The engine on your dirt bike or ATV needs to breath therefore helping it expand its "lung" capacity presents an ideal way to boost power and performance.

The most cost effective and easiest course of action is to upgrade the intake system. This is your bike's air filter and airbox which allows clean air into the engine and along with the equivalent fuel mixture helps power the bike. More air in and out equals more power. We've covered upgrading the exhaust system - which allows air to escape - now we'll cover the best approach to upgrading the intake system.

Improving the airflow into the engine means improving the airflow out of the engine so, as we discussed in Exhaust Upgrade - What You Need to Know, it's most efficient and cost effective to upgrade both systems at the same time. Why? Well, like the exhaust system, upgrading the intake system generally requires new jets or a fuel controller. The current carburetor or fuel injection set-up usually cannot handle the mass amount of air now flowing into the engine after installing a new airbox and air filter designed for peak performance.

This means more parts and more money which is why we don't want you to jump into an intake upgrade project without realizing there's more involved than just a fancy new air filter.

Yes, you can upgrade the intake system without an exhaust upgrade but you'll still need to spend the time and money involved with the jets or fuel controller. But, even if you travel this route, it's more than likely you won't notice a big improvement or at least an improvement to your liking, because you didn't upgrade the exhaust. If it sounds like we're repeating ourselves it's because it cannot be emphasized enough - upgrade both at the same time. This maximizes performance features and prevents you from fiddling with the jets or fuel controller twice.

Now that we've got that covered, understand upgrading the intake isn't a snap, crackle, pop routine.

You'll find much-talk on the pros and cons of removing the backfire screen. This screen prevents sparks from firing back into your intake system and igniting the oil-soaked (read that flammable) air filter. Removing the backfire screen and using the typical oil-soaked air filter is not a good idea. Though rare, it can ignite and turn your dirt bike or ATV into a melted metal mess.

Installing a flame-retardant air filter soaked in an oil base with a higher flash point is the trick to successfully and safely removing the backfire screen. Removing this screen is like removing a double-layer window screen from your living room. Sure, air gets through but nowhere near as effective when taken down. After removing the screen you'll need the appropriate intake upgrade to address any safety concerns and provide the wanted performance gains.

Several intake system upgrades exist and what works for one bike might not work for another. Do some research or call us for a recommendation. All choices provide the same thing though - increase in air flow. Check out the following kits:

Once installed, each kit offers greater air intake incorporated into a sturdier, lighter and a near custom made holder for the air filter that seals better than stock or other aftermarket systems. Installation work isn't too involved (Twin Air and Loudmouth might require subframe removal) but does take some time and the correct tools.

Keep in mind, once you've made the switch it's necessary to use the same or similar high-flow air filter that offers fire retardant properties. Speaking of air filters...

The K&N air filter costs as much if not more than a complete intake upgrade kit but pretty much rules the roost when it comes to the air filter category. But don't let the cost fool you. It's washable and reusable thus cutting the overall expense way back. The ATV crowd swears by it but it's taken a while to grab some tread with dirt bikers. It works great for both 2-wheels and 4-wheels and some riders forgo the intake upgrade altogether by simply popping in the K&N. They swear it helps with performance. It probably does but not enough to grab the holeshot.

In any case, if you're looking for significant performance, torque and throttle response upgrading the intake system and the exhaust system, together, gives you the best bang for your buck. You can do them separately but expect to double up on the re-jet or re-map job.

Written By: AndrewT