How Bike Air-Filters Can Help Boost Your Machine’s Performance

This might sound a little gross, but if you’ve ever blown your nose in private after breathing in a lot of dust all day, you know what comes out. Had you been breathing through your mouth, all of that rubbish would’ve ended up in your system and given you some sort of an infection. Bike air filters are just like your nose. They filter out all the unwanted particles in the air before it enters the engine, allowing only clean and pure air inside for better combustion, which results in better efficiency and smooth power delivery.

Had your bike’s engine been breathing through its mouth directly, which is the intake valve, in that case, impurities in the air would lead to incomplete combustion, higher fuel consumption, smoke from the exhaust, and in the worst case, an engine seizure. With the current quality of air around us, had it not been for an air filter, modern engines would never be as efficient, reliable and long-lasting as they are these days. So before we get to the topic as how bike air filters can boost the performance of your machine, let’s understand how it all works.

Most bike air filters are typically made of a single or multiple layers of filtrates which remove pollutants and particulate matter from the air before it enters the engine. Most air filters on a production bike are placed inside an air-box which is generally located on the sides of a bike, near the entry point of the engine’s air intake mechanism. When the engine is in operation, air which is being fed into the watertight engine casing has to pass through the air filter, where it gets cleared of any unnecessary particles which could damage the internals of the motor. Clean air is essential for optimum combustion of the fuel and efficient performance, your bike manual suggests cleaning and replacement of the filter at regular intervals.

Wonder what would happen if the filter is removed completely? All the impurities in the air will enter the engine, mix with the engine oil, and circulate around the internals. This can cause scratches or lead to friction which could chip away parts of metal from the internals, which would then mix with the oil. This hampers the otherwise smooth movement of the pistons inside the cylinder. In some cases, the piston could get jammed due to excessive thickening of the engine oil due to all the impurities, resulting in a seizure. Now that you know its importance, let’s understand how a good air filter can boost your bike’s performance.

Also Read: High Octane Fuel: Do You Need It? And How It Affects Your Bike’s Performance

Two types of bike air filters are commonly used. Most basic and even high-performance motorcycles use a paper type air filter, which is denser than the paper we use for other applications, but has enough pores to maintain efficient breathability. It is strong enough to allow large amounts of air which is sucked into the engine to pass through without tearing. There is generally a single or many layers folded together to create a maze, which allows air to be filtered many times before it enters the engine.

Some aftermarket performance filters available for production bikes are made up of layers of cotton gauze layered between sheets of aluminium wire mesh. Thousands of microscopic cotton gauze fibres naturally hold oil in suspension to create a powerful filtering medium. The filtering medium is able to capture and hold dust particles that are much smaller than the actual size of the opening in the fibres. Compared to a stock paper based filter which loads its surface with dust, there are multiple layers of fibres to hold the dust particles in a performance air filter.

Also Read: Five Must-Have Modern Features for a Performance Motorcycle

However, the most basic step towards ensuring that your bike’s engine performs at an optimum level is to keep the air filter clean and obstruction free at all times. This is vital, especially if you ride your bike in a dusty or heavily polluted environment. Installing a high-performance bike air filter will ensure that the engine breathes better, but there won’t be any perceptible changes in performance, unless you tweak the fuelling, modify the motor and the exhaust for increased performance. However, doing all of that is an arduous task which requires specialised skills and equipment.

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