Fixed Fairing Faceoff: Comparing Harley's Iconic Road Glide and Tour Glide

Which Harley Has a Fixed Fairing

A fixed fairing refers to the integrated front fairing assembly on certain Harley-Davidson motorcycle models. Unlike detachable windshields or quick-release fairings, a fixed fairing is mounted permanently to the frame as part of the bike's core structure.

The Harley-Davidson Road Glide stands out with its fixed fairing, offering riders superior stability and wind protection, making it an ideal choice for long-distance touring.

Harley first introduced fixed fairings in the 1980s, starting with the FXRT model. This allowed riders to experience the benefits of an aerodynamic fairing while maintaining Harley's signature exposed engine styling.

Over the years, fixed fairings evolved into an iconic feature of Harley's touring and long-distance models.

Fixed fairings provide several advantages for riders:

Wind Protection :The fairing acts as a wind barrier to protect the rider's upper body from wind buffeting and turbulence. This makes long rides on the highway much more comfortable.

Aerodynamics :The sleek, integrated design cuts through the air more efficiently than no fairing at all. This can improve stability at high speeds and fuel efficiency.

Style :The fixed fairing has become a quintessential styling cue across Harley's touring line. It provides customization options while maintaining Harley's classic look.

Storage :Many fixed fairings integrate storage compartments for added cargo capacity and convenience on long rides.

Customization :Aftermarket parts allow riders to modify fixed fairings with new designs, vents, audio systems, and more.

Over the decades, Harley's fixed fairing has evolved from a novelty to a core feature of many riders' ideal touring motorcycle. With wind protection, aerodynamics, and custom style, Harley's fixed fairings define long-haul comfort and performance.

Iconic Harley-Davidson Models with Fixed Fairings

Harley-Davidson offers several iconic motorcycle models equipped with fixed fairings that provide wind protection and improved aerodynamics for riders. The most popular Harley models with fixed fairings include:

Road King

The Road King is Harley's original fixed fairing touring bike. First introduced in 1994, the Road King features a stylish batwing fairing mounted to the frame. This provides wind and weather protection for the rider while maintaining the classic Harley roadster look.

Underneath, the Road King has a powerful Twin Cam 96 or Twin Cam 103 V-twin engine. It comes standard with hard saddlebags for storage. Riders praise the Road King for its comfortable ergonomics and confident handling at high speeds thanks to the fixed fairing.

Street Glide

Debuting in 2006, the Harley Street Glide gets its name from its slick, streamlined fixed fairing and touring capabilities. The low-profile fixed fairing on the Street Glide provides wind protection while giving it a contemporary, custom look.

It comes powered by the Milwaukee Eight V-twin engine. The Street Glide is popular for its roomy seating, ample cargo space, and modern technology like the touchscreen infotainment system. Its fixed fairing offers comfortable long-distance cruising.

Road Glide

The Road Glide has the most pronounced fixed fairing of Harley's touring models. Its frame-mounted "Sharknose" fairing has dual windscreen vents and integrated audio speakers for the sound system.

Introduced in 1998, the Road Glide is powered by a Milwaukee Eight V-twin like the Street Glide. It has rear saddlebags and an ergonomic two-up seat for all-day comfort. The Road Glide's distinctive fairing and comfortable accommodations make it one of Harley's most popular models for two-up touring.

Wind Protection and Aerodynamics of Fixed Fairings

Fixed fairings are designed to divert wind away from the rider, reducing fatigue and providing superior comfort on long rides. The aerodynamic shape slices through the air smoothly, resulting in less wind buffeting. Riders report feeling noticeably less wind blast against their chest and helmet when riding models equipped with fixed fairings.

By redirecting airflow, fixed fairings also enhance the motorcycle's aerodynamics, improving stability at highway speeds. The reduced drag helps optimize fuel efficiency as well, allowing the engine to work less to maintain speed. Tests show lower fuel consumption on fixed fairing models compared to equivalent bikes without fairings.

Of course, maximizing wind protection means compromising on aesthetics to some degree.

The sleek, swept-back contour of the fixed fairing sacrifices some style in favor of function. For riders prioritizing long-distance touring capability over flashy looks, the trade-off is worthwhile. But for those wanting to make a visual statement, more stylized fairings or no fairing at all may be preferable.

Overall, the integrated design of a fixed fairing offers significant benefits for managing wind and turbulence. While not as visually striking as some other options, fixed fairings allow riders to log highway miles in greater comfort. Their aerodynamic profile also boosts efficiency for reduced fuel costs.

Comfort and Ergonomics of Fixed Fairing Harleys

Harley-Davidson motorcycles with fixed fairings are renowned for their comfort, making them ideal for long distance touring. Several design factors contribute to the ergonomic experience on models like the Road Glide and Street Glide.

The seating position on fixed fairing bikes provides an upright riding posture that helps reduce strain on the lower back and wrists. The seats themselves are sculpted and padded for hours in the saddle. Floorboards allow riders to change leg positioning and stretch out.

For the suspension, fixed fairing Harleys utilize air-adjustable rear shocks that can be tuned for a soft, smooth ride. Dual bending valve front forks also absorb bumps exceptionally well. This cushy suspension soaks up vibrations on rough roads.

The fairings and windshields themselves boost comfort by deflecting wind and weather. By reducing buffeting, neck strain is minimized even at highway speeds. The fairings also have vents to optimize airflow around the rider.

Several fixed fairing models stand out for their ergonomic excellence. The Road Glide Ultra has a taller windshield for maximum wind protection. The Street Glide Special boasts a custom saddle and backrest. And the Road Glide Limited offers premium audio and navigation for long hauls.

With their dialed-in ergonomics and touring capabilities, Harley's fixed fairing motorcycles allow riders to stay comfortable mile after open mile. The custom suspension, seating, and wind protection make these bikes built for the long haul.

Customizing and Upgrading Fixed Fairings

Harley-Davidson's fixed fairings provide ample opportunities for customization and upgrades. Many riders opt to tint or smoke their windshields and fairings to reduce glare and achieve a sleek, blacked-out look. Vented fairings with openings or louvers can also be installed to increase airflow to the rider on hot days.

For touring riders, adding luggage racks, saddle bags, and other storage options to the fairing helps maximize packing capacity for long trips. Integrated audio systems are also popular upgrades, allowing riders to add speakers, amps, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Companies like Boom Audio make handlebar-mounted fairing audio systems to deliver premium sound without compromising the bike's style.

When it comes to instrument clusters and dashboard displays, swapping out stock gauges for digital units with navigation and phone connectivity is a common upgrade. Riders can also customize their fairings with unique decals, custom paint jobs, pinstripes, and powder coating for a one-of-a-kind look.

For those seeking improved lighting, upgrading to LED headlamps and accent lighting provides increased visibility and a modern look. And installing hand guards or small wind deflectors on the fairing can tweak airflow and reduce hand fatigue on long rides.

With so many options, customizing a Harley's fixed fairing is a great way to put your own stamp on these iconic cruisers.

Maintenance and Care for Fixed Fairings

Proper maintenance is crucial to keep your Harley's fixed fairing looking its best and functioning properly. Here are some tips for taking care of your fairing:

Keep the Fairing Clean and Scratch-Free

Fairings can easily show dirt, bugs, and road grime. It's important to wash your fairing regularly with a motorcycle-specific wash and wax to prevent buildup. Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently clean the surface. Avoid abrasive cleaners or brushes that could scratch the finish.

Inspect the fairing for any chips or scratches after rides. Touch up paint can help prevent further damage. Small scratches can also be buffed out with polishing compound. Apply a protective wax coating to repel dirt and UV rays.

Check and Adjust Fairing Hardware

The vibration and jostling of riding can loosen fairing hardware over time. Every few weeks, check that all screws, bolts, and mounts are tightened to the proper torque specifications. Snug down or replace any fasteners that are loose.

Also check for cracks or damage around mounting points, which can spread if left unattended. Use threadlocker on bolts to help prevent loosening. Lubricate any hinges, latches, or swiveling mechanisms.

Know When It's Time for Replacement

If your fairing sustains substantial damage like cracks, deep gouges, or broken mounting tabs, replacement may be necessary. OEM fairings can be pricey, so aftermarket options are popular.

Signs you may need a new fairing include:

  • Visible cracks, punctures, or UV damage
  • Sections that are warped or misaligned
  • Hardware that can't tighten properly
  • Excessive wind noise or buffeting

With proper care and maintenance, your Harley's fixed fairing will provide miles of comfortable riding and classic style. Keeping it in top shape ensures you get the most out of this integral touring component.

Fixed Fairings in Harley History

Harley-Davidson first introduced fairings on their motorcycles in the 1960s, starting with the Electra Glide and Duo Glide models. These early fairings were more rudimentary and focused mainly on wind protection rather than aerodynamics or styling.

It wasn't until the 1980s that Harley began integrating full fairings into the design. The 1982 FLT Tour Glide was one of the first models to feature a fork-mounted fairing and frame-mounted windscreen for improved wind protection and a sleeker look. This kicked off the evolution of the iconic "batwing" fairing design.

Over the following decades, Harley continued refining their fairings for both form and function. The 1993 FLHR Road King introduced a more rounded, streamlined fairing while maintaining the classic Harley style. By the late 1990s, models like the FLHT Electra Glide sported a fuller fairing with integrated storage and stereo.

Some of the most iconic Harley paint schemes have been found on their fixed fairing models. The brilliant orange and black two-tone paint on the Electra Glide in the 1970s and 80s is legendary.

More recently, the bold color options on bikes like the Road Glide Special stand out on the highway. Unique flame and custom designs have also highlighted the blank canvases of Harley's smooth, sleek fairings over the years.

From the early fork-mounted windscreens to the integrated, frame-mounted batwings of today, Harley's fixed fairings have steadily evolved while retaining their distinctive Harley flair across decades of bikes.

Pricing for Fixed Fairing Models

The fixed fairing models from Harley-Davidson sit at the higher end of the pricing spectrum compared to the brand's other offerings. These premium touring bikes carry an MSRP starting in the low $20,000s and ranging up to the mid $30,000s depending on exact model, trim, and options.

The 2021 Road Glide Standard has an MSRP of $21,319 while the top-of-the-line Road Glide Limited rings in at $30,499. The Street Glide Standard lists for $21,599 and stretches up to the Street Glide Special at $27,489.

For riders looking at the used motorcycle market, Touring models with fixed fairings generally hold their value quite well if kept in good condition. A 5-year old Road Glide or Street Glide with reasonable miles can often be found for around $15,000 to $18,000.

Older models from the 1990s and 2000s with fixed fairings tend to trade for $7,000 to $12,000 depending on condition, miles, and desirability.

One advantage of the fixed fairing models is that they provide an ideal platform for customization and upgrades. Many riders invest in new paint jobs, custom fairing artwork, upgraded stereos, and performance modifications.

Fairing accessories like vented wind deflectors, GPS mounts, and auxiliary lighting are also popular additions. When pricing out a used fixed fairing bike, be sure to account for any aftermarket parts and upgrades.

Overall the sleek, aerodynamic performance and long-distance comfort make Harley's fixed fairing touring bikes a prized model category for many riders. The polished style and prestige carry a premium price tag, but one within reach for serious motorcycle enthusiasts.

Rider Perspectives on Fixed Fairings

Harley-Davidson riders have strong opinions when it comes to fixed fairings. For many, the sleek, integrated look of a fixed fairing is a huge draw.

"I love the smooth, flowing lines of my Road Glide's fixed fairing. It just looks like it was designed that way from the factory," said one rider.

However, others argue the large fairings detract from a motorcycle's raw, mechanical nature.

"Give me a bare-bones Dyna over a gigantic batwing any day," commented another rider.

Beyond aesthetics, riders passionately debate the functional pros and cons of fixed fairings. Owners praise the wind and weather protection fixed fairings provide, especially on long highway rides.

"My arms and upper body stay completely relaxed, even at 80 mph winds," shared one touring rider.

The ample windshield helps divert wind up and over riders' heads. Yet some argue this can create neck strain after hours on the road.

"I'm constantly bobbing my head like a pigeon to see clearly," joked one rider.

While superior aerodynamics provide a smoother ride, some riders feel isolated from the elements.

"You lose that connection to the road and your surroundings," explained a Road Glide owner.

The fairings also add considerable weight. But fans counter that the weight difference is negligible and worth the benefits.

When it comes to function versus form, there's no consensus among Harley riders. For serious long-distance touring, most agree the comfort and wind protection of fixed fairings can't be beat. Yet plenty of riders opt for style over miles.

As one owner put it,

"I'll gladly sacrifice some wind protection to show off my sweet custom paint job!"

At the end of the day, a rider's needs and preferences dictate whether a fixed fairing enhances or detracts from the Harley experience.

SUM UP

Harley-Davidson's fixed fairing models offer riders unparalleled comfort, style, and performance. With their sleek, integrated designs that cut through the wind, fixed fairings set Harleys apart from other touring bikes.

The iconic Road Glide and Street Glide models are the most famous examples, instantly recognizable for their sharknose fairings.

For riders who log serious miles, the wind and weather protection afforded by a fixed fairing can't be overstated. The reduction in wind buffeting and turbulence means less fatigue, allowing you to ride longer distances in comfort.

The aerodynamic shape also boosts fuel efficiency considerably compared to unfaired models.

While fixed fairings excel at highway speeds, they do trade off some low-speed maneuverability and visibility. But for devoted touring riders, the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks.

When it comes to cruising the open road in style and comfort, Harley's fixed fairing models are hard to beat. They represent the pinnacle of American motorcycle engineering and design.

If you're looking for an iconic, highly capable touring bike, Harley-Davidson's Road Glide, Street Glide or Road King should be at the top of your list. With their custom paint options and abundant accessories, you can create a fixed fairing Harley that's uniquely your own.

Just be sure to keep up with regular fairing maintenance and cleaning to keep your bike looking its best on the highway. Ride on!


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