The 3 Types of Air Filters Used in Motorbikes

Maintaining your motorbike to keep it in mint condition means attending to routine maintenance without fail. While the recommended maintenance schedule will be mentioned in your owner’s manual, there are three maintenance tasks you need to check on regularly that have a bearing on your motorbike’s performance. As an owner or would-be owner of a motorbike, you already know the importance of keeping your tyre pressure up to the mark and changing the oil regularly. Checking on and changing the air filter at regular intervals is as important.

Although not as easy to attend to as an oil change or tyre pressure check, air filters are not an expensive item to replace. It is an important component in your motorbike’s anatomy that keeps the engine from getting affected by particles in the air that is entering the bike. This is why air filters need to be kept clean and regularly replaced.

There is more than one type of air filter that can be used depending on the needs and conditions the motorbike will be running. Let’s look at three of them.     

There are three main types of filters used in motorbikes; paper pleat air filters, cotton gauze air filters and foam air filters.

Out of the three types, paper filters are the most commonly used by OEMs. It is popular with manufacturers because it is economical and easy to make. The paper filter is pleated to increase the filtering surface area. Because paper filters tend to get blocked easily, they need frequent replacing and are not the most suited to use if the motorbike is used in dusty terrain or environments.

Additionally, the paper pleats cannot be cleaned without damaging the thin porous paper. Once clogged the filter must be replaced. Even with regular replacements required, it is still a popular choice because of its low cost and easy availability. 

Just as paper pleat air filters are common with OEMs, cotton gauze air filters are the most common aftermarket filters. These filters are manufactured using cotton gauze fabric which is both strong and lightweight. The unique feature of these filters is the oil coating, the oil acts as a trap to catch any particles in the air passing through the filter.

Unlike paper pleat filters, cotton gauze air filters can be cleaned and therefore do not require regular replacement. Once cleaned the filter needs to be reoiled before refitting and that’s all it takes to give it a new lease on life. These filters which are favoured by high-performance motorbikes have a high filtering capacity which makes them suitable for use in dusty environments and terrain, they are also expensive, unlike paper pleat filters.

Foam filters were commonly used before paper pleat filters became popular. Foam filters are third in line on filtering efficacy because they tend to get blocked easily and need frequent cleaning but are cheaper than the other two. Foam filters though low on performance are still used on older motorbikes.

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