Good as new
One Mistake Away
At any given trackday, half or more of the participants are riding the same motorcycles that they use daily for street riding duty. It's no secret that crashes can and do occur at the track and as we all know, even the gentlest of tipovers can do thousands of dollars in damage to that fragile eggshell of stock bodywork. While fiberglass race fairings are the traditional answer for track duty, their lack of provisions for lighting renders the bike unusable for the road. Obviously, riders who also use their machine for the street need a better solution.
What is This Stuff?
ABS Fairings (find them on Facebook, by phone at 1-540-FAIRING and at their website, http://www.absfairings.com/ ) is a Florida-based company which sells stock-equivalent bodywork that is made in China. Upon hearing this, your first two thoughts are probably “eBay” and “Low quality.” You’d be wrong on both counts. The people at ABS Fairings are quick to point out that the bodywork you see for a “Buy it now” price is not produced by their company and also that these auction fairings are of inferior quality. Why? It’s about material choice. ABS Fairings bodywork is made from 100% ABS plastic, which is what the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) use. Lesser bodywork can contain up to 50% PVC plastic in its composite. What does this mean to you? A blend containing PVC is weaker and less flexible, thus making it prone to issues such as chipping, cracking and broken off mounting tabs By contrast, the use of 100% ABS plastic means that the bodywork which ABS Fairings sells is an identical match for what came stock on your motorcycle in terms of fit, flexibility and dimension. It’s so good that you could mix and match the OEM parts with ABS Fairings replacements if you were collecting panels for a paintjob. Once everything was the same color, you’d never be able to tell OEM from aftermarket.
What Do You Get?
An ABS Fairings body kit is amazingly complete. The bike we’re using for this test is a 2008 Suzuki GSXR 1000. Included were every painted part, the inner black plastic panels that hold all the outer stuff together, the radiator grill, the latching components for the solo tail hump, the gas tank side panel trim and even a big sheet of heat shield to be applied to the insides of the inner fairings. The only pieces not to have made the list were two small bits of trim that attach way down at the bottom by the rider’s toes, which we were easily able to do without. To be clear on the starting point for this project, our test bike’s entire set of stock bodywork landed in a dumpster back in 2010 and the machine has worn race fiberglass ever since. Everything you’re seeing in the accompanying photos came with the ABS Fairings kit.
Who Needs This Product?
If you’re riding a street bike at the track, bear in mind that the OEM replacement cost of your original bodywork is at least $3000. One mistake and you’re facing a big expense to repair your machine. The best insurance policy you can buy would be a set of ABS Fairings to use instead. In fact, you could reuse the outstanding packing material from the kit to wrap your valuable OEM parts for storage! If you were then to destroy the ABS Fairings kit, you’d only be out a third or less of what you’d have paid to buy OEM replacements and you’d still have the originals to rebuild the bike. On the other hand, maybe it’s time to sell your track warrior but the street body is long gone. The sad truth is that used track bikes are worth pennies on the dollar. You might be better off stripping the performance parts off for individual sale, buying an ABS Fairings kit and offering your machine in street legal trim. How feasible is this? The Gixxer shown here has been written off three times. Only the frame, engine, wiring harness and exhaust header are left from when the bike was originally assembled in Japan. Modern machines are designed to break apart, sacrificing everything that bolts on in order to preserve the core motorcycle. Our 1000 is proof that the system works. We equipped this survivor with subframe and fairing bracket replacements from MotoBrackets and to our delight, the ABS Fairings kit bolted up like the bike was brand new. As the pictures show, this repaired Suzuki would be the nicest looking specimen in any dealer’s used-bike inventory. Hooray for modern technology and inexpensive replacement parts!
Road and Track
Since so many people use their sportbikes for double duty, ABS Fairings has a number of options to cover all needs. You can buy their standard kit with openings for headlights and tail lights for $600 to $800, depending on the model. If you're looking for track-only bodywork, they'll fill in the headlight and taillights for an extra $99. The kit we're testing here serves double duty. For $129, both a standard panel which accommodates a headlight and one which has been filled in for track use are included. How cool is that?
This is where it really gets fun. Paint is included in the price. So what are your options? Sky's the limit! ABS Fairings will duplicate any MotoGP, WSB or AMA paint scheme of your choosing. Want a stock look? Send them a picture and they'll match it. Got an idea of your own? If you can draw or Photoshop it, ABS Fairings will make it happen. For this test set, we told them to do whatever they wanted. The company's representatives had seen our bike at Dealer Expo, where it was wearing yellow and black fiberglass. They whipped up the design you see here, which has received 100% approval and amazement from everyone who's seen it so far. It's a looker!
Negatives There's not much bad to say about the ABS Fairings body kit but nothing is 100% perfect. The paint used, while beautifully applied and lovingly clear coated, is not the premium stuff. Compare the finish of a Cadillac to that of a Chevrolet to understand what we mean here. The really awesome pearls, metallics and candies used in high-end paintjobs cost hundreds of dollars per gallon and require multi-step processes to apply them. It wouldn't be possible to supply an economically priced kit using high-end paint but there's no doubt that the spray-gun masters at ABS Fairing make the most of the chemicals they're given. As to the bodywork itself, the filled-in headlight is quite well done but it doesn't perfectly duplicate the contour of the lens it replaces. Honestly, you have to catch the light at exactly the right angle to notice this and we feel a bit picky to even mention it. Out back, the solo hump had been bonded to the tail. This complicated the mounting process and we'd have preferred if it was left as Suzuki intended. Finally, there were a few small areas of flash which needed to be removed from some of the black plastic parts. Curing this merely required a few moments work using a razor blade and sandpaper. Everything mentioned in this paragraph would come under the category of "nit picking." We'd give the quality of this kit 95 out of 100 points. Want better? Your local dealership will sell you a full set of genuine OEM plastic for three times the price.
Conclusion Are you intimidated by the task of mounting a fiberglass racing body? This ABS Fairings kit attaches just like stock so if you can take the originals off, you possess the skill set required to put these on. Would you like to preserve your machine's pristine set of stock plastics or replace a destroyed set? Here's your answer. Need to quickly swap back and forth between street and track while looking really good in both venues? The Road and Track kit fills your need.
What we like most about this product are its advantages in convenience and economy. Purchasing a set of fiberglass racing bodywork and then having it painted will cost you at least double what ABS Fairings charges for their track kit. Don't forget to include a day of your labor spent aligning and drilling all the mounting holes. Quality fiberglass kits can run $600 to $1000 in primer and undrilled. Next, consider how long you'll have to wait for the painter to finish the job. Even for the $600 to $1000 that you're paying him, he's probably not going to put all those wrecked cars in his body shop aside and do your parts first, is he? On the other hand, when you open the lid on this big box from China, you get instant gratification. You'll put the world on hold and begin installation immediately! A few hours later, you'll be madly posting pictures of your stunning custom paintjob. Garage time doesn't get much more gratifying than that.