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Motorcycle Air Filter Function

A motorcycle’s internal combustion engine is an air-breathing engine. It needs a constant supply of air to burn petrol effectively and drive the engine, and it gets that air from the environment around the bike. The problem is that air is full of dust and other impurities that can wreak havoc on your engine’s performance. This is especially important for dirt bike riders, who might need to clean the filter after every ride, but you can pick up a lot of dust just by riding along dusty roads. While some motorcycle modders insist that removing the air filter can increase engine power, the benefits are minor at best and probably not worth tearing up your engine for.

Air Filter Construction

Motorcycle air filters should filter out dirt and dust while still allowing plenty of airflow, so they tend to be made from fibrous materials. Stock air filters are often made from paper. While they can be cleaned up to a point by taking them out and blasting them with compressed air, they’re cheap enough that they tend to be treated as disposable. Foam filters are another popular option and are more cleanable than paper filters. Cotton air filters are the premium option. They last a long time and can be used over and over again so long as they are cleaned, and sometimes come soaked with special oil to increase their dirt filtration capability. Air filters also come in different shapes. Cone-shaped, trapezoid and oval motorcycle air filters are all available.

Cleaning Motorcycle Air Filters

Most bike air filters can be cleaned when they get dirty, saving your from having to replace them straight away. Regular cleaning or replacement ensures that the right amount of air always gets to your engine. Paper filters can’t really be cleaned, but taking them out and blowing compressed air through might buy you some more time. Foam filters can be cleaned more effectively using special filter solvents, most of which are petroleum-based, or gentle household chemicals like detergent. Foam filter oils can be harmful, so wear gloves. Cotton air filters also need to be cleaned with special solvents and then re-oiled to keep them performing at peak effectiveness.

Pod Filters

Open motorcycle air filters or pod filters are a favourite among some motorcycle modders. While regular filters have to fit the motorcycle’s stock air box, a pod filter replaces it entirely and clamps on to the engine intake. This allows them to fit any suitably modified bike and opens up the range of shapes available. By increasing air flow by removing the restrictive air box, the idea is that the pod filter will allow the engine to produce more power. On the other hand, motorcycle engines tend to be built on the assumption that they will be used with the stock air box. Installing a pod filter can mean having to do quite extensive work on the jetting to ensure the correct fuel to air ratio.

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