Motorcycle fairing refers to the shell which is placed over a sports bike or any other motorcycle in order to reduce air drag on the vehicle. The major benefits of fairing include reduced air drag, protection of the rider and the engine components in case of accidents. You can have front as well as rear fairings on motorcycles. When the air drag on a racing motorcycle is reduced, it can lead to less fuel consumption and also increases the life of the engine.
If you go back a few years, almost all bikes were ‘naked’ without any fairings. Sports fairings have only been around for twenty to thirty years but they have become so popular now that you will hardly see a ‘naked’ sports bike these days. The main purpose of fairings is biker protection and aerodynamics. For sports bikes, achieving top speed quickly is of paramount importance while for touring motorcycles, biker protection and comfort are top priority. In both cases, fairings can be highly beneficial.
However, a naked bike has its own advantages like lighter weight and convenience. A bike which is normally used for short trips at moderate speeds is better off without fairings. Naked bikes have another big advantage as they offer more comfortable sitting position than the sports bike crouch. Another big advantage of naked bike is that there is no expensive fiber to replace when your bike encounters an accident! So, for commuting short distances at slow to moderate speeds (50 miles per hour or lesser), a naked bike is perfect.
On the other hand, if you travel long distances in all types of weather conditions at highway speeds, then you definitely need to add some fairing to your bike. When you are riding on a naked bike at highway speeds you can get hit with pebbles, dirt etc. The wind blast will also tire you quickly. When you add fairing, it protects you by deflecting a lot of things away from the windshield. It is said that riding naked bikes over long distances can make your arms ache due to the wind pressure on your chest.
There are different types of fairings like streamliner, dustbin fairing, dolphin, full or half fairing, quarter fairing, belly pan etc. Streamliner is a type of full fairing where the entire motorcycle body is covered in order to reduce the drag to the lowest possible extent. In dustbin fairing, the front half of the motorcycle is covered with a single-piece shell which resembles the nose of an aircraft. This is helpful in reducing the frontal drag.