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The Pros and Cons of Motorcycle Pod Filters

The Pros and Cons of Motorcycle Pod Filters

Almost all motorcycle enthusiasts, regardless of their riding styles, remain in search of quality aftermarket parts that can enhance the comfort, safety, and performance of their two-wheelers. It seems that almost every year or so, a new accessory takes the motorcycle market industry by storm, gaining the approval of many riders and surging in popularity until the riders have the next best accessory to improve their bikes’ power outputs, mileage, responsiveness, and other capabilities. Most riders who enjoy various riding styles, such as on-road touring , off-road riding, and adventure touring , in addition to urban commuting, tend to look for aftermarket accessories that are functional in varying road conditions, and pod filters are one such component. 

Promising to improve airflow, increase mileage, and boost power up to 5%, motorcycle pod filters have seen a surge in popularity over the years. The fact that they offer a much more affordable replacement to stock air filters is a temptation that convinces many riders to give them a try at least once. Out of these riders, most deem the pod filters worth buying, while others get put off by their drawbacks which are seldom discussed by the pod filter manufacturers. This article aims to uncover the potential advantages and shortcomings of installing pod filters and will also assess whether they make a worthwhile investment. 

1. What Are Motorcycle Pod Filters?

What Are Motorcycle Pod Filters?

Motorcycle individual or pod filters are compact, usually cylindrical or cone-shaped, air filters made from cotton or foam, which can be fixed directly to a bike’s carburetor or intake system. Individual or pod filters can be easily distinguished from stock air filters due to a lack of casing or box. Offering a larger area to increase the airflow to the engine, this small accessory is aimed at increasing a bike’s combustion efficiency, horsepower, and throttle response. 

2. Can Pod Filters Be Installed on Fuel Injected Motorcycles?

Pod filters can be installed on motorcycles powered by both carburetor and fuel-injected engines. However, the degree of difficulty in installation and potential complications may lead your certified technician to advise you against installing them on a fuel-injected motorcycle because they might not be compatible with your bike’s air intake or engine management systems. Additionally, before you install a pod filter on a fuel-injected two-wheeler, also consider getting the fuel injection mapping adjusted to accommodate the increased airflow. Sometimes, fuel-injected bikes require the installation of fuel controllers to regulate and optimize the motorcycle performance changes induced by fitting a pod filter. Therefore, consider seeking professional advice before replacing the stock air filters with pod filters, especially if you are making the transition to a fuel-injected motorcycle, and avoid performing the task on your own.

In some cases, it is the opposite with fuel-injected motorcycles adjusting to the change on their own due to the presence of the engine control unit and its sensors. Unless the air and fuel adjustments are beyond ECU’s comprehension and ability to read the data, you should not have any issues with pod filter installation.

Quick Tip: Use aftermarket fuel tuners to help the EFI bikes adapt to the change.

Conversely, carbureted motorcycles require the following adjustments:

  • Increasing the pilot jet size by one
  • Tweaking about two main jet sizes
  • Elevating the needle position by one groove

If you are unable to perform these tweaks on your own, it is best to seek the help of a professional dyno turner who has expertise in adjusting the carburetor to address the excess or insufficient fuel amount in proportion to the airflow provided by the pod filter and its effect on the engine’s rev range. Additionally, aftermarket exhaust choices can also help achieve the desired results. 

3. Pros and Cons of Motorcycle Pod Filters

Pros and Cons of Motorcycle Pod Filters

Staple on a custom motorcycle, motorcycle pod filters have gained riders’ preference over stock or standard motorcycle air filters. Standard motorcycle air filters are designed with a casing that takes up more space and, at times, also decreases a bike’s aesthetic allure, especially if you own a naked motorcycle that has a stripped-down minimalist look to impart a raw and metal attitude to the bike.

Conversely, conventional motorcycle air filters do a good job of filtering out any impurities in the air, effectively stopping it from reaching the bike’s intake system and choking it. The air filter housing also helps keep the moisture from seeping in and causing rust build-up in the engine. However, the pod filter has earned more points with its neat design and ability to increase the horsepower by a certain percentage. Affordability and ease of installation also give its popularity a boost; however, getting the bike adjusted to adapt to a pod filter may be one of the challenges that most riders are not ready for. On that note, explore the pros and cons of a pod filter to determine whether it is the right custom accessory for your bike. 

3.1 Pros of Motorcycle Pod Filters

From performance to aesthetics, affordability, and usual maintenance, there are several benefits of installing a pod filter on your motorcycle. 


Motorcycle pod filters increase the intake of air, allowing the motorcycle to take in air more freely compared to a stock air filter. So long as the motorcycle intake system ensures the required air/fuel ratio reaches the engine, it also helps increase combustion efficiency and engine performance. However, as mentioned earlier, it is quite difficult to make your bike adapt to the pod filter at its original configuration. Therefore, it becomes necessary to tweak the fuel injection system or the carburetor to accommodate the change. Performance-wise, it is conjectured that the pod filter will double the motorcycle’s power output but that is not the case. The pod filter certainly increases the horsepower by 2-5% and offers a slight surge in a road-focused bike’s mileage as well.

At times riders opt out because they do not get the conjectured increase in horsepower or find fuel intake tuning for pod filter installation too much work. However, those who need a boost on the highways, twisties, or even race tracks, favor pod filters for the little power spike it offers. Another plus that makes pod filter installation worthwhile is the crisp throttle response and improved acceleration it offers.


A motorcycle pod filter offers the most economical air filter replacement solution to riders even if we include the cost of tuning the motorcycle fuel intake system for pod filter installation. In comparison, damaged standard motorcycle air filters are much more expensive to replace, especially if you opt for OEM parts to maintain your bike’s performance and ensure longevity. 

Maintenance & Installation

In terms of motorcycle air filter maintenance, pod filters do not require any special maintenance. They have the same service intervals as stock air filters, and for that, you can easily refer to the owner’s manual. Moreover, cotton or foam pod filters can be easily cleaned and oiled without needing frequent replacements, unlike the conventional paper air filter that comes standard on most two-wheelers. As for installation, setting aside the need for motorcycle intake system re-tuning, pod filter installation is a straightforward and time-effective process that can be easily performed using basic motorcycle tools. 


Pod filters impart a unique versatility to your motorcycle in terms of looks. Compact and minimalistic, a pod filter is all you need to bring out the cafe racer, chopper, or bobber look of your motorcycle. To further increase the stylistic element of your motorcycle, add a tall detachable high-gloss black sissy bar to the bike to complement the exposed metal on the motorcycle. With this timeless look, your motorcycle will stand out among others on the road. Moreover, the compact cylindrical design of the pod filter gives your bike a sleek silhouette and also makes it easier to access different mechanical components for maintenance. 

3.2 Cons of Motorcycle Pod Filter

While uncovering the pros of motorcycle pod filter installation, some of the cons have been touched on briefly. But for a better understanding, here is a comprehensive mention of the cost of motorcycle pod filters. 

Off-Road Riding & Moisture

The adventure touring fever has spiked over the years with more motorcyclists buying dual-nature motorcycles that can handle both smooth tarmac and coarse gravel, well-paved roads and roadless trails, urban settings, and far-away scenic spots. Luckily, adventure motorcycles can also adapt to a pod filter; however, motorcycles that get frequently exposed to dusty conditions need more frequent pod filter cleaning and maintenance. This is primarily because individual filters lack a casing and, as a result, are directly to dust, moisture, grime, mud, and other pollutants. In addition, pod filters are vulnerable to rain due to a lack of adequate protection, and this can damage the engine and its internal components, leading to reduced performance and engine wear. Hydrolock is another problem imposed by rainwater seeping inside the pod filter and seizing the power plant. The result is expensive engine maintenance and parts replacements. 


Though it has already been mentioned earlier, it is important to reiterate the need for tuning as a con of pod filter installation to help you decide whether you are up for it. Many riders forego tuning requirements and just install pod filters for aesthetics or performance upgrades. However, they notice that the bike’s performance has declined against their expectations. Failure to adjust the motorcycle’s fuel system according to the new air intake creates too rich or too lean conditions, affecting the bike’s combustion efficiency, engine performance, and longevity. 


In some cases, pod filters have been associated with increased air intake noise at higher speeds. Though it is a matter of preference because some riders prefer deep growling sounds, others find them deafening, distracting, and completely uninviting, especially when the aim is to have a relaxing highway ride experience. 


Some motorcycle manufacturers void warranties after the installation of aftermarket motorcycle pod filters. Not having the warranty can lead to increased maintenance costs even if the mechanical issue did not arise from the rider’s neglect and riding habits. Therefore, it is essential to consider the repercussions of pod filter installation in terms of warranty and maintenance costs. 

Emission Compliance

In some states, there are strict emission standards that motorcycles must meet. Usually, motorcycles that have not undergone any engine modifications, fuel system tuning, or related upgrades tend to meet the emission standards in their production form. However, some custom accessories that are aimed at increasing the engine’s performance and power production may fail to meet these strict emission limits during vehicle inspections. Therefore, it is necessary to research the effect of pod filters on your bike’s emissions and whether they lead to non-adherence to emission laws, rules, and regulations in your state. In some places, failure to meet emission regulations can lead to hefty fines, revocation of motorcycle license and registration, riding restrictions, vehicle confiscation, and other penalties. Riders may also be required by law to install an emission-controlling unit and related equipment, leading to expensive repairs and replacements. 

4. Are Motorcycle Pod Filters worth buying?

Whether a motorcycle pod filter is worth buying depends on the purpose of its installation and whether it leads to any legal consequences. If your motorcycle does not violate any emission rules and regulations, and you are comfortable with tuning your fuel system as required, then you can certainly replace the regular stock air filter with a pod filter.

In addition, many motorcyclists install pod filters to achieve a custom motorcycle look. If that is your reason for installing a pod filter, then it is worth buying. Pod filters help motorcycles breathe easier by maximizing the airflow to the fuel system. This helps improve the engine's performance but by no means does it increase the power production twofold. Therefore, if a slight increase in the power and acceleration is what you need, only then installing a pod filter will be of consequence. It is also advisable to listen to sounds produced by motorcycles with pod filters because it will help you determine whether it will be an appealing aspect of the accessory under discussion.

Most riders also apply the racetrack principle to their pod filter purchase decision, which means if your bike will never make it to the tracks and is intended for urban use only, simply refrain from buying pod filters because the power boost they offer is most relevant on the tracks. As for adventure touring motorcycles, it is not worth replacing factory air filters with pod filters on an adventure bike, considering their vulnerability to wet conditions and over-exposure to dust, debris, and other pollutants. 

5. Last Words

Motorcycle pod filters offer many benefits, but at times, those benefits are overshadowed by their many downsides as well. Therefore, as a custom motorcycle enthusiast, you need to weigh both the pros and cons of pod filters instead of making an impulsive purchase after watching someone in your social circle or an enthusiast online who has upgraded their two-wheelers with a pod filter. When choosing a pod filter for your motorcycle, try to look for universal fitment and lifetime reusability.

Additionally, ensure correct jetting and avoid buying low-quality, extremely cheap pod filters because they will deteriorate your bike’s performance instead of enhancing it. Primarily, this is due to the lack of a protective cover and is exposed to damaging elements, including moisture and dust. Sometimes, a low-quality pod filter also allows large particles to pass through, failing to clean the air effectively and causing major engine issues. Another feature to look for in a pod filter is its specialized design for both on and off-road performance. It is also recommended to seek professional help for fuel system tuning to make the pod filter installation more compatible with your bike’s engine configuration and fuel control systems. 

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