Does a Motorcycle Need a Front Fender?

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If you have purchased a motorcycle, you may have considered removing the front fender. Is this something that you can take off? What are the effects and consequences of removing the front fender? When I was building my first café racer I even searched for this question myself.

Does a motorcycle need a front fender? A motorcycle only needs a front fender if your state’s laws require it (which is rare) or if the front fender is used as a brace to stop your front forks from twisting. If it’s used as a brace and you still want to remove it then aftermarket low profile front fenders are sold online that are hardly visible.

Before doing almost anything with your motorcycle, it is best practice to do your research beforehand. As every motorcycle is different, certain things that are simple and doable on one model can be impossible or extremely difficult to do on another. The more that you know before trying to do something, the more successful you will be.

Whether Or Not A Motorcycle Needs A Front Fender

So, does your motorcycle actually require a front fender? This is very dependent on the state in which you live. This is a big reason why it is so important that you do your own research to ensure that your state does not have any fender removal restrictions.

Every state has very different laws regarding vehicles and motorcycles specifically. What is completely acceptable in many states could be illegal in another. It’s up to you to be aware of what is legal in your specific state so that you don’t do something that could end up giving you a fine.

Many websites contain lists of motorcycle specific traffic laws by state. By looking through these, you can find information about many different things on your motorcycle. You can find out about what is required for your headlights, taillights, fenders, helmets, reflectors, etc. These are a great thing to check when you are considering making a change to your motorcycle.

One great place to check for this information is AAA. This way you can check for your specific states laws on fenders.

Remember, that just because you saw someone do something online does not mean that you can necessarily do the same thing where you live. While most states do allow front fender removal, there are some that do not. That is why doing your research is so important. You do not want to get stuck with a big fine for breaking the law.

Benefits Of Having A Front Fender

If you are considering removing your front fender, what are the benefits of having one and what are the benefits of not having one? For starters, there are some motorcycles that utilize the front fender for stabilization. The front fender balances the force between the forks in the front of the bike.

Without this support, you can get very bad speed wobble. Not all bikes utilize the front fender in this manner, so it is important to look into your specific make and model to be sure that your motorcycle isn’t relying on the front fender for stability at speed.

Another great benefit of a front fender is that it protects you and the engine from all of the things on the road. Your tires will throw rocks and pebbles as you drive around. Your front fender will prevent those rocks and pebbles from hitting you and potentially the engine as well.

Especially for engines where the spark plug is placed in a very exposed location to the road, the front fender helps keep it protected from the elements and damage.

I once painted a motorcycle tank and took off the front fender during a restoration and then 2 weeks later I had a huge chip in the fresh paint from a rock flying up onto the tank. Front fenders are absolutely helpful, I just don’t particularly like the looks of most of them.

The last benefit is very opinion based. Some people just prefer the looks of the motorcycle with a front fender. If you like the way that it looks, feel free to just leave it on there. People generally take the front fender off for this exact same reason. They think that it looks better without it but that is completely up to you as the bike owner.

Benefits Of Taking Off Front Fender

So now what are the benefits of taking off the front fender? The real benefit to this is purely aesthetic. If you think that your motorcycle looks much better, than you can take it off without too much work.

As previously mentioned, it is important to check to see if your front fender offers any sort of stability to your motorcycle. If that is the case, you still will be able to take it off, but you will also need to add a brace to prevent the forks from twisting. There are braces like these available online for almost all bikes and they are relatively inexpensive.

Apart from that, there really are not many other benefits to removing the front fender. There is a very small weight reduction by taking it off. Although this weight reduction is so negligibly small that it really will not benefit the majority of people with motorcycles.

Generally, the reason for removing the front fender is just to make one’s bike either different from others or because they like the look. There is nothing wrong with this although this really does not offer any performance increases.

If this is something that you want to do, then go for it. While the pros are not much apart from a different look, the cons also are not a very big deal. Especially if you are someone who does not ride your motorcycle off-road or on wet surfaces often, the cons become even smaller. It is up to you to decide if this is something that you want or not.

How To Take Off The Front Fender

So how do you actually remove the front fender on your motorcycle? It is actually a fairly simple thing to do that you can do in minutes. You can actually do this without even taking the wheel off of your bike. First you will need to loosen up the fasteners on the fender. 

Getting the fender off past the forks is the trickiest thing to do from here. While the fender can flex and bend somewhat, it still will scrape the forks somewhat as you try to pull it out. If you are not careful, this can scratch the fender itself, although if you are taking it off for good you may not care.

One good way to avoid scratching the fender is to place blue painters tape over the edges where the fender could be scratched. That way the fender itself will be protected in case you ever want to put it back on afterwards.

To make things a little bit easier to remove, there always is the option of entirely removing your wheel as well. Although this is more work on your end, it decreases the likelihood that you scratch the fender and makes it easier for you to get it off without flexing the fender. Whichever way you decide to remove the fender is up to you.

It is also always a good idea to do your research on your specific motorcycle. Every bike is different and as such, some may require different things in order to get the fender off. While for most, it may be fairly easy to loosen up and remove, there are some that may require additional part removal in order to get off.

Looking online for your specific make and model is a great way to save yourself some time down the road. This way, there will not be any surprises for you as you go to remove your fender. You can know exactly what needs to be done, tips and tricks for doing things better, and exactly what size tools that you will need for the job before you even begin.

This is a big plus that is often overlooked. From these tutorials and videos you can also get great insight as to whether your specific bike will require any type of brace or anything else in order to have good stability while driving.

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

Kyle Cannon

Kyle currently works as a mechanical engineer and graduated with a minor in automotive engineering. He loves restoring motorcycles, has a vast knowledge of how they work, and has sold his restoration projects to customers from all over the United States.

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