Frigid temperatures, wet weather conditions, and slick roads, make it difficult to control the bike and enjoy the trip. With summer approaching, motorcycle enthusiasts who relish long-distance motorcycle trips, participate in motorcycle rallies, and plan camping trips will be itching to hit the highways with their stylish bikes.
If you are planning to set out on a motorcycle adventure, you should equip your bike with the proper equipment as riding in summer has its own challenges. Some of the necessary add-ons include a windshield, a fairing, a comfortable breathable seat, and saddlebags to carry water and other essentials.
Most riders do not consider fairings a necessary aftermarket part to ensure better comfort. This article highlights the importance of having a motorcycle fairing for freeway rides.
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1. Different Ways Fairings Improve Riding Comfort
A motorcycle fairing is not only a decorative accessory. For highway rides, it offers many benefits. From reduced drag to engine efficiency, wind deflection, and increased storage, a fairing can be a useful addition to your bike.
In addition, a fairing can have other benefits not known to many riders.
1.1 Protection from Strong Highway Cross Winds
When riding at speeds above 65 mph, motorcycles often experience heavy air drag on the highway. But there is another force that can make traveling at high speed dangerous - cross winds. When passing a truck or riding in windy conditions, your bike can be hit by crosswinds that can push your two-wheeler into another lane or off the road. Due to the motorcycle’s front having a large surface area, more wind blows against your bike, which can affect handling.
To deal with crosswinds, you need a fairing because it creates a smaller surface area. Motorcycle fairings have a streamlined shape to ensure better aerodynamics. No matter which direction the crosswinds are coming from, a fairing will help reduce the impact of incoming winds.
A fairing ensures better safety when traveling straight or turning at high speeds. The winglets attached to the fairing create a downforce, which increases the vertical flow of air on the front and rear tires to ensure better grip. This helps keep your bike planted to the ground, offering better traction, stability, and control when turning.
1.2 Increased Gas Mileage
Motorcycle enthusiasts new to touring often use standard bikes and lightweight cruisers for freeway rides. These bikes have small peanut tanks with a fuel capacity of 2-3 gallons, allowing you to travel a little over 80-100 miles before needing a refill. By mounting a motorcycle fairing and adopting a tucked-in riding position, you can improve your bike’s mileage by 30%. However, the figures are also dependent on how aerodynamic your motorcycle fairing is. A stylish quarter fairing may not be as effective as a full fairing. So, make sure that your motorcycle fairing complements your rigid style and needs. If you are participating in a motorcycle event and planning to ride with others, then opt for a FXRT or a batwing-style fairing. If you only want some wind protection for days when you have to rush to work, then a small handlebar fairing would do.
1.3 Make Rides Enjoyable
Most motorcyclists ride highways for their scenic views. Unfortunately, strong winds cause turbulence, wobbly steering, muscle fatigue, and a constant buzzing noise. When strong winds hit you, your hands tend to grip the handlebars tighter and pull the bike towards your body. You also have to constantly exert your back and core muscles to keep the wind from knocking you off balance. All these factors make highway rides physically demanding and exhausting. If you are busy fighting the wind, there is little time to enjoy the scenic views.
Large motorcycle fairings provide wind coverage for your face and upper body. Though tall riders who are over 6 feet will need to add a tall windshield to ensure full wind coverage. Because fairings reduce the amount of wind striking your body, your muscles won’t have to exert themselves as often, and will help reduce fatigue. Hence a fairing can make riding easy for riders who have a bad back or suffer from other musculoskeletal problems.
1.4 General Protection
Hardcore highway riders are at a greater risk of getting into accidents due to wind-induced fatigue, sleep deprivation, emotional distress, dehydration, and boredom. All these factors make it difficult for riders to think clearly and focus, often leading to crashes.
|Note: A responsible rider prioritizes his/her own safety and the safety of others. Please avoid riding when tired, upset, sick, or impaired in any other way.
Another major cause of highway accidents is road debris. If you aren't paying attention, then parts of damaged vehicles, construction debris, gravel, or shards of glass can get stuck in your bike or blow out the tires, causing you to lose control of your motorcycle. Flying debris can also injure or distract you. A fairing acts as the first line of defense against flying debris and in the event of a collision. It can protect you from suffering severe or fatal injuries.
1.5 Better Handling
Some motorcycle fairings can also improve the bike’s handling (discussed infra).
2. The Best Fairings for Comfortable Highway Rides
Most touring bikes feature a built-in fairing mounted on the frame (fixed fairing) or on the handlebars (front-end mounted fairing). Both fixed and front-end mounted fairings provide reliable wind protection. However, the fixed fairing ensures lighter and more responsive steering. This is because the weight of the fixed fairing does not cause a drastic shift in weight or handling like with the front-end mounted fairing. A fixed fairing allows you to ride as if on a naked bike or a lightweight cruiser, instead of a heavy bagger. The handlebars are responsive and quickly turn in either direction without much prompting.
On the other hand, a fork-mounted fairing increases the weight of the handlebars. Most touring bikes feature speakers, cup holders, infotainment screens, gauges, and other electronics mounted on the handlebars. Adding the weight of a handlebar fairing will make it difficult to balance your handlebars’ weight when steering. The Harley Street Glide’s batwing fairing is an example of a front-mounted fairing, while the Harley Road Glide’s shark-nose fairing is an example of a frame-mounted fairing.
Highway rides are fun but challenging if you don’t properly prepare your bike. Motorcycle fairings will make your rides more relaxing and safe. Even if your motorcycle has a windshield, you should still consider getting a fairing for better aerodynamics, wind coverage, and handling. Though a fixed fairing is a better option, you can also get a front-mounted fairing if you don’t mind the additional weight. The distinct styling it offers is an added advantage. You can customize your fairing and flaunt a new looking bike on different occasions.