By the beginning of the 1955 season (by which time Norton, AJS and NSU had officially ceased participation in the Worlds), the designs of each were already established. Full front wheel coverage was preferred on faster circuits and designs had become slimmer, though riders continued to complain about handling, especially when the wind was whipping up the track.
MV's plans were completely disrupted when their new leader, Ray Amm, suffered a catastrophic accident at Imola on his first appearance with the Italian firm. He succeeded on a bike fitted with a full dustbin in the 350cc race and found himself in second place, already a stone's throw from the lead.
MV did not recover until late in the season, when former Gilera rider Umberto Masetti cruised to victory at Monza, upsetting Reg Armstrong and Geoff Duke over the then-unbeaten Gileras. Just 1.6 seconds separated these three drivers at the finish line. Geoff said this about the race: “I lost the race because of the aerodynamics. It had enough of an edge, but the fairing put too much load on the fork, pushing it down, causing the front tire to wear excessively. At first we thought the problem was with the Avon tyres, but it completely disappeared when bump stops were fitted under the springs which stiffened the suspension and eliminated this tendency to nose down." Gilera later moved the position of its engines rearward to counteract this aerodynamic effect.
In 1956, private pilots also jumped on the "garbage can" bandwagon. Many copies of the designs of the official factories began to flourish. Thus, Norton, AJS, NSU, Horex, etc. could be seen. One of the first, a faithful copy of a Gilera, was built by the Swiss Hans Haldmann, a friend of Luigi Taveri, on a very fast Norton piloted by himself. That motorcycle was later bought by the Australian Keith Campbell.
Almost all of the leading riders in the four World Championship categories wore these full fairings; only Geoff Duke and John Surtees (the latter had just joined the MV team) often opted for semi-fairings for the slower circuits: Duke because he felt more at home riding his Gilera with this kit, and Surtees because the MV suffered from overheating problems. with this fairing closed.
That season was marred by Duke and Armstrong having their licenses withdrawn for six months for their support of privateer drivers in their claims over starting bonuses at the previous year's Duth TT. By the time they returned to racing, Surtees and his MV had almost the title in their hands, while in the other three categories, the bikes with dustbin fairings ruled uncontested. Only at the rear of the bikes were there differences. The brands that competed in 125 and 250 cc preferred aerodynamic tails. On the other hand, those who participated in 350 and 500 cc decided that closing this area did not offer any advantage.
The beginning of the end
These successes did not mean that the previous complete fairings were accepted by all. The debate was continuous. Were they safe? Were they good for the image of the motorcycle industry? Did the customer who bought a series motorcycle really want models like these? No no and no! The negative answers were gaining followers. The situation reached its limit when Roberto Colombo, the official MV driver in the lower categories, suffered a fatal accident at the Belgian GP. Blame was placed on these aerodynamic designs and the competition's governing body, the FIM, ended years of controversy by banning the 'dustbin' at the end of 1957.
Among the many riders who were delighted by this decision was Geoff Duke, the star rider of this era, who had won six World Championships with Norton and Gilera during the years when aerodynamics developed from simple nose cones to full-blown fairings. Geoff once told his version: “I never liked riding those bikes. They were dangerous to ride in gusty winds and I didn't see any point in them. They gave you an artificial advantage, but since everyone had them, you couldn't be less. The sport gained a lot when they were banned. Speaking of the speed advantages these fairings provided, Geoff said: “They helped a lot, almost 15 mph on my Gilera. But I remember that it was a very wide bike with that four-cylinder engine. At the French Grand Prix, in Reims in 1955, I reached 260 km/h, while without this fairing I don't think I would have exceeded 235 km/h”.
On the Isle of Man, Geoff always preferred the front semi-fairing: “In 1955 I tried both models at the TT. In good conditions the bike was 15 seconds quicker with the full fairing, but I preferred not to take the risk in the weather and opted for the naked version for the race,” explains Duke. He won the race and came within a second of completing the first lap of the island at an average speed of 100 miles per hour.
As for the downsides, Geoff says: “In the wind, I think they were just dangerous bikes. I remember a very windy race, in Reims in 1955. I was miraculously saved. Almost at the end of a long straight, at about 250 km/h, I was met by gusts of wind that pushed me off the tarmac. As hard as I pulled on the steering there was no way to get it straight. The least I can tell you is that I felt a little scared”.
When asked about the handling, Duke explains the following: “You couldn't throw the bike like in a naked version, and the extra top speed forced you to mount a six-speed box to get the most out of it. But we only had five ratios, so accelerating hard out of slow corners, with these long ratios, was a problem. Also the brakes suffered a lot and made us think about the possibility of mounting a set of discs. Girlings had good brakes of this type in car racing, but when I contacted them, they wanted nothing to do with it”
Geoff revealed that “the only ones who really wanted the 'dustbin' fairings used was Moto Guzzi, as they had their own wind tunnel”. In this sense, Bill Lomas, a Guzzi rider at the time (350 cc World Champion in 1956 and 1957), fully agrees: “Our fairings did not have the same lateral problems as the rest. They were low and rounded and I never had any problems with the wind”.
Bill rode for Moto Guzzi in record-breaking competitions in 1957. Riding the official eight-cylinder (which replaced the short-lived four-cylinder) in racing configuration, he set the world record for 10 km from a standing start with an average speed of 243, 51 km/h, with a maximum of 286.45 km/h in the last kilometer.
And that on a narrow track south of Rome. It reached over 290 km / h and the handling was commendable. “It was a shame they were banned," Bill confesses.
But the majority agreed with this measure. It was cheaper for both brands and private teams, and meant a less likely part to break. What is certain is that racing became safer and, perhaps most important of all, spectators were able to see real bikes again.