What are motorcycle fairings? Typically they are shells of plastic or fiberglass that are placed on motorcycles to reduce air drag. There is a lot more than that to them, though. Motorcycle fairings also help keep riders and their bikes safe from the elements.

Fairings are quite popular on sports bikes because of their ability to lower drag resistance. On touring and other styles of bikes, fairings offer a sleeker, more well-defined appearance. There are three main types of motorcycle fairings: full, half, and quarter. Each type gives the rider a different kind of protection and varies the look and feel of the bike.

Full fairings cover everything from the handlebars to the actual belly of the bike. Larger windshields, which are a defining feature of full-size fairings, gives riders the most protection from wind and debris. This size of motorcycle fairing is great for sport bikes because it not only affords the rider better protection, it also offers the most streamlining. However, drivers must take into consideration the added weight a full-size fairing brings to the bike, and be prepared for the fact that the bike will handle differently than it does without the fairing.

Half fairings cover the handlebars but leave the lower part of the bike open. This type of motorcycle fairing is great for those who do not like the look of a fully covered bike, or who do not feel they need as much protection from wind and debris. The half-size fairing helps riders keep their torso protected from wind and debris. Half fairings are used by sports riders who want to add aerodynamics without adding in the weight and handling problems presented by the full-size fairings. Half motorcycle fairings also allow riders to add in extra components such as crash bars and bash plates. There is no room for these with a full-size fairing.

The third type of motorcycle fairing is the quarter fairing, sometimes called a bikini fairing because of how little it actually covers. Quarter fairings have a small size windscreen and only a few component pieces, mainly surrounding the headlights. This size fairing only offers minor wind and debris protection for the rider. Quite common on sports bikes and small touring bikes, the quarter fairing is the lightest weight of all the motorcycle fairings, and gives riders flexibility in adding other components if they choose. It is a good choice for those who wish to have a slight bit of wind protection but who are not concerned with greatly increasing the overall aerodynamics of the bike.