We were touring with our group recently, and suddenly, one of our group members’ bikes stopped. It did not start, no matter what we did. That is when we found out that the air intake was clogged. And even though it was pushing a little air through the system, the air was not properly filtered.
Imagine if this happened to you while you are solo touring. What would you do? Well, if you asked us, prevention is better than cure. Seeing the condition of our friend, we made the whole group upgrade to the best air intake for the Harley Davidson.
After the upgrade, we did not only have the complete peace of mind that the combustion process would be highly efficient for a prolonged time but also that it enhanced the overall power of the engines. Want to enjoy the same benefits? Stick until the end!
List of Harley Davidson Air Intake:
Best Air Intake for Harley Davidson
There are loads of air intakes for Harley Davidson out there. While almost all of them will claim to be better and more efficient than the others, not all of them can offer high performance. Nonetheless, here is a brief description of the ones that offered a stellar performance in our hands-on test:
1. K&N RK-3956
Improvement in throttle response is one of the things we considered when we were searching for the best aftermarket Harley air cleaner. And this offering from K&N impressed us in that regard.
To start with, it features a specialized design that does a proper job of improving the engine’s throttle response. You will notice that the bike will be highly responsive to different acceleration speeds and gears after installing this Harley Davidson air intake.
The brand did not skimp one bit when it came to the materials. It features a high-flow filtration system, while the body is made of cast aluminum. For that reason, the unit holds the ability to withstand harsh environments. In other words, it will last for a prolonged time.
You will be well amazed by the looks of the filter. It features an aggressive design that surprisingly blends well with most Harley Davidson bikes. It is also compatible with many models of Harley. You will get a direct fitment on the models from 2017 to 2019.
Furthermore, the installation process is reasonably straightforward. You will not need to go through any extra hassles. In fact, it comes pre-oiled, which is something we do not see in average Harley high flow air intake systems.
Thanks to its size, it can draw a good amount of air inside. And this higher amount of air will enhance the overall performance. Also, the filter is fully reusable. Just wash it when it gets too dirty. Even the sound is just at the right level. It is not too loud, not too quiet.
- Improves the engine’s throttle response
- Made of high-quality materials
- Washable and reusable
- Comes pre-oiled
- Easy to install
2. Mishimoto MMAI-CIV-16BK
Mishimoto is a brand well-known for offering a high-performance air intake lineup to the market. And this one is a proper example of how good their offerings actually are.
You will receive a complete kit with the air intake system. The kit will include everything that you will need for the installation system. All of the parts are easy to work with too. So, you will not have to go through that much hassle when it comes to installing this system to your Harley Davidson.
It utilizes a high-flow filter, which is pre-oiled. The size of the filter is just right to enhance the air intake amount. As a high amount of air goes inside, the engine will get all of its required air to improve the combustion process. In other words, you will see a massive performance improvement.
The intake is of wire-reinforced silicone. This intake arm will enhance the flow of air and keep the temperature at the right amount. There are different color options available for the arm. You can choose the one that will blend well with your bike.
Additionally, as the parts are CNC-machined, the fitting will be just right on your bike. This kit also includes a MAF housing and air box. The airbox will keep the unwanted hot air from entering the system. Also, the kit holds the ability to make the bike sound a bit deeper, which is something that many riders look for.
Another thing that makes this one a proper pick for the best high-flow air filter for Harley Davidson is its ability to improve the throttle response. It will make the ride highly responsive.
- Includes a full kit
- Utilizes a high flow filter
- Blocks hot air from getting inside
- Improves the throttle response
- It makes the bike sound deep
3. Vance & Hines VO2 71035
While looking for the best Harley air intake, you might want something that makes the bike look good and perform great at the same time. In that case, consider this offering from Vance & Hines.
The unit does not look bland like some of the average Harley Davidson air intake systems. Instead, the brand has put a good amount of effort into making it look aggressive and blend well with the bike. Also, it is the same size as the stock filter, which will not make it bulge out from the bike.
It is compatible with lots of Harley Davidson bikes when it comes to fitment. You will not struggle to get a direct fit on the models that came out from 2017 to 2019. The kit also comes with the brackets and other hardware you will need for the installation. It also includes instructions to make things easier.
Other than that, the overall build is of high-quality materials. Both the housing and filtration system has a top-notch build. For that reason, you can easily expect it to last for a prolonged amount of time without showing any issues. Also, it can enhance the throttle response a lot. So, the ride will be highly responsive.
You will not even be disappointed with the sound. The unit will make your bike sound more aggressive. Its filter element is also reusable. All you need to do is wash the element when it gets dirty. In other words, it will be possible to use it for a prolonged amount.
As the unit has a high flow, it will substantially enhance the performance of your bike. Overall, this is an excellent pick for the best air cleaner for Harley.
- Features an aggressive look that blends well with the bikes
- Has the same size as the stock filtration system
- Significantly enhances the performance
- Washable and reusable
- Sports a great build quality
4. Krator Turbine Edge XL883N
We have yet another high-flow air intake for Harley Davidson that is reusable. But that is not the only thing that makes it worthy of getting.
As we mentioned, the unit is washable and fully reusable. When there is too much dust and clogging, all you need to do is dry, wash it, and re-oil it. So, there will be no need to throw the filter away when it gets clogged up.
Its overall construction is top-notch as well. The kit is made mostly of aluminum, which keeps the weight low but makes it well capable of withstanding harsh environments. And its exposed intake design will enhance the bike’s overall performance and make your bike capable of pushing towards its limit.
The backing plate of the unit will promote smooth overall airflow. And when the airflow is smooth, the sound of the bike will be just right. Thanks to its design and high airflow trait, it holds the ability to improve the throttle response. That will make your ride feel a lot more responsive.
On that note, the unit looks pretty unique as well. Its circular design, along with the vented top, will make your bike look a lot unique. And you will not struggle one bit when it comes to getting a proper fit on your bike. It is directly compatible with most of the Harley models.
Furthermore, the kit comes with all of the necessary hardware. There will be no need to go through the hassle of getting extra parts. For that reason, the installation process will go smoothly as well.
- The filter is reusable
- Ensures that the airflow is smooth
- It is made mostly of aluminum
- Looks pretty unique and makes the bike look great
- Compatible with loads of Harley models
5. Arlen Ness 08-16
While there are loads of Harley Davidson air intake kits out there, most of them will require oiling after you wash them. But the case is a little different for this one.
Even though the filtration unit is washable and reusable, you will not have to go through the hassle of oiling the filtration system. That will eliminate most of the hassles that come with maintaining the filtration system of the bikes. Also, the filter is resistant to water. So, it will be less prone to clogging.
One of the special things about this unit is the breather technology. The hidden o-rings will make the breathing process of the engine highly efficient. For that reason, the sound of the engine will be aggressive but not too loud. The hidden o-rings also make the unit achieve sleek overall looks.
Other than that, the intake has a high filtration surface area. That will maximize the intake performance and make the engine perform its level best. And as the filter is made of high-quality synthetic material, you can expect it to last for an extended amount of time without showing any issues.
The installation process is pretty straightforward. There will be no need to handle intricate parts, nor will you need to go through extra steps just to get it installed on your Harley. Also, it is directly compatible with the Harley bikes that came out from the year 2008 to 2016.
On that note, the housing is reasonably durable. It is of high-quality material and will withstand a good amount of load and harsh environments.
- It does not require oiling after washing
- Utilizes a highly efficient breather technology
- Has a high filtration surface area
- Maximizes the performance of the engine
- Durable and long-lasting
6. Happy-Motor Chromed Clarity
On the lookout for a proper Harley Davidson cold air intake? Well, you can stop your search right here because Happy-motor is offering exactly the thing that you have been looking for.
First of all, this cold air intake for Harley Davidson features a unique design that will make sure that the engine does not get hot air. In fact, it will do a proper job of isolating the engine from hot air. As a result, the chances of the engine overheating and throttling will be reasonably low.
The exposed filter design also plays a vital role in enhancing the airflow. It even comes with a high-volume air filter, ensuring smooth airflow. And when the flow of air is high and smooth, the performance is sure to see a massive boost.
It also comes with a proper backing plate. That plate will smoothen the flow of air and will do an appropriate job of enhancing the throttle response. Your ride will be more responsive, and you will have proper control over the throttle after installing this to your bike.
On that note, the installation process is pretty straightforward. The steps are pretty simple. It also comes with all of the hardware you will need during the process. That means you will not even have to go through the hassle of getting extra parts.
That said, the size of the unit is pretty much like the stock intake. And when it comes to the sound, it will make your bike sound aggressive but not too loud. Also, as the filtration system is washable, you can reuse it.
- It makes cold air go inside the engine
- Ensures a smooth and high volume of air
- Features an exposed filter design
- Easy to install
- Enhances the throttle response
7. Krator Black Spike
We did stumble upon a lot of air intake systems. But not that many had a unique outlook as this one.
So, what makes it look unique. Well, instead of opting for circular or rectangular housing like the others, the brand has integrated spiky and pointy housing. This design will make the front side of the bike look aggressive and unique at the same time.
The overall construction of the housing is made of high-quality aluminum. For that reason, it holds the ability to withstand harsh environments. Even the filtration system can go through a good amount of load. So, you can expect it to offer you an extended overall service.
Its installation process is pretty straightforward. The kit comes with all of the hardware you will need for the process, which means you will not have to go through the hassle of purchasing anything extra. Also, as the filter is washable, you will not need to replace it anytime soon. You can just reuse it.
Although the spiky design of the unit makes it obtain a larger overall size than the stock intake system, the increased size is totally worth it. Its 360-degree filtration will ensure that the engine gets all the air required to offer higher performance. You will see a massive improvement.
Talking of which, it will not make your engine roar too loud. Instead, it will make it sound a little aggressive. And the fact that it can enhance the overall throttle response, the ride will feel much more responsive. Also, it is directly compatible with the models that came out from 2000 to 2016.
- Sports a unique design
- Durable and can withstand harsh environments
- The filter is reusable
- It comes with all of the hardware
- Improves the overall throttle response
8. Arlen Ness Inverted
One of the things that most of the available options cannot offer is a proper fit on the bike. But that is not the case for this offering from Arlen Ness.
The CNC machining process is the thing that makes this air intake system capable of providing a proper fit on the bike. It basically has the same size as the stock air intake. For that reason, it will not bulge out that much from the body, which will allow you to get a sleek overall look.
Its housing is made of billet aluminum. Combined with a high-quality filter, it will last for a prolonged amount of time without showing any issues. And the exposed design will enhance the airflow amount, eventually increasing the engine’s overall performance.
Another thing that is pretty unique about this intake system is the hidden o-ringed breathers. The o-rings are present on both the exits and heads, which will make a proper closed-loop system. As a result, the throttle response will see a massive improvement.
The intake system is compatible with loads of Harley Davidson bikes. That includes the models that came out from the year 1999 to 2021. You will not even need any external hardware for the installation process. It will come with all the necessary parts, making the installation process much more manageable.
On that note, the synthetic filter element is resistant to water. That will eliminate the need for a rain sock. Thanks to the 360 degrees pleated sides and inverted pleated top, it will be capable of pulling air from every angle. However, the filtration system is not reusable.
- CNC-machined and offers a proper fit
- The housing is made of billet aluminum
- Has hidden o-rings
- Improves the throttle response
- Draws air from every angle
9. Screamin’ Eagle Performance Air Cleaner Kit
Want to get your hands on something that will substantially enhance the breathing capability of the engine? You need to take a look at this kit.
To start with, it features a unique design that will pump up the engine’s power. Its design will maximize the airflow and make the engine get all the air required for the combustion process. As a result, the EFI-equipped bikes will see a massive improvement in breathing capability.
The filter element is of a cotton medium. This medium comes with oil and is ready for installation. The filter is washable and reusable. So, you will not need to change the filtration system anytime soon. Also, the size of the kit is pretty much like the stock system. That will make the setup process much more manageable.
On that note, the kit will come with all of the hardware that you will for the installation process. That means you will not find the need to purchase anything extra. It even comes with proper instructions, which will guide you through the entire process.
In terms of outlooks, it looks pretty sleek. The exterior has a black coating and an orange outline. Such an outlook will make your bike look unique. And as the housing is made of high-quality aluminum, it will be capable of withstanding a good amount of abuse.
That said, the unit is compatible with the models that came out in the year 2017 and afterward. So, if you have a recent model, you will not have to worry about the fitting that much.
- Enhances the power of the engine
- Comes pre-oiled
- The filter is washable
- Bundles with all of the required hardware
- Features a sleek outlook
10. Arlen Ness Slot Track Inverted
Last but not least, we have got yet another offering from Arlen Ness. But just because it is at the bottom of the list does not mean that it will not offer outstanding overall performance.
Unlike some of the other average kits, it has an inverted pleated top. Combined with the pleated sides, it will maximize the airflow. And when the airflow rate is high, the engine will get all of the air required for the combustion process.
Instead of opting for regular materials, the brand has utilized high-quality materials for the overall build. The housing is made of sturdy stainless steel, and the filter is made of synthetic material. Thanks to such materials, the whole kit achieves a high durability level.
The housing even features forged velocity stacks. That will make the kit look unique and enhance the overall performance at the same time. It is also available in black anodized and chrome finishes. So, you can choose the one that will go well with the finish of your Harley.
It also integrates Big Sucker technology and has hidden breather hardware. For that reason, the kit will adequately enhance the overall throttle response. The kit comes with all of the necessary hardware, making the installation process pretty much hassle-free. And it is compatible with models that came out from 1999 to 2021.
Furthermore, the filter is reusable. When there is dust build-up and clogging, you just need to dry clean the filter. That means you will get a prolonged use out of this kit.
- Maximizes the airflow to the engine
- Made of high-quality materials
- Available in two finishes
- The installation process is hassle-free
What to Look for Before Buying?
We know that our review section has made the choosing process easy. But did you know it can get much more manageable? It indeed can. But for that to happen, you would need to keep these factors in your mind:
Before anything else, consider the installation process. Even if you do not plan to install the kit on your own, you would need to pay a good amount of money to the professional if the installation process is not easy.
Alongside that, do check whether the kit comes with all of the necessary hardware or not. If it does not come with the necessary hardware, you will need to purchase them separately, which can be a hassle.
Size and Fitment
Even if the installation process is easy and straightforward, you will struggle a lot during the setup process if the unit is not compatible with your bike. Considering that, it is pretty important to check the fitment.
Furthermore, do consider the size. We would recommend getting the ones that are close to the stock ones. Those will not bulge out from the body that much, which will allow you to get a clean and sleek installation.
Next, consider the overall build quality. This will highly depend on the construction materials. First, check the filtration material. Most of the available units will rely on synthetic material, but the quality will not be the same for all. And low-quality filters will not last for an extended amount of time.
Secondly, check the housing. For most cases, it will be of aluminum or stainless steel. But if the material is not sturdy enough, it will not be capable of withstanding harsh environments.
You would not want a hideous object sticking out of your aggressive-looking bike, would you? For that reason, it is pretty important to consider the outlooks. We would recommend opting for something that will make the front side of your bike look sleek and aggressive at the same time.
Performance and Throttle Response
Another important thing that should be in your mind is the airflow performance. Make sure that the intake offers the engine the amount of air it requires for an efficient combustion process. Also, check whether the system can enhance the throttle response or not. Without that, the ride will not feel responsive.
The sound for the intakes will be different. While some will make the engine roar loudly, some will make the bike sound aggressive but not too loud. Instead of opting for the former, we would recommend getting the latter. That will enhance the ride comfort while allowing the bike to sound as aggressive as it should.
Lastly, consider whether the filter is reusable or not. If the filter is not reusable, you will need to replace it from time to time. And that would increase the overall maintenance cost.
What Are the Benefits of High-Quality Air Intake?
High-quality air intake systems have to bring a lot to the table. However, among all of the advantages, these are the main highlights:
When an adequate amount of filtered air is getting inside the engine, the combustion process will be efficient. That would eventually translate to better overall horsepower. So, you will be sure to get an increased overall performance out of your bike.
Cold air intake systems do a proper job of keeping the hot air away from the engine. That will lower the chances of the engine overheating and throttling. And when the engine remains at an adequate temperature during extreme load, the gas mileage will see at least 15 percent improvement.
Furthermore, many air intake systems hold the ability to increase the engine’s efficiency, which will further enhance the gas mileage.
Lower Maintainance Cost
The high-quality air intake systems will have reusable filters. In other words, you will not need to change or replace the filtration mechanism that often. So, you will save quite a good amount of money when it comes to the maintenance process.
What Does an Air Filter’s Emissions Rating Mean?
The emissions rating states the effectiveness of the air filter. And the higher the rating, the more effective the filter will be at reducing the contaminants and airborne particles from the air.
That said, when a filter is highly effective at reducing the contaminants, it will feed clean air to the engine, which will eventually enhance the combustion process. And when the combustion process is improved, the performance and throttle response will see a massive improvement.
Usually, the brands will rely on the MERV rating for the air filter. This rating will range from 1 to 20. However, not all of the brands will mention the rating of their product. Some will state that the emission rating is not legal for a specific state. And you will have to do the rest of the guessing.
On that note, the rating of the air filters will not remain consistent. Over time, when you wash the filters and reuse them for a prolonged amount of time, it loses its efficiency. In other words, the rating is effective for brand new filters that are in top-notch condition.
How Do I Install an Air Intake? Is It Hard?
Most of the air intake systems will have an easy installation process. They will come with all of the parts and provide proper instructions to guide you through the entire process. Nonetheless, here is a general step-by-step guide that will work for most of the systems that are available in the market:
Step 1: Remove the Installed Air Intake
First and foremost, you would need to work on the installed air intake. Carefully remove the main fuse and remove the original equipment and any of the residual adhesives that might be present on the cover by using mineral spirits. If the adhesives still remain on the surface, use isopropyl alcohol.
Step 2: Install the Backplate and the Screw Retainer of the New Air Intake
Now that the installed parts are removed, you should get into installing the backplate. It should come with the air intake. And if it does not, there is a high chance that the stock backplate will work. After you install the backplate, set the screw retainer in place. Use the OEM screws if the kit does not come with any.
Alongside that, you would need to bend the tabs of the retainer. Bend it over the screw heads
Step 3: Set the Filter
To install the filter, assemble the plate, retainer, and filter element to install the filter. Then, place the entire assembly on the backplate studs. Work onto securing the bracket with the nut. However, do ensure using the proper torque while tightening the nuts into place.
Step 4: Install the Cover
The cover should come with the kit. But some of the kits might require you to use the OEM cover. No matter what the case is, you will need to use the original screws for both. Again, secure the cover by factoring in the right torque amount.
Step 5: Position the Insert and Place It
Next, peel the liner from the backing. But do not just press the cover into the adhesive without positioning the insert over the cover. Line it up correctly, and then use a little force to put it in place. Hold it in place for about 30 seconds. Let the cover stay like that for at least 20 minutes.
Step 6: Install the Main Fuse
Once you are done with the placement, install the main fuse. Check the manual and see if you need to make any further adjustments or not.
How Long Will an Air Intake Last?
The lifespan will highly depend on the material of the filter. You can expect the paper air filters to last for at least 15000 miles in the factory air intake system. The cold air intakes that utilize synthetic air filters will last for at least 30000 miles. After that, they will need cleaning or replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions
a. Is it legal to put an air intake on my Harley Davidson?
The legality will depend on two main factors. Firstly, the region you live in, and secondly, the air intake itself. To be on the safe side, you should check which filters are allowed before purchasing.
b. Is it safe to ride my Harley with an air intake?
If the air intake is water-resistant or you have rain socks on it, there will be no need to worry about safety. And with proper installation and care, the chances of it damaging the engine will be pretty low.
c. Will an air intake make my Harley shoot flames?
That will depend on whether there is an air leak inside the system. A backfiring usually means that there is too much air going inside the engine. And with a proper air intake, that should not be an issue.
d. Will an air intake filter out bad odors?
When it comes to filtering bad odors, it will highly depend on the efficiency of the filtration process. The more efficient the filter, the more capable it will be.
e. Can I just run my motor without a filter for better performance?
No, it would be best if you didn’t ride without a filter. Contaminated air will get inside the engine, which can severely damage the parts.
f. Do I need to tune my Harley after I add an air intake?
If the air intake is directly compatible with your Harley, there will be no need to do any tuning. However, if the kit is not compatible, you should do some manual tuning.
g. How much horsepower does an air intake add?
A proper air intake can add 5 to 15 horsepower. Now, this improvement might not seem a lot on paper, but it can surely enhance the quality of the ride.
h. Does an air cleaner change the sound of a Harley?
Yes, the air intake can change the engine’s sound to some degree. Some can even make your Harley sound deeper and more aggressive.
After installing the best air intake for Harley Davidson, we saw a massive improvement in the engine’s performance. The increase in horsepower was praiseworthy as well. And you can also enjoy all of these benefits by picking one of the models we have reviewed. Safe riding!