Are Foam Air Filters Better? (Answered!)

Foam air filter

Foam air filters are not so widely used.

But you do find many motorcycle riders, especially dirt bikers, appreciating the filter immensely for its filtering capabilities.

So, are foam filters better? Foam filters are not at all better than paper pleated or cotton gauze filters. However, in dusty conditions, foam air filter works the best as compared to other filters.

That’s why, most dirt bikes and off-road motorcycles contain foam air filters in them rather than the usual paper filters.

Let’s dig in for the details.

Are foam filters better than other filters?

Foam air filters are filters that use polyurethane foam as their filtering material.

In contrast, Paper pleat filters and Cotton gauze filters use paper and cotton as their filtering materials respectively.

Now, as for – ‘are foam air filters better?’ is concerned, there are certain advantages that foam filters provide.

First, foam air filters are useful especially if you are driving in dusty environments. The usual OEM paper filters do not filter great when the conditions are too dusty.

Second, foam filters usually have a higher lifespan than that of paper or cotton gauze filters.

But, here is the thing. Foam air filters are not preferred usually either by the OEMs or by aftermarket filter buyers.

OEMs prefer paper pleat air filters since they are the cheapest air filters and do the required filtering job under normal conditions. So, most on-road motorcycles come with paper air filters in them.

Next, for riders who go for aftermarket air filters, cotton gauze air filters are the most preferred filter type. While cotton gauze filters are slightly costly, they are high quality filters and can be cleaned and reused (clogged paper filters are recommended to be replaced).

As a result, foam air filters are not popular filters used out there.

However, for dirt bikes and off-road motorcycles where the driving environment is too dusty, foam filters are still the best filter type.

What are foam air filters made of?

Foam air filters are usually made up of polyurethane foam as the filtering material.

This material blocks the air contaminants, dirt, and dust from entering the motorcycle or the car it is used for.

Polyurethane foam is not the best filtering material, especially when compared to paper filters Or cotton gauze filters which have paper and cotton gauze with them respectively.

However, to strengthen its filtering, multiple layers of the foam material are used to prepare a solid filter.

As a result of this multiple layering, foam air filters block dust particles much more effectively than paper or cotton gauze filters. This is because paper and cotton gauze filters have a single layer and their filtering capabilities diminish if the dust is too much.

Foam filters, on the other hand, have higher surfaces are for filtering owing to their multiple foam layers. As a result, they can handle high amounts of dust easily and are in fact, preferred air filters in dusty conditions.

Are foam filters washable?

Foam air filters are easily washable and reusable after wash.

If you want to wash the air filter, easily take out the filter first and then the foam out of the filter.

Rinse the foam in a soap water solution. To clean the filtering material, a soapy solution works perfectly fine. However, if you want to go for a branded cleaning kit, you can opt for it.

Rinse the foam in the solution for at least 30 minutes. You want all the dirt clogged up on the foam to get cleaned out.

Once rinsed, if the dirt was too much and the soap Or the cleaning solution has changed its color to because of the dirt, consider rinsing again. Or at least cleaning with normal water.

Once rinsed, allow the foam to dry out. This will take some time depending on the weather conditions.

You can use an air blower to speed up the drying process.

Once dried out, put the foam back into the filter and fit the air filter into your vehicle.

Now the foam air filter is ready to go and filter again.

How often should a foam air filter be cleaned?

Foam air filters should be cleaned at least every 10,000 miles of distance traveled. If the motorcycle has been riding in dusty conditions, consider cleaning the foam air filter every 5000 or 8000 miles.

If you were using paper filters, it is best practice to change the air filter for every 12,000 miles of distance traveled.

However, since foam air filters can be reused by cleaning them, for better maintenance, cleaning the filter every 10,000 miles of distance traveled by motorcycle sounds good.

Do you need to oil a foam air filter?

Most foam oil filters are oiled up for better filtering of the dust, dirt, and other air contaminants.

While it is not mandatory to have oil on the foam, an oiled-up air filter does indeed filter much better.

The oil layer on the filter will prevent any dirt or dust particles in the air from passing through. These contaminants get stuck in the oil layer and hence, the filtering process of the filter is improved overall. That’s precisely the reason why these air filters have oil on them.

That’s why, whenever you wash the foam and are about to reuse it, consider oiling up the filter.

Related Questions

What are the different types of air filters?

There are mainly three types of air filters used in motorcycles.

  • Paper pleat air filter
  • Cotton gauze air filter
  • Foam air filter

Here is a detailed post on types of air filters covering each of their pros and cons.

Can you ride a motorcycle without an air filter?

While you can run a motorcycle without an air filter, the engine will get damaged in no time as dust and dirt start to accumulate in the engine.

When you run your motorcycle without the air filter, these contaminants will start accumulating on the engine cylinder walls as well as the piston – reducing engine performance and slowly leading to engine failure.