Pod filters on motorcycles are cool and all but can you ride them in the rain? What happens when it gets wet? Engine damage?

If these are the questions in your head, then you are not alone – I had the same exact questions. 

In this article, I will cover pod filters getting wet in detail – things like potential damages, how to prevent them from getting wet and tips on driving in the rain with pod filters. Ready? 

TLDR – Pod filters can get wet. Most of the time, your bike will be fine under light rain or drizzle. However, you should avoid riding in heavy rain and risk soaking your pod filters – this causes hydrolock and could heavily damage your engine. 

With TLDR out of the way, let’s go into the details. I am guessing you are most curious about what happens when your pod filters get wet. So let’s start with that.

What Happens If Pod Filters Become Wet?

Slightly Wet Air Filters

Pod filters getting slightly wet is fine – this won’t completely block air flow and some drops of water seeping in won’t cause damage (your hot engine can vaporize the moisture quickly).

This means you can ride your bike under a light drizzle. 

Plus, pod air filters are usually located beneath the seat. When riding, your legs and thighs should do well enough to prevent too much rain water from reaching your air filters. 

Although a slightly wet air filter is fine, you should still prevent it. Moisture in air filters could trap dust and form an impenetrable layer – causing your filters to be restrictive and your engine running rich. 

Also, fancy air sensors in modern motorcycles might not work properly when wet. This causes your engine to not have a correct air/fuel ratio (temporarily). After it’s dried, the sensors should work properly again.

Summary? Riding under a small drizzle is fine but you should prevent it if you can. Look into cleaning your pod filters and re-oil them if you notice anything different after riding on a rainy day. 

Soaking Wet Air Filters

Pod filters getting absolutely soaked in water is never good – your engine might not start or run. And at the worst, you can hydrolock your engine. 

When pod filters get soaking wet, air flow is significantly reduced – to the point where your bike won’t even start (air/fuel ratio is skewed and the engine becomes too rich).

If you stop riding and are lucky enough, not much water will get into the engine. Small amount of water is okay – they can dry off (even quicker if your engine is hot)

If too much water gets in, you risk hydrolocking your engine. Though, I don’t think you should worry as much. Your pod filters won’t be soaking wet from rain water (unless you keep riding for hours). 

Most common cause of soaking wet pod filters is when riders go through a large puddle of water. Or when riders just finished washing their pod filters and install it back on when still completely wet. 

Let’s talk about hydrolocking next – what even is that?

What Happens If Water Gets Into Engine (Hydrolock)?

Hydrolock happens when a large amount of water gets into your bike’s combustion chamber – specifically the cylinders. 

I am assuming you are somewhat familiar with how a combustion engine works – it is made of cylinders that cause pistons to move down when combustion happens. 

In a hydrolock, a significant amount of water gets inside the cylinder. The piston now does not have enough room to move and rotate the crank. In other words, the piston is locked – thus, hydrolocking.

Motorcycle engine

In hydrolock, water fills up the space in the combustion chamber – locking up your piston from moving up and down.

This hydrolocking can lead to either of two things:

  1. The pressure generated by the combustion is not powerful enough. The piston remains locked and your bike can’t start or move. 
  2. The pressure generated by the combustion is greater. The piston is forced to move against the pool of water in the cylinder. This can cause destructive damages to the engine internals. 

Hydrolocking is not pretty and is extremely expensive to fix. My advice is never ride over a deep puddle of water and keep your air filters dry – they like being dry.

Can I Ride In The Rain With Pod Filter Installed?

Riding in a light drizzle is completely fine. As I said, your thighs and legs should do a good enough job to prevent rain water from reaching your pod filters.

Even if they do, a small amount of water on an air filter is fine. A good amount of air can still pass through and your engine can still ride without skewing it’s air/fuel ratio. 

A small amount of water entering the engine is also fine. The heat from your motorcycle engine can vaporize these water molecules quickly. 

Just make sure you don’t ride over a deep puddle of water and don’t rain in heavy rain for too long, to the point where you hydrolock your engine. 

Cleaning your pod air filters and re-oiling them is a good idea after riding on a rainy day. You don’t want that accumulated dust and water to be stuck on your air filters. 

How To Prevent Pod Filters Becoming Wet?

The best way to prevent your pod filters from getting wet is to use a hydroshield – basically a cover for your pod air filter. This way, your pod filters won’t get wet no matter how heavy the rain is. 

These are quite affordable – at about $15 / piece – could be lower depending on the brand and sizing. I don’t think you should go for the most expensive ones – mid tier is enough. 

The pros of hydroshield is clear – your air filters won’t get wet (even in heavy rain). The cons? Not much really – except that it’s kinda ugly. I let you be the judge! Here’s a picture of hydroshield.

Pod air filter cover

Pod filters hydroshield

Should You Still Consider Pod Filters For Your Bike?

Despite the clear risks of water seeping in, are pod filters still worth it for your bike? I have an article exactly about this – Are Pod Air Filters Worth It? 

But if you don’t want the detail, then the short answer is yes. Pod filters are relatively cheap and can provide you with that sweet sweet horsepower (provided that you tune and also install an aftermarket exhaust) 

All the fears about water seeping in are valid. However, you won’t be facing these issues under normal circumstances, so I wouldn’t worry about it. 

Just take note of these prevention tips when you ride and I am sure no significant amount of water will seep into your engine through your pod filters:

  1. Don’t ride over any deep puddle of water
  2. Don’t ride too long on a heavy rain
  3. Don’t install soaking wet filters into your bike (after washing) 

Pod Filters Vs Drop In Filter For Bike

If the risk of water seeping in is too much for you, then why not look into a drop-in air filter instead?

Pod air filters replace the entire airbox of your motorcycle – this is why they are exposed and risk water seeping in. 

Drop-in filter simply replaces your old air filter – your stock airbox is still attached and the drop-in filter lives inside your airbox. 

This way you increase the airflow to your bike, but does not risk any water from seeping in. Drop-in air filter is a great alternative but note that the airflow it provides is lesser than a pod air filter.

Pod air filters being more exposed will ultimately provide more air flow but at it’s own risks! You should take a look at both and then decide.

drop in air filter

drop in air filter

Ifandi S.

Ifandi S.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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