It doesn’t matter which industry you are talking about, if it has an internal combustion engine, somebody is trying to make it faster. There is always an endless supply of so-called “performance parts” out there, and in many cases, to see a benefit, you must make additional modifications or drive or ride on an extreme level.
When your customers are looking for a performance upgrade that is affordable and effective for all types of riding, performance air filters and intake systems are one of the easiest ways for them to get noticeable results, making these products perfect to keep on your shelves.
The most common type of performance filters are the re-useable, high-flow oiled filters that are widely recognized by their (usually) red color, and the idea behind these filters is quite simple.
Traditional paper filters are constructed of tightly woven fibers that physically block dirt from passing through. The main drawback to this is that when they are woven tight enough to keep out the dirt, they inherently create a measureable restriction of airflow.
Oiled high-flow filters are made of cotton that is not weaved as tightly as their paper counterparts, allowing for much greater airflow. This increased airflow is made possible by the oil, which soaks the cotton and grabs and absorbs the dirt as it attempts to pass by, providing excellent filtration.
The oil contains a colored dye; red being the most common, for no particular reason other than it is a “hot” color. The purpose for the dye is so when the oil is applied to the filter, you can tell that you have complete coverage. Some filter manufacturers offer different colors, and the only difference is preference.
A quick search on the internet will yield multiple results for these types of filters. Your customers may ask if there is a difference, and your answer should be a confident “yes.” The bottom line is that there are “budget” manufacturers of these filters and there are high-end manufacturers. The serious players spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their research facilities to be able to test airflow, efficiency, filtration and manufacturing accuracy.
Does that mean that you should ignore the less expensive brands? Not necessarily. It can be a tough call and you don’t want to lose sales to someone who has their mind set on the “budget” variety. Explaining the benefits of the higher quality units and making a recommendation is the best service you can offer your customers.
It is important for your customers to know that these types of filters will require maintenance in the form of cleaning. The oil will eventually get dirty, but cleaning is simple. The manufacturer of the filter will offer a cleaning kit that includes a special detergent to be sprayed onto the filter. Once it is allowed to soak, simply rinse it with water and let it dry, then re-apply fresh oil. Always follow the manufacturers instructions and you will get a lifetime of use out of the filter.
Take note that it is important to use the cleaning detergents and oils that come from the manufacturer of the filter. Although similar overall, different companies will use different material compositions in their filters and by using a different detergent or oil, you could ultimately affect the longevity of the filter. So stick to what is made for it, only change colors if the same manufacturer offers the oil.
Performance air filters are available to fit in stock air boxes as a direct replacement and also in many different shapes and sizes for custom builds or installation with performance air boxes or intake systems.
Intake Systems and Particle Separators
Performance intakes are available for some motorcycles and intakes, air boxes and particle separators are becoming more and more popular with the ATV/UTV/off-road segment.
First, take a look at the factory intake or air box design; it is actually quite complex. Not only must the air box draw in cool air, but also it must do so in a manner that minimizes any type of turbulence to allow efficient air flow into the filter. In addition, the air box acts as a particle and moisture separator and it also reduces intake noise levels. They are designed as an integral part of the vehicle they are on, with a stronger focus on matching the overall engineering design and output intentions of the vehicle, rather than for all-out performance.
The general theory of a performance air box or intake is to improve on all of the factory features; increasing airflow by greater reduction of turbulence, increasing the intake of cooler, denser air by improving the inlet location and also enhancing the sound of the engine. The research and development behind these improvements is in direct alignment with the same type of research that is performed for air filter design.
Dedicated particle separators can be one of the more valuable additions your customer can make, especially if they ride in extremely dusty conditions. These types of particle separators can eliminate over 90 percent of the dust that would normally be drawn into the factory air box, which over the course of a long race or ride could result in a considerable loss of power from a dirty air filter.
Foam Air Filters and Filter Wraps
Foam air filters are another option to consider, and one your customers will certainly ask for. They have been around for a long time and are no stranger to the powersports world.
Foam, like woven paper or cotton, has the same ability to allow air to pass through while trapping dirt particles. Open-cell foam is used for these types of filters and depending on the size of the cells, they will be either oiled or non-oiled.
The oiled foam is designed to be easily cleaned and re-oiled to maintain consistent performance.
As simple as foam may seem, it offers many complexities and considerable research and testing is invested in these filters as well. Many of these are offered in a two-layer construction with course foam over fine foam for precision filtering and maximum flow.
Foam filter wraps carry all of the same characteristics of foam filters, but they are designed to do exactly what their name implies, “wrap” a standard air filter. They are also available in course oiled or fine non-oiled open-cell foam.
Due to the overall ease of cleaning the foam versus a cotton-oiled filter, these wraps have a considerable benefit in dusty conditions, fitting specifically around the air filter, keeping it cleaner longer.
With multiple options, your customer may look to you for advice, but the bottom line is that air makes power, which makes it easy and fun for you to sell. If your customers want to get the most out of their powersports experience, they have to let their machine breathe. With such noticeable results from these products, you will have a satisfied customer every time.