Replacing an air filter on a motorcycle can be one of the easiest preventative maintenance tasks that you can perform on a bike. On most bikes, the air filter is very easy to replace and should take no longer than 15 minutes.
The Importance of Cleaning Your Air Filter
It is very important to change your air filter when your service manual recommends changing it. I generally change mine every season or at least every other season. The filter helps to clean up the air that is being sucked into the engine through the downward motion of the pistons of the engine. It also is an important part of regulating the air/fuel mixture within the engine.
Your motorcycle will most likely not run correctly if you have a dirty air filter or it is installed improperly. I once purchased a used motorcycle from someone that was having a hard time keeping the bike running. When I opened the air filter compartment I was surprised to see that the bike did not even have one installed.
Long story short once I installed a new one the bike turned over and ran, it still needed some finer tuning, but that was the main reason why it was not running when I purchased it. You do not have to purchase the exact model of filter that is mentioned in your manual. You will find many other aftermarket filters that will most likely work just as well. Just make sure that the filter you install is meant for the motorcycle you plan to install a new air filter in.
How to Replace a Motorcycle Air Filter
As mentioned above the installation of an air filter is a fairly simple process. Depending on the type of motorcycle that you own the filter will be located in different locations. On many V-Twin motorcycles, the filter can be easily seen on either the right or left side of the engine. It may also be located underneath the seat of the motorcycle. On Harley Davidson Models the air filter can be easily removed from the side of the engine by removing the hex nuts holding the filter in place.
There are a variety of YouTube videos on how to remove the filter for this type of motorcycle. Be certain that once you remove the hex nuts and filter do not let anything fall into the air intake as this could potentially ruin your engine. Another typical location for the air filter is underneath the seat of the motorcycle. You may not have to remove the seat as a majority of motorcycles have side panels that can be easily removed.
The air filter on the Honda Shadow that I own can be removed by simply removing one of these side panels and then by unscrewing the 3 screws to access the cover of the air filter. The filter can then be simply extracted, cleaned, or replaced. You should replace the filter if it is excessively dirty, ripped, or town. You will notice a performance difference in the motorcycle if you run it with a torn or dirty air filter.
If the filter still looks like it is in decent shape you can clean it simply by blowing compressed air through it. I do not recommend cleaning it with any fluid as it could potentially harm your engine.
Filters come in a variety of shapes and sizes so be sure to purchase the filter that is the correct fit for your motorcycle. If you attempt to use a filter from a different model motorcycle you could potentially hard your motorcycle.