Rain socks are raincoats for air filters. They are water-proof and even dust-proof to an extent.
So, is a rain sock on an air filter worth it? If the air filter is exposed to the outside atmosphere, a rain sock cover is worth it. If not, there is no need for a rain sock to an enclosed air filter.
Let’s dig in to understand what a rain sock does, how is it useful, and whether is it worth it.
What does a rain sock do?
A rain sock (also called an air filter cover) is a thin cover designed to prevent water and dust from entering the air filter.
In other words, a rain sock makes the air filter more waterproof and dustproof.
The primary reason though is still to protect the air filter from rain and water.
Funny thing. The air filter itself is designed to prevent water, dust, dirt, and other air contaminants from entering the engine.
The rain sock will basically be a protection to a protection.
But, one cannot deny that a rain sock does indeed help the air filter.
How does a rain sock help air filter?
Rain sock helps the air filter in three major ways.
First, the rain sock prevents the air filter from getting wet. This is an important function since a wet air filter will cause combustion problems in the engine.
A wet air filter will form a dirt layer around the filtering material and will eventually block or restrict air entry into the engine.
This water protection is the main reason why people use rain socks on their motorcycle air filters.
Second, apart from being waterproof, rain covers also prevent dust from entering the filter. As a result, the air filter’s job gets easier. It has to filter less dirt and air contaminants.
The air filter can now easily filter the air and feed the carburetor with fresh air. The dust, dirt, and other contaminants now are getting filtered by two layers – the rain sock and the air filter.
Third, the air filter will have a higher lifespan with the rain sock on. Since rain sock helps in dust protection, the air filter itself has to filter a low amount of dust from the air.
As a result, the amount of time it takes for the air filter to get clogged and blackened with dust will be far higher with rain socks than without.
The dirt and dust accumulation on the filter will be slower. Hence, an improved lifespan for the air filter.
Why an air filter should not get wet?
If the air filter gets slightly wet, it is not a big deal. The water will be vaporized in some time. It’s a nuisance. But a manageable one.
However, if the air filter gets soaking wet, then there definitely is a problem.
Soaking wet air filters can trap air dirt, dust, and other contaminants to form a layer of dirt on the filter material.
Over time, as the dirt accumulates, the air filter gets clogged. This results in the engine not receiving sufficient air and running on a rich fuel mixture.
Such a thing is not only bad for the engine but for the entire motorcycle’s performance as well.
The fuel efficiency will go down. The exhaust might backfire. And the overall engine performance can easily decrease.
So, it is essential to take care of the air filter if it’s too damn wet.
And more importantly, don’t allow the filter to get wet in the first place.
Do you need a rain sock on the air filter?
With all these long explanations on what is a rain sock, what does it do, and why an air filter should not get wet, the question still remains – do you need a rain sock on the air filter?
First, a rain cover is not a necessity for the air filter. It is okay to NOT have a rain sock on the air filter and the filter will be all right. A rain sock cover is not a make-or-break accessory.
Second, most air filters are placed inside a casing. Either under the motorcycle seat or beside the engine covered with sideways casing. Air filters are not kept open to the outside environment.
And that means, the air filters are not prone to rain and getting wet as much as we thought. Sure, while cleaning your motorcycle and you use a jet to spray water, the air filter can get wet. But from rain, less likely.
Heavy rain can indeed make the water droplets find the air filter. But a slightly wet air filter is not a big deal. The air filter will survive that.
When the air filter is not exposed to the outside atmosphere, the chances of getting wet are reduced. So the less need for a rain sock.
But, if the air filter is exposed to the outside atmosphere, on the other hand, a rin sock is a great accessory.
An exposed air filter is more prone to getting wet. Even a slight drizzle can make the filter material turn into a dirty mess. Literally.
When the chances of getting wet and non-functioning are so high for an exposed air filter, it is better to protect it.
And a rain sock indeed fits the bill. It protects the air filter from getting wet. Even heavy rain will have little to no impact on a covered air filter.
So, a rain sock is useful for an exposed air filter.
If this is confusing and all over the place, here is the gist of it:
- If the air filter is enclosed and not exposed to the outside atmosphere – there is no need for a rain sock.
- If the air filter is exposed to the outside atmosphere – a rain sock is a useful addition.
Pros and cons
- prevents the air filter from getting wet
- also prevents dust from entering the filter
- increases air filter’s lifespan
- not a necessary component
- not of much value if the air filter is enclosed
Are rain socks worth it?
Rain socks are worth it if the air filter is not enclosed and is exposed to the outside environment.
Exposed air filters are prone to get wet and attract more dust. Covering the filter with a rain sock helps to prevent water and dust from entering the air filter easily.
So, if your air filter is exposed to the atmosphere, then go ahead and buy a rain sock. It is worth it.
But on the other hand, if the air filter is enclosed, which in most cases is, then rain socks are not worth it. They do not provide much value, to be honest.
What happens if the air filter gets wet?
If the air filter gets slightly wet, nothing major happens. The filter will dry out in some time.
But, if the air filter gets too wet, like soaking wet, the air filter will get clogged.
Wet air filters can trap air dirt and dust to form a layer of dirt on the filter material. Over time, as the dirt accumulates, the air filter gets clogged.
Can you ride a motorcycle without an air filter?
It is NOT advised to ride a motorcycle without an air filter.
While you can ride a motorcycle without its air filter, the engine will get damaged in no time.
Riding without an air filter can lead to damage to the cylinder walls, piston, and piston rings. They might have to be rebuilt.
Most likely, the engine will also fail after you run the motorcycle without the air filter for a long enough time.
To rebuild the engine, you have to replace the piston and its rings and rebore the cylinder walls, which is a huge pain on the, you know, backside.
How often should you change the air filter in motorcycles?
The air filter in a motorcycle should be replaced every 12,000 miles (20,000 kilometers).
The air filter should also be checked during servicing, i.e., every 3000 miles (5000 kilometers).
If the filter is clogged with the dirt during the inspection, you need to replace the filter far early than the recommended time frame.