Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner For Harley Davidson: Top 5 Picks

Adding an air cleaner or filter is one of the best mods you can do for your valuable Harley Davidson. Okay, at first a big congratulation for owning such a premium ride.

However, to make sure the ride has the best engine life and to enhance its performance, a stage 1 air cleaner is a must. It provides an optimum level of airflow to ensure better and efficient combustion that eventually keeps the engine smooth for a long time.

If you’re here in search of the best stage 1 air cleaner for Harley Davidson, you won’t be disappointed after reading this article. You may get an appropriate cleaner for you with the help of the buying guide.

Now, have a quick look at my recommended best Stage 1 Air Cleaners for Harley Davidson (available on amazon):

Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner For Harley Davidson

Now it’s time to find out the best products available. Here I bring the detailed review of the best stage one air filters to my knowledge with advantages and disadvantages.

1. Arlen Ness 18-321 Big Sucker: Best Buy


  • Finish: Chrome
  • Material: Alloy steel
  • Fitment: 1999-2017 Harley Big Twin
  • Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9 x 8 x 6 inches

Arlen Ness is one of the most famous aftermarket manufacturers for delivering high-quality Harley Davidson air cleaners. The 18-321 is no exception to that which has a shiny look. However, appearance isn’t the only feature it got.

The purifier comes with a complete package that is ready for an easy installation. The enclosure eliminates the need of installing the additional hoses and other fittings that may give you trouble by incorporating a hidden patented breather technology.

You just need to remove your old filter if there’s any, spray oil on it, fix some bolts and nuts before you’re finished. It takes only around half an hour to complete the whole process.

The air cleaner has a radius air inlet for providing the highest performance by delivering continuous airflow. The standard red filters come to you pre-oiled. They are washable and feature four layers of surgical-grade cotton for improved filtration and maximum airflow.

The Arlen Ness air purifiers are made in the USA and are great for filtering the air with the stainless jacketing filter. It actually offers a stainless mesh outside and a finer mesh inside so there’s no gauze to wear out.

Things I liked

  • Provides superior airflow to be fuel efficient
  • Easy installation and maintenance
  • Backing plates are available in black powder coat or chrome finish
  • Improves motor efficiency and lifetime

Things I didn’t like

  • If you’re from California then it’s not for you.

The high intoxicating intake sound of the filter makes it illegal in this state. However, there’s another air cleaner for you. The Screamin’ Eagle High-Flow Air Cleaner Kit delivers high airflow to boost your fuel-injected model. The Screamin eagle air filter also suits your drive aesthetically.

2. K&N Engine Air Filter: High-performer


  • Material: Cotton Gauze
  • Air filter shape: Oval
  • Item Weight: 1.25 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 10.3 x 3.9 inches

K&N engine air filter is engineered specially to increase your ride’s horsepower and acceleration while ensuring an excellent air filtration mechanism. The filters are washable, reusable, and engineered to last for the life of your motorcycle.

The K&N air purifier fits with the models of 2009-2017 Harley Davidson. Being an oval-shaped filter, it is able to provide more surface area without getting too large.

As said already, after installing, this aftermarket filter gives a significant gain of horsepower of up to 7HP over the regular cleaners. The extra HP leads to more pleasant noise. It also improves the throttle response of the Harley.

Talking about easy installation, the filter comes ready to be installed just out of the box. The parts are pre-oiled and you’ll find all bolts available to put things in place. This complete package is recommended for anyone who just bought a Harley and looking for a stage 1 modification.

Things I liked

  • High Flow Air Filter (HFAF) provides extra air for the fuel to burn
  • Improved combustion process results in maximum power
  • Improves fuel efficiency
  • Enhances throttle response

Things I didn’t like

  • Reduces bike’s mileage in the long run

3. Kuryakyn 9439: Best Deal


  • Material: Die Cast Aluminum Cover, Stainless Steel Accents
  • Finish: Metallic
  • Item Weight: 1 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches
  • Vehicle Service Type: Street-cruiser-motorcycles

The Kuryakyn 9439 comes as an incomplete kit unlike the previous one. It carries the filter enclosure only, whereas you have to buy the filter separately. However, you can’t ignore the sleek and durable design of this, made of stainless steel and aluminum.

The best air cleaner for Harley 103 comes is widely popular for its stylish finish. In fact, if you want to get Screaming Eagle Stage 1 or Arlen Ness Big Sucker like performance with an aesthetic look that matches with your ride, Kuryakyn is the ultimate option.

Weighing only one pound, the filter cover adds no significant weight to your ride which might give you some trouble. Moreover, the aluminum cover with stainless-steel mesh ensures minimum rusting so that it can be used in all weather conditions.

Get to know more about Kuryakyn 9439 and how to install it? See the Kuryakyn Alley Cat Air Cleaner.

The air purifier is compatible with all Arlen Ness Stage 1 Sucker Kits and Screamin Eagle Air cleaner kits for 1999-2016 models.

Things I liked

  • Suits any bike’s color and looks stylish
  • Excellent and eye-catching chrome finish
  • Can be used in all-weather conditions
  • Provides a high level of airflow

Things I didn’t like

  • You have to buy the filter separately

4. Arlen Ness 18-329 -Air Filter Kit with Cover


  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 2.85 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 8 x 6 inches
  • Vehicle Service Type: Street-cruiser-motorcycles

The Arlen Ness 18-329 is a popular option amongst Harley enthusiasts who’d like to customize their bikes for the best possible performance. It delivers improved throttle response and boosts power.

Like the other Arlen Ness filters, the 18-329 increases HP instantly which improves the overall performance more than your expectation. It has a patented breather technology that ensures your ride breathes well.

The installation is as easy as they claim it is. The complete procedure takes not more than half an hour without any technical difficulty. Just remember not to overtight the bolts on the throttle body. Moreover, it doesn’t need any banjo fittings, hoses, and filters which makes the process straightforward.

Another reason for upgrading to the best stage 1 air cleaner for Harley Davidson m8 is its beautiful design. This eye-catchy design will definitely suit your bike regardless of its color and will surely attract people around you.

Things I liked

  • Recommended for the Sportster model
  • Value for the price
  • Improves throttle response and power
  • Easy installation

Things I didn’t like

  • Slightly heavy

5. Vance & Hines VO2 – Good For Powerful Wind Production


  • Weight: 3.95 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 7 inches
  • Fitment: 1991-2018 Sportster

Well, let’s be honest. Many people love their stock air intake of their HD. However, they shouldn’t be just satisfied with its performance. This is where Vance & Hines Naked VO2 changes the game upside down.

The custom air cleaner for Harley Davidson allows you to use the stock air intake cover. Yes! Isn’t that relieving for those of you who love the stock air cleaner? But, what’s about the performance?

V&H VO2 obviously sucks more air to deliver more power. It pairs with the V&H FP3 nicely that you will be satisfied with the pleasant sound. You’d also love the tubes for rerouting the oil back into the filter which isn’t available on Arlen Ness Big Sucker filters.

The stage 1 air cleaner works pretty well against the rain which also attracts many people. But, the best part of this filter is its powerful wind production which boosts up your bike’s efficiency a lot than before.

Things I liked

  • Works with stock filter cover
  • Improves fuel efficiency
  • Includes oil rerouting pipes
  • Weatherproof; holds up during the rain nicely

Things I didn’t like

  • Illegal on the streets of CA

Buying Guide for Best Stage 1 Air Cleaner for Harley Davidson

Well, now you know the top five air cleaners for Harley Davidson. But getting one of them randomly doesn’t guarantee you in getting the optimum performance. this is because, which air cleaner for Harley will work for you largely depends on the type of the bike, its mileage, average trip duration if there are any other modifications or not.

Based on the factors, you need to make the right choice for buying an air filter. This section will discuss some of those factors. Go through the section in order to make the best buy.

Types of air filter

There’re mainly two types of air filters out there. The first one can be used once only. Then, you have to discard and replace it. Another type of filter is washable and can be used repeatedly.

The use-once filters are usually made of paper and are the cheapest option available. The delicate Harley air cleaners are never recommended for your premium ride. So, let’s talk about the reusable ones.

Reusable filters are usually made of foam and cotton. Foam filters are mostly used on off-road bikes as they can be cleaned and replaced easily whenever high pollution blocks the breathing system.

Cotton air cleaners are the most expensive filters as they can be used for thousands of miles of riding with an unlimited cleaning feature.

CADR rating

This is one of the fundamental factors you should check before spending bucks for a filter. The CADR rating determines the level of purified air when the bike is at its highest achievable speed. It also illustrates the dust particle removing efficiency of an air cleaner.  

HEPA filter

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters. The filters eliminate allergens such as animal dander, dirt, shards, and plastic materials as they can flush out particles as tiny as 0.3 microns.

You should ensure the filter you buy is a high-efficiency particulate air filter and try to get a big one as bigger filters are the most effective.

Temperature resistance

You should cautiously choose an appropriate air cleaner considering your motorcycle’s horsepower, model of the engine, and temperature producing & resisting capabilities.

If your location is hotter than usual, you should consider buying an air cleaner with superior temperature resistance capability. It will help you to run the engine without interruption for a long time.

Large surface area

A large surface area of the air cleaner keeps more dirt particles than a filter with a small surface area. It eventually results in cleaner airflow to the engine. So, try to get a filter with significant numbers of ridges and pleats as they increase the surface area than usual. They also offer greater safeguarding effects.

The smaller air purifiers, on the other hand, are good in the sense that they consume less space and allow you for further modification.

Decent customer service with warranty

Most air-cleaners need to be serviced or replaced within a few years. So, make sure the filter you’re buying has enough warranty period and decent and available customer service near your location.  


Question 1: What does an air filter do?

Answer: The main function of this air filter is defined by its name. The basic function of this air filter is filtering the air that is entering the motor of your bike. If you have a bike, then you must know why the cleaned air is needed for your engine.

In a polluted or dusty environment, you cannot get fresh air. The air is full of particles of grit, dirt, dust, and many more foreign objects. Your engine could be damaged if all these particles enter the engine. It can score the piston walls.

Question 2: What is a stage 1 air cleaner?

Answer: If you are an owner of Harley Davidson, then you know about this phrase. It belongs to the Haley community. Stage 1 for the air filter means it can modify the air and fuel system of the engine. For that, you don’t need to modify the parts of the engine, especially the moving part.

Stage 1 is related to the air filter and changing the bike exhaust. Without getting a performance filter, stage 1 can influence the bike’s performance over time. It helps to tune the bike and ensure optimal performance.

Question 3: Can you clean a Harley Davidson air filter?

Answer: Most of the air filters of Harley Davidson can be cleaned and reused. If you want to stick with the stock version of the air filter, then clean it just using mild detergent. You can use soap and lukewarm water. If you use any kind of air compressor or harsh chemical then the element of the air filter could be damaged.

Don’t use any other cleaners like chain cleaners, bike cleaners, chrome cleaners, or carb cleaners. It just needs a gentle wash by hand. You can use gentle air pressure to blow out the debris.


When you own a Harley Davidson and don’t opt to get its best performance, it’s a complete waste. In search of maximum power and efficiency, you should go through some modification processes. But, believe me, it’s totally worth it.

Stage 1 tuning provides a big improvement over the stock performance. Once, you do it, you’ll definitely see the change.

So, what’s the best stage 1 air cleaner for Harley Davidson?

All the air filters mentioned here are widely popular amongst enthusiasts. However, Arlen Ness 18-321 Big Sucker stands out in Harley air cleaner comparison considering its easy installation and high-performance boost. Also, the price is pretty competitive with the rest of the others.