How to Make Motorcycle Fairingsby Chris Gilliland
Fairings create a streamlined form for a motorcycle to slide through the air and require a significant amount of design and development. Most modern fairings are constructed from ABS plastic or carbon-fiber. Fiberglass, which is easier to work with and has a lower cost, tends to be the most common medium for non-original fairings.
Take measurements of your intended mounting area for the fairing on the motorcycle. Ensure the handlebars will not be obstructed by the fairing when mounted.
Sketch out your intended fairing design, including details such as mounting locations and air intake/exhaust ports.
Double check all measurements and clearances.
Using clay or a block of foam, begin forming the basic shape of the fairing by cutting away excess material in chunks. Leave enough material to allow for details later in the process.
Fine-tune the basic form by using a sander to further refine the shape of the fairing, gradually adding in any curves and channels required by the design in carefully guided increments.
Add in any details, such as intake vents and ports, once the basic form is completed.
Smooth down the surface of the mock-up using a sander and filling unwanted holes or gaps using body filler.
Test the mock-up against the motorcycle, checking for proper handlebar clearance, sizing and mounting points.
Seal the mock-up using a 50/50 mixture of water and white glue. This will allow the fiberglass part to be easily removed from the mock-up.
Prepare your materials by mixing the resin and hardener according to the manufacturer's recommendations and pre-cutting the fiberglass material.
Lay down the first layer of fiberglass, starting with the heaviest cloth available if using more than one cloth weight.
Apply the resin with a paintbrush, using light dabbing motions to saturate the fiberglass cloth. The cloth will become transparent as it absorbs the resin.
Lay the second layer of cloth and dab it with a dry brush to compress it against the first layer before applying an extra coat of resin.
Remove air bubbles with a plastic spreader or squeegee using gentle, but firm pressure.
Repeat the process, laying additional layers and coating with epoxy until desired, then allow to cure. Depending on the resin used, the curing process may take anywhere between 30 minutes to 24 hours.
Carefully, remove the fiberglass piece from the mock-up and test against the motorcycle. If size and fitment are correct, sand down the exterior and drill in any mounting holes as required by your design.
Prime and paint your fairing before installing.
- Clean any resin spills immediately with acetone. Do not rush. Impatience will lead to problems. Check and double check all measurements before beginning.
- Fiberglass resin emits noxious fumes that may be harmful. Work in an open area with plenty of fresh air to prevent injury or sickness. Resin is difficult to remove from skin. Wear gloves when laying up fiberglass.
Items you will need
- Fiberglass cloth
- Resin and hardener
- Paint brushes
- Foam or clay
- X-ACTO blades
- Putty spreader or squeegee
- Sander block
- Assorted grit sandpaper
- White glue
- Old paint trays or buckets for the chemicals
- Safety glasses
- Rubber gloves
- Motorcycle Handling and Chassis Design: the Art and Science; Tony Foale; 2002
- Total Control; Lee Parks; 2003