In its century-long history, Harley Davidson has set a lineup of hundreds of motorcycle models. Each is unique and the center of interest of a class of riders for some reason. Uniqueness also exists in various tools and devices used or required for Harley bikes. It means – while one tool is suitable for a model, it may not be ideal for other models. That’s why you may face hardship in choosing the right air intake for your Harley Davidson. The ongoing article representing the best air intake for Harley Davidson can guide you precisely.
Best for Touring, Softail, Street Glide, Road King – K&N RK-3952
Best for Fatboy, Dyna, Switchback, Softail, Heritage – K&N 57-1137
Great for Almost All Models – Kuryakyn Hypercharger Air Filter
Best Air Intake for Harley Touring – K&N RK-3956 or Happy Motor
Best Air Intake for Harley Sportster (XLs) –K&N 63-1126 or V&H VO2
Best for Harley FLs (e.g. Road King) – AN Monster
Best for Harley Big Twins – Arlen Ness 18-929 Deep Cut Inverted
Best for Harley Evo & Twin Cams – Performance Machine FastAir
Benefits of Using Cold Air Intake
Cold air intake is an air filter device attached to the induction system of a motorcycle. While the engine is running, it draws in less dense and colder atmospheric air into the combustion chamber using engine suction. The process decreases temperature inside the cylinder and results in a lower probability of throttling. As back pressure remains low, it also increases horsepower, mid-range torque and throttle response.
As compared to the air filter attached to the carburetor, cold air intake offers you the benefits of deceleration/acceleration enrichment technology. This means – if any one of these two situations arises while riding your bike at high speed, it can partially or fully close the engine’s throttle immediately to avoid engine damage.
When and Why Install a New Air Intake
If you have been riding your Harley- Davidson for a considerable time, you may need a new air intake. Old models have rubber tubes that can crack and break out at some point. Your engine sucks in unfiltered air from the atmosphere, which is not good for it over the long run.
Harley Davidson Air Intake – Buying Guide
Don’t buy any air intake without checking the following:
Make sure that your Harley Davidson model is compatible with it. Quality air intakes are designed to function on most of the models by H-D. But some may not fit as expected. Plus, you should note its application and conditions of use before buying an aftermarket air intake. For instance, don’t get a Duramax V8 engine intake while searching for Milwaukee 8 engine intake.
Cheap air intakes are mostly made from aluminum and plastic, which is not good for your expensive bike. When it comes to durability, steel-made ones often come on top of the list. Also, a stainless-steel material can prevent corrosion to a greater extent. If you want to hear more about this, please read our article about the best stainless steel exhaust tips.
A warranty is a good indication of quality. It tells you that your air intake is worth buying and saves you from losses if it fails to function as expected. Ensure your air intake carries a warranty if you are an avid bike rider who rides every day.
It’s another effective way to know whether an air intake is worth buying or not. You can read out reviews of a particular product before spending your money on it.
It should always be your priority as you are buying it to use for a limited period. You do not need to spend thousands of dollars on it. A good quality will be available at a great price too.
Cold Air Intakes Vs. Short Air Intakes
Short air intakes are mostly used on older models. The equipped carburetor system makes the engine suck in air from below it, which is not ideal. It can hinder throttle response and increase back pressure to some extent.
On the other hand, cold air intake uses a cone filter that draws in colder and denser atmospheric air into the engine. It does not adversely affect throttle response; instead, it enhances it. Cold air intakes are equipped with high-flow air filters that minimize back pressure and improve the engine’s overall performance.
If you are looking for more power, choose an air intake that draws in cold air from outside rather than inside your engine compartment.
Brands that Produce Harley Davidson Air Intake
If you are looking for a cold air intake, here are some best-selling brands that produce the highest quality intakes:
- Vance & Hines
- Arlen Ness
- K&N and
- S&S Brands
How Much HP will a Cold Air Intake Add?
An air intake is an easy way to increase your engine’s horsepower. According to the American Motorcycle Institute, it can add 10-15 hp or even more dependent on its design and other factors.
It will also enhance throttle response and improve fuel economy too. But you should choose your brand wisely as not all air intakes are of high quality.
Usual Costing for H-D Horsepower Upgradation
You’ll need to invest around $300-$500 for a cold air intake or short air intake. Brands that produce high-quality intakes are a bit expensive.
But a good quality intake will be worth your money as it can protect your engine from clogging. So you should find out your budget before purchasing an air intake for your H-D motorbike.
Do I Need to Tune my Harley if I Add an Air Intake?
Some aftermarket intakes do not require a tune, while others need it. So you’ll have to check the product description carefully. Below are steps on how to install a new air intake in my H-D?
- Buy an air intake that is compatible with your bike.
- Drain the oil from your bike’s crankcase and store it somewhere safe.
- Remove all the covers or side panels of your motorcycle to access the carburetor bowl, throttle cables, then remove the stock air intake.
- Install your new air intake in reverse order until you are done with all steps.
- Add the oil back in your bike’s crankcase. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully before doing this step.
Will a Cold Air Intake Change the Sound of My Exhaust?
Yes. A cold air intake will change the sound of your exhaust, making it louder and more aggressive. It also makes your car sound meaner than before. The good news is that you’ll start hearing a distinct new sound from your engine: which is the sound of cold air entering the engine like an airplane on takeoff.
Can an Air Intake Damage the H-D Engine?
Short answer – Yes, but it is unlikely.
An air intake definitely affects the performance and health of your engine. But if you choose a high-quality cold air intake, you won’t have to worry about any damage to your engine.
You must clean the filter on your new H-D air intake regularly for best results. A dirty filter can prevent your engine from sucking in cold air, which may affect its performance. So make sure you buy a filter cleaning kit and use it regularly to maintain the quality of your bike’s air intake.
In the world of aftermarket motorcycle parts, there are thousands of air intake brands. However, not all of them produce high-quality products. Many of the cheap models may do more harm than good to your bike in the long run.
If you want maximum horsepower for your Harley, buy a quality product that exceeds OE standards. I hope this article helped answer your question about air intakes for Harley Davidson!