Best Air Cleaner for Sportster 883 & 1200: [Top 7 Picks]


Do you know polluted hot air is harmful to your engine’s health? When it receives oxygen-depleted air, it loses horsepower trying to make up for that. Your motor loves cool and clean airflow.

So, how to get more power out of an 883 and 1200 Sportster?

By installing the best air cleaner for Sportster you’ll notice an immediate improvement in power and acceleration. These air intake systems also ensure better airflow into the combustion chamber. In this article, I’ve picked the best high flow air filter for Harley Davidson. Let’s check them out.

1. K&N Air Intake System – Best Overall with Huge HP Gain

  • Improved throttle response
  • Robust engine sound
  • More horsepower gain of 8.57 HP at 5533rpm
  • Effortless installation under 90 minutes
  • Washable and reusable air filter

2. Spike turbine air cleaner – Runner-up with Wide Range of Compatibility

  • Billet aluminum construction
  • Exposed filter design for better airflow
  • Backing plate ensures uninterrupted airflow
  • Incorporates high-volume air-filter
  • In-built crank case breathers

3. NewYall Air Cleaner – Best Budget and Easy-to-setup

  • Improved horsepower gain
  • Better responsiveness
  • Fits perfectly in Sportster 1200 1988-2015 and more models
  • Cost-effective
  • Easy setup

4. S&S  Stealth Air Cleaner kit – Fits OEM Carburetor

  • 6061 Billet aluminum CNC machined body
  • Real carbon fiber inlays
  • Bigger air-filter area
  • Unique stinger cone design for smoother and faster air-flow
  • Includes air cleaner

5. DK Custom Breather System – Preferable for Reusable Filters

  • Boosts performance and longevity of the motor
  • Provides cold and dry air for the engine
  • Breather system ensures smooth airflow
  • Specially designed to work with aftermarket stage 1 air cleaners
  • Washable and reusable for lifetime

6. Arlen Ness 18-803 – Easy Setup without Banjo Fittings

  • Features aluminum backing plate
  • All in one kit- includes both stage 1 and stage 2 filters
  • Eliminates the need for Banjo fittings, hoses, or filter
  • Easy installation
  • Perfect fit

7. Air Cleaner Intake Filter – Durable Billet Aluminum Construction

  • Fits with 2004-2015 Sportsters both fuel injected and carburetor models
  • Features Billet aluminum front plate with internal airways
  • Durable and shockproof body
  • Reusable, re-lubricating, and washable filter
  • Easy setup

Best Air Cleaner For Sportster 883 & 1200:

Buying a reliable air filter not only ensures better throttle response and sound but also longer engine life. So, check these detailed reviews for the Harley Sportster 883 air cleaner which I think will be an excellent addition to your precious ride.

1. K&N Air Intake System – Best Overall For Sportster 1200

  • Dimensions:8 × 9.5 × 4.9 inches
  • Weight:69 lbs.
  • Model: 63-1126
  • Material: Billet Aluminum

Do you want an air filter that guarantees you to gain extra horsepower and acceleration? You can blindly trust this air intake system by K&N. Though it is the most expensive one on my list, it will eventually make up for the higher price by gifting longer service life to the motor.

With an unbeatable amount of power gain, it won the topmost position on my review list. Its premium appearance blends with the look of your Harley Davidson bike.

Incredible Horsepower Gain

As you install this air intake system you are going to experience the next-level performance upgrade from your engine. Mandrel-bent aluminum intake tube ensures better airflow. The manufacturers estimate the amount of power gain will be 8.57HP at 5533rpm. As a result, throttle response is improved and so is the engine sound.

Ease of Installation

Users loved how easy this air cleaner system is to set up. It comes with an instruction guide to help in the process. Following that manual, you can install it in under 90 minutes.

Lifetime Reusable Filter

Another thing I found quite impressive is the air filter that comes along with this product. It’s simple to wash and reuse.

The intuitive design provides significantly more airflow, making it the best air cleaner for Sportster 1200 for high power gain. But if you live in California, choose something other than this one because it’s not legal to use it there.

Pros:
  • Increased airflow
  • Deeper engine sound
  • Improved throttle response
  • Included mounting hardware
  • High-quality aluminum finish
Cons:
  • Expensive

2. Spike turbine air cleaner – Runner-up with Wide Range of Sportster 883 Compability

  • Dimensions: 13 x 9.09 x 5.12 inches
  • Weight:78 lbs.
  • Material: CNC Billet Aluminum
  • Fit Type: Vehicle Specific
  • Fitment: 1996-2019 XL1200C Sportster 1200 Custom; 2007-2011 XL1200L Sportster 1200 Low; 2004-2008 XL1200R Sportster Roadster;1996-2003   XL1200S Sportster Sport; 2004-2008 XL883 Sportster;1999-2009 XL883C Sportster Custom;2005-2010 XL883L Sportster 883 Low; 1991-2003 XLH883 Sportster;1991-1995 XLH883 Sportster Deluxe;1991-2003 XLH883 Sportster Hugger;1991-2003 XLH1200 Sportster

Up next on my list is the CNC machined Billet aluminum spike turbine air cleaner. This product is very well-built and delicately crafted to improve the airflow into the carburetor or throttle body.

Again, while the aforementioned one is designed for the fuel-injected models only, you can use this product on both the carburetor and the fuel-injected Harley Davidson bikes.

Exposed filter design

It features an exposed filter to ensure smooth, and uninterrupted airflow. More air guarantees better combustion of the fuel which is why your engine will noticeably perform better.

To provide maximum air into the throttle body or the carburetor the manufacturers have used backing plates. On top of that, the filter body is high-volume which I found another plus.

Wide Compatibility

It fits just right if you buy according to your vehicle model. Many bike owners complain that their air cleaner system has fitment issues but with this, you won’t have any.

The manufacturers have made this air filter to be vehicle specific when it comes to fitment. So, besides being the best air cleaner for Sportster 883, it’s compatible with Harley’s Roadster, Nightster, Seventy-Two, Forty-Eight models.

Trouble-free Installation

All necessary mounting hardware is included, so you won’t need to rush to the nearest store for any equipment for installing it. Users were impressed by how easy it was to set up within an hour.

Pros:
  • Sleek appearance
  • High-volume capacity filter
  • Huge range of compatibility
  • Exposed filter for uninterrupted airflow
  • Works with both carburetor and fuel-injected models
Cons:
  • Might cause bruises on your shin

3. NewYall Air Cleaner – Best Budget and Easy-to-setup

  • Dimensions: 7 x 4.8 x 3.8 inches
  • Weight:5 lbs.
  • Fitment: Harley-Davidson Forty Eight 2010-2015; Iron 883 2009-2015; Seventy Two 2012-2015; Sportster 1200 1988-2015; Sportster 883 1988-2015

If you are looking for an all-in-one air cleaning kit at an affordable price point, then here’s a cheap Harley Sportster air cleaner. Don’t let the price tag fool you, it’s the best air cleaner for iron 883 with a high-rating from the customers.

With the discreet design, it is low profile enough to match the look of your Harley Davidson ride. You can ensure whether your vehicle will fit it or not by giving the year, make and model.

Power and Responsiveness

This air cleaner system gets rid of all the impurities and dust from the air. As a result, the engine gets clean air for combustion. On top of that, airflow is increased into the carburetor or throttle body. So, more combustion takes place which means more horsepower gain. Again, you will notice improved throttle response in no time.

Vehicle Specific Fitment

This well-made filter system offers utmost fitment without any issue. Before purchasing it all you need to do is to make sure if they have the right one for your make and model.

Easy Installation

Though some instruction on installation would be better for the newbies, the setup process is pretty straightforward. Use your intuition, you can get it done by spending a few minutes or so. Users had no problems installing it right. Just make sure to tighten all hex screws on the clear plate. But don’t go hard on them as you may crack the plastic and ruin the whole thing.

Pros:
  • Perfect fit
  • Effortless installation
  • Budget-friendly pricing
  • Improved responsiveness
  • Ensures superior engine performance
Cons:
  • No instruction guide for setup
  • Doesn’t include gasket for the carburetor

4. S&S Stealth Air Cleaner kit – Fits OEM Carburetor

  • Material: Brass
  • Type: Billet-proof
  • Fit Type: Universal Fit
  • Fitment: 2007 and Up Harley Davidson Sportster XL Fuel Injected Models; Harley Davidson Sportster Factory Carburetor Models.
  • Kit Include: Backplate, filter element, top cover, necessary mounting hardware, and installation instruction.

This USA made air cleaner kit is legal in all the states. Its radiused inlet draws more air and smoothly delivers them into the combustion chamber. This guarantees better horsepower gain and amazing responsiveness.

CNC Machined Cover

The covers are precision CNC machined from 6061 Billet aluminum with natural finishing. As these are precision machined you can use any S&S cover with this one. It will accept them all. So, if you want to change the cover that comes along with the kit, you can pick any of their covers. They offer them in different styles and designs.

Unique Stinger Cone Design

Combined with an air horn-like radiused inlet and an exceptional stinger cone design the air filter features more space. As a result, smoother and faster airflow enters into the carburetor or throttle body. The manufacturers estimate this flow to be increased by 38% than usual. Having all these features makes it the best air intake for Harley Sportster.

Washable Filter

There are pre-filters available. The filter element in this kit is washable which means you can clean it and reuse it for a long time.

This all-in-one kit includes a Harley Sportster air cleaner cover, filter, polished stainless hardware. Setting them up is pretty straightforward.

Pros:
  • Legal in 50 states
  • Washable air filter
  • 38% increased airflow
  • Radiused inlet for smooth airflow
  • S&S classic stinger ensures minimal turbulence
Cons:
  • Nothing found

5. DK Custom Breather System – Preferable for Reusable Filters

  • Manufacturer Part Number: DK-ACI-EV-BR
  • Fit Type: Custom Fit
  • Fitment: All Harley Davidson Sportster 1991 and upper models (except XR1200)
  • Mounting Hardware: Included

Do you know eliminating hot, oily, and dirty crankcase air from the intake can boost the performance of your engine? An external breather kit is always recommended with every air cleaner system.

That being said this is the best stage 2 air cleaner for Harley Davidson on my list, delivering much cooler and cleaner air. Users highly recommended it by reporting their engine’s temperature dropped by 15 degrees.

Compatibility

It works with all outlaw HiFlow air cleaners and many other aftermarket stage 1 air cleaners. It fits all 2000 and up Milwaukee-Eight, Twin Cam, Touring, Softail, Dyna models. For aftermarket air cleaners, if your system has a support bracket of maximum ¼” then this will fit.

But let me tell you it does not work with OEM, most S&S, Roland Sands, Screamin Eagle, Arlen Ness, etc. If you are confused you can email them with a photo, link, or part number of your air cleaner.

Necessary Hardware

All needed equipment is provided including a Brass and Black T-Connector. So use the one that matches your motorcycle best. You can optionally opt for a stainless-steel braided hose or the chrome hose clamp covers too.

Flexible Filter

The supplied filter is washable and reusable for a lifetime. Besides, it offers flexible placement of that.

Pros:
  • Turn-key system
  • Step-by-step installation instruction included
  • Provides cold, dry, and clean air for combustion
  • Compatible with outlaw and many other air cleaner systems
Cons:
  • Doesn’t fit with OEM and most S&S

6. Arlen Ness 18-803 – Easy Setup without Banjo Fittings

  • Dimensions:8 x 9.5 x 5.4 inches
  • Weight: 08 pounds
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Air Cleaner Filter: Red cotton gauze
  • Model Number: 18-803

Arlen Ness is also another well-known brand for delivering high-quality air filter systems. This one contains both stage 1 and 2 filter assemblies to get rid of the dirty, oily, and hot air. Let’s check some of its key features to find out why bike enthusiasts are swearing by it.

Intuitive Design

It features an aluminum backing plate or carburetor support bracket using which you can install any aftermarket external breather system. Like the previously mentioned DK Custom one, you won’t be needing hoses, filters, or Banjo fittings.

Two-in-One Filter Assemblies

This product comes with both stage 1 and 2 kits. The first stage filter assemblies include a high-flow filter. It accepts a 93-15 oval or round-shaped OEM cover. The second stage comes with a 20% larger high-flow filter than the aforementioned one. It receives an 8″ round-shaped OEM outer cover with it.

Easy Setup Process

This well-made filter system comes with clear instructions on how to install it. Users had no issue following them. They sang its praise experiencing the engine’s performance upgrade. It was installed flawlessly in 1997 and up Harley’s 883, 1200, XL models. But not on Softail ones.

Pros:
  • Fits perfectly
  • Improved engine power and sound
  • Quick installation within 25 minutes
  • Includes both stage 1 and stage 2 air filters
Cons:
  • The red color of the filter washes out after being exposed to the sun

7. Air Cleaner Intake Filter – Durable Billet Aluminum Construction

  • Dimensions:42 x 4.76 x 3.66 inches
  • Weight:46 oz.
  • Material: CNC Billet 6061 T6 Aluminum
  • Fit Type: Universal Fit
  • Fitment: Harley Sportster XL883 XL883N XL883R XL883P XL1200 XL1200L XL1200X Iron 883 Forty-Eight XL1200X 2004-2016

With universal fitment, it’s one of the best 883 iron air cleaners. Also, it fits a wide range of compatible models. Again, it’s low profile enough to match the natural look of your bike.

Convenient Design

The engineers kept the users’ convenience in mind while designing it, you won’t be needing any hose, oil sumps, or support brackets for installing it. Besides, they’ve incorporated a Billet aluminum front plate with internal airways for a clean installation.

However mounting hardware and instruction are missing as they recommend you to take help from the professional.

Shockproof Body

For point-to-point welding, its construction is firm enough to withstand wear and tear for a long time. Unlike most other air filters, it is water-proof and shock-resistant which is another big plus.

Reusable Filter

Though it’s super affordable, it has premium perks like the included filter is reusable, relubricating, simple to wash and dry.

Pros:
  • Waterproof
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Shock-resistant durable construction
  • Reusable, relubricating, and washable filter
Cons:
  • Professional installation required

What To Consider Before Buying The Best Air Cleaner For Harley Sportster

With so many options for Harley Sportster air cleaner in the market, it’s easy for you to get puzzled. Check these important factors below to ensure you’ve got just the right one for yourself.

Fitment

The first thing you need to consider before purchasing a Harley Sportster air filter system for your bike, make sure of its compatibility. Some of them are vehicle specific, the rest fit universally. Go through their fitment section and check if it’s made to fit your make and model or not.

Build Material

The material defines how well-made the product is. Usually, most of the high-quality Harley Davidson Sportster air filter systems are made of Billet 6061 T6 aluminum. Again, they are CNC machined for precision and strength which make them last for a long time without any issues.

Filtering Capability

The ideal Harley Sportster air intake system should be able to eliminate dust, oil from the crankcase air and deliver cool air into the combustion chamber. The users notice a performance increase shortly after the installation. So, go through the review section to find out if the product does what it is intended to.

Ease of installation

Another thing to look for while buying the best air cleaner for Sportster is whether it comes with all the necessary mounting hardware or not. Otherwise, you have to find which equipment is required and buy them from nearby stores which is surely a hassle. Furthermore, step-by-step clear instruction will guide you through the installation process.

Conclusion

So, which one are you going to buy? Get the K&N one which will surely upgrade your engine’s performance to the next level if you are willing to invest more. Looking for a cheaper option? Go for the NewYall or Air Cleaner one. Arlen Ness has both the stage 1 and 2 filter assemblies to provide a notable performance upgrade. DK Custom Breather System also impressed the users by dropping 15 degrees of temperature from their engine.

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