You know about the filters you should be changing on the regular, like oil and air…but what about your fuel filter! This forgotten filter is like the “kidney” that cleans foreign matter out of gas before it enters your engine, and it’s an important part of your fuel system, so learn about how it works and how to install one here!
One day, we’ll probably all ride around on electric motorcycles. Until then, motorcycles require a bit of maintenance fueled by their need for gasoline. In order to propel you forward at those speeds that you love so much, your motorcycle’s engine needs to perform a fairly complex system of controlled explosions. But explosions aren’t exactly “easily controlled.” A lot of things go into keeping your motorcycle exploding smoothly and if those bits and pieces aren’t maintained, disaster may follow.
So it’s always a good idea to add checking your engine’s fuel system to your routine maintenance. Every time you give your engine a good once over to keep it healthy and happy, check your fuel lines to make sure that everything is properly connected. The vibrations that your bike has to deal with when you ride can sometimes cause nuts and bolts to back off and a loose or disconnected fuel line can really ruin your day. If you do find some loose lines due to a lazy nut or bolt, apply some threadlocker before tightening them back up to keep them from coming loose again.
Unfortunately, gas doesn’t just enter your bike from the fuel tank and flow through your engine without picking up anything on the way. Foreign particles can manage to make their way into your combustion chamber via your gas by taking with it rust deposits that are sitting in your gas tank or dirt or gunk from the pump. These particles can really get in the way of clean running fuel lines and even clog your carburetor!
Enter the fuel filter. Many bikes don’t come stock with fuel filters. Some engines have a filter inside the petcock which should also be cleaned every now and then to avoid clogging. If your bike has no filter at all, we recommend installing a fuel filter and keeping it properly maintained in order to give your engine the cleanest run possible.
Use your Brain
Before working with your fuel system on your bike, we hope that it goes without saying to do so with caution. It can be easy to forget how dangerous gasoline can be since we use it daily in our engines without a second thought. But any time that you work with your engines fuel system, be aware of your surroundings. Make sure not to work around any sources of heat or fire that could ignite the fuel. Just one spark can make you wish that the only thing you singed off was your eyebrows. We also recommend wearing a pair of BikeBandit.com Nitrile Worx Performance Gloves to protect your skin from any gas leakage. Not to mention, the stuff doesn’t exactly double as a good fragrance to wear.
Installing a Fuel Filter
Whether you’ve had issues with a clogged carb or not, fuel filters are great preventative measures. You may maintain your bike like it’s the difference between life and death (because it could be) but you can’t control what the gas you pump into your motorcycle brings with it. We would like to think that paying an arm and a leg for gas these days means that you’re getting pure petrol, but sometimes that just isn’t true. And when your gas isn’t up to par, it’s better to have a clogged filter that can be easily replaced than a clogged carburetor.
Installing a fuel filter is both cheap and easy. BikeBandit.com shells out fuel filters for a few bucks. We recommend the Visu-Filters In-Line Fuel Filters, which are easy to install and maintain. These little guys are made of a clear plastic that allows you to see what’s going on inside your filter with just a glance.
In order to install a fuel filter, you’ll need to run the fuel lines dry so that you don’t end up getting gas everywhere. In order to do this, leave your petcock in the “on” position and start your engine. Let your motorcycle run for a minute or so before turning the petcock into the “off” position. With the petcock off, twist your throttle a few times to run the line dry before shutting your engine back off. If your engine is fuel injected, you can just skip this whole step since your engine doesn’t pump gas through unless the engine is running. (If you are installing a fuel filter onto a bike that is fuel injected, make sure that you’re using one that is specifically made for your bike.) There will be some gas still in the lines that you’ll need to drain out into a catch can once you cut the line free.
When installing the filter, you can do it two ways. The first is to detach the entire hose and work with it off of your bike. This method is typically easier but it is possible to fit the filter to the hose without detaching it. Either with the hose still on your bike or detached, figure out where on your hose you would like the filter to be placed (we like to put it right in the middle). Cut out a section of the hose that is slightly smaller than the length of the filter. Be conservative while doing this. You can always cut the hose down further but you’ll need to replace the entire hose if you get a little too carried away with the cutting. The filter should then fit in between the two cut ends of the hose. The filter will have an arrow on it that will show you which direction the flow goes. Point the arrow toward your carburetor. If there’s no arrow, the larger side of the filter will go toward the carb.
Once the filter is fitting well in the line, put a clamp or clip around the hose on each end of the filter and tighten them down to secure the filter. This isn’t the time to turn into the Incredible Hulk though. These filters are plastic and too much tension will damage the filter’s casing. Tighten the clamps or clips just enough to secure the filter. Once it’s snuggly in place, fit the hose back onto your bike if you had taken it off at the start.
With everything back in place and your new fuel filter fitted and secured to the hose, put the petcock back into the “on” position, start up your bike and check for any leaks. If you don’t see any, take your bike out for a ride and check once more when you get back to your garage and then again after it has been sitting for a while. Be sure to check your bolts, clamps, clips and nuts often to make sure that none of them have backed off.
Replacing your Fuel Filter
If you’ve already got a fuel filter on your bike, it’ll need some slight maintenance just as anything else on your bike. Along with keeping an eye on fuel lines and their connections in order to keep your engine running safely, keep an eye on your fuel filter. This is why we love the clear plastic filters. It’s easy to check for clogs or build up without having to detach anything. If you do happen to notice any kind of build up or clogging, it’s such an easy fix. Simply replace the fuel filter and toss out the clogged one. Even if you never have a problem with clogs or build up, we recommend changing out your fuel filter once a year as the plastic can break down over time and use. They’re inexpensive and the process is easy but replacing your fuel filter is a great way to keep your engine running without any hiccups.
In order to replace your fuel filter, snag a new one for cheap at BikeBandit.com’s Fuel Filter Shop. Once you’ve got the new filter, you’ll want to run the fuel line and old filter as dry as possible to save you from having to deal with any excess gas. This process is the same as if you were installing a new filter. Just run your engine for about a minute, put the petcock into the “off” position, rev the throttle a few times and then shut of your engine. This should clear out most of the gas in the line and filter but some still may leak out so be prepared with some sort of catch can. If your bike is fuel injected, skip the whole petcock step as the fuel pumps will keep the gas from pouring out while the engine is off.
With your fuel line and filter fairly dry, loosen the clamps or clips that are holding the two ends of the fuel line hose to the filter and remove the old filter. Some motorcycles may have a fuel filter mounting bracket in order to make sure that the fuel filter is secure. Before you remove the old filter, you may need to detach the bracket along with the filter and then remove it from the filter.
The new filter should have an arrow pointing in the direction of the fuel flow. Install the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the carburetor. If there’s no arrow, just install it with the larger end toward the carb. If your old filter had been attached to a mount, put the bracket onto the new filter and secure it to the mount. Replace the clamps and clips that secure the hose to the filter and tighten them without tightening them so much that they damage the plastic casing of the filter.
Once the new filter is in place and secured, put the petcock back to “on” and start up your engine. Check the line and filter for any gas leaks. A leak or loose bolt or nut can really end badly so you want to make sure that your lines are all secure. If there seems to be no leakage, take your ride out for a spin. When you get back to your shop, recheck the line and filter for leaks both immediately and after it has had a chance to sit for a few hours. Now that you’ve got the new filter in place, you can be sure that your engine is only getting the fuel it needs and no other surprises. But be sure to check your lines often just in case.