Motorcycle Performance Boost: Right Air Cleaner Tips

Boosting your motorcycle’s performance is a goal many bike enthusiasts share. One key factor in realizing this goal is the right air cleaner. By enhancing the air intake, you can significantly impact your motorcycle’s performance enhancement, resulting in a more powerful and smoother ride.

Boosting Your Motorcycle’s Performance with the Right Air Cleaner

In simple terms, an internal combustion engine functions as a large air pump, taking in air and expelling it. While, ideally, engines wouldn’t require air filters, the reality is that roads, on and off, are filled with dirt and other particles that, if introduced into the engine, could lead to serious damage or costly repairs. Despite well-designed intake systems in many modern motorcycles, stock paper filters often limit the engine’s air intake, diminishing power. In this guide, we’ve compiled various aftermarket air filter options to optimize your motorcycle’s breathing capacity. The primary benefit is increased power, but some filters may also enhance fuel efficiency and offer long-term savings, as certain models are washable and reusable. Prices vary depending on the specific application.

1. Editor’s Pick: K&N

K&N stands out as a leading name in aftermarket air filters, owing its success to a unique filter medium developed during the demanding conditions of desert motocross racing. This special filter design has played a pivotal role in establishing K&N’s prominence within the industry.

The washable and reusable high-flow cotton gauze air filter is crafted to endure the entire lifespan of a motorcycle engine. K&N’s air filters feature four to six layers of cotton gauze sandwiched between two sheets of aluminum wire mesh. This media is then pleated and treated with oil to enhance its filtering capabilities and overall performance. The outcome is an air filter that significantly increases airflow into the engine, can be washed and reused, and provides long-term protection for your engine throughout your motorcycle’s life. Compatible with nearly any motorcycle, K&N also offers race versions of its filters with fewer gauze layers to allow even more airflow. However, it’s important to note that using a race filter may necessitate adjustments to your motorcycle’s jetting or EFI settings.

2. Arlen Ness

The Arlen Ness Inverted air filter is specifically crafted for use with the company’s Inverted air cleaner, catering to a diverse range of cruiser applications. Although not universally compatible, it has a broad reach. The Inverted filter is entirely synthetic and water-resistant, eliminating the need for oiling. It can be conveniently washed and reused, serving as the ultimate air filter for your bike. Handcrafted in the USA, each filter boasts an inverted pleated top and pleated sides to optimize airflow from all directions.

3. Maxima

For off-road enthusiasts, the Maxima Ready-to-Use Air Filters simplify the tedious chore of cleaning and oiling air filters, rendering it a thing of the past. Priced at just $11, these filters are so affordable that you can skip the hassle of washing and re-oiling – simply opt for a new one! However, don’t be deceived by the low price. Each RTU filter is crafted from dual-layer, pre-oiled reticulated foam. Reticulation is a process that opens up the foam cells, enhancing airflow for increased horsepower. The dual foam layers include a dense inner foam to capture fine sand and dust particles, while the outermost foam features a more open pore matrix to filter larger micron dirt particles. The seams of the RTU Air filter are bonded with industrial-strength adhesive and come equipped with a rubber grommet to securely attach the filter to the cage, preventing tearing and preserving the filter’s structural integrity.

4. Twin Air Factory

Twin Air filters are highly regarded in the off-road community, known for delivering optimal filtration and exceptional airflow. These filters consist of two layers of open-pore foam fused together, featuring a coarse-foam outer shell flame laminated with a fine-foam inner core. This seamless one-piece design ensures both functionality and durability. Twin Air filters are specifically engineered to enhance air volume around the filter, thereby improving intake airflow. The result is increased power for your engine, as validated by flow bench tests, which demonstrate elevated airflow and reduced susceptibility to clogging for Twin Air filters.

5. Uni

Anyone who has tinkered with a couple of carburetors is surely acquainted with the red Uni air filter pod. This versatile two-stage clamp-on filter securely attaches to your motorcycle’s carburetor (verify the part number to ensure the right diameters for your specific application). Its angled configuration is particularly helpful in addressing clearance issues for certain models. The filter employs a two-stage design with a black inner foam, and the outer red foam can be left either oiled or dry based on the prevailing conditions. It’s crucial to double-check your jetting after installing the filter.

6. BMC

For riders seeking optimal performance, BMC offers a range of Air Filters designed for various sport and sporty-bike applications. Crafted through an exclusive molding process, these filters boast a seamless design, with the distinctive red rubber being highly flexible to ensure a secure airtight seal within the air box. The multi-layered cotton elements, saturated with low viscosity oil, effectively filter particulates down to seven microns. Despite this thorough filtration, overall airflow surpasses that of OEM paper elements. Enhance the efficiency of the air intake to maximize the engine’s power output. It is essential to check EFI or carburetor calibration post-installation to fully capitalize on the advantages of the filter.


How do you clean motorcycle air filters?

If you have the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) paper air filter installed, start by removing the filter from the motorcycle and shake it to eliminate loose dirt or grime on the surface. Next, use compressed air to blow away any remaining particles trapped in the filter. However, it’s important to note that this is only a temporary solution. If you prefer to use a cleanable and reusable filter, opt for a suitable cotton or polyester filter and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, this involves rinsing with water, allowing it to dry, applying a solvent, and using compressed air.

What does the air filter do on a motorcycle?

The primary function of the air filter is to capture and separate any dirt, grime, or other particles that could potentially harm the engine, preventing them from entering the cylinder head or combustion chamber.

How do you change the air filter on a motorcycle?

Replacing the air filter on a motorcycle is a straightforward task. In certain cases, such as with cruisers, the air filters are conveniently visible on the side of the engine. Alternatively, they may be concealed beneath the fuel tank or other body panels. Your motorcycle’s owner’s manual or factory service manual provides precise instructions on the location and access method for the air filter.


In conclusion, improving your motorcycle’s performance is significantly influenced by the right air cleaner. From Arlen Ness’s Inverted filter to BMC’s unique molding process, each option offers unique approaches to enhancing airflow and filtration. Remember, the key to motorcycle performance enhancement lies not only in the choice of air cleaner but also in proper maintenance and fitting. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results and maximum performance.

Kenneth Cutler

Kenneth Cutler is the founder and head editor at Clean My World. Based in California, he has been writing about home cleaning and cleaning appliances for quite some time and various major brands such as Miss Mill Mag and Lifestyle Magazine. Over the years, Kenneth Cutler has reviewed thousands of vacuum cleaners and other related home appliances and products. This enabled him to develop a unique insight into what makes a good vacuum cleaner. He keeps an eye on the market trends and USA regulations. Apart from talking about cleaning stuff, he likes to play music and enjoys live concerts.

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