Materials Used to Create Motorcycle Fairings
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic is commonly used in original equipment sport bikes and certain aftermarket fairing manufacturers due to its strong, flexible and light weight properties. The advantage of ABS over other plastics is that it combines the strength and rigidity of acrylonitrile and styrene with the toughness of polybutadiene rubber. The proportions of each property vary based on the targeted result.
There are two common methods of producing ABS plastic fairing: injection and compression.
- Injection molds: ABS plastic is melted and injected into mold cavity. Constant pressure is applied to allow for material shrinkage. The plastic then cools and hardens in the mold. Injection molds allows for uniform thickness throughout the entire piece. It gives the most accurate end product that fits well.
- Compression molds: The plastic is generally preheated is placed into a heated metal mold cavity and pressure is applied to force the plastic to contract and take the shape of the mold. Heat and pressure is kept until the plastic cures the mold. The excess plastic is cut away and removed from the mold. Disadvantages to compression mold include varying product consistency and flashing, which is excess material attached to the molded part that needs to be removed where two or more parts of the mold meet.
Fiberglass is made of woven fibers, and is used as a reinforcing agent for many polymer products. The composite properly known as glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), is normally referred to by the name of its reinforcing material. Fiberglass fairings are commonly used on the race track. In most cases fiberglass is lighter, and more durable than ABS Plastic. Damaged fiberglass can be repaired by applying new layers of woven fiberglass cloth mixed with a polymer such as epoxy, over the damaged area followed sanding and finishing.
Carbon fiber reinforced polymer is the lightest, but most expensive, fairing material. It is used on the most extreme sport and racing motorcycle fairings