The most prominent of the plastic or fibreglass shells covering
parts of the motorcycle is the "fairing". In practice, this
may blend almost seamlessly with engine panels or wheel covers/mudguards
(which in some cases will be painted or plated metal). Modern fairings,
mostly designed specifically for each motorcycle and fitted as original
equipment by the manufacturer, have eliminated the aerodynamic and
structural failings of early add-on fairings.
Also called windshields or screens, windscreens can be built
into a fairing or be attached to an otherwise unfaired bike. They are
made from transparent high-impact acrylic plastic. They may be shaped
specifically to direct air flow over or around the head of the rider
even if they are much shorter than the seated rider. The latest variation,
introduced on the 1986 BMW K100LT, is electrically controlled height
Saddlebags or panniers
Saddlebags or panniers mount on either side
of the rear of the motorcycle roughly beside (but not interfering with)
the pillion passenger. "Hard" panniers
commonly come in an injection moulded plastic such as ABS, and "soft" panniers
come in some form of textile (eg Cordura) or leather. Panniers are
nearly always detachable and often lockable, both of their mountings
and their closure.
hand grips / seats
Since motorcycles lack climate control or proper
protection from the wind, some manufacturers offer heated seats or
hand grips to relieve
the discomfort of low temperatures experienced during night riding
or the colder months.
A common addition to many bikes is an attachment onto
which bags or other luggage can be fastened. This removes the need
for rider backpacks
and is generally a more secure and a safer way to add carrying capacity
to a motorcycle.
A trailer hitch or tow hitch is a device mounted on a
motorcycle that enables it to tow a motorcycle trailer. Legislation
will often restrict
them to carrying baggage but not passengers.
Storage compartments are largely restricted to scooters, they
may be underneath the seat, between the knees or in front of the steering
head. A motorcycle trunk will normally be mounted behind the seat where
it is known as a top box.
Crash bars are less popular than they used to be - vulnerable
engines and fairings now sometimes being protected by OE fitted snubs
A common arrangement is a loop of chrome-plated steel tube mounted
each side of a motorcycle's lower frame.