5 Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner for Harley Davidson in 2022

As we know, a motorcycle air cleaner or filter cleans and traps dirt from entering the interior of engines. It helps engines breathe freely and boost the bike’s performance.
So, whether you have carbureted or new EFI system engines on your Harley, you need the best stage 1 air cleaner for increasing the available power. For example, in my 09 FLHT, I gained 8.4 HP at 3,700 RPM just from opening the restricted airbox.
However, this article features the best stage 1 air cleaner for Harley Davidson we have in the market. So here we’ve featured the 5 best stage 1 air cleaner for you.

Best Stage 1 Air Cleaners for Harley Davidson

The big issue comes when you have plenty of alternative options available to choose from. Therefore, we have a list of the best air cleaners for Harley Davidson available on the market. Hence, you can compare and pick one that suits your desires. Here is a short list of Air Cleaners for Harley :

  • Vance & Hines Air Cleaner- Best High Flow Air Filter for Harley Davidson
  • Arlen Ness 18-326 – Best Aftermarket Harley Air Cleaner
  • AGECO Harley Air CleanerBest Air Intake for Harley Davidson
  • K&N Engine Air FilterBest Paper Air Filter for Harley
  • Vance & Hines VO2 – Harley High-Performance Air Cleaner

Now, let’s dig into the depth.

Types of Motorcycle Air Cleaners- Which type of air filter is best?

The material construction determines three types of air cleaners. OEM paper, oiled cotton gauze, and oiled foam. Simply, you will find foam, paper, and cotton air filters to clarify. Each type has its function, which is then tailored to the needs of specific users.

For example, a paper-made air cleaner may not be an excellent pick for the bike and environment. In other words, they are cheap, have fewer qualities, and are flimsy.

Foam cleaners tend to be pricier, but they are common in most off-road bikes. Sometimes their ventilation system can get blocked by dirt. Hence, you can remove, wash, or replace it with ease. Unfortunately, if they stay uncleaned for longer, the airflow rate may get lowered. It may cause severe damage to the engine.

For that matter, a cotton foam filter would be a perfect solution. Even though they come as the most expensive units, their performance is exceptional. And they can last longer than even the engine. In other words, you can use it for thousands of miles with fewer cleaning tasks. Still, it ensures that the engine gets top-notch protection.

When to replace the air cleaner for Harley Davidson?

Air cleaners or air filters function like the human nose. The cleaner the air the engine receives, the better fuel combustion. But unfortunately, most Harley Davidson motorcycles lack the best stage 1 air cleaner.

Your air filter is generally recommended to be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on your vehicle.

So, how often should you change your Harley air filter? Cleaning and changing a Harley air filter depends on the type of air cleaner system. The paper-made air filters need to change quite often after traveling about 5000 miles. Other air filters made of cotton and foam can get washed and reused for up to 50,000 miles. However, you need to check more often to ensure it doesn’t get damaged.

Also read: how many miles is a harley engine good for?

Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner Reviews For Harley Davidson

1. Vance & Hines Air Cleaner

Note: Due to state regulations, in CALIFORNIA, it is illegal to sell or use this product.

The VO2 Cage Fighter has a clean, straightforward design that delivers a custom appearance while ensuring adequate airflow to the filter element. There is also a high-flow filter element that is washable. A substantial intake backing plate as well as a billet venturi are also incorporated.
Since the stock air-to-fuel ratio will be altered, your motorbike will need to be modified in order to function correctly. A tuning chip can be used to perform this task at home, or a dealer can perform it.


  • These air cleaners are simple to clean and can be reused for many years.
  • Strong style enhances the beauty of the filter.
  • The air filter unit is simple to put together and use.


  • Both units have a faulty backing plate.

2. Arlen Ness 18-326

When it comes to giving top-notch air filtration, Arlen Ness 18-326 does it to perfection. It is a one-piece aluminum plate support bracket with a well-meshed and netted surface. Thus, ensuring that any kind of contaminants doesn’t get into the engine system. The big plus is that its construction focuses on eliminating dust particles. Plus, the smoke emitted upon fuel combustion gets removed too.

Besides that, it ensures that the engine remains out of reach by foreign particulates. Thus, enhancing its general lifespan.  It comes with integrated breather technology. This sits at the central point of the carburetor’s mouth. As such, new unique, closed-loop system forms.

The Arlen Ness 18-326 Black Air Cleaner has a relatively heavyweight, which tends to get stability by the heavy-duty steel case cover. Therefore, it gives excellent resistance to dirt and debris for long-term performance. Additionally, this air cleaner comes with all the necessary hardware tools for installation. And, easy read and navigate panels included makes it easy to set it up.


  • The plate support bracket eliminated the desire for additional banjo fittings or hoses
  • A one-piece aluminum air filter allows for easy installation
  • The closed-loop feature keeps dust or debris from getting into the engine’s system
  • Well sized and compact design gives the best fit for most motorcycles


  • Weak quality bolts and may need tweaking

3. AGECO Harley Air Cleaner

AGECO Harley air cleaner has strong billet aluminum with a high-performance bolt. In part, that is both robust and dependable in usage. Also, this Airflow is improved with an exposed filter. It is very simple to install on Harley models Dyna 2000 – 2017, Softail 2000 – 2015, Touring 2000 – 2007.
This blue air intake system has a clean and aggressive appearance. The backing plate allows for smooth Airflow into the carburetor or throttle body. Moreover, it also conceals internal crankcase breathers.
However, internal crankcase breathers are built-in and replaceable. So purchase it today and give it to yourself or your motorcycle as a super gift.


  • Very easy install.
  • Reliable quality.
  • Bolted right up with no modifications.


  • This filter does not bolt right on some Harley models.

4. K&N Engine Air Filter- Cotton Gauze Air Filter

K&N is likely to be the first name that comes to mind regarding performance air filters. For Harley touring motorcycles, their HD-1717 filter is a terrific performance filter. This is also one of the most fantastic Harley Sportster air cleaners.
When it comes to performance air filters, this brand will spring to mind, regardless of what type of motorcycle you ride – cruiser, sports bike, adventure bike, or tourer.
However, K&N claims that its HD-1717 performance air filter for Harley touring models may last many miles between cleanings. It also delivers better airflow than the stock filter, which translates to improved motor performance and increased fuel efficiency, making it a worthwhile investment.


  • Installation is quite simple and easy.
  • Easy washable & reusable.
  • The filter comes at an affordable price.
  • Air-breathers are user-friendly so that you can easily clean the dirt.


  • Doesn’t fit with M-8 engines.
  • Problematic plastic holes.

5. Vance & Hines VO2

Does the idea of keeping the stock Harley air cleaner’s elegance sound good? If the answer is yes, then the Vines & Hines VO2 Naked Air Cleaner offers the best solution. This is to say, it allows you to use the stock air cleaner cover. Without any doubt, this air cleaner sucks more air while delivering high power to the engine. 

You can witness it pairing and operating correctly with the V&H FP3 model. Besides that, it’s the best choice to revive your dull or dead Harley motorcycle engine. Moreover, its tubes are pretty helpful in redirecting the oil to the air cleaner. Thus, this comes as a blessing and a unique feature that most famous brands like the Arlen Ness lack.

The good thing is, that it has a significant impact on the engine’s power even if you don’t adjust the fuel supply to the motor. Some brands have hefty-priced stage 1 air cleaners. The Vines & Hines VO2, on the other side, comes at an impressively reasonable price. Therefore, it’s worth giving it a try and rests assured of no disappointments in performance.

Do you want to feel a vast difference between torque and power on your 1991 to 2018 Harley Sportster? Or, do you wish to have an air filter that allows higher airflow to the engine compared to a stock air cleaner? Then, this Best stage 1 air cleaner for Harley Davidson would be an excellent choice. Above all, this air filter makes your bike run and sound fantastic. Plus, it comes as a real power addition unit to the motorcycle.


  • Washable and reusable
  • Reasonably priced
  • Gives beauty to your bike
  • Installs fast


  • Tricky user manual

Which Things to Consider When Buying the Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner for Harley Davidson

With a large number of air filters in the market, choosing the best unit has become quite tricky. But why? In short, every brand claims that its air cleaners are the best. As a result, most users and newbies find themselves in a dilemma on what brand to choose. Luckily, our buying guide will discuss the vital things to check out for in an air cleaner.

Surface area

Air cleaners with greater surface area provide a great barrier to foreign particles. As a result, it helps to ensure that the engine stays safe and clean for optimal performance. Indeed, choosing one with several folds and tucks would be the best because they help to increase the surface area of the air filter.

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA)

The HEPA comes as an essential filter that helps to keep out small molecules and allergens as tiny as 0.3 microns. However, the more powerful the HEPA filter is, the more excellent its performance becomes.

CARD Ratings

The CARD rating defines the volume of cleansed air an air cleaner gives. This occurs when a motorcycle is at its most attainable speed. At the same time, it shows the efficiency of foreign particle removal. Therefore, you need to check the CARD rating your featured unit has before spending any penny. Most importantly, higher CARD ratings mean higher efficiency.

Customer support and warranty

The quality of support the manufacturer of an air filter gives their product’s users is vital. About that, check the reliability of the warranty offered on their replacement parts. Above all, ensure that the seller has a good reputation and that the warranty is worth the pay.

Frequently Asked Questions

What role does an air cleaner play?

As much as an automobile’s engine runs on fuel, the air is helpful in cooling the engine and enhancing performance. However, it may contain different kinds of pollutants, depending on the surrounding environment. When such air enters the engine system, considerable damage will happen to it. Thus, imparting to its performance. An air filter/cleaner helps in cleansing and filtering any impurities from the air. 

What does stage 1 air cleaner mean?

Stage 1 is a common phrase used by the Harley community. Ideally, a stage 1 air cleaner is a tool that helps in modifying an engine’s air and fuel systems. This happens without altering the parts in motion inside the engine.

How do stage 1 and stage 2 air cleaners differ?

A stage 2 air filter differs from stage 1 in that it incorporates a more air filter element. Therefore, a stage 2 air filter tends to have 20% more filter capacity than stage 1.

Can you wash a Harley air filter?

 Well, not all Harley air filters are washable and reusable. Why? Okay, most air filters have a material construction of paper, foam, and cotton. Paper-made filters work only once and get disposed of. But, air filters made of foam and cotton can get cleaned and reused for more extended periods.

Do I need to tune my Harley if I add an air cleaner?

Yes. If you are replacing or adding a new air cleaner, you need to tune your Harley. This happens in the engine’s air and fuel management system. As a result, it ensures improved performance while enhancing the safety of your bike.

Like an air filter, the carburetor plays and vital role in performing Harley’s engine best. if your air filter is ok and still your engine is troubleshooting, you may need some of the best carburetors. And if your engine is ok but the engine sounds not that good, you can add some good-sounding exhaust for your inner peace. However, if your Harley has an oil-cooled engine then you may need a quality oil cooler for your engine to perform smoother.

Final Word

To sum up, air cleaners confirms to be a basic unit of motorbikes. It offers plenty of benefits to the bike. For instance, it increases the airflow and enhances the engine’s performance plus lifespan. Besides, most help to conserve the environment since they are washable and reusable. Hence, they help riders save with convenience.

With all that said, it’s time to find the Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner for Harley Davidson from our top picks. You will find a unit that’s friendly to your budget and give you exceptional performance. Above all, they should last long and give perfect fitment on most Harley Davidson models.

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Hello, this is Adam Willam, the owner and author of the website- "motobikekit.com". I have been passionate about biking since I was a child and have always been fascinated by the mechanics of how bikes work. When I became old enough, I started my own business of repairing and customizing bikes. By doing this I have quickly gained a reputation for being the go-to guy for bike repairs and customizations and have been running my shop successfully for many years.

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