comfort of different motorcycles, and whether beginners should ride motorcycles with fairings.
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1. Types of Motorcycles with Fairings
A motorcycle fairing is an aerodynamic plastic covering at the front with a curved shape that helps wind travel around the motorcycle’s frame. It also shields the bike from debris, rain, and other vehicles during an accident. Sports bikes, sport-tourers, grand tourers, and adventure tourers can be fitted with fairing.
1.1 Sports Bikes
Sports bike fairings reduce air drag and shield the vehicle from strong winds. Most sports bikes have high displacement engines over 500 ccs, allowing them to produce more power and accelerate faster. The fairing and ergonomics help keep the bike streamlined and increase speed. However, these features are impractical for long rides and make handling difficult on city streets. This is because the forward bent riding position of sports bikes can cause severe back pain if maintained for long hours. High accelerations are usually not safe in an urban setting, so motorcycle fairing will make it difficult to control the bike. Hence, sports bikes are not considered comfortable entry-level rides.
Touring motorcycles, including sport tourers and adventure tourers, feature fairings that provide wind protection and improve mileage.
The improved mileage is due to the fairing helping to reduce air drag, engine load, and fuel consumption. Besides protection, the touring fairings offer an aggressive look to the bikes. Their sweeping lines complement the frames and handlebar setups, so riders can ride in style. But most touring motorcycles are not beginner-friendly bikes due to being heavyweight and having large displacements. Therefore, inexperienced riders should not ride these even if they lack fairings.
2. Why Do Beginner-Friendly Motorcycles Lack Fairings?
Street bikes, lightweight cruisers, café racers, and bobbers are considered beginner-friendly motorcycles due to their light frames, small displacements, and upright riding positions. These bikes are easy to handle, fun to ride, accessible, and comfortable. In addition, all of these bikes do not come with fairings. Most standard beginner-friendly motorcycles lack fairings for stylistic reasons only as they cater to riders who prefer classic styling.
3. Is it Possible to Install a Fairing on a Standard Motorcycle?
Yes. You can easily customize a standard (beginner-friendly) motorcycle with an aftermarket fairing. But before you purchase one for your bike, consider the following:
Know Your Preferred Style
A motorcycle fairing can completely change the look of your bike. For example, a full fairing will give your bike a sporty look. Do you prefer the sports bike aesthetic, the classic cruiser styling, the stripped-down bobber look, the custom café racer look, or the traditional street motorcycle look? If you like your bike’s original styling, then you do not need a fairing.
Opt for a Detachable Windshield
Do you dislike the race bike aesthetic? Are you getting a fairing only for optimal wind protection? If yes, then opt for a detachable windshield. Windshields reduce wind buffeting by improving aerodynamics. Plus, they protect the rider from bad weather conditions, reduce wind exposure, and lower the risk of wind-induced fatigue and hypothermia. A detachable windshield lets you return your bike to its original styling when riding on city streets in pleasant weather conditions.
Your Bike’s Maintenance
Novice riders who have just received their motorcycle licenses tend to buy used bikes to practice their riding skills. Compared to brand new motorcycles, these bikes are cheaper, but require more maintenance. Keep in mind that getting a full fairing for your motorcycle will make it difficult to access the lower components.
If you want to keep your vehicle’s aesthetics, install a half or a quarter fairing. These fairings offer adequate protection and allow easy access to the bike’s parts. You can reach the engine without removing all the plastic bodywork. You can look at the oil filter, check the drain plug, lubricate the chain, and remove the coolant hoses during maintenance.
Maintaining the Fairing
Road debris and head-on collisions can damage the fairing, requiring you to repair or replace it depending on the severity. Depending on the fairing’s shape, size, and design, maintenance costs may be between $400-$1,000.
Your Riding Needs
Do you use your bike for local commutes? Do you ride on empty city streets? Are you a beginner planning your first highway trip? If your riding is restricted to urban streets, then you don’t need a fairing. However, if you are a beginner going on your first motorcycle tour, a fairing may be necessary.
In an urban setting, you seldom have to increase speed due to the dense traffic, road signals, frequent braking, and less incoming wind. But on highways, you will need a fairing to block stronger winds while traveling at higher speeds and improve fuel range when heading to a destination.
- Increased Weight Most beginner-friendly motorcycles are lightweight and have responsive handling. Adding too much extra weight to the bike will cause it to become less maneuverable. Since a full fairing can increase a bike’s weight, it is best to choose a lightweight quarter fairing or leave your bike naked.
4. Are Small Displacement Sports Bikes with Fairings Beginner-Friendly?
It is possible for beginners to ride small displacement motorcycles with fairings. These bikes feature small motors that produce low end torque and have small power outputs. When fairings are added to entry-level bikes, their accelerations improve, but they are still easy to handle.
A novice rider can easily find an entry-level, 300 cc sports bike with full fairings on the market. One such example is the Yamaha YZF-R3. Beside its small displacement engine, this bike is lightweight, has moderate speed, and has comfortable ergonomics.
Some large displacement bikes, such as the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and the Suzuki GSX-S1000F, are also suited for beginners. These motorcycles are only called “sports bikes” because of their front fairings. They lack sports performance features, have a natural riding position, and produce a stable power output that inspires confidence in inexperienced riders.
Whether a motorcycle with a fairing is considered a beginner-friendly vehicle depends on its power output, ergonomics, design, and handling. Most beginner riders do not need the improved aerodynamics a fairing offers, especially when traveling through a city. To cater to a rider's preferences, a beginner can install a half, quarter, or full fairing.