Top 10 Best Air Intake for Harley Davidson [Expert Review]
There are many air intakes for Harley Davidson in the market. Finding the right one depends on personal preference, as the needs of most riders differ.
After comparing several air intakes from popular brands, I found that the K&N cold air intake is the best air intake for Harley Davidson motorcycles. It is the highest quality, best-performing air intake on the market. There has not been any dispute, making it outdo all of its competitors.
In this article, I will give you the top 10 best air intake for Harley Davidson, including an in-depth review of each product. I will also give you a complete buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice.
I have over a decade of experience in biking and reviewing motorcycle products. With my skills, I am best placed to help you get products that work more efficiently.
At A Glance: Best Air Intake for Harley Davidson
- Best Overall Cold Air Intake: K&N Cold Air Intake Kit
- Best Harley Davidson Stage 1 Air Cleaner: Arlen Ness 18-803 Big Sucker
- Best Quality: K&N Engine Air Filter HD-1508
- High Flow: Vance & Hines VO2 Naked Air Cleaner Kit
- Best for Increased Sound: K&N Air Intake System 63-1126
10 Best Air Intake for Harley Davidson
An air intake drives clean air into the engine, thus allowing it to be more efficient. It sends more fuel to the engine, thus increasing horsepower and acceleration.
All the products featured below stand out when it comes to performance. Their prices and parameters also differ to fit different needs.
1. K&N Cold Air Intake Kit – Best Overall Cold Air Intake For Harley Davidson
- It is easy to install and remove.
- The kit is a top-quality item that is durable.
- This air intake makes your motorcycle sound much better.
- It significantly increases performance.
- It does not include the tools needed for installation.
Designed to fit Harley motorcycles made from 2001 to 2017. Supported models include Softail Slim, Heritage, Switchback, Fat Bob, and Dyna Low Rider, among others.
This K&N air filter model is one of the highest-quality air filters available with pure build quality. It is one of the easiest to install among all the tools below.
They are custom-designed and would install precisely in less than an hour. However, it does not come with any installation tool, but you can use basic hand tools from your home garage.
The K&N Cold Air Intake Kit guarantees increased horsepower, acceleration, and torque. Dyno-tested to improve performance, with no engine control unit (ECU) tune required.
- Guarantees increased horsepower: Provides 50% improved airflow into the engine. This is more than the custom-engineered tubing system and restrictive factory box air filter on Harley Davidson.
- Ultimate longevity: It offers a premium warranty of up to 10 years/million-mile to safeguard the life of your bike. It also lasts up to 100,000 miles (160,934.4 km) with no filter cleaning required. However, this depends on the driving conditions.
- Improved engine sound: The K&N Cold Air Intake Kit will improve the Harley engine sound, and you can easily hear the power under the hood.
- Engineered power: Designed to improve throttle response and thus increase acceleration when towing. More airflow to the throttle body means there will be more drivetrain power.
- Easy installation: K&N air intake systems are custom-designed for specific model years and would fit precisely in less than an hour. You can use basic hand tools from your home garage.
- World-class engine protection: It protects the engine from harmful contaminants for outstanding performance.
2. Arlen Ness 18-803 Big Sucker – Best Harley Davidson Stage 1 Air Cleaner
- Easy installation procedure with no skills required.
- Increases power with innovative breather technology.
- It has a spotless filtering medium.
- High efficiency with better sound.
- The color washes out quickly due to wear and tear.
The Arlen Ness 18-803 Big Sucker falls among the best-performing stage 1 air filters for Harley-Davidson.
This air filter attributes to its performance with up to 21% horsepower added to your bike. It has four cotton layers of material over a urethane body. The exposed filter with a steel outer covering offers a great look.
Moreover, the design eliminates the need for banjo fittings or hoses due to its backing plates. The positioning of the breather virtually makes it a closed-loop model.
It fits a wide range of Harley bikes; however, the color tends to chip off quickly due to the effect of use. You might need to spend a lot of time repainting it if you do not want it to be blank.
- Easy installation: With its special backing plates, the Arlen Ness air filter installation takes less time. There is no need for hoses or banjo fittings.
- More horsepower: The radius air inlet gives optimal efficiency. It provides more horsepower and uninterrupted torque and airflow.
- Better engine sound: It gives a louder sound than the stock filter due to the improved restrictive airflow.
- Versatility in covering: The stage 1 kit accepts most manufacturers or Nes air filter covers for an unexposed look.
- Reusable: The Arlen Ness standard performance filters have washable, pre-oiled cotton. You can purchase the filter recharge kit separately.
- Stylish design: You can choose from standard, chrome, and black finish for a more elegant look.
Also Read: Best Oil for Harley Davidson Twin Cam
3 K&N Engine Air Filter HD-1508 – Best Quality High Flow Air Cleaner for Harley Davidson
- It is easy to install with no unique tool required.
- You do not need any modifications or extra parts.
- It is eco-friendly with an efficient filtering element design.
- The filter gives instant feedback on the throttle.
- It has little to no effect when making the engine sound louder.
- There is a slight significant increase in power.
The K&N Engine Air Filter explicitly fits 2008-2014 HARLEY DAVIDSON motorcycles. The list includes FLHTC Electra Glide, FLHR Road King, FLTRX Road Glide Custom, FLHRC, and other models.
Unlike most paper filters, K&N high-flow air filters are cost-effective and are not disposable. It, therefore, saves you from buying and replacing air filters frequently.
They provide increased performance and are custom engineered to fit the stock air box. However, unlike other air filters, the K&N Engine Air Filter will not impact your engine’s sound much. Still, it can be great for those who don’t like any sound from their Harley.
The K&N Engine Air Filter is ideal for driving in dirty and dusty environments, even at high altitudes. It is usually washable and reusable with exceptional filtration.
- Increased engine power: Increases acceleration by providing up to 50% more airflow. The engine power is more than disposable paper filters.
- Ultimate longevity: It offers a million-mile or 10-year premium warranty to safeguard the safety of your bike. It can also last up to approximately 50,000 miles (ca. 80,467 km) in regular highway driving conditions before servicing.
- Eco-friendly: A K&N engine filter can be easily washed and reused. You can use it for longer than ten disposable filters. They are also made from 100% environmentally friendly cotton.
- Easy to install: K&N engine air filter comes pre-oiled and is effortless to install. It comes in standard filter inserts, and the estimated installation time is 5 to 10 minutes.
- World-class engine protection: This air intake provides excellent protection from harmful contaminants.
- Excellent filtration: It has a multi-layer woven cotton gauze media that provides a large surface area for filtration.
4. Vance & Hines VO2 Naked Air Cleaner Kit – High Flow Air Intake for Harley Davidson
- You can vent the breather bolts inside the cleaner.
- It is cost-effective and saves you money.
- Installation is simple once you have the intake assembled.
- Offers long intervals between cleanings
- The filter color fades after 50 hours of sunlight exposure.
- You need to pair it with an effective fuel management system for the best performance.
The Vance & Hines VO2 Naked Air Intake has a modern design to fit most Harley Davidson motorcycles. It comes from high-quality filter materials for an added boost in power and acceleration.
While it does not increase performance like our top 1, you can pair the VO2 Air Intake with a Vance & Hines exhaust system and the FP3 FuelPak. This will help you achieve its full potential. The duo will give an excellent performance across the power curve.
Vance & Hines VO2 Naked Air Intake is a high-flow replacement kit for the stock air cleaner covers. This makes it a good option for people who prefer keeping their stock look but not the stock performance.
- Engine power: It increases energy and acceleration more than standard high-flow intakes. However, you have to pair it with Vance & Hines Fuelpak fuel management system for the best performance.
- Eco-friendly: The kit includes a high-flow washable cotton filter element. As a result, you can reuse its filter indefinitely and reduce replacement waste.
- Gets more air inside the motor: The vo2 naked includes a billet venturi and a bigger inlet backing plate to inject more air into the engine.
- Easy to install: The kit includes mounting hardware and can attach directly to the factory-made throttle body. The installation is straightforward.
- Retained stock: Vance & Hines vo2 air intake is now a high-flow replacement kit for your stock air cleaner cover.
5. K&N Air Intake System 63-1126 – The Best of Harley Davidson Air Cleaner Kits for Increased Sound
- It has an improved engine sound and throttle sensitivity.
- Offers long intervals between cleanings.
- It provides a substantial horsepower gain.
- Cost-effective since it is reusable.
- The loud engine sound could not be ideal for some bikers.
Made for some select Harley models, the K&N AirCharger Air Intake System improves the engine performance by doing away with the limiting OE stock air cleaner.
The K&N High-Flow Intake System provides your Harley with a raging appearance. It does this while remarkably increasing the airflow, resulting in more power and performance.
With enhanced throttle response, the system will also improve the sound of your bike. It replaces the air cleaner with an air intake and a bent mandrel aluminum intake tube.
With an assured increase of 8.7% horsepower, it improves throttle response, giving you a more fun riding experience. Due to the tremendous increase in sound, the K&N Air Intake System can not be ideal for some bikers.
- Guaranteed horsepower: Increases the power by providing up to 8.7% horsepower. This is more than the custom factory box air cleaner.
- Easy to install: The design is simple and easy to install. Usually fits precisely in less than 90 minutes.
- Better sound: The K&N air filter improves the throttle response and engine sound. The sound produced is way louder and is very different from the stock Harley Davidson sounds.
- Longevity: It offers a million-mile warranty and can last up to 100,000 miles before servicing.
- Excellent design: The system has a mandrel-bent aluminum intake tube and a billet aluminum throttle body.
- Eco-friendly: The kit comes with a K&N high-flow intake filter that is washable and reusable.
6. Arlen Ness 90 Degree Monster Sucker Air Cleaner– Best Inverted 90-Degree Filter with Heat Protector
- Provides more horsepower due to the improved air intake.
- It is cost-effective and saves you money since you can reuse it.
- Fits perfectly and has good quality material.
- Installation is simple once you fit it properly.
- The filter has an excessive powder coat finish which can peel off.
This Monster Sucker air intake system, intended to fit most Harley models, features an inverted 90-degree filter. This sucks air from all sides giving your bike a higher-performance airflow. You do not need external hoses since the o-ringed breathers at the head leave through the tail of the carb. This also provides efficient engine breathing.
The air cleaner also has a built-in heat protector that reduces the noise produced and keeps the engine cool while riding on hot days. The filter is also designed to be easily accessible and thus easy to clean after use.
Each of the filters is made from synthetic material, which is water-resistant. This eliminates the need for a rain sock in most cases.
The filters are reusable and do not require oiling. The installation procedure is also easy though fitting it may take up to four hours.
- Better performance: The breathers offer more air intake to provide more horsepower and uninterrupted torque.
- Power gain: The high air intake ensures you have more horsepower and torque. It increases acceleration by providing up to 20% more airflow.
- Cheaper maintenance: The filters are reusable and do not require oiling. You can just wash, rinse and reuse them.
- Easy installation: The filter model features an inverted 90-degree sucker that is easy to install and fit.
- Quality design: The model has a quality water-resistant synthetic material. You, therefore, do not need rain sock.
- Easy to accessorize: You can buy forged billet covers and add them to the Ness kits with no covers.
7. HTTMT MT227-BK Spike Air Cleaner Filter Kits – The Best Air Intake Design for Harley Davidson
- The hardware is stainless and thus long-lasting.
- It has a unique and amazing design.
- HTTMT MT227-BK comes with a mounting bracket and breather kit.
- It efficiently increases performance.
- It can fall off easily if not installed by a professional.
- The kit does not come with an installation guide.
HTTMT MT227-BK Spike Air Cleaner Filter Kits are the most unique-looking air filters among our top picks. They have a 360-degree slotted spike cone cover that gives them a bold and aggressive look.
This air filter made from quality chrome billet aluminum promises a significant performance gain. However, it can fall off your bike easily when riding. That is why the installation should be done by a professional.
The HTTMT MT227-BK Spike Air Cleaner Filter is reusable and gives an ideal performance boost. You can even replace the generic brand filter using a K&N (KN-SP3301).
- Performance gain: Designed to increase drivetrain power and improve throttle response. This, in turn, increases acceleration.
- Premium quality: HTTMT MT227-BK Spike Air Cleaner Filter Kit comes from a high-Quality chrome billet aluminum. The material makes it last longer in regular highway driving conditions before servicing.
- Eco-friendly: This filter is washable and reusable. You can use it longer than disposable filters to reduce replacement waste.
- Aggressive look: It features 360 degrees slotted cone spike cover that looks extraordinary.
8. K&N Engine Powersport Air Filter HD-1717 – Best for Prolonged Use in Dusty Environments
- Improved performance with increased airflow.
- Easy fit and installation procedure
- High-quality and longer lifespan
- The engine sound doesn’t change much.
The K&N Engine Powersport design improves your engine performance by increasing airflow by up to 50%. The model fits 2017-2019 Harleys and other select models.
K&N’s thorough testing makes it ideal for more prolonged use in dusty and dirty off-road riding. They also ensure your carburetor is clean even at higher altitudes.
Contrary to other filters that make your engine sound loud, the K&N Engine Powersport gives little to no change to your engine sound.
They are available as a substitute for your stock air filter element. The filter has a long-term warranty, is eco-friendly, and is reusable.
- Performance gain: With the high airflow to your engine, this kit guarantees increased horsepower.
- Easy installation: It fits the stock air box making the installation process easy.
- Eco-friendly: The K&N Engine Powersport is washable and reusable to reduce environmental dumping.
- Longevity: It offers a premium warranty of up to a million miles to safeguard the life of your bike. It also lasts up to 100,000 miles (160,934.4 km) without filter cleaning.
- Excellent filtration: It has layers of woven cotton gauze to increase filtration efficiency.
- Reliable: This air filter has undergone a rigorous testing procedure and is thus highly reliable.
9. Air Cleaner Intake Filter Kit CNC – Best Budget Air Intake For Harley Davidson
- You will gain several extra horsepowers.
- It offers a relatively large breathing passage.
- The kit doesn’t require you to improve the ECU.
- Perfect for both fuel-injected models and carburetors.
- You have to use Loctite to tighten the bolts.
- The screws can loosen due to vibrations if not tightened properly.
The Air Cleaner Intake Filter Kit CNC fits and works great on all engine models, whether fuel-injected or carburetor.
This air filter is well-polished with an anode. It has a Billet aluminum backing faceplate with an internal breathing system. Its bolts can be challenging to put in place, which is why professionals should install them.
Air Cleaner Intake Filter Kit CNC eliminates restrictions to improve the efficiency of your engine. This air filter system will be great for those looking for a budget-friendly option. It is reusable, and you can use it as a replacement for many years.
- Guaranteed Increase in Horsepower: It provides high volumes of unrestricted airflow to the engine. It is mainly engineered to flow through the face and perimeter of the air filter.
- Massive internal breathing spaces: It features a backing and faceplate with a large breathing system.
- Reusable: The air filter is washable to remove pollutants that can enter the engine. You can easily wash, dry, and re-oil the filter.
- Easy installation: Air Cleaner Intake Filter Kit CNC ensures an easy and clean installation. It does not require hoses, oil catchers, or brackets.
- Elegant design: This filter has a machined longitudinal grille and a quality CNC aluminum construction. It features a face plate open design with an anodized finish.
- Compatibility: Offers 100% satisfaction guarantee and is compatible with carburetor and fuel-injected models.
10. MOTOKU M533-A014 – Exposed Filter Model for Herley
- It offers good value for the money.
- Drastically improves the sound of your Harley.
- This filter lasts for a long time.
- Fits a wide range of Harley Davidsons
- There are no installation instructions included.
- If not installed properly, it could fall off due to miles of vibration.
Made for various Harley Davidsons, the Motoku M533-A014 air filter will probably fit your bike if you own a Harley. Some major design model cues are from jet engines and will function to boost your engine sound.
The exposed air filter design and baking plate increase the airflow, giving your bike more throttle.
However, installing this filter may be slightly more complicated than other models. If you do not have basic mechanical knowledge, it is advisable to seek help with the installation.
- Longevity: The Motoku air filter is washable and reusable, giving it a longer lifespan. This also reduces pollution.
- Louder engine: With the design cue from a jet engine, the air filter will provide the engine with the sound you desire.
- Elegant finish: The billet aluminum finish gives the air filter a unique and classic style. It blends with the bike giving you a tasteful look.
- Increased performance: With the smooth and increased air intake, the air filter provides more throttle to your bike. The design raises your engine output.
- Sufficient air intake: It has an exposed filter system to increase the air intake into the engine.
Factors You Need to Consider Before Buying the Best Air Intake for Harley Davidson [Buying Guide]
Finding the best air intake for Harley Davidson can be one of the most challenging activities. This can be tedious, especially if you do not have a concrete understanding of what you need. When looking for a product to help you achieve efficiency, it is essential to conduct thorough research. The trick is to know whether an item is worth purchasing or not.
I did some research and came up with a guide to help you make the best choice. Here are some factors to consider before buying a Harley Davidson air intake filter.
One of the key reasons to buy an air filter for your Harley Davidson is to boost the performance of the engine. The varying air filters impact your bike differently. Some air filters could increase or decrease the efficiency of your motorcycle, depending on its quality.
It can be crucial to compare the amount of power expected from the different brands. You can check the actual dyno results and not just what the manufacturer claims.
But if enhancing your bike does not concern you much, power will not be a significant factor. In case you are more into horsepower, you can look at something like turbochargers.
Also Read: Best Spark Plugs for Harley Davidson
Some air intake designs are easy to install, while others are not. You should choose an air intake that is easy to install. This would be great if you are fitting it yourself unless you are an expert mechanic. It is better to pick those that use factory holes to avoid cutting or drilling during installation.
The reviews could also help you to know how long it should take you on an installation. Also, check if the item comes with an installation guide to make the process simple.
Considering the material used in constructing an item before purchasing it is crucial. Look for items made of strong materials since they can withstand regular use. High-quality air filters last longer, while those with low-quality take a shorter time. The low-quality air filters also give a negative performance and can damage your bike.
Consider looking into the air filter’s emissions. In addition to being harmful to the environment, emitting many pollutants may result in legal issues in some areas.
You should confirm whether the air intake is within the legal bounds of the place you want to use it. To verify whether the air filter is lawful in a specific region, do a quick internet search of the regulations around the area. For very popular air filters, typing them onto Google can give you results quickly. You can check with a local automotive dealership if both options are unsuccessful.
No one would like to get an air filter that reduces the aesthetics of their bike. Despite this, bikers tend to forget this key factor more often. Instead, you should ensure your choice of air filter adds to the looks of your motorcycle. Looks are always biased; thus, there are diverse styles to cater to everyone’s needs.
On top of how a particular air filter improves your bike’s efficiency and performance, look at how it will appear. An air filter that looks unpleasant on your bike will soon be obsolete. This may force you to buy another one that looks better, making your previous purchase worthless.
The size of an air filter matters, as it is best not to buy an air filter that is too big or too small for your bike. Since not every Harley air filter fits on every bike, getting an air filter size incompatible with your Harley will result in waste.
Manufacturers generally indicate which bikes are compatible with their air intakes. This can help you in choosing the right one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legal to put an air intake on my Harley Davidson?
The air filter’s legality depends on its air intake and your area of residence. Air intake could be illegal due to vehicle codes prohibiting modifications, i.e., the anti-tampering law. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
For instance, some states offer emissions testing, and you can use an air intake if it meets the necessary standards. But if you go against the rules and regulations and use air filters that are not allowed where you live, you risk attracting huge fines. You can always consult with the manufacturer about whether the part is certified. Google can also be handy in finding out which filters are legal.
How do I Install an air intake?
The installation procedure can be different for every air intake. However, you should always start by turning off your vehicle’s ignition and disconnecting the negative battery cable. Also, use a proper size ring spanner, wrench, and screwdriver.
Begin by loosening the retaining bolts to remove the air filter cover. Next, remove the filter box, and disconnect the crankcase breather tubes that run to the engine bay. Afterward, install the crankcase breather tubes using the supplied bolts and washers.
Then apply the intake tube onto the throttle body along with the provided gasket and secure it. Finally, put on the air filter and secure it with the provided hose clamp.
Will an air intake make my bike shoot flames?
Air intake does not make your bike shoot flames unless it is a faulty one. Also, your bike could shoot flames if you use a dirty air filter. Air filters get clogged easily, and this could choke the engine. As a result, it creates more workload and makes your bike shoot flames from its exhaust. Invest in high-quality and functional models such as K&N to avoid this problem. Also, consult a mechanic to see if your air intake will cause any issues.
What are the benefits of high-quality air intake?
High-quality air intakes provide more substantial air to the engine to maximize its output. Better combustion results in a more efficient engine. This ensures your vehicle will use less gasoline, thus improving fuel economy. Also, high-quality air intakes are more durable and produce more power to increase the performance of your motorcycle.
What is the difference between a Stage 1 and Stage 2 air filter?
The major difference between Stage 1 and Stage 2 air filters lies in the filtering element and its capacity. Stage 1 is just the intake and box you mount on the motorcycle. Stage 2 system, in most cases, is the whole kit and comes with additional equipment, usually a larger diameter collar or hose. Stage 1 is preferable if the engine work is minimal. As a rule of thumb, the higher the stage number, the better the airflow.
How often should I change my Harley air filter?
You should replace your Harley air filter every 10000 to 15000 miles when driving under regular highway conditions. However, some larger K&N air intake kits can last up to 100,000 miles in normal driving conditions without changing. However, if you regularly ride through environments with dust, gravel, or dirt, you may need to change the air filter frequently.
Now you know the best air intake for Harley Davidson. They will improve engine efficiency and performance. Consider going through the buyer’s guide section if you still can’t find the right one. Our top 10 picks all cater to the different needs of most road riders. We included budget-friendly, durable, and quality oiled cotton air filter models, including those that are good-looking and reusable. The K&N Cold Air Intake Kit is our best overall air intake for Harley Davidson. It combines considerable air inflow and meets high-performance standards. This air filter ensures a precise fit and is also easy to use and install.