Motorcycle air filters are an essential part for your bike. When working properly, an air filter traps dirt and other particulate matter, preventing the same from entering into your engine. When an air filter is clogged or dirty, it can affect engine performance and fuel economy.
Here’s what you need to know about motorcycle air filters and how to clean or replace one.
Find Your Air Filter
Your bike’s air filter may be found by removing the air filter cover on the side of the engine. Alternatively, you may have to remove the gas tank if the manufacturer placed it there.
If you’re not sure where the air filter is located, then consult your owner’s manual. This would also be a good time to review other maintenance issues that can be dealt with while you replace or clean your filter.
Paper or Cotton?
Most stock air filters are pleated, paper-based filters. This means when they’re dirty or clogged, they must be removed and replaced. For most bikers that change is conducted once or twice per year, but you need to follow the maintenance schedule to determine the change interval. On the other hand, if the filter is dirty, then simply replace it.
Some motorcycles are outfitted with a sponge or cotton-gauze air filter, although these are usually installed as an aftermarket part. With a sponge air filter you will clean it and reuse it just once or twice.
With a cotton-gauze air filter, you’ll be able to use it multiple times. Indeed, quite possibly the cotton filter may outlast the life of your motorcycle. By using a cotton filter, you’ll also send fewer disposable paper filters to landfills.
Cotton or high-flow air filters are designed to provide increased horsepower and acceleration. Also, such filters may improve filtration, are washable and reusable and are pre-oiled initially and ready for use.
As for cleaning your cotton filter, remove it from the air box, taking care to not allow debris to slip inside. Cover the top of the box with towels, especially if the filter will be out of your bike for an extended time. Spray the provided solvent on the filter to break down the detritus, and allow the filter to air dry for a few hours or overnight.
Once dry, coat the cotton fibers with new filter oil. Lastly, remove the protecting towels from the air box, re-insert the cotton filter and secure the cover over the box.
If your bike is idling roughly and seems to have lost its performance edge, then the problem may be as simple as changing the air filter. Without clean air, your motorcycle will not reach its optimal performance levels.
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Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.