Pod air filters are pretty popular among bike enthusiasts – they can provide an improved look and performance. But at the same time, installing pod air filters means tweaking your air / fuel ratio.
That means you need extra money. Not to mention pod air filters replace the existing stock air box. Is that even legal? Are all of these worth it?
Those were my questions when I was looking into pod air filters. In this article, I will show you all the pros and cons of pod air filters, things you should know before buying and prices.
After reading it all, you should be able to tell whether pod air filters are worth it for you.
TLDR – pod air filters are definitely worth it if you are serious about performance. Pod air filters provide you with significant air flow that can work even better with performance exhaust and a good tune.
However, they come with quite a number of cons. I will discuss all about it later in this article – along with full costs. Let’s begin by talking about the stock part first – the airbox.
What’s The Function Of Airbox?
It’s important to understand what you are replacing and why – before even thinking about whether pod air filters are worth it or not.
In case you don’t already know, pod air filters replace a stock part in your bike called the airbox.
There are various functions to an airbox:
- Allows air to enter your bike engine to generate combustion and power.
- Airbox houses the air filter – required to trap dust and impurities from entering the engine.
- Airbox protects the air filter from outside things like rain and mud.
- Airbox also houses various sensors like Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor – required for modern bikes that use computers to inject the correct amount of fuel.
- Acts as a minor muffler to lower down sound coming from the engine during combustion.
Airbox is designed to deliver all the above functions but its main objective is to house the air filter and keep it safe.
These all sound pretty good. Airbox is doing a lot of jobs that we shouldn’t tinker with. If you are a beginner and simply want to install a pod air filter because you heard they give performance, then I suggest you take a step back and learn more.
For the beginners or non-enthusiasts who don’t care about performance, the airbox is perfect and working well – don’t touch it.
However, for people who seek performance, stock airbox and air filter are actually restrictive. They don’t allow as much air to enter as possible. Removing it and replacing it with a pod air filter can significantly increase air flow.
And with proper tuning? You can gain extra horsepower – serious horsepower if you pair it with performance exhaust.
If you made it this far, I am assuming you care about performance and want to learn more. That’s good! Now we focus on pod filters – what do they do? And what makes them worth it?
What Makes Pod Filters Worth It?
Pod air filters are air filters that attach directly to the throttle body – no air box is necessary to hold them in place. This means they are directly exposed – allowing much more air to enter the engine.
Even more true considering that pod filters have bigger openings than stock. Your engine will gain significantly more air flow and have the potential to generate more power.
Pair this up with tuning and performance exhaust and you can expect to get 12-15 horsepower. Pretty significant for a motorcycle.
This is why I said if you are serious about power and performance, then pod air filters are definitely worth it for you. I will talk about costing later and let you judge whether it’s worth it financially!
Of course pod filters have other benefits – some are quite significant while some are not (you be the judge). Here is a list of pros for pod filters:
- Significantly more air flow. With proper tuning to inject more fuel, you could create a more powerful combustion and thus provide more horsepower. But pod filters alone won’t give you that much power. You need to pair with tuning and exhaust. More on this later.
- Looks good. Stock airboxes are just a black box – nothing fancy. Pod filters come in different colors and immediately define you as an enthusiast. Note that in some bikes the airbox is well hidden inside – so the pod filters might not even be visible.
- Pod filters are reusable. You read that right. Pod filters can be washed and then reused. Although you will need to buy special oil to re-oil it. And they also last longer – about 10,000 miles before you have to clean them.
- Louder engine sound. This could be a pro or con to different people. Without an airbox, your engine sound can escape out easier and be heard.
Things To Know Before Buying Pod Filters (The Cons)
The pros of pod air filters should be clear by now. But of course there are also cons – after all, it’s an aftermarket component.
I will list all of the cons and you decide whether a pod air filter is for you or not.
- Pod air filters alone won’t give significant power gain. When equipped alone, don’t expect any significant power. By alone I mean, you have a stock bike, install a pod air filter and expect power – that does not happen. Pod air filters work best with performance exhaust and tuning.
- Risk rain / mud from entering. Now that the protective air box is gone, your air filter is fully exposed and vulnerable. You shouldn’t ride too long on a rainy day with a pod air filter. Otherwise, you risk engine failure.
- Louder engine sound. Again, this can be a pro or con. Without an airbox to muffle the engine sound, your bike will become louder (and not necessarily in a good way).
- Illegal. I am pretty sure pod air filters are illegal – especially in strict states like California. Expect to get some traffic tickets when you are unlucky.
- Needs tuning to work well. You need to make sure your bike is tuned after installing the pod air filter. Otherwise, the air/fuel ratio will be skewed. And tuning doesn’t come cheap – Power Commander (most common tuning method) is about $350.
Pretty exhaustive list eh? I think the biggest con for a pod air filter is the fact that it has to be paired with a good exhaust and tuned. Pod air filters alone won’t be that useful.
For the issue with risking rainwater from entering – just make sure you don’t ride out in the rain too long. Don’t worry too much about this.
In light rain, your thighs or legs should be good enough to prevent the rain from reaching the pod filters.
Why Do You Need To Tune After Installing Pod Filters?
So far in this article, I have mentioned about 50 times that you should tune after installing pod filters – but why exactly? And what happens if you don’t?
To understand why, you need to know how your motorcycle engine works. To simplify things, just know that an engine requires fuel and air to generate combustion and deliver power.
The air/fuel ratio must be consistent – precisely 14.7:1 if you want the best combustion. If you have too much air, you will risk running lean. Whereas too much fuel and you risk running rich.
Full explanation about running rich and lean in this article – Is It Better To Run Rich Or Lean?
For today, just know that you shouldn’t be running lean or rich – they can hurt the engine and make your bike rides like trash.
By installing a pod air filter, you are increasing the amount of air into the engine. Without tuning, you will only have more air but the same amount of fuel – which means you risk running lean.
Tuning after installing a performance mod is generally done to inject more fuel (you need more fuel to balance out the extra air you get).
With extra air and fuel in the perfect 14.7:1 ratio, you will surely gain more performance and extra horsepower.
Tuning though, does not come cheap and there are many types of it – depending on the bike. For more info on that, read this article – How Much Does It Cost To Tune Your Motorcycle?
How Much Do Pod Filters Cost (For Motorcycle)?
Pod filters for motorcycles are generally quite small and inexpensive. You could get a good one for about $50 (without installation fee).
Installation is pretty easy, it’s just a matter of removing the airbox and clamping it on. I am sure you can find many YouTube videos showing you how.
After installation, you probably want to buy a Power Commander to tune your ride – and they cost about $350. Pretty hefty amount but you are free to re-tune your vehicles in the future with different configurations / preferences.
Tuning is pretty expensive. I get it – but it’s necessary to make sure your bike runs properly after a performance mod.
This is why I recommend enthusiasts like you to save up and also replace your exhaust with an aftermarket full system exhaust (if you care about power). Once you have the money to install a pod air filter, exhaust and tune then you go for it.
But to be honest, many people out there install pod air filters alone without tuning. That’s possible, you probably will lose power on the low end and throttle response is a little out of whack.
If you can live with that, then it’s fine. Your air/fuel ratio will not be perfect but it won’t be so bad to cause engine damage.
I have given you all the info you should know – are pod air filters worth the hassle? You answer it buddy!