K&N air filters

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mikenixon
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K&N air filters

Post #1 by mikenixon » Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:20 pm

The K&N product. It's made exceptionally well. Good quality. Surprisingly durable. Easy to install and to service. Most of all, in the individual ("pod") form it frees up a lot of creative potential (i.e., real estate) in cut and weld brat and bobber building. And its basic premise is laudable: a cleanable, reusable, almost life-of-the-vehicle air filter. Sounds good.

However, that last is not reality. K&Ns are not very cleanable and they don't really last all that long. And worst of all they really don't filter too well. Major powersports shops some time ago discovered that some engines' low cylinder compression was due to the failure of aftermarket air filters in keeping dirt out of the engine. K&N air filters are among these, and unfortunately can be viewed as the bulk of the problem. But here's the unintuitive part. The low compression is due not to worn rings or cylinders, as one would assume, but to fully deployed cam chain tensioners. Yup, severe cam chain wear. Excess dirt enters the crankcase. The highest friction part in there is the cam chain. The elongated cam chain retards cam timing, resulting in significantly lower than normal compression. I have seen this firsthand in numerous machines, and while cam lobe wear is also typical in Japanese bikes and produces the double whammy of both reduced valve action and retarded valve timing, that scenario takes dozens of years to develop. I look for both of these issues when starting engine work, and I find significantly worn cam lobes on nearly every 70s and 80s engine I see. But that's a different situation. Here we're talking a year or less of use, and then it's always the cam chain.

I won't insist that K&N air filters were responsible for the excessively worn cam chains either in every reported instance or in all my own observed ones, but I strongly suspect it. With over 46 years in powersports, I have of course used K&N filters. My observation is that even properly serviced, the K&N filter inherently passes more dirt into the engine than do the other filter types.

So you will appreciate my surprise when several months ago I received a notice in my email inbox from the K&N company encouraging me to read their October 22 blog, "What Happens If Dirt Gets In Your Engine?"
Really?! The irony! In my view the K&N product *causes* excessive dirt to get into the engine. And oddly, while piston and cylinder wear is recognized in the blog as critical, crankcase contamination resulting in cam chain wear is completely ignored. Too bad.

Your mileage may vary. But it's something to think about. And no, I am not on a crusade against the K&N product. But neither do I like it particularly. And, noting the blog's declaration regarding "fifty percent more air flow" available using their air filter over the stock one, isn't it a little too much to assume, no matter what the rhetoric, that this is possible at the same filtering efficiency? Hasn't anyone ever considered where that extra flow comes from? Mechanics have known for a long time, even if many consumers continue to choose to ignore it.

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #2 by Whiskerfish » Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:54 pm

The issue to me is that more air flow and CV carbs is not always the best solution.
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Re: K&N air filters

Post #3 by pidjones » Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:17 pm

Although I seldom ride in dusty condition, paper filters have given me more than sufficient life to outweigh the higher cost.

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #4 by mikenixon » Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:53 pm

Whiskerfish wrote:The issue to me is that more air flow and CV carbs is not always the best solution.


:)

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #5 by Rat » Sat Jun 27, 2020 1:44 pm

I once bought a CB900F (81) that came with k&n individual air filters .... found it difficult/impossible to balance the 4 because a tiny difference in the amount of 'wetness' changed how that cylinder performed.

The previous owner approached the problem by taping varying width strips of aluminum foil to the outside of the filters .... he actually had it running OK .... but the foil kept blowing off

I went back to the stock air box/paper filter .....

Gord crossy.gif

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #6 by mikenixon » Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:15 pm

Rat wrote:I once bought a CB900F (81) that came with k&n individual air filters .... found it difficult/impossible to balance the 4 because a tiny difference in the amount of 'wetness' changed how that cylinder performed.

The previous owner approached the problem by taping varying width strips of aluminum foil to the outside of the filters .... he actually had it running OK .... but the foil kept blowing off

I went back to the stock air box/paper filter .....

Gord crossy.gif


Whoa! Ingenius but insane.

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #7 by sgwilly » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:13 am

I too, have been seduced by K&N and their claims of 50% more airflow and "never buy another air filter again". But really, it was the sticker I was after.

If Thrush make an exhaust system for the wing, I'd sure as beans have it.
thrush.jpg
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Re: K&N air filters

Post #8 by 5speed » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:45 am

I fell in the K&N rabbit hole many years ago..put one in my 92 caprice. didn't notice any discernible increase in performance.
Every vehicle I own now bikes included get a factory style paper filter..

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #9 by mikenixon » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:35 am

sgwilly wrote:I too, have been seduced by K&N and their claims of 50% more airflow and "never buy another air filter again". But really, it was the sticker I was after.

If Thrush make an exhaust system for the wing, I'd sure as beans have it.
thrush.jpg


:)

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #10 by mikenixon » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:35 am

5speed wrote:I fell in the K&N rabbit hole many years ago..put one in my 92 caprice. didn't notice any discernible increase in performance.
Every vehicle I own now bikes included get a factory style paper filter..


:)

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #11 by rcmatt007 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:54 am

it seems rather simple.... more air (same sized filter) equals less filter

since we just passed the 40 years of Mt Saint Helens.... do people recall what that did to compression!

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #12 by mikenixon » Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:23 pm

:)

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Re: K&N air filters

Post #13 by HOTT » Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:13 pm

I've often heard that. C'est dommage, K&N was very good to me a few years back.
You would like to think it comes down to timely maintenance for your conditions,
but if your filter is little more than a screen door....

Filtering the air intake has always been tricky business. (FunnelWeb filters)
1.jpg


thanks Mike
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Re: K&N air filters

Post #14 by mikenixon » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:48 am

Looks like a sea creature... :)


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