best air cleaner for harley davidson

5 Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner For Harley Davidson

A Complete Purchase Guide

The best stage 1 air cleaner for Harley Davidson motorcycles is a high-performance component that helps to improve the airflow and efficiency of your bike. This type of air cleaner is designed to replace the stock air filter on your Harley, and it is typically larger and more open than the factory filter. This allows for better airflow, which can help to increase horsepower and torque and can also help to improve fuel economy.

Stage 1 air cleaners are a popular choice for Harley owners who want to boost performance with upgrades in their bikes, and they are often used in conjunction with other performance upgrades such as exhaust systems and fuel management systems.

Things To Keep In Mind

It’s important to consider factors such as the size and shape of the air cleaner, the type of material used, and the brand reputation. You’ll also want to consider your specific needs and preferences, such as whether you want a more aggressive or a more subtle look for your motorcycle.

With these factors in mind, you can narrow down your options and find the best high-flow air filter for your Harley Davidson.

Quick Pick For Best Harley Stage 1 Air Cleaner

Best Overall

Best Budget

Best Aesthetic

Arlen Ness


Roland Sands Design

Excellent quality, fits universally with complete all in one aspects; integrated

Comes handy and saves money on long run avoiding use of disposable filters

Makes considerably different look, design lets air in 360° to give bump

Why Air Cleaner Is Important?

So what exactly an air filter does is pretty simple. It has two main jobs, the first one is to give your motorcycle the air it needs for combustion so you can start riding. And the second one is to filter out all the bad particles in the air to help keep your motor running at full power without breaking down for as long as possible.

Think of your motorcycle’s engine kind of like an air compressor: the more air gets to it the more power can be put into the back wheel.

Simple Science

What happens if we get rid of the old dirty blocked air filter and run with no filter? I mean it sounds like more air equals more good performance, and less obstruction which results in welcoming more air, so without a filter becomes better for the combustion, right? Theoretically, 100% that does make sense but in theory and in reality not at all.

Sure more air does equal more good, but clean filtered air is even good and burns better and excludes all dirt and other pollutants. Clean air leads to better and more complete combustion, which means more motorcycle performance; literally giving you more bang for your buck.

Relation With Engine Lifespan

Well yes, there’s the benefit if you did mount some best stage 1 air cleaners for your Harley Davidson. All of that dirt and pollutants that are in the air can actually get into your motor and wear it out prematurely if you don’t have an air filter. So the air filter definitely has a job to do, and you’re going to want to make sure you get as much clean air, not just air, as possible into your bike.

Aftermarket Air Filter Types

The use of the best Harley Davidson stage 1 air cleaner is the easiest way that can increase any motorcycle’s horsepower and performance. There are numerous high-performing air filters like K&N and most of them are stock designed. However, the air filter comes in three 3 different categories:

  • Paper air filter (OEM)
  • Fabric and cotton air filter (K&N – washable & reusable)
  • Foam air filter (late models)

Review Of 5 Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner For Harley Davidson

Here are some of the best in the market stage 1 cleaners. There are still other air cleaners that are probably worth making a purchase, you can have those aftermarket filters as well. However, these are some brands that have been providing service for over 50 years at the top.

1. Arlen Ness Big Sucker Performance Air Filter Kitbest stage 1 air cleaner for harley davidson

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Why We Picked?

A great universal fit air intake accessory for all Harley owners to upgrade the appearance of their bike and at the same time add some more power. Wash it, oil it, and put it back on it works nicely.

Arlen Ness designs this big sucker air cleaner to not only look good but also to flow a ton more air than your factory for proven power.

The actual filter element is one of the areas that’s going to create some more power for you. Arlen Ness has tested this air intake system on numerous bikes and they claim an increase of 21% in horsepower.

And yes if you are trying to match the black on your bike as close as possible – this is a great option. It is surprisingly very close to the factory matte black that Harley offers.

Let’s talk about the installation. And guys, out of all the mods that you’re going to install on your bike this is one of the easiest. You can have this installed in just about an hour using only basic hand tools.

Everything is included except the outer cover. Your aftermarket look needs a cover like the Kuryakyn filter cover listed in number (5) that fits easily to give a complete look.


  • Universal fit
  • Washable
  • Proven 21% increased power
  • Strong aluminum backing plate
  • Easy to install


  • Doesn’t fit with the stock air breather cover

2. K&N Engine Air Filter

best harley davidson stage 1 air cleaner

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Why We Picked?

This model of K&N is compatible with 1999-2015 Harleys with few modifications. A big element of K&N outperforming other competitors is because of its affordable price. Plus, the promising longevity they guarantee to provide makes it stand out as becoming one of the best stage 1 air cleaner for Harley Davidson.

They are meant to fit in your stock air box and it’s going to give you a performance bump for sure. Also, it’s going to keep that nice stock-appearing air box and that’s going to allow you to do a couple of things.

Firstly your bike’s going to keep that retain that OEM look and the second thing is stock air box is usually really great about keeping rainwater out.

What is not likable is its oval shape but it’s good for motor practically with a large surface area which is made compactly. It comes pre-oiled with a cotton air filter and other needed hardware to make a precise fit. The package includes (screws, bolts, and housing).


  • Easily washable
  • Exceptional quality
  • 10 years promise
  • Extreme engine protection
  • Full features at a low price
  • 10-minute install


  • Outdated design & looks

3. Roland Sands Design Chrome Clarity Air Cleaner

best high flow air filter for harley davidson

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Why We Picked?

This is the transparent air cleaner that uses a K&N filter, it’s a rewatchable filter and K&N is a great company that provides the best intake in the industry. It’s a very old and respected maker of both intakes and air filters and air filtering media for a wide variety of applications. So what they’ve done is created a really nice outer cover for this air cleaner.

I think this design in particular kind of works on any bike and I think the best thing about this air cleaner is it does increase the performance of your bike. It doesn’t increase the flow of air into your motor more than anything.

This product probably aesthetically really changes the look of your entire motor. An air cleaner is the central heart of your engine, it is right smack in the middle of your Harley-Davidson power plant. So your choice of air cleaner says a lot about the aesthetic of your bike.

This cleaner is interesting if you’re looking for a show and you’re looking to go.

Installation is pretty upright not necessarily a great first-timer but not particularly difficult if you’ve got hand tools, a service manual, and a couple of good buddies.

I think this thing’s a lot of bang for the box you’re getting great performance, you get great looks.


  • Great look
  • Has K&N filter
  • Views of internal intake components
  • Machined aluminum plate
  • Clear instructions for installation


  • Needs better screws to fight vibration

4. K&N Cold Air Intake Kit

best harley stage 1 air cleaner

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Why We Picked?

This is made a little bit differently and nicely designed you can obviously see that big honking element hanging way out there letting suck up lots and lots of air making breathing easy for the  Harley.

I love this piece because it’s actually cast I love the fact that using cast stuff here it’s really hard to back kind of the hot rod days when folks were casting hot rod parts for motorcycles and for cars. It’s something you can’t necessarily feel through the picture but has a really solid construction.

The edges where the filter actually fits onto the intake itself have the cut out so you don’t see the mounting clamp. Not a big deal but it’s a really nice touch to get the best high flow air filter for Harley Davidson.

If you’re looking into an air cleaner you probably already have an exhaust on your motorcycle this is also going to work well with other power adders also.

If you’re considering heads cam more than stock maybe; a jug kit this is definitely something you can grow with. These are made to make horsepower right off of a stock motorcycle. So regardless of where you are short of your journey to making your Harley a little faster, this thing is going to be able to grow with you as you pick up and start developing your Harley’s game plan just a little bit.

Inside the box, they’ve got the instructions, motor gaskets, bolts, and of course the K&N air filter.


  • Washable filter
  • High boost in horsepower
  • Vibration absorb system
  • High-quality element
  • No need for quick maintenance
  • Improvement in sound quality


  • Large size

5. Kuryakyn Alley Cat Air Cleaner/Filter Cover

best aftermarket harley air cleaner

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Why We Picked?

If you are looking for any cheap and easy aftermarket, this air filter cover is all you have to pick. It is overwhelmingly good and had nothing much bad to say in terms of great quality as well as custom looks.

They are made sturdy however I like the heavy outlook of the cover which gives a strong appearance as well. This comes with only a filter cover regardless if you need one. The Arlen big sucker listed in number (1) fits right and tight with this filter cover.

This aftermarket part has a wide range of fitments from 1999-2017 for Harley Davidson with a universal fit type. And comes with chrome and gloss black to fit your stock theme to roll down chilling on the street.

It really gives the bike a custom look with an easy installation. Just need a few wrenches and a few minutes to get the visual of the changed look.


  • Easy affordable
  • Feeds custom look
  • Strong aluminum construction
  • Fits with Arlen’s stage 1 big sucker
  • Replaces with stock air breather


  • Only filter cover

Things To Consider Before Buying Air Cleaner For Harley

When it comes to actually select the best aftermarket Harley air cleaner there are a couple of things you want to consider.

1) Filtration And Flow

Filtration and flow come first. Filtration and flow are inversely related; better filtration equates to typically slightly worse flow and better flow typically equates to slightly worse filtration. Most of the picks you’ve seen up here are somewhere in the middle ground but you can go to extreme levels of one or the other. Just know that where you gain in one area you give up a little in another.

2) Looks

For any Harley owner, probably looks is one of the most important. You might be aesthetics and you want to make sure that you’re picking an air cleaner that you love and like. If you don’t like the look of it it’s not going to be something you want to keep in your bike no matter how well it performs for you. So keep that in the back of your mind too; you want something that’s going to look nice on your motorcycle.

3) Extra Features

The final thing is it’s always better to keep in the back of the head are special considerations. Some products have a standout feature that kind of makes them pop like a stock-looking OEM design or keeping rainwater out mechanism. They put them ahead of the pack in some categories and if that category or that need is important for you it’s going to obviously elevate an air cleaner in your buying decision.


Air cleaners that have built-in breathing might be a little bit more expensive, you’re paying for that engineering and tech to have those hidden breathers. However, there are many other options to choose from.

# Air Filter With Less Surface Area

What you don’t want something with is a tiny tiny bit of surface area. Those velocity stacks or something with hardly any surface area for an air filter can cause you some kind of big tuning issues, especially on carbureted bikes they can kind of look cool but they’ll cause you tuning problems in the end.

They’re not really meant for late-model bikes, the late-model bikes need that surface area for air cleaner means a big rush of air coming in, you just won’t get that from some of those smaller units.

# Rain Sock Cover

A little weird accessory you’re gonna see for sale with air cleaners is a little hair-net-looking piece. The shape may be different depending on the air cleaner it’s called a rain sock and it’s not a bad idea to have one of these tucked away in a bag or a pocket somewhere on your bike. If you get caught in a rainstorm on a trip this will keep that water off of that element, keep that air filter dry and the air coming into your machine.

Not a bad little pickup to have on your bike if you’re taking a trip.


There are many factors to consider and different options available that may be suitable for different needs and preferences.

K&N and the Arlen Ness Big Sucker Harley Stage 1 Air Cleaner are some great options. These are designed to improve airflow and horsepower and are available in multiple sizes and finishes to match your bike. But, the best air cleaner for your Harley Davidson will depend on your specific needs and preferences, as well as compatibility with your specific model and engine.

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