Tech Tip: The V-Max Diaries – Servicing the Air Filter

V-Max Air box with cover off
With the cover off, the layout of the filter and those humongous intake tubes is revealed.

Yamaha’s Unique take on Intake Filter Maintenance

It’s fair to say every motorcycle has its quirks. There may be technical variations that make each bike unique. Or a unique pain. One of the areas where I’ve seen more variety than almost any other is the way manufacturers have had to finagle an airbox and air filter into their designs.

One of the stranger ones I’ve encountered is on the 1984 Honda V30 Magna. It tucks a cylindrical paper element filter mounted width-wise under the already-too-small gas tank.

Changing the filter requires a unique little rod to prop the front end of the gas tank up at an angle to allow access to the intake plate that allows air into the interior of the cylindrical filter and the flow of air out into the airbox.

Air filter K&N kit for V-Max
The original air filter has been replaced with a K&N rechargeable filter. The kit includes cleaner spray, filter oil and four-step instructions.

One of Honda’s other vintage V-4 powered bikes, the VF1100S Sabre, has its huge airbox and filter jammed under the front of the gas tank, as well. Only in the case of the Sabre, the tank is not tilted up on a prop rod, but rather is removed entirely. That would normally be a fairly simple thing on most bikes, but with the Sabre’s swept-back frame-mounted fairing in the way, it becomes a little bit of a pain.

Not to be outdone, Yamaha, in its thoughtful design of the 2002 V-Max I recently acquired decided to make servicing the air filter at least a little unique.

When I decided to have a look at the air filter in the first place, it was part of a day-long clunker collection motorcycle maintenance marathon. I may have to tell you about that sometime, but for now, I will spare you.

I figured since I had gotten the V-Max a little over a year ago, I really hadn’t done much more than checking oil, coolant, and tire air pressures. Oh, and one rather painful bit of maintenance—replacing the dead battery this spring. That turned out to be a little more of a test than I would have expected. Frankly, that experience made me a little hesitant to learn the hard way what other maintenance minefields the V-Max had to offer.

Still, I had been under that carbon fiber hood before and I thought, “how bad can it be?” In retrospect, while it proved to be a little “unique” it was nowhere near as much a pain to do as that air filter on my Sabre and not as weird as the prop-rod deal on the V30.

Step one is to unlock and remove that beautiful carbon fiber hood that sits where the gas tank would normally be. That should be easy, right? Put the key in the lock and turn it—simple. No. The key turned about an eighth of a turn and stopped dead without the hood unlocking.

V-Max Hood lock mechanism
Not 30 seconds into the project, a snag. The hood lock didn’t want to open!

Here we go. I’m not 30 seconds into the project and right away—trouble. The last thing I wanted to take a chance on was twisting the key off in the lock.

I continued to try very gingerly to get the thing to unlock without overstressing the key. Only by applying stout downward pressure on the back edge of the hood did it finally release. Note to self: WD-40 all moving parts and contact surfaces of the lock mechanism and hook that holds the hood on before calling this job done.

Next, there is a large black plastic cover over the airbox with a rectangular hole in the middle that allows air to be drawn into the center of the large oval air filter. That cover is held in place by six machine screws, but to get it off, you actually have to remove those six plus two sheet metal screws that hold four vent hoses in place with a metal tab on each side of the cover.

Air box machine screws:  V-Max
The top of the air box is secured with six machine screws, but you’ll also have to remove two sheet metal screws holding vent tubes on each side.

The sheet metal screws do nothing to hold the cover, but must be removed to completely free the airbox cover from the box.

Once that’s lifted away, the K&N rechargeable filter that has replaced the stock filter unit is visible. The filter appeared quite clean, but I decided to do the entire four-step clean-and-re-oil K&N air filter regime anyway.

I’ll say this much, the four big throats through which Mr. Max inhales are down-right impressive. They each look like they could suck in a beer can whole. No wonder it feels like you’re making the jump to light speed when the V-Boost kicks in.

So, the next step was to lift out the filter, clean it up with the K&N spray cleaner, let it soak in a bit, do a water rinse and air dry then finally apply a fresh dose of the air filter oil. While you’re waiting for the filter to dry after cleaning, give the interior of the airbox and cover a wipe-down to get rid of any dust or dirt.

The filter oil is red, so as you apply it, the filter takes on a pink hue. That makes it possible to know if you’ve missed any spots or applied the oil unevenly. You may have to go over it more than once to get full, even coverage. Let it soak in for about 20 minutes wipe off any excess and you’re in business.

V-Max Filter oil application
Once the filter has been cleaned and dried, you can spray on the filter oil, turning the filter pink.

The filter has a small drain nipple that drops into an opening at the steering head end of the airbox. Seat that nipple and the filter should drop right in. Once the filter is seated, the cover can be reinstalled.

Since the machine screws thread into a metal collar, not just the plastic of the air box, it’s a good idea to put a drop of thread locker on each one. Next, the metal tabs with the vent tubes can be attached with the sheet metal screws.

While you’re in there, checking the coolant is easy, that key and latch mechanism lubrication I noted upfront can be done, and then the hood can go back on.

Compared to changing the battery on the V-Max, servicing the air filter is a snap. Can’t wait to do that first oil change…

V-Max Air box with cover off
With the cover off, the layout of the filter and those humongous intake tubes is revealed.