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How To Clean Motorcycle Air Filter

Over time bikers may notice that their motorbikes aren’t working as efficiently as they once did. They may notice a decrease in power, an increase in fuel consumption, and an overall decline in the bike’s performance. This can be due to a few reasons. A common issue that can easily get overlooked would be the air filter of the bike.
The filter can accumulate irritants over the course of some time. Most of these filters are made to prevent substances from entering the engine of the motorcycle. These substances include:

  • dirt
  • dust
  • bacteria
  • pollen
  • mold

These impure substances can adversely affect the engine causing a decline in optimal performance. Filters work on the principle of filtering out the unwanted particles that can cause issues and allowing the purified air to pass through and enter the engine. Mostly these filters are situated on the sides of a bike. Next to the entry point of the air intake mechanism.
A working engine sucks air from the outside. Air passes through the filter. This allows clean air to enter. This purified air is important for the combustion of fuel and the optimal performance of your motorcycle. The buildup on a filter can affect a motorcycle greatly. It is recommended to get them replaced and cleaned regularly.

Types Of Filters

There are three types of filters which are paper, foam, or cotton filters. The main difference between these three comes down to whether they are reusable once cleaned or if they need to be replaced.

Paper Filters

Paper filters although cheap aren’t reusable. Replacing them once they get dirty is inevitable. As it is close to impossible to clean them. Once they get dirty they are thrown out and replaced by a new one. They also aren’t the most effective in cleaning the air as compared to the other options available.

Foam Filters

Foam filters fall in the reusable category. Which means they can be cleaned and reused. They are affordable. And also better at filtering the air. A drawback to this air filter would be they don’t allow much air to flow due to being very dense. They also require regular maintenance and cleaning. Since they decrease the airflow into the engine, once they start to get dirty this makes it significantly more difficult for the air to flow into the engine.

Cotton Filters

The best filter is the cotton filter. It too is a reusable filter but as compared to a foam one allows for more airflow into the engine. Cotton filters are long-lasting if taken care of properly. They are considerably more expensive than the other available options.
Although great in its effectiveness, cotton filters require proper filter cleaning kits, the price for the filter, the cleaning kit, and replacement filters can all add up to quite a pricy amount.

Regardless of how well you clean a filter, it will never be the same as before. Although it will still work better than an unclean filter. We recommend cleaning out and eventually replacing your filters. This helps your bike perform to the best of its ability.

Knowing When To Change Your Filter

When a filter gets dirty or has difficulty in allowing air to flow it exhibits signs of distress. These signs and symptoms can be mild at first but progress to detrimental if you turn a blind eye to them.
Signs of distress can be :

  • drop in the engine power
  • consuming more fuel than before
  • black smoke
  • an unusual noise
  • smell of fuel burning

If your bike is exhibiting these signs it might be time to have a look at your air filter.The best way to figure out when to change your air filter is to look at it. Hold your filter next to a light source. If light passes through, it may just need a cleaning. If no light can pass through it might be time to replace it. A good rule of thumb is to examine your bike’s filter every month. Replacing it yearly or every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.

Cleaning An Air Filter

Paper filters can’t be cleaned and need to be replaced. The cleaning process for foam and cotton filters is more or less the same.

Cleaning A Foam Filter

  • Remove the air filter and gently tap it to remove the build-up.
  • Soak it in warm water, making sure not to wring the foam.
  • Use a mild washing liquid during cleaning.
  • Rinse the filter thoroughly to remove the washing liquid.
  • Set aside to dry.
  • Once fully dried, soak the foam with filter oil.
  • Lightly squeeze out the excess oil.
  • Finally, return the air filter to the air-box.

Cleaning A Cotton Filter

  • Remove the air filter from the air-box, and tap to remove the grime.
  • Use the cotton filter cleaning liquid.
  • Allow it to sit on the air filter for the recommended time stated on the user manual.
  • Using warm water and a mild soap or cleaner carefully wash the filter.
  • Rinse the filter to remove the soap.
  • Leave it out to dry.
  • Once dried, apply the filter oil and wipe off the excess.
  • Then return the cotton filter to the air-box.

The benefit of cleaning out your filter will be favorable. It offers an increase in fuel efficiency, reduced carbon emission from the engine, optimizes the engines performance and prolongs the engine life. Putting in a little attention to regularly check and maintain your bike will ensure that it lasts a long time.

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