The Aluminum Fairing

Chapter 1: What, Why and When

We change... our needs change

Feb 17, 2010: #10 Prototype Alcan Fairing on Carol's BMW

The past Plastic-Fantastic Vetter Era resulted in some pretty neat stuff:
1969: I wanted to show Triumph what American riders wanted their motorcycle to look like:
1971: I wanted to design one fairing that would fit every motorcycle.
1966: I wanted a fairing to ride cross country on my Yamaha 305. The Series 1000 Fairing was the
The Windjammer became the most popular fairing ever made.
The Triumph Hurricane became a classic.
beginning of Vetter Fairings.
I am often asked to design a new Windjammer. Or a new Hurricane. I can't do that because it would be going backwards.

The world has changed. I have changed.

Today I want simple
If you have been following my economy experiments, "The Last Vetter Fairing" is at the cutting edge of the best design for fuel economy. This project is temporarily stalled out because:

I need to begin over with a bike with 14 horsepower.

There is no suitable 14 hp bikes sold in the US today.

I guess Americans think they need more. I need a fairing to ride to Anchorage.

Looks like it back to the fairing I was developing for my KLR and Carol's BMW.

"I want to be able to change the headlight at WalMart for $8.00"

I want easy maintenance. I want utility. I want rugged durability.

I want a fairing designed to take on the Alcan highway.

And, I want it to keep me warm and dry.

Vetter Alcan Fairing... a simple solution

Designing and making the Alcan Fairing:

I have had the best success designing for myself.

Does anyone else care about utility?

Grinding the belly pan for the Alcan Fairing
Starting over: 2006 sketch
There I am, grinding body putty just like 40 years ago. Some find it surprising that I actually do this... How else can it be done right?
Alcan Prototype #12 on my new KLR

Aluminum alloy is a good material for strength and durability. Witness the popularity of aluminum storage boxes on dual-sport bikes. Flat sides and simple radius curves and are inherently strong. This main frame made of aluminum is very strong.

Plastic parts are supported by the aluminum frame have no stress on them.

Here it is clipped together on my KLR. You get the idea.

I am pleased that the same parts fit both the KLR and the BMW. The goal is to design a modern fairing that fits all bikes.

The ultimate test: Will it fit a cruiser?

My friend Larry loves his Yamaha V-Star. Would the Alcan fairing work on his cruiser?

His bike has very different proportions. His seating position is very different.

There is not much is similar to the KLR or BMW.

However, my fairings are designed for people, not motorcycles. We people are a similar sze.

Will it fit?

Stay tuned and find out.

Happy Larry contemplating a new way to cruise
It certainly fits my Alaskan-bound KLR
The air likes to pass around simple shapes. The Alcan is a simple shape.

March 24, 2010: I took my first ride this morning... about 40 degrees. Absolutely without wind. Warm. This new KLR is much quieter than the earlier version.

What is the Alcan Fairing going to do for mileage? I have never ridden this thing until now. Already I can see that it needs to be geared up. I have ordered a 39 T rear sprocket (stock is 43) and a 16 T front (stock is 15) to slow the engine down. I suspect it will be a major improvement.

More images of the Alcan Fairing
Henry, test riding Alcan Fairing #5 on his BMW, observed that he no longer tripped the speed signs on Highway 101. Is this a radar defeating shape? Could it be the simple, rounded aluminum nose? Time will tell.
Secret revealed: The Alcan "Air-Bearing"

One of the design problems I had in the past was keeping the fairing close to your hands while still allowing full lock turning. An Air Bearing allows the top portion to be close to the bars and turn. The lower portion remains fixed to the frame providing legendary rider protection.

Full Lock turning

Full fairing protection

The Alcan Fairing represents 40 years of fairing design experience

It will probably fit any motorcycle made. Which brings up many questions. Would anybody want an Alcan Fairing? If so, what bikes would people want it for? Should it be a kit? ( Does anybody make model airplanes anymore? ) It would certainly cost less if it was a kit. Or, should it be completely finished? In Windjammer days, you could figure that a basic Windjammer represented about 15% of the cost of the bike. That would make a completed Alcan about $750. Is that high or low?

It is time for answers and decisions.

What do you think?

I welcome your thoughts

Some responses to my appearance on Sidestandup, April 6, 2010:

(click on Episode 170; I begin at 1 hr 26 minutes)

Mr. Vetter: I just wanted to drop a line to you in response to your great interview on SideStand Up with Tom and Tim. I enjoyed listening to the interview and took some time tonight to read through much of your website. I personally love the overall look of the Alcan designs and think that despite what you said I think it has plenty of "style". I guess I am just a function over form sort of fellow and find things with function have style to me.

I think that if you build it they will buy.

I would be highly interested in one myself if it was within my slightly limited budget.

I look forward to hearing future interviews with you on SideStand Up if you get the chance and I will be keeping my eye on the website for updates on the Alcan project.

Thank you, Jason

Thank you, Jason. Stay tuned

Derek writes:

Mr. Vetter,

I just finished listening to your interview with Tim Yow on Side Stand Up. Your fairing design is very interesting. I'm a long distance rider and currently own an older KLR 650. I think it's a very interesting design. I like how you solved the clearance issue by making the top half rotate with the bars. If the price wasn't too much I would purchase one of these if available.

You asked for some feedback so here is what I would be looking for in a fairing for my KLR.

Would the fairing hold up in a low speed crash?

Vetter answers: How could anybody answer such a question? The way I figure it is that the main structure is aluminum. It is not likely to catastrophically crack and let you down in an accident. Most likely, it could be pounded out on the road to get you home. Later it could be replaced cheaply.

Would it protect the radiator/engine case/brake and clutch levers?


I use my KLR for gravel roads and anticipate going down occasionally. If the fairing could provide this protection it would solve the need to purchase all the other protection bits we end up buying.

There is clearance to place a screen on the fairing, in front of the radiator. Good idea. Maybe I should install screens on ours before we depart.

Would it be easy to remove the lower fairing for maintenance on the road?

4 screws. Easy.

How much would it weigh?

Don't know... have not weighed it. The aluminum is .100" thick. Certainly strong enough. Could it be thinner? Maybe. Then it would be lighter. We won't have an accurate weight until it is refined. Then we can weigh the stuff I take off, weigh the Alcan Fairing stuff we put on and get a net difference.

I'd want a fairing that could be removed without too much trouble for the occasional roadside troubleshooting. Weight could be an issue on the KLR and lighter is always better off the paved road.

You and I think alike.

Different windshield heights would also be nice. Or better yet some type of adjustable shield.

For now, different heights will have to be made. With a kit windshield you could make it the height you want.

Kit vs finished? I'd prefer kit form to save a few dollars. As long as it didn't require any specialized tools or knowledge to build.

A kit would probably be like 1950s model airplane kit... (the last time I made model airplanes) If it is a kit, the hard parts will be already formed. You gotta have some knowledge to build such a kit... like, can you use a sabre saw... drill holes... sand and paint, etc?.

I wish you the best success with your new design and hope it makes it to market.

Thanks, Derek

Thank you, Derek. Even if Carol and I have the only two Alcans in the world, we will be happy. Really, it is a great fairing.

Updated April 8, 2010

Posted Feb 17, 2010

Introduction to the Alcan Fairing

Jan. 14, 2010

Chapter 1: What, Why and When?

Feb 17, 2010

Chapter 2: Getting serious

Aprl 10, 2010

Chapter 3: Combining the Alcan with the Vetter Streamliner

Nov 5, 2010