The Three Basic Types of Motorcycle Air Filters


One of the most neglected parts when maintaining a motorcycle is the air filter. Even though the air filter is essential to feeding your engine with fresh air, people simply don’t find them as appealing as a brand new set of tyres or as important as the essential oil change. As a matter of fact, a lot of people don’t replace the filter until it gets so clogged that the only thing to do is buy a new one.

Motorcycle Driver

If you’re one of those people who have neglected the air filter to a point of no return, no worries, air filters are relatively affordable motorcycle parts and they’re pretty straightforward to buy, change and maintain. But first things first, you need to know the basic types of air filters available, so that you can pick the right one for you. The three most popular types of air filters you’ll find in motorcycle parts stores are cotton filters, paper filters and foam filters.

Paper Filters

Most street motorcycles come with paper filters, as they’re the most inexpensive option and are disposable. However, there are some that can be cleaned and can last for quite a long time. They aren’t as great at filtering particles from the air as foam and cotton filters, but they do the job just fine. You can find paper filters in many different colours and finishes, which can impact their longevity. For instance, chrome paper filters look great and are also reasonably durable.

Foam Filters

Most off-road motorcycles come with foam filters. They’re usually more expensive than their paper counterparts, but they’re easily cleaned and can last for a very long time. This actually makes them cheaper in the long term. However, the downside of foam filters is that they block particles in the air very well. So well, in fact, that sometimes they don’t even let much air in whatsoever. But that may be necessary, seen as they’re mostly utilised on off-road bikes that drive in dusty and dirty environments.

Motorcycle Air Filter

Cotton Filters

Cotton filters are the most expensive option out of the three. The reason for that is because they allow more air, which enhances the bike’s performance and the fact that they can be cleaned and reused A LOT of times. If you maintain it properly, a cotton filter can even outlast your engine. However, they’re rather complicated to clean and maintain and they require oil and cleaning fluid to stay in shape, which means that there are on-going maintenance costs on top of their high buying price.