A batwing fairing is a large motorcycle head fairing mounted to the front forks. It features two side extensions to protect the entire handlebar, as well as a smaller windscreen on top. This setup can protect you and the dashboard from wind, rain, and cold even more effectively than a regular windshield. Batwing fairings are commonly used on Harleys and other big cruiser motorcycles.
If you want to find out what the advantages of this custom head fairing are, you are in the right place.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know under one roof!
What is a Batwing Fairing on a Motorcycle?
Let’s face it, when you ride a motorcycle, you are completely exposed to the elements. To give you some protection, touring bikes are equipped with fairings and a windshield.
But due to their design, many cruiser motorcycles typically don’t come with these important parts.
If you have a cruiser and are looking for some protection, you have two options to choose from.
You can install a regular windshield on your bike, or you can invest in a batwing (or shark nose) fairing.
A batwing fairing is actually a fork-mounted head fairing that has two extensions on its side. Thanks to this design, this fairing looks like a bat with spread wings. This is where the name comes from!
A complete batwing fairing systems consist of six parts, which are as follows:
- Outer fairing
- Inner fairing
- Mounting kit
- Lower trim skirt fairing
- Extra storage bags
The outer fairing is the largest and most recognizable unit. It encloses the headlight and covers the front of the handlebar.
Some cheaper batwing fairing kits only consist of this outer shell and a windshield.
Other kits come with an inner fairing, which is less visible from the front as it sits behind the outer shell.
The main role of this unit is to enclose the gauges and screens to give a clean and organized look to the dashboard.
Thanks to its large dimensions, the inner fairing offers plenty of space for other features like speakers, and even extra gauges.
Batwing fairing audio systems typically contain a stereo and some speakers as well. This usually means two large or four small speakers depending on the make and model.
Just like head fairings in general, batwings also come with windshields. Depending on your height and needs, you can choose from many different shapes and designs.
Since they have to be attached to the front forks, these kits come with mounting brackets in most cases.
However, be careful since for some aftermarket batwing fairings you have to purchase the mounting kit separately.
A lower trim skirt fairing (also known as an “outer fairing skirt”) is a little fairing that is also available as an option.
This tiny deflector gives the batwing fairing a finished look and offers a little extra wind protection as well.
It sits below the outer fairings between the two forks. For some reason, it’s not built into the outer fairing.
Another nice little addition to this setup is a windshield bag, which can be mounted above the inner fairing.
It’s a great place to store your sunglasses, phone, and other small types of gear!
The Origins of Batwing Fairings
The first motorcycle with a batwing fairing was the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide introduced in 1969. Since then, this kind of head fairing has become a standard on many other Harley models.
What’s more, today many major cruiser manufacturers offer “batwing fairing motorcycles.”
Thanks to the variety of aftermarket batwing fairings, they are already available for most cruiser motorcycles.
The early batwing fairings were easy to remove, but today they are filled with so many gauges and instruments, making them hard to remove.
What Does a Batwing Fairing Do?
Simply put, there are two main purposes of batwing fairings, to enhance the protection as well as the design of your bike. The main idea behind batwing fairings is to offer you more protection from the elements. It can effectively keep cold, wind, rain, and bugs away from you. Furthermore, it gives your bike a custom look and also makes your dashboard more organized. As an addition, they can accommodate a complete audio system!
Do Batwing Fairings Work?
Yes, a batwing fairing does a really good job on cruiser motorcycles! This type of fairing is very popular among riders, and for good reason. Thanks to its large design, it offers reasonable protection for you and the instruments behind it. The wide wings also protect the handlebars as well as your hands. It comes in handy on the chilly days!
Especially in the colder Northern states, greater protection on a motorcycle is very important.
The lower temperature, lots of rain and wind cause a lot of headaches for many riders in these areas. That’s why batwings are more popular in the North!
Many riders claim that a batwing fairing works better than a regular windshield. Why?
Because this type of fairing has an aerodynamic shape that results better airflow. In contrast, windshields are basically flat boards that generate more turbulence.
Thanks to their better shape, a batwing provides greater protection and effectively reduce the buffeting of the helmet and the handlebars.
On top of that, it allows the windshield to be mounted closer to you, which leads to less turbulence behind your back.
Since batwing fairings are only bolted onto the front forks, they can’t completely eliminate buffeting.
What’s more, some of them are prone to vibrating slightly.
Another issue with this fairing is that the perfect protection it offers leaves you without any airflow.
While this is desirable in cold weather, it can be a problem on hot sunny days. This is why certain touring bikes (like Honda Gold Wing) feature wind deflectors that direct some airflow behind the fairings.
Batwing Fairings vs. Shark Nose Fairings
Just like batwings, shark nose fairings are also a popular addition on cruiser motorcycles.
In a nutshell, the main difference between a shark nose and a batwing fairing is the how these fairings are attached to the bike. As we’ve discussed, a batwing fairing is attached to the front forks, so it turns with the handlebars. In contrast, shark nose fairings are attached directly to the frame. This means they don’t turn when you move the handlebars.
Shark nose fairings are similar to the fixed fairings you can see on a Honda Gold Wing, BMW K1600, and many other touring motorcycles.
The key advantage of this frame-mounted design is that it’s less likely to vibrate and cause buffeting issues.
Since the wind has much less effect on the handlebars, you can expect easier and more precise steering. Finally, it results in a smoother riding experience!
Just like batwings, shark nose fairings can also accommodate many gauges, speakers, and even screens.
The batwing fairing is large fork-mounted head fairing on cruiser motorcycles.
It’s designed to protect you from the elements and to house gauges or even a complete audio system. If you live in the North or just prefer longer tours, you can’t go wrong with a batwing fairing.
Many riders say that it does a better job than regular windshields, thanks to its aerodynamic design!