Oil filters are the underdogs of motorcycle maintenance, the unsung heroes who are seldom given the kudos they deserve.  That’s too bad, because they perform an important task necessary to keep your motorcycle running year after year:  They remove contamination and bits of metal from your lubrication system.  If those ugly bits are allowed to circulate they can cause a catastrophic failure.  Ignore your oil filter and you might hear a grinding noise, followed by a big CRUNCH.  Bring money, and lots of it when that happens.

Filters normally get changed (along with the motor oil) about every 3-6,000 miles.  (See your owner’s manual for recommended service intervals.)  When it comes time to replace the filter, should you replace it with the OEM filter sold by the motorcycle manufacturer?  Is that the best one?  Or could you use another filter made by a third party?  Does price matter?  Does a cheap filter perform as well as an expensive filter?  Is a bigger filter better than a small filter?  Mr. BestRest set out to find these answers.

Watch the video here:  Motorcycle OIL Filters In The Nuclear Age

He came up with a testing protocol that will give results a layman can SEE with his own two eyes.  He’ll be injecting motor oil mixed with radioactive BestRestium (20-50 µ) into each filter, then he’ll record the contamination that passes through each filter.

In order for the tests to be realistic, he selected filters that fit one of his motorcycles (in this case a 2005 BMW R1200GS).  He compared the costs, the design features, the capacities, he measured the amount of filtering media, and he came up with usable data.  The problem with “data” is that it can be somewhat misleading, especially if it’s marketing data from the filter manufacturer(s).  Since Mr. BestRest doesn’t sell oil filters, this test will have no agenda, other than to reveal the true filtering abilities of each brand.

Before he began the tests, he needed to fully understand how oil filters work; only then he could unravel the differences between Filter A and Filter B.  So he went out and bought 24 filters (1 for testing, 1 for dissection), then he began the tedious process of cutting them apart.  He analyzed, measured, and collected raw data.   These are the filters he’ll be testing:

HiFloFiltro BMW OEM Mahle Mann
K&N Volar Mobil 1 Wix
Fram Napa Gold Super Tech FLO Reusable

Once he understood their construction, he made drawings of the two basic types that would be used for a motorcycle:

Here’s a link to the PDF where we show all the data:  Oil filter charts revised 03-14-18

Here’s photos of the various filters, cut apart: