A Basic Overview of Motorcycle Air Filter Cleaning

If you own a motorcycle, you should know by now that cleaning and/or replacing the air filter is one of the most important routine maintenance jobs you can do. You should also know that only foam and fabric air filters are meant to be cleaned and reused, but not paper filters. 

Dirty motorcycle air filter

A motorcycle’s air intake is essentially the lungs of the machine. If the engine isn’t getting enough clean air because the air filter is dirty or clogged, it’ll lose power and performance. Regularly cleaning and periodically replacing your motorcycle’s air filter keeps your bike “breathing” properly, so to speak.

Buy foam and fabric air filter cleaner

Buy PJ1 fabric air filter cleaning kit

Benefits of Cleaning a Motorcycle Air Filter

As the name implies, the air filter filters air entering the motorcycle's engine to remove dirt and dust particles, which can build up to the point that not enough air passes through the filter for the bike to run properly. 

dirty dirt bike air filter

The conditions you ride your motorcycle in determine how often you should clean your bike’s air filter. For example, you may only have to clean the air filter in a street bike once a month, whereas the air filter in a dirt bike should be cleaned after every ride. Regularly checking the air filter enables you to discover tears in the filter that allow harmful particles into your bike’s engine. Replace paper air filters often, or clean your motorcycle’s reusable foam or fabric air filter frequently to protect the engine and improve gas mileage.

Fabric & Foam Air Filters vs Paper Air Filters

Fabric and foam air filters can be cleaned, oiled and reused, whereas paper air filters are only made for one-time use. Fabric air filters also offer better airflow and performance than paper filters, which is why many riders replace the stock paper filter with a high-flow fabric filter. 

fabric and foam motorcycle air filters

The fact that fabric and foam motorcycle air filters are reusable also makes them more cost-effective than paper filters, which constantly need to be replaced. If you’re going to get a reusable foam or fabric air filter for your motorcycle, make sure it’s compatible with your bike and that it’s manufactured by a reputable brand.

K&N is one of the most renowned and respected reusable air filter brands in the powersports vehicle industry. Watch the video above to learn more about K&N air filters and how to clean and oil them