Motorcycle fairings, which are essentially shells placed around a motorcycle frame, can help reduce drag and provide protection to the bike and the rider. Oh, and they look cool too! Motorcycle fairings need to be strong and light and they need to endure the elements, like ultraviolet light. There are several materials to choose from when purchasing a motorcycle fairing, however the most common material is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (otherwise known as ABS).
ABS- Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic is commonly used in the original fairings that are produced by motorcycle manufacturers (such as Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha). This material is also used by aftermarket fairing manufacturers due to its strong, flexible and light weight properties. ABS has proven to be an optimal material for motorcycle fairings, since it merges the strong and rigid properties of styrene and acrylonitrile with toughness of polybutadiene rubber. This material is highly flexible, yet strong and light weight.
ABS can be molded in a few different ways: injection and compression molding.
- Compression molding: During this type of molding process, sheets of ABS plastic are preheated. These sheets are placed in the appropriate molds, which are also preheated, and pressure is applied to compress the plastic into the exact shape of the mold cavity. After the plastic cools the mold is released and any extra plastic is cut off. Unfortunately, this procedure gives rise to inconsistent thickness in the final product and ‘flashing’ (which is a fancy way of saying excess material).
- Injection molding: During this type of molding process, ABS material is melted and then injected into a mold cavity. This is followed by pressurization, after which the ABS cools and hardens in the shape of the mold. This is preferably the best product because it offers uniformity in thickness of the firing. This process offers the highest quality fit and finish.
Motorcycle fairings can also be made from other materials, such as carbon fiber or fiberglass. However, if you want the most durable material with optimal fit and finish look for ABS injection molded motorcycle fairings.