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Installing the Arlen Ness Big Sucker Air-Filter Kit

Rider Contributor
January 24, 2006
Filed under Motorcycle Features: Bikes, Blokes, Culture and Beyond

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story and photography by Chris Sindoni

There are many ways to improve the Sportster’s air filter: a bigger element in the stock housing; a new housing and element with the stock cover; or a whole new air-filter assembly. For those who want to get away from the “ham can” look of the stock air-filter cover, the Drag Specialties Fat Book catalog offers the Arlen Ness Big Sucker air-filter kit, part No. 1010-0061, along with the 8-inch Arlen Ness chrome cover, Drag Specialties part No. DS-288949.

The Big Sucker is a clean setup. It has a die-cast back plate with an integral breather manifold and carburetor mount. This air-filter kit is designed to fit all CV-carbureted Sportsters from 1986 to present by including a multitude of parts for the breather/back-plate mount. Our 2005 XL1200 Sportster used the large size banjo bolts with a restrictor fitted inside each.

Installing the air filter is one of those gigs that takes longer to explain than to do. You undo seven bolts, fit a couple of restrictors into a pair of banjo bolts and attach the new air filter with nine bolts. If you are just changing the air filter, it shouldn’t be necessary to modify carburetor jetting. If you were also replacing the OE mufflers with a free-flowing set, rejetting would be necessary.

Riding the bike after the air-filter change was a very pleasant surprise. The motor had a more open sound without being obnoxious and the seat of our pants told us that it had more power. We dyno tested the bike in its original stock form and and recorded 62.7 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. After installing the Big Sucker air filter the XL developed 67.9 horsepower at 5,800 rpm-a 5.7 horsepower gain. That’s only $30 per horsepower. Equally important, it added 300 rpm to the useable powerband, all with just an air-filter change.

Product: Big Sucker air-filter kit Price: $110.95 (filter kit); $59.95 (chrome cover) Supplier: Drag Specialties; see your dealer; www.dragspecialties.com.

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