5 Best Stage 1 Air Cleaners for Harley Davidson

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When we refer to the term “air cleaner”, it translates to air filter pieces of equipment and housing as well, while the term “air filter” refers to the types of equipment that filters the polluted air. 

The air your engine gobbles must be filtered using the fibrous element to avoid scoring of your pistons as well as abrasion of your cylinders, all of which could threaten to reduce the lifetime of your engine otherwise. Furthermore, the contaminants clogging and scoring your engine can reduce your Harley’s acceleration by a noticeable 10%

With so many options out there that your mind can’t even accommodate, let alone filter out the fake and durable ones, doing so would give you a meltdown. Thus the reason why we took this upon ourselves to ease you out of this misery. 

With expert opinion based on both professional and personal experiences, we know what your criteria might be close to and the shortcomings you would want to avoid. Therefore, we narrowed down our extensive research to the following 5 durable picks.

Just because the fuel injection system’s layout is based on a very choked air intake, opening up the air vessel alone would not suffice. Harley’s are modified by the manufacturers, which translates to the fact that your road glider has a poor air to fuel (exhaust) ratio, i.e. less fuel compared to high air uptake. Thus an air stage cleaner that gives away more air to the engine worsens the situation.

Hence the reason why we suggest that when you plan on upgrading your Harley, do it in a three-step process that would be an air cleaner, fuel injection or fuel controller, or the re-jet of the carburetor as well as a more free-flowing exhaust. These three upgrades go hand in hand besides complementing each other’s progress to the maximum to ensure more effective results than either one of the three could offer alone.

Start ransacking through our top 5 highly-reliable selects and make your long-due move of picking one now!

1. Vance & Hines VO2 Rogue Air Intake For Harley


  • High installation ease
  • It is wide 5 x 12 x 10 inches.
  • It is washable and reusable 
  • Gives a bold makeover 
  • Comes with a 2-into-1 upsweep exhaust system
  • Noticeably increases horsepower 
  • Improves combustion process


  • Some riders might find it to be not budget-friendly
  • Is not suitable for street use
  • The air filters are not of high quality 

Ranking first in our best selects, the Vance & Hines come with a washable high air-flow filter element making a wide difference to your overall engine efficiency. Besides, these also include a large inlet billet venturi and backing plate, which imparts a sleek and efficient riding profile to your Harley Davidson. 

Another appreciable feature of this Rogue VO2 is the 2-in-1 Upsweep exhaust system that echoes a classic rounded stylish outlook to your ride. Furthermore, it is readily fit for cruising and touring since it works better than a stock system despite looking like one due to the VO2 air intake cleaning system. 

Moreover, your Harley is going to roar its thanks to you once you install these Rogue VO2 Air Intakes since it will not be just a bold and unique makeover but also allow your Harley to experience a significantly cleaner air intake to optimize and/or balance its exhaust ratio.

2. K&N Engine Air Filter


  • Readily compatible with cruisers, touring, adventure, and street bikes
  • Weighs only 12.8 ounces
  • Fairly priced, keeping the quality and performance in consideration.
  • Gives a highly improved throttle response
  • It can be readily installed as the filter comes pre-oiled
  • Eco-friendly
  • Comes with a 10 year or a million-mile warranty 
  • Saves you from additional $250 bucks over the 10-year course by saving you from using disposable filters 


  • Even after claiming to accommodate a 2001 Electra Glide model, it doesn’t
  • Comes with a stick-on gasket and so is not well fitted.
  • Appears very similar to the stock air filters

Ranking second in our top best picks, the K&N Engine Air Filter is backed up by nearly 387 authorized reviews and purchases, making its rating rank up to a staggering 4.7 out of 5. 

What makes it of such high demand is not only its high affordability but also the fact that its engineering layout is based on optimizing the airflow system by a noticeable 50% compared to the traditional disposable paper filters. Thus the K&N Engine Air Filter takes the state of air filtration to a par that stays unparalleled amongst its rivals.

Another praiseworthy feature of the K&N Engine Air Filter is that it is readily reusable, washable, and each can last to the duration of about 10 replaced disposable filters. This not only makes K&N Engine Air Filter eco-friendly by reducing the overall waste we produce regularly, but it also efficiently ensures your budget doesn’t bleed.

3. Kuryakyn 9439 Alley Cat Air Cleaner/Filter Cover


  • Aluminum body-work
  • Stainless steel mesh
  • Fine chrome finishing 
  • Offers a classic retro outlook
  • Includes a hardware kit
  • Compatible with a wide range of Harley models 


  • Doesn’t come with any easy to understand instruction manual or guide to refer to
  • Have to cover it with plastic before washing the bike
  • Doesn’t readily fits on the backplate

The third of our recommendations is the Kuryakyn Alley Cat Air Cleaner. Being one of the highly trusted air cleaners, it features a chrome mesh insert work beside a knock-off type design on the end cap that completes the retro outlook it will impart to your classic road glider.

The Kuryakyn Alley Cat Air Cleaners are specifically engineered to accommodate Harley-Davidson’s and Kuryakyn Street Sleeper II/III, besides other air-flow cleaner models. 

The anatomy of this filter is built from aluminum and a stainless steel mesh with a fine chrome finishing. What makes the Kuryakyn Alley Cat Air Cleaner even better is that it comes with a hardware kit containing a set of wrenches combination, blue thread locker, socket set, and a torque wrench IN/LBS besides a stay ring and a cat air cleaner cover.

4. Arlen Ness Smooth Stage 1 Big Sucker Air Cleaner Kit For Harley


  • Weighs only 3.15 pounds
  • Aluminum body built backplate with innovative breather technology.
  • Radius air inlet 
  • Compatible with a wide array of street and cruising or touring bikes
  • Gives a sleek, nice look
  • The kit comes with a steel outer cover beside a backing plate.
  • Comes with breather passenger exits at the throttle body


  • The price point could have been a bit lower considering all the features. 
  • Doesn’t performs greatly with all emission models
  • Not available in black matte color

By effectively eliminating the need for hoses, banjo fittings, and filters, the Arlen Ness is the best in the industry. You don’t have to think twice about purchasing a unit when it comes to a sleek black matte-look like this one.

Employing breather passenger exits at the carburetor mouth or the throttle body, the Arlen Ness Air Filter Kit readily creates a virtual loop closed-loop system and comes with a cover as well. 

The Arlen Ness Air Filter is built from a high-grade aluminum carburetor support or backplate with a radius air inlet and an innovative breather technology. Besides measuring up to 9 x 8 x 6 inches, the Arlen Ness is fairly compatible with street and cruising or touring bike rides.

Another buck-worthy feature is the fact that the kit includes a steel outer cover, a backing plate as well as a high-grade performing air filter. Moreover, the instruction manual is easy to understand and can readily be referred to in any possible situation one might encounter. Plus, it also includes all the necessary hardware pieces one requires for installation, thus making it a ready-to-install and ride product.

5. Arlen Ness Naked Monster Sucker Air Cleaner Kit For Harley


  • Built-in inverted top to pull air from the front
  • It can be readily rinsed and used
  • Doesn’t require oil for cleaning
  • Synthetic water-resistant construction
  • Offers greater surface ratio
  • Compatible with cruising or touring rides


  • It is a bit heavy, weighing about 4.2 pounds
  • The powder-coating is unnecessarily overdone, making drill screw holes hard to align up

These feature a patented Big Sucker hidden breather technology and offer a greater surface area ratio than any of its rivals for optimal exhaust ratio balance. Furthermore, these Ness hidden breathers are O-shape ringed at the exits and heads on the throttle body or the injector/ carburetor to warrant efficient engine breathing by effectively eliminating the requirement of any extra purchases of hoses or hardware.

What makes this Monster Sucker Air Cleaner even better is the unique 90 degrees inverted filter style feature that is designed with an inverted top to suck in air from all sides possible and available but also the front; this further enhances the airflow gains and boosts performance by a notch.

While each of the filters is constructed from a synthetic and durable material, not only is it water-resistant, a fact that translates to its easy to rinse or wash with no oil requirement and reusable ability but also readily rids you of the need for owning a rain sock.

Air cleaner Buying Guide

Why must your Harley’s factory-manufactured air cleaners be replaced? That is so because it is the factory that has to meet the government-issued regulations. Including the noise and cost limits, the manufacturers also have to warrant durability and safety standards that ensure Harley’s warranty. All of that consequently reduces the potential of your Harley.

So why not unleash it with better air cleaners that warrant more horsepower and torque, all the while protecting your engine from potential damage and making sure your engine doesn’t over-exert itself and has good fuel economy?

Therefore, just so you get hold of the best stage 1 air cleaner for your alter-ego, i.e., Harley Davidson, we probe through each option out there and assembled a “must know” facts and feature guide you about the item in question.

Ratings, Reviews, Company 

These are some subtle must-check factors before making a purchase. Not should the company be reliable with a sound reputation, but the pricing must be appropriate for each feature it offers. Besides, the reviews and ratings are from people who have been in your shoes and were considerate enough to share any shortcomings you would want to avoid. 


Of course, the purchase shouldn’t make your wallet bleed with the shipment and everything, but it should also save you from spending more on the repair work over and over again instead of just one-time spending. Therefore, be sure to get a professional’s or a gear geek’s opinion of the item in question before you purchase so it can turn out to be a long-term investment instead of pickpocketing you with fake claims.


The mechanics of your air cleaner system are a must-check function; that is, the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is offered. Because the bigger the HEPA filter, the more it warrants the fact that near to no contaminants like animal dander, dust, plastic, and metallic shards enter your engine and clog it.

The CADR Rating

The Clean Air Delivery Rate rating is a key feature of any air cleaners since it readily fills you up with information about how much air is going to be purified. This is vital to know as it reflects the allergen and contaminants removal efficiency of the system that is necessary to warrant that your ride actively reaches its peak speed and performance without over-exerting the engine.

Temperature Immunity or Resistance

For the air cleaner to be suitable for your ride, you have to double-check your engine model as well as horsepower delivery. All of this helps to determine the amount of temperature generation that would be caused during its operation. So the air cleaner model that offers a superior and adequately high-temperature resistance would be your best pick.


With the key detail containing guide and thoroughly checked reviews that we assembled, besides the well-examined pros and cons about each unit. We kept your possible needs and worries our prime goal to solve, so now you can start building your criteria accordingly and make pick the right unit at a budget-friendly price. As to which stage 1 air cleaner best suits your Harley since it is a high point that you make the overdue move!

However, if your budget can’t bend around to support either one of the top 5 selects, we suggest that you don’t check them off your list right away and instead save up until next time. Give these products a chance, and put some of your trust in us, for we are sure you won’t be misled, you can take us up on our word about each unit being durable, and of the value of each of the buck, it will be costing you!

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