Generally speaking, motorcycles can be ridden with or without fairings. Certain types of bikes like bobbers, café racers, or naked bikes come without fairings as standard. In contrast, sport and sport-touring machines typically feature full-fairings with windscreens.
Although they have many advantages, some owners still remove the fairings from their motorcycles to turn it into a café racer or streetfighter.
If you too are considering building a naked bike, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled the pros and cons of removing motorcycle fairings under one roof!
What is a Fairing on a Motorcycle?
A fairing on a motorcycle is a plastic or fiberglass shell mounted to the frame and designed to reduce air drag. They are commonly used on sport and touring bikes as well as racing motorcycles.
Surprisingly, the very first motorcycles were manufactured without fairings. The first commercially available motorcycle that featured a full fairing was the BMW R100RS, introduced in 1976.
So far, fairings have become standard equipment on many street-legal motorcycles, and with good reason.
They not only protect you and your bike from the elements but can also increase gas mileage. Therefore, removing them is not recommended.
But if you want to remove the fairings from your motorcycle by all means, keep reading!
Can You Remove Motorcycle Fairings?
Motorcycle fairings can be easily removed with an Allen key or a socket set. Don’t worry, as removing them is not as difficult as it looks! As always, best practice is to read your bike’s service manual as the first step. If you want to leave your bike naked in the long run, here are some other factors to consider:
Even if you remove the fairings from your bike, keep in mind that the lights and turn signals need to remain in place.
They are required by law so make sure that you don’t remove them with the fairings.
One of the main drawbacks of removing the fairings is that it leaves the wires, hoses, reservoirs, and other parts unprotected. What’s more, unlike naked bikes, on faired motorcycles these parts can be a little messy.
You may want to check the hoses and wires, especially on the bottom of the machine. If they are not secured you should zip tie them together, or to the frame of the bike.
You also have to inspect where the air vents of the fairings direct the airflow. This is because some of them may be used for cooling hidden places on your bike.
Leaving them without fresh air may end in overheating.
On top of that, removing the fairings may void the warranty!
To avoid these issues, it’s highly recommended that you consult your dealer before you modify your bike. And although in most states it’s completely legal to remove the fairings from a motorcycle, best practice is to check the local laws upfront.
Can You Ride a Motorcycle Without Fairings?
Yes, it’s safe to say that a motorcycle can be ridden without fairings. However, keep in mind that this comes with many drawbacks, which are as follows:
- Increased air drag (worse aerodynamics)
- Less protection from wind, cold, and rain, debris, and bugs
- More fatigue and body pain
- Decreased gas mileage
- Odd design
As you can see, there are many advantages to having fairings on a bike.
Let’s see how removing them changes the riding experience!
Does a Fairing Make a Difference?
There’s no question that fairings make a noticeable difference in the riding experience. Without fairings, you are much more exposed to the wind, which results in more fatigue and less comfort. This can be an issue on longer rides or at high speeds!
What’s more, you are also less protected from dirt, road debris, and bugs, which can cause a lot of headaches.
The lack of protection also increases the chances of hypothermia. Without fairings your body and especially your legs are much more exposed to the cold air.
Another main complaint against naked bikes is wind-buffeting. This is a typical problem especially on bigger-displacement bikes at higher speeds.
Finally, don’t forget that the fairings provide an extra layer of protection on your bike.
Removing them leaves not only you but many parts of your bike without protection.
Why Would You Remove the Fairings?
In a nutshell, there are two typical reasons why riders want to ride their bikes without fairings.
Let’s take a closer look at each!
The most common reason why many riders convert their full-fairing bikes to naked is to radically change the design.
Café racers and street fighters are gaining in popularity among riders, and these bikes typically feature a naked design.
Building a street fighter typically involves removing the side and front fairings. However, the latter can also be replaced with a “street fighter head fairing” that perfectly fits this design.
In contrast, building a café racer means removing all of the fairings from the bike.
To be sure, besides the fairing removal, building these bikes includes many other steps as well!
Fears of Beginners
Surprisingly, some beginner riders also consider temporarily turning their full-faired bikes into naked.
This is because they want to protect the expensive fairings from damage in case they have an accident.
Even if it seems like a good idea this solution also has its drawbacks.
The fairings offer increased wind protection, higher comfort, and less fatigue. Thanks to this, the rider can focus better on the road, which results in higher safety.
This means that removing the fairings on a motorcycle actually makes it less safe. And let’s face it, this is the last thing a beginner wants!
Therefore, this modification is definitely not recommended for beginners!
Sport and touring bikes are manufactured with fairings for good reason.
They can keep wind, cold, debris, bugs, and rain away from you. They do a really good job especially at high speeds and on longer tours!
Removing the fairings always leads to lower gas mileage, less protection, and more pain/fatigue.
But if you want to build a café racer or a street fighter, you can even turn a full-faired bike into a naked one.
Before doing this, make sure to consult with your dealer and also refer to your service manual. Removing the fairings may void the warranty and can harm the bike’s cooling in certain cases. What’s more, you also have to make sure that you don’t remove the lights or the turn signals with the fairings.
As a final word, don’t forget to check the local laws before you do any modifications to your bike!