In essence, an internal combustion engine is just a big air pump. Air comes in, then air goes out again. In a perfect world, engines wouldn’t even need air filters, but as we all know, there’s a ton of dirt, grime, and other airborne crud on the roads (or off the roads!) which, if ingested by your engine, could spell terminal damage. Or at least a lofty repair bill. Many of today’s motorcycles have well-designed intake paths and airboxes, but in many cases the stock paper filter element restricts the amount of air your engine could be breathing, robbing power in the process. Here we’ve gathered some aftermarket air filter options to help your motorcycle breathe as best it can. Of course, the most obvious plus side in doing so includes gaining more power, but in some cases you can achieve better fuel mileage. You can even save money in the long run, too, as some aftermarket filters are designed to be washable and reusable. See our top picks for best motorcycle air filter below, and remember, the prices will vary depending on the application.


K&N

K&N air filters

When it comes to aftermarket air filters, no name is more recognized than K&N. The secret to their success lies in the unique characteristics of the filter medium which was originally developed by K&N all those years ago in the dust, sweat and tears of desert motocross racing.

The high flow cotton gauze air filter is washable, reusable and built to last for the life of a motorcycle engine. K&N air filters consist of four to six sheets of cotton gauze layered between two sheets of aluminum wire mesh. This media is then pleated and oiled to enhance its filtering capabilities and overall performance. The result is an air filter that allows dramatically more air into an engine, is washable and reusable, and will protect your engine for the life of your ride. Available for almost any motorcycle, K&N also offers race versions of its filters with fewer sheets of gauze to allow more air in. But be warned; using a race filter may require tuning to your motorcycle’s jetting or EFI settings.

Shop for K&N air filters here here


Arlen Ness

Arlen Ness air filters

The Arlen Ness Inverted air filter is designed specifically for the company’s Inverted air cleaner, which has applications for a wide variety of cruisers. So while this obviously isn’t a universal application, the net is still cast relatively wide. Regardless, the Inverted filter is a fully synthetic, water-resistant piece which never needs oiling – you can simply wash and reuse, making it essentially the last air filter your bike will need. Each filter features an inverted pleated top with pleated sides to maximize airflow by pulling in from every angle, and each filter is handmade in the USA.

Shop for Arlen Ness air filters here here


Drag Specialties

Drag Specialties air filters

A plug-n-play replacement, the Drag Specialties Air Filter For Harley-Davidson is an American made air filter producing real performance gains, all with the ease of a drop-in installation. Four layers of a unique blue, cotton gauze offer the highest levels of filtration needed for engine longevity and durability, while offering greater airflow than a stock paper filter. As dirt accumulates over time, you simply wash it and re-oil, allowing the filter to last for many years.

Shop for Drag Specialties air filters here here


Maxima

Maxima air filters

For the dirt guys, the Maxima Ready-to-Use Air Filters make the frustrating task of cleaning and oiling air filters a thing of the past. At $11, they’re so cheap you don’t need to worry about washing and re-oiling – just buy a new one! But don’t let the price fool you. Every RTU filter is constructed of dual-layer, pre-oiled reticulated foam. Reticulation is a process that opens up the foam cells, allowing for increased air flow and more horsepower. The dual foam layers consist of a dense inner foam to catch the fine particles of sand and dust, whereas the outermost foam is constructed of a more open pore matrix to filter larger micron dirt particles. The RTU Air filter seams are welded with industrial strength adhesive and come with a rubber grommet to help secure the filter to the cage which eliminates tearing and maintains the structural integrity of the filter.

Shop for Maxima air filters here here


Twin Air Factory

Twin Air Factory air filters

A fan favorite in the dirt world, Twin Air filters provide maximum filtration and superior airflow. Constructed from two layers of open-pore foam which are bonded together, a coarse-foam outer shell is flame laminated with a fine-foam inner core, resulting in a one-piece design that is both functional and durable. Twin Air filters are also designed to increase air volume around the filter to improve airflow into the intake. More air means more power for your engine. Flow bench tests have proven that Twin Air filters provide increased airflow while reducing the filter’s tendency to clog, says Twin Air.

Shop for Twin Air Factory air filters here


Uni

Uni air filters

Anybody who has messed with a carburetor or two before is definitely familiar with the red Uni air filter pod. This universal two-stage clamp-on filter clamps directly to your motorcycle’s carburetor (check part number for correct diameters for your application), and its angled design helps with clearance issues for some models. The two-stage design uses a black inner foam, while the red outer foam can be left oiled or dry depending on the conditions. Be sure to check your jetting after installing the filter.

Shop for Uni air filters here here


BMC

BMC air filters

For the performance-oriented rider, there’s a BMC Air Filter for nearly any sport or sporty-bike application. Manufactured using a proprietary molding process that yields a truly seamless part, the characteristic red rubber is very pliable and conformable to ensure an airtight seal within your air box. Low viscosity oil saturates multi-layered cotton elements to filter out particulates down to seven microns, yet overall flow is increased in comparison to OEM paper elements. Maximize the efficiency of the air entering your engine to maximize the power coming out of your engine. As always, be sure to check EFI or carburetor calibration after installation to maximize the filter’s advantages.

Shop for BMC air filters here here


Sprint

Sprint air filters

Sprint Filter air filters are the only filters in the world with patented technology making them waterproof. The weave of the fabric guarantees an amazing filtration power of 37μm, that, combined with its waterproof properties, makes this type of air filter particularly suitable for use in demanding conditions with the presence of mud. Making Sprint Filters even more attractive is the fact you can clean them simply with compressed air. No oiling is required, so once you’re done cleaning, simply let the filter air dry and stick it back on your bike. All bikes can benefit from a Sprint Filter, as the Motorcycle.com team put one on a Honda Grom for a 24-Hour race and were pleased with the results.

Shop for Sprint air filters here here


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