K&N air filter - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
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    Hi everyone, I have just stripped the bike down for a service and a good clean.... after removing the OME air filter I was considering splashing out on a K&N one. have anyone installed one? if so whats your thoughts/ gains or problems?

    Or should I stick to another OME

    Thanks

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  3. #2
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    I put a K&N filter on all my vehicles. I even have a K&N on my home furnace
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  4. #3
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    Hello HarryH. When I got my F800R there was one fitted on the air intake. Not sure how long they will last or how that compares to the cost of replacing the original type every time you do a service. Seemed pretty good when I took it off, cleaned it, and gave it a spray with the oil they recommend. All a bit of a faff but as it was already on the bike, thought I'd keep it on. Not sure if it changes the performance. Others might like to comment. Rob.

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    A few years back I did some reading around the subject of aftermarket air filters. Some said they allowed more free flowing air. Others said they didn't add any advantages over a clean OE filter and only added intake noise. Yet others said that the filtration wasn't as good as OE. I guess you pays yer money... FWIW I used to fit K&N to my cars in the 80's and never did notice any performance gain. Perhaps the gain comes once other things like the exhaust are changed out.
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    Unless you keep them oiled up and cleaned correctly they are less efficient than the OEM filters. For the price of it & the kits changing the OEM filter every 18k is more financially viable as well as better for the bike.
    BMW F800ST, 2010, Black, Fuzeblock, Sat Nav, BMW Tank Bag, Givi Touring Screen, Denali Spotlights, Denali CANSmart, Wunderlich Crash Bars, 55K Miles & counting 

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  9. #6
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    I still recall the oiled foam filter that was the stock filter in my 1997 F650 Funduro. I always thought that was in interesting choice for a stock factory air filter. I have seen at least one YouTube video that claimed that oiled foam filters did the best job of filtering air. I have tried both K&N filters and the stock paper filters but I have never been able to tell the difference between the two. Except that buying two stock filters are typically more expensive than buying one K&N filter and that BMW shops will not service the K&N filter as they claim that it takes is too much work to clean and oil the filter and it takes too long for the oil to dry before the bike can be put back on the road. I tend to think that oiled foam, like the Uni filter, might be the best choice as a filtering element, but those filters are usually only available for dirt bikes and not so much for street models.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2020 KTM 390 Duke, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

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    I use OEM filters on all of my bikes and cars and have never suffered an engine failure. Not sure switching to non-OEM is worth the anxiety of the unknown. especially for something as important as filters.
    2012 BMW R1200R Classic | 2015 BMW R1200RT 

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    As I understand it, if an oiled foam air filter allows the engine to "breath" better, our computer controlled injection systems would adjust the fuelling accordingly. Thus keeping the fuel/air ratio at, I think, about 14:1. Thus no noticable improvement in performance. Can someone who knows about these things comment.

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    Yes and no. The ECU will adapt to more air by adding more fuel so there is a theoretical power increase (usually no more than about 2%). What people don't seem to realize is that you can't increase flow without increasing surface area unless you give up filtration efficiency. K&N and other gauze filters do flow better, but it's because they don't filter as well. Maybe the newer nikasil coatings can tolerate the contamination, but iron cylinder bores always show premature wear with gauze type filters. If you want more power, buy more engine. This saying holds as true now as it did when I first heard it 30ish years ago - low cost, power and reliability, pick any two.

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    I totally agree about the more air with same surface area = bigger holes, and thus more dirt. That's bad for oil life and engine longevity.

    Power gain? Possibly if mixed with a freeer flowing exhaust, but without it, the computer can't do much. Our engines already run as lean as any on the market, so it won't increase fuel economy. There's a slight chance for more power at wide open throttle, but I would guess that our fuel pump and injectors are already maxed out at that point. In the old days with a carburetor you could get a jet kit and tune it to a high flow intake and exhaust for significant power gains.

    My used F800 came with a K&N, and I gave it away for a few bucks to a member of this forum. I prefer changing with a fresh one every year or so to maximize the longevity of my engine.

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  16. #11
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    A “freer flowing” filter will not let more air in unless throttle is wide open. If more air passed then more fuel would be added, more power, then the rider would close the throttle to compensate resulting in exactly the same quantity of air as before.

    A K&N has about 1/10th the surface area as a paper filter. To get as much air it must have as much hole area. Is pretty astounding if those holes were not larger than the paper.

    I put a smear of grease on the clean side of an air box with a K&N. Was very unhappy at the grit I found after a couple weeks. Put the paper filter back, with a clean smear of grease and didn’t get the same grit.

    As for dealers, how much of the mechanic’s time are you willing to pay at $100/hour to clean an air filter?
    2016 Yamaha FJR1300A; 2016 Beta 430RS; 2007 BMW F800S; 2009 Husaberg FE450; 2016 Subaru Outback; 2018 F150; 2013 Tesla Model S 85; 1983 Porsche 928S; 9 cats 

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  18. #12
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    K&N has a great marketing campaign, and they have sold a lot of filters to folks who really didn't need them.

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  20. #13
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    They're good if you actually race. I've known track guys that ran open stacks and ran rubber or debris through the top end, K&N type filters make perfect sense for them. They also make sense if your the type of person that never sticks with a bike and flips them before putting too many miles on, after all reliability in the long run isn't a concern for these people. As a buyer though, I'd be cautious if I was looking at a used bike that had one installed.

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  22. #14
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    Had a K&N on my BMW 318iS, took it off once to clean and re-oil. Noticed a film of very fine grit on the intake after the filter. Not quite what @N4HHE did but similar results. Have used OEM paper filters since then. That BMW lasted 184,000 miles until my son shortened it. I will always love his description "I had plenty os space between the car in front and adjusted my iPod playlist and they stopped suddenly".

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  24. #15
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    I wouldn't want to mess with oiling the filter and the mess afterwards. It seems like the cleaning would be messy too.

    If the holes in the K&N are larger, wouldn't that mean dirt would get through like others have said?

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  26. #16
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    I used to use K&N filters on all my Harleys when I rode them and thought I was doing them a great service by doing so. Then upon talking to an engine builder one day he told me that K&N filters worked well when they were dirty but when clean they let too much grit in along with the air. He said that after the filter gets dirty, they stop a lot of the grit that gets past the filter normally. I did a little more research and found this was the general consensus. After that, I just went back to OEM filters as others have said and haven't had any issues. Just changed the filter on my F650GS and am going to go ride in this beautiful weather. YMMV.
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  27. #17
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    K&N relies on oil spanning the gaps of the large holes in their gauze. Some of this oil is blown off, coating the clean side of your air box and MAF sensor. Failures have been attributed to K&N oil but of course K&N is adamant insisting, “we have tested and verified it is safe to use.” Which also confirms K&N oil coats everything.

    If the K&N has to get dirty to clean the air, then isn’t it also plugged and restricting?

    Back in the bad old days when the K&N oiled gauze filter was invented the next best thing was oiled expanded furniture urethane foam. Using motor oil. Or the good old oil bath air filters. Paper was pretty good too but still didn’t have the extensive engineering and deliberate creation of fibers for the purpose of air filtration we have today for both paper and foam. And oil for foam filters.
    2016 Yamaha FJR1300A; 2016 Beta 430RS; 2007 BMW F800S; 2009 Husaberg FE450; 2016 Subaru Outback; 2018 F150; 2013 Tesla Model S 85; 1983 Porsche 928S; 9 cats 

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  29. #18
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    Just my two cents worth.

    Everyone is making very good points about the difference between OEM and the 'oiled filters.' Which ever brand you choose.

    The two main points to remember here.

    1.) The OEM filter does flow a significant amount of air, and I have seen a very thorough test of the stock vs K&N filter on my old BMW (750iL V12.) They used the OEM air boxes and intake runners with a consistent vacuum source and calibrated flow meters. The OEM filters actually flowed air significantly better.

    2.) The oil does not stay on the filter. Small droplets do pass through and stick to the MAF sensor (and allover the intake causing microscopic drag,) which causes the engine to not register the correct air flow. There are also stories about this oil causing premature failure of the expensive MAF sensor.

    And not so insignificant, it is not a two minute job to access/replace the air filter on your bike. Oiled filters need to be serviced regularly to be effective. I see so many pictures of the exposed type of K&N that are caked with dirt. It is fun for the first few weeks, something to fiddle with. Then you just drive and forget it, at this point it becomes a complete waste of time and money.

    On older bikes/cars that do not have MAF sensors and electronically adjust air and fuel mixture, they may be fine. On a modern engine, is is just marketing hype. (Belief perseverance)
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  30. #19
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    You'll probably think I'm crazy, but I generally don't change the air filter on my motorcycles. For that matter, I can't remember changing the air filter on my cars either. When I've taken the air filter out, I found them surprisingly clean. Bang it on the garbage can outside and knock the few bug carcasses off, and blow it out with the leaf blower or air compressor.

    I've washed my motorcycle air filter since 2007. Yup, washed a paper filter. I use Simple Green and a small brush. Then soak them for a few hours. They don't turn to mush like you'd think. When done and rinsed, I'll set them aside till dry.

    On my post-retirement ride of around 6500 miles, I went through lots and lots of bugs. I found bugs in places I never thought possible on my GT. Yet, the air filters weren't hardly dirty at all.

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    I believe that apart from the large bugs, microscopic dirt particles are also an issue. They act like abrasives when they find their way into the cylinder bores and the slightly bigger dirt particles can interfere with the fine calibration of injector nozzles. Personally I use OE filters nowadays. My lawn mower has an oiled foam filter but I'm not so bothered if the engine suffers on that.
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  32. #21
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    I took delivery of my new bike in June last year, I changed the OE filter (to another OE filter) at 6k miles due to the massive contamination from smoke during the fire season in Cali this last summer. Smoke aside, I let the filter on my car go for over 100k miles. Finally put a new one in because why not, it made zero difference in fuel economy ever after 10yrs and 100k miles and it looked 10x better than the one on the moto I just changed. Granted I commute on the bike and not in the car so the car doesn't see the same sort of use. Inside the air box on the bike, clean and dry. With regards to the bugs, they aren't likely to get pulled in unless they wander that way on their own. The intake snorkels are positioned in a way to avoid heavy debris, otherwise you could never ride when it rained. It's the fine 'stuff' that's actually in the air that you need to worry about, dust, ash, etc.
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  33. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daboo View Post
    You'll probably think I'm crazy, but I generally don't change the air filter on my motorcycles. For that matter, I can't remember changing the air filter on my cars either. When I've taken the air filter out, I found them surprisingly clean. Bang it on the garbage can outside and knock the few bug carcasses off, and blow it out with the leaf blower or air compressor.

    I've washed my motorcycle air filter since 2007. Yup, washed a paper filter. I use Simple Green and a small brush. Then soak them for a few hours. They don't turn to mush like you'd think. When done and rinsed, I'll set them aside till dry.

    On my post-retirement ride of around 6500 miles, I went through lots and lots of bugs. I found bugs in places I never thought possible on my GT. Yet, the air filters weren't hardly dirty at all.

    Chris
    I have 176,000 miles on my car, and I believe I am on the 2nd OEM air filter - I believe that I replaced the first one at 100,000 miles. I do take the filter out now and then and blow air backwards through the filter to clean it.

    When all the roads you drive on are paved and the ambient air is generally clean - there really isn't a lot of work for the air filter to do. We did have one issues with my wife's turbo diesel VW Jetta, when the little flyers from Dandelions plugged up a small mesh screen inside the intake air tube - whenever you got on the throttle the turbo would try to get air and the plugged screen placed a big vacuum on the air filter box.....and the air filter box turned into a 1 note accordion!
    VW placed a small plastic mesh screen in the intake tube just behind the headlight and hid it behind the battery - it took a long time to find the source of the problem. We used the OEM paper filters on that car and sold it with 276,000 miles on it....the car still ran fine!

    I have friends/relatives that live in areas with gravel and dirt roads - and their filter needs are likely far different than mine. The only time we have dirty pavement is when the mud from construction projects are drug out onto the road and dries - and in winter when the road deicer dries and becomes dusty.

    I just use the stock paper filters - they do a good job and most of the time I never need additional performance.....and I just don't believe any aftermarket air filter can increase mpg (if they could you would see them on the production cars as they are doing everything they can to increase mpg). I do believe that a really dirty and restrictive filter could have reduced mpg in the days when we had carbs - but not on a modern fuel injected engine that adjusts the fuel/air mixture several times each second!

  34. #23
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    One thing that I have noticed since the pandemic started and traffic volumes dropped substantially is that the air in my area has become much cleaner than it used to be. Now when I arrive home after a ride my helmet face shield and my motorcycle are still clean. In fact, I have only washed my bikes about twice during the past year. Before the pandemic, I would get particles of what looked like fine soot on all forward facing surfaces after a ride and would typically wash my bikes about once a month.

    I was out riding yesterday, heading toward the Santa Cruz Mountains, around 10 am. Before the pandemic traffic on the 4-lane (in one direction) freeway would be completely jammed as far as the eye could see and be moving about 30 mph as employees drove down to Silicon Valley. These traffic conditions would start around 6 am and continue all morning, lightening up around 11 am. Yesterday, the freeway was almost empty at 10 am, with vehicles moving at 80 mph or faster. The contrast in the traffic flow between before and after all of the high-tech workers started to work at home instead of at the office was striking. I wonder what it will look like after the virus crisis finally ends - whenever that will be?
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2020 KTM 390 Duke, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

  35. #24
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    Wow, 80+ mph on the freeways around here would net you a shoulder encounter with a LEO. Speed limits are 55 - 65 mph and locals know better than to exceed them.
    2012 BMW R1200R Classic | 2015 BMW R1200RT 

  36. #25
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    Yeah, 280 has become a virtual race track since things shut down. Highest local posted speed is 65 and it hits 70 if you head inland a bit, but the average pace on freeways that aren't overcrowded has been 80 for some time now. People still get pulled over, but they're usually the ones trying extra hard to get noticed, or sometimes it's just bad luck and everyone else slowed down while you didn't.
    My bike/gear/visor/etc is still the same level of dirty as always. The only exception would have been the ash from the fires, that stuff just made a huge mess.

  37. #26
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    What's traffic? Where I live you'd be lucky to see 3 cars in a 200km ride.....even before covid. I believe I live in one of the best motorcycle places on earth. Take care all.

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  39. #27
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    Around here the usual speed on the interstates is 79 - won't get pulled over. Some even say 85 only rarely get you pulled over. A couple of weeks ago I drove north of town. Just trying to survive among all the very aggressive pickups was running 70+ in a 50 zone and was the slowest vehicle on the interstate. Things got out of hand when everyone stayed home but now traffic is back to 75% to 85% of pre COVID levels and LEO are starting to pull folks over. I was running 79 today and had more than one vehicle come up behind me significantly faster than I was going. Including one old Ford Taurus with different colors of fenders and hood - I got out of his way ASAP! My favorite was the car with the hood held closed with a strap and the center was flapping up and down, suspension was so bad he was floating down the interstate but was running 90 to 100 MPH. Scarry to watch him go.

    It is pollen season here and if I leave my car outside it turns yellow! Daboo I have you beat - I'm never changing the engine air filter on my new car - never will! It doesn't have one I will change the cabin air filter though. I have noticed that my air filters don't get super dirty but they do get some dirt so it's good to change them from time to time. I don't drive on dirt or gravel but there is enough dirt and stuff around that the filters do get some dirt. Noticed on my F800GT it would get a light dirt film but if ridden in the rain in states like Wyoming and Utah it picked up a lot of dirt. Must be a fair amount of dirt that accumulates on the road surface and when it rains it will get picked up.

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    The cabin air filter is something I have to change every year, it gets absolutely caked with trash.

  41. #29
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    One reason that these very fast jalopies on the highway concern me is that the likely don't have brakes that will stop them as quickly as they can travel. You can add to that inattention by their drivers and their slow reactions and you have a potential for a big pileup which is definitely going to be bad news for anyone caught up in the mayhem, especially any motorcycle rider. About the only thing you can do to try to keep out of that drama is what PhotoAl does. Move over and do your best to let them by. Avoid the urge to get caught up in the rat race.
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  43. #30
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    Hi, thank you all for the replies with some interesting reading! I decided to buy the K&N after all and up to now I'm happy with what I am experiencing. my flat spot has disappeared and I am getting more MPG but that could be down to an oil change too.

    If I encounter any problems over the next few months I will post on here.

    Stay safe

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    Keep on top of the maintenance of it - keep it oiled up on a regular basis.
    BMW F800ST, 2010, Black, Fuzeblock, Sat Nav, BMW Tank Bag, Givi Touring Screen, Denali Spotlights, Denali CANSmart, Wunderlich Crash Bars, 55K Miles & counting 

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