An air filter is an essential part of the motorcycle as it helps to achieve safe internal combustion by filtering the dust from the air outside. Without the air filter, your motorcycle engine will have to take tolls that could lead to internal damage to parts. In this post, I am going to discuss air filters to help you understand their basics. First, let’s understand the job of an air filter in a motorcycle.
What does an air filter do on a motorcycle?
Clean air is essential for the optimum combustion of fuel in a motorcycle. That’s where Air FIlters comes into its role.
An air filter job is to filters out dirt, grime, and other airborne particles from the air allowing only the clean air to reach the engine and help combustion. Because of this, the combustion process goes smoothly and prevents damage to the internal parts.
The air filter works just like our nose, it inhales the fresh air by filtering out the unwanted particles to achieve combustion inside the engine without any problem.
Apart from filtering the dust from the air, air filters also contribute to the smoothness, and sound of the engine.
That’s the reason you should not remove the air filter or run your motorcycle without it. Because, if you run your motorcycle without an air filter, it could lead to internal damages to the engine components such as piston heads, pistons rings, etc.
Over time, all sorts of contaminants found on the roads, like dust, dirt, and other tiny particles get trapped on the air filter and so it becomes dirty which starts to affect the airflow. If the airflow got affected it will affect the combustion process, performance, and fuel mileage.
That’s the reason you should be replacing or cleaning the air filter on a motorcycle at a certain interval. That’s what I will be discussing next. But before that, I want to discuss the “types of air filters”.
Types of air filters used in motorcycles
Air filters are a crucial component for the motorcycle and have a very important role in running. Air filters are responsible for providing the engine with clean air, helping in the combustion. It traps all the dirt of the surrounding flowing with air outside and provides the engine with clean air. But there are many types of air filters depending on the motorcycle needs.
So, there are three types of air filters used in motorcycles:-
- Cotton Air Filters
- Foam Air Filters
- Paper Air Filters
Cotton Air Filters
Cotton Air filters are one of the best air filters out in the market. Its efficiency of trapping and filtering the dust particle is very reliable as these air filters are made from cotton fabric.
Cotton fabrics are strong, and breathing materials that can trap most of the dirt, dust, coming with air providing the best air filtration.
These air filters are used in high-performance motorcycles because of the best air filtration at a rapid rate that also provides better performance. So, if you want a high level of filtration and performance boost then you should go with the cotton Air filter.
Talking about maintenance, these are washable and can be easily cleaned and reused. You can also use an air filter cleaning kit to clean the cotton air filter properly. That’s why it is said that cotton air filters last more than the engine itself.
These filters are a little expensive than the other two air filters but considering the benefits, the price is justifiable.
Cotton Air filter should be cleaned every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or every year. But, if the air filter has become dirty then you should clean it before the 10,000 miles or so.
|Pros of Cotton Air Filter||Cons of Cotton Air Filter|
|Allows best air filtration||Very Expensive|
|Maintenance is easy as cotton filters are washable.|
|Cotton air filters are reusable so you don’t need to replace them.|
|Cotton air filters increase the performance.|
Foam Air Filter
Foam air filters are made from a very dense material that makes them effective for air filtering. These air filters can handle lots of dirt, grim, etc are good for dirtbikes, and be suitable for off-roading because of it. These are a little expensive but as these are washable and reusable thus it defines the cost very well. These air filters are immortal. You can reuse the foam air filter most of the time.
The Foam air filters are filled with oils that trap the dust coming with air. As time passes the foam air filters get dirty enough that all oil dries out. That’s where you need to wash and re-oiled these filters and resume them.
So, you don’t need to replace the foam air filters often but it needs to be clean often. For better air filtering, you should clean the foam air filter every 12,000 miles or every year depending on how dirty the foam filter has become.
|Pros of Foam Air Filter||Cons of Foam Air Filter|
|It is best for off-roading (for dirt bike riders).||Little expensive than paper filters|
|Foam air filters are washable and reusable.|
|It can long last because of being reusable.|
Paper Air Filter
It’s the most basic and cheapest air filter available on market. These air filters are mostly used in lower segment motorcycles.
It’s good for commuting motorcycles but should not be used in off-roading as they are not efficient in dirty conditions of off-roads. Paper Air filter is disposable in nature, when the paper filter gets filled with grime you will need to replace it with a new one. It’s because paper air filters cannot be cleaned, doing so can tear them apart.
So, you should replace the paper air filter every 6000 km – 7000 km. And, if you ride on dusty roads then you should consider replacing paper air filters before 6000 km for better results.
|Pros of Paper Air Filter||Cons of Paper Air Filter|
|Cheapest and most easily available filters||Paper air filters are not efficient in dirty conditions|
|Easy to maintain||Paper air filters are not good for off-roading bikes|
|It is disposable after a certain kms.|
How often should you change the air filter on a motorcycle?
Motorcycle air filters are the most crucial part of the vehicle as it provides clean air to our engine. But, as time goes on, the air filters become dirty filled with dirt and grime because of constantly filtering air. And, using a dusty air filter in your bike can hamper its performance and rob the bike’s mileage. That’s the reason we need to replace our air filters.
According to experts, “Motorcycle Air filters should be replaced or cleaned every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or every year”. It depends on the type of air filter you are using, the miles interval will vary according to that. Cotton air filters and foam air filters are reusable so you can clean them at 10,000 miles intervals or before that if you ride in a dusty area. While paper air filters are disposable so make sure to replace them after every 6000 km or so.
Here is the guide to change or cleaning the bike air filters in nutshell:-
Cotton Air Filter:- These air filters are aftermarket air filters manufactured by K&N. That’s why these cotton air filters’ life is more than the engine itself. You just have to clean them and reuse them again and again. You will have to buy a cleaning and re-oiling kit for a cotton air filter.
So, you should clean the cotton air filters every 10,000 miles or every year depending on how dirty the air filter has become. If the cotton air filter is dirty you can clean them before the specified mile’s range for the best result. But, if you don’t want to sweat then 10,000 miles is the interval for you.
Foam Air Filter:- These air filters are immortal. You can reuse the foam air filter most of the time. These foam air filters are filled with oils that trap the dust coming with air. As time passes the foam air filters get dirty enough that all oil dries out. That’s where you need to wash and re-oiled these filters and resume them.
So, you should clean the foam air filter every 12,000 miles or every year depending on how dirty the foam filter has become.
Paper Air Filter:- Paper Air filter is disposable in nature, when the paper filter gets filled with grime you will need to replace it with a new one. It’s because paper air filters cannot be cleaned, doing so can tear them apart.
So, you should replace the paper air filter every 6000 km – 7000 km. If you ride on dusty roads then you should consider replacing paper air filters before 6000 km for better results.
WWhat happens if you remove the air filter in a motorcycle?
There could be many reasons you want to remove the air filter but most probably you may be looking for a performance boost. But, removing the air filter from the motorcycle does more harm than doing any benefit.
If you are looking for a performance boost then there are air filters available in the market to provide you with the best airflow.
So, What will happen if you remove the air filter in a motorcycle? If you remove and run your motorcycle without an air filter, it could lead to wear to engineer parts such as piston heads, pistons rings, etc. You will also notice smoky exhaust and an increase in sound.
Here is what could happen if there is no air filter in your motorcycle.
- Without the air filter, all the dust, and airborne particles on the road will also enter along with air in the combustion chamber. Now, the dirt particle will get mixed with the fuel in the engine leading to incomplete combustion.
- The dust getting burned will lead to smoky exhaust.
- It can lead to damage of internal components such as cylinder walls, piston rings, piston block, etc
- It will also lead to reduced smoothness to the engine.
- Without an air filter you will notice an increase in sound.
So, I hope that now you understand the reason why air filters are used in the first place. Now, I have discussed most of the basics needed to know things about air filters; let’s wrap this up with a quick summary.
- The primary purpose of an air filter is to protect or shield the engine from the dust and debris entering with air and improve the airflow which will improve the combustion.
- It’s important to replace or clean the air filter on a regular interval to keep the air flow clean and restriction free.
- The best practice for replacing / cleaning air filters on motorcycles is 10,000 km to 15,000 miles.
- Cotton air filters and Foam air filters are reusable for a long time but these are more expensive than OEM air filters.
- Never run your motorcycle without the air filter as it can damage the engine internal components in the long run which can lead to several problems.