If your Harley isn’t performing the way it used to when you bought it, it may be time to replace your air filters. Air filters prevent harmful particles from entering the engine. But these filters are vulnerable to wear and tear with age. And so, at some point in your Harley’s life, you will have to replace them.
And to get the best out of your bike’s engine, you will need to replace the filters with the best air cleaner for Harley 103. To help you pick the right filter, I have reviewed my top picks below. But before we get into the reviews, there are a few things we need to understand about air filters.
Top on the list is the K&N 63-1125 Harley Davidson Performance Intake Kit. The latter will significantly improve your bike’s performance and has a long lifespan of up to 100,000 miles. And this is the main reason I picked it at number one.
The runner-up position goes to the Kuryakyn 9355 Hypercharger ES Air Cleaner/Filter Kit for 2001-17 Harley-Davidson. The latter is designed for more performance-oriented riders. Its electric solenoid adds a nice touch.
What is an engine air filter?
The air filter traps particles from the air such as dust, dirt, bugs, and other debris and prevents them from entering the engine. Without filters, these particles would enter the engine and greatly reduce its lifespan. Also, dust and dirt are the main culprits causing car Vent Selector problems.
Also, these particles can also lead to corrosion of certain engine parts, which, when damaged, will require replacing, which can be costly.
How do Harley 103 air cleaner work?
Air cleaners use a filter material, which can be foam, paper, or cotton material. Air passes through this material, and particles such as dust, dirt, bugs, and others are trapped in the material. Oil is also used on some types to help in trapping this debris.
Types of air filters for motorbikes
Air filters used on motorbikes come in a variety of types. However, there are three main types. These are paper, oil gauzed, and oil foam.
Paper air filters:
These are the most common and are also inexpensive. They take the form of a thick and porous paper-like material similar to what you find in coffee machines. They are also pleated to increase their surface area.
They offer sufficient airflow while blocking out particles. Unfortunately, paper filters have to be replaced when they reach the end of their life span. As such, they are not reusable, and this is one of their main drawbacks.
These filters used a layer of fabric separated by a thin wire mesh and covered in oil. The material is most often cotton or artificial fiber. This fabric is more porous than paper, and thus these filters allow airflow at a faster rate.
One of the benefits of this type of filter is that it is reusable. You can clean the filter and re-oil it. This makes them more environmentally friendly than paper filters.
These filters feature a thick foam coated in oil with porous holes. They are typically used in off-road bikes that operate in dusty areas. These filters are better at trapping dust and other debris. Similar to oil gauzed, these filters can be washed and reused.
When should I change my Harley 103 Air Filter?
This will largely depend on the type of filter you have on your bike. For the Harley 103, it is recommended to replace the filters after about 5,000 miles. However, most OEM filters are usually paper filters, which typically do not have a long life span.
When using oil gauzed or oil foam filters, you can go for up to 15,000 miles before requiring to replace them. Ideally, these air filters should be replaced after about 10,000 to 15,000 miles.
Best air cleaners for Harley 103
K&N 63-1125 Harley Davidson Performance Intake Kit
While you can replace the air filter alone, I have often found that replacing the entire system is the better option in terms of performance. And this is why you get with the K&N 63-1125 Harley Davidson performance intake kit.
Compatible with 2011-2017 models, this cone-shaped system will give your engine an excellent sound. But its best feature is the red cotton oil gauze that is responsible for trapping all those nasty particles we don’t want entering our engines.
The gauze came pre-oiled and is washable and reusable. As such, it should last you long, in some cases for up to 100,000 miles, before needing a replacement.
Most components from the intake tubes to the throttle body mounting plate are made from aluminum. The intake tube, in particular, is also mandrel bent and delivers improved airflow, which translates to more power.
In fact, I did notice a horsepower gain of about 7.78 on my 2012 Harley with this intake kit installed. Speaking of installation, since it comes with all the necessary hardware included installing it is not complicated.
Kuryakyn 9355 Hypercharger ES /Filter Kit for 2001-17 Harley Davidson 103 Air Cleaner
If you have spent a lot of time around Harley Davidson, then chances are you have seen some with a hyper charger hanging on the side. These types of air cleaners have a more aggressive look than your typical air cleaner.
And one of the more well-known hyper charger brands is Kuryakan. Designed for the 2001 t0 2017 models, the 9355 Hypercharger ES air cleaner is the kit I picked to review. My review unit came with a chrome finish with black highlights.
I would have preferred a black one, but I am not complaining, as the color has no effect on performance. One of the first things I loved about this cleaner was the electric solenoid, which is what ES stands for. This is used to electrically open and close the butterfly flaps at the front of the cleaner, which I think is a nice touch.
Inside this kit is a high airflow filter that will suck in more air than most standard air filters. In addition, it uses a K&N air filter inside, so you know you are getting a fantastic air filter.
Where you may have some problems with this air filter kit is in the installation. Due to the addition of an electric solenoid is a bit more complicated than installing a standard air cleaner. However, the manual does an excellent job of guiding you through the installation process.
K&N Engine Air Filter: High Performance, Powersport Air Filter
Not everyone wants to replace the entire air filtration kit on their bikes; some people replacing the air filter is sufficient. However, if you are such a performer, then the K&N Engine Powersport air filter is a great option.
It uses the red cotton oil gauzed filter that is found on other K&N filtration systems. It is reusable and should offer more longevity than the stock paper filter that comes in most bikes.
One of the best things about this filter is that it fits into a wide variety of Harley Davidson models. It should fit into 1999-2015 models, including Heritage, Softail and Fatboy models. Installing it should take you about 15 minutes at most.
From experience, this filter can go for up to 10,000 miles between cleans, which is excellent. However, this will depend on where you use your bike. It also comes with a 10-year warranty, which is excellent and helps reinforce the durability of the filter.
It does come without the gasket for holding the outer cover. Thus you may have to reuse your existing one or purchase a new one, which is what I did
not like about this air filter.
Turbine Black Edge Cut Fit for Harley 103 Air Cleaner street glide air filter
Turbine-style air filters have always been a favorite of mine, in particular Roland Sands. So I was curious to see how this air filter kit from Happy Motor performs. At first glance, it has a Roland Sands vibe to it, and it’s easy to mistake it for a Roland Sands cleaner.
And similar to other Turbine filters, it has an exposed filter design. This should help improve airflow. Held in between the aluminum housing is a K&N cotton oil gauze filter. The latter does an exceptional job of trapping dirt, dust, and other particles.
More importantly, the filter is reusable. While this is not from the most well-known brands out there, their customer service is excellent. If you have any problems, you can quickly contact them, and I found their response time to be good.
What about ease of installation. While it is relatively easy to install, if you are a beginner and aren’t used to installing air filters on a Harley, this will be a bit tricky. However, with the included manual, you should be able to get it installed.
This air filter kit will fit most Harley Davidson of 2008 to 2016, including the 2008-2016 Road Glide and Touring street glide models.
K&N RK-3934 Intake System-Harley Davidson
K&N is one of the best producers of air filters for bikes. And so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I picked several K&N filters to feature on my list. And the latest K&N entrant on my list is the RK-3934 Intake System.
Similar to other K&N filter kits, this one has a cotton oil gauzed filter. The rounded design of the filter gives it a bigger surface area for sucking in more air. This translates to improved performance and horsepower.
According to the manufacturer, it will translate to a horsepower gain of 10.23HP at 5155 RPM. And in true K&N fashion, this air filter kit does come with a 10-year warranty.
Also, its installation isn’t complicated. You should be able to install this kit within about 90 minutes with essential hand tools.
How To Choose Best air cleaner for Harley 103: buying guide
When shopping for an air filter for your Harley, there are some things you need to consider. These will influence your choice of filter. The main things to consider are;
Compatibility with your bike
Different air cleaner kits are compatible with different Harley models. Some are designed for older models, while others are intended for newer models. So before splashing the cash on a new air filter kit, check to see if it is compatible with your bike model.
Is it legal in your state?
When it comes to emissions, different states have different laws. In some states, laws on emissions are stricter than in others. As such, some modifications, air filter included, may not be allowed in some states.
In California, for example, the sale and use of the K&N Performance Air Intake System is restricted. Thus if you live in California, it will not make sense to purchase this model. Bottom line: check your state’s laws to see if any air filter models are restricted.
Washable and reusable
As already stated, most stock air filters are paper filters that are disposable and cannot be reused. When purchasing an aftermarket air filter, you will want something to wash and reuse multiple times.
This will save you from having to buy new filters every so often. Furthermore, reusable filters are better for the environment than paper ones. All the filters on my list are washable and reusable and can be re-oiled.
Aluminum is the most common metal used to make air filter housings. This metal is lightweight and tough. Stainless steel is also used to make air filters, but aluminum is lighter. The two are ideal for air filters as they are resistant to rust and corrosion.
When it comes to the filter itself, cotton is the best material, especially for street bikes. Cotton is quite a porous material and thus allows more air to flow than paper. As such, you will be better served by a cotton filter. However, for off-road purposes, a heavier synthetic material will be a better fit.
The installation process should be easy without the need for major modifications. The best air cleaner for Harley 103 will be easy to install. However, some air filters, such as the Kuryakyn 9355 Hypercharger ES Air Cleaner, can present a challenge due to the inclusion of the ES.
The electric solenoid is not a part found in most air filters and thus will require some wiring. However, with a manual that is easy to follow, it should be relatively easy. Therefore, the instructions manual should also be easy to read and understand.
How to install an air filter in The Harley Davidson 103
The installation process of an air filter will depend on your bike’s configuration. In some models, the filter is located under the gas tank. However, in the Harley Davidson 103, the filter is located on the side of the bike.
This makes it easy to access the filter. The first thing you need to do is use an Allen wrench to remove the outer filter cover. Once the cover comes off, the air filter will become visible.
The next step is to use a 27 Torx bit to start unscrewing the bolts on the bracket. The purpose of this bracket is to hold the filter cover that we just removed. The bracket also sandwiches the filter between it and the throttle body.
Once all three bolts are loose, the bracket should come off, and you now have full access to the air filter. When removing the air filter, it is essential to be careful not to damage the breather hoses.
These two hoses are located behind the air filter and are made of a soft rubber material. As such, you need to remove them carefully together with the air filter. Once the air cleaner is out, remove the two breather tubes.
It is recommended to inspect them before reusing them. Ensure they are still in good quality before installing them onto the new air cleaner. It is worth noting that some air filters do not come with a gasket.
Thus if yours does not come with one, it is best to get a new one for the new air filter. To install the air filter, hook up the breather tubes to the ball ends of the breather bolts. Next, install the fastener bolts, first by hand, and then tighten them with a Torx bit.
Before reinstalling the final cover, ensure it is in good shape, and the rubber ends are not torn. This will ensure the cover does not rattle when you are driving. Once you ascertain it’s in good condition, use an Allen wrench to bolt it in.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a Stage 1 and Stage 2 air filter?
A stage 1 air filter involves modifying a bike’s air and fuel systems without modifying the engine. In this approach changing the air filtration system for improved airflow is the goal. A stage 2 air filter involves more detailed modifications, including the cams and engine. This will involve significant works such as jugs, stroker wheels, and high flow heads.
Do I need to tune my Harley if I add an air cleaner
If you are changing the air filter, then there is no need to tune the bike. However, if you are getting more work done on it, such as changing the exhaust as well, then a tune-up may be necessary.
Can you wash the Harley air filter?
Yes, if the filter is not a paper filter. The latter cannot be washed as they are thin and delicate. Other types, such as cotton oil gauzed filters, are washable.
The Harley 103 v-twin engine can be found on several Harley Davidson models. And while some people may say you do not need an air filter, it is exceptionally important. The best air cleaner for Harley 103 will help improve your bike’s performance and life span.
Last Updated on May 27, 2022 by Rifen