Whatever happened to aftermarket fairings?
Avon, Rickman, Vetter and more were all once household names, then they disappeared.
Born Early 1950s
High point Late 1970s
Disappeared Late 1980s (but actually they’re still around)
It’s hard to pinpoint the genesis of the fairing. Stanley Woods had a slanted number board and attached clear screen on his TT-winning Norton in 1926 while, through the 1930s, the BMW and Brough, respectively, of land speed record chasers Ernst Henne and Eric Fernihough gained ever-increasing aerodynamic bodywork. The Vincent Black Prince of 1954 came with a full fairing but for cleanliness not speed. Unfortunately the Stevenage firm lost money on every one and just 200 were built. However, from the early 1950s a number of firms, most notably Avon, began making aftermarket fairings that would fit BSAs and Triumphs and became very popular.
And what about Rickman?
That came a little later. Rickman brothers Don and Derek found success first making scrambler frame kits in the 1960s and later street sportster kits, complete with bodykits for Japanese multis. They stopped making bikes in 1976 to focus on aftermarket fairings, top boxes, crash bars and the like.
So all this was just in the UK?
The USA got into them in the 1970s, too. Craig Vetter of Triumph X75 Hurricane fame made his first in 1966 followed in 1970 by the universal-fit Windjammer. This proved such a success with touring types on their new, naked Japanese multis that he sold over 500,000 of them.
By the mid-1970s dozens of fairing brands had sprung up. France had Motodesign, Germany had Krauser, Australia La Parisienne (famous for the fairing on Goose’s Z1 in Mad Max).
They were starting to get stylish by then…
Most were plain, white and vulgar, especially the touring offerings, but the sports ones, and especially the full bodykits by the likes of Rickman and Dunstall, were about as good as it got…
So what were the ultimates?
By the late 70s and early 80s, LC boys lusted after the John Mockett-designed ‘Pro Ams’; if you had a Honda Superdream it was much improved with an Invader handlebar fairing, and there were the Ian Dyson Superbody kits...
The Ian Dyson what?
They were the most gorgeous full body fairing kits for the likes of the Suzuki
X7 and Kawasaki KH – good enough to claim the cover of Bike magazine in November 1979.
So were the manufacturers were missing a trick?
They were. Up to that point there was virtually no such thing as a production faired motorcycle. Harley introduced its famous Batwing in 1969 but only as an optional extra. Instead, the first is widely recognised to be BMW’s R100RS in 1976. Even then the Japanese were slow to follow suit.
So what happened?
Inevitably they came. Handlebar faired bikes like the Suzuki GS1000S in 1979 and Kawasaki GPz550 in 1981. Then, just as quickly, full fairings with the Honda CB1100R in 1982 and Suzuki RG250 the following year. At the same time tourers got fairings, with the first fully faired GoldWing Interstate in 1980. Aftermarket fairings simply weren’t necessary anymore.
So that was it?
Yes and no. The likes of Rickman and Avon have disappeared but plenty of aftermarket fairings are still available from the likes of Skidmarx, Powerbronze and Ermax. You can even get replicas made of those early Avon classics while Ian Dyson kits are now hugely collectable.