Ducati Multistrada 1200 – what engine oil filter?
That’s one of THOSE questions isn’t it…..what’s the best oil filter to use?!
Whilst I’m very sure all oil filters are not created equal, so to speak, can I find the information/data to lead me to the best solution?…..not really! 🙁
Conventional filters versus reusable (stainless steel micronic ‘mesh’) filters – something else I’ve looked into but to be honest I remain unconvinced by the ‘bling’ option of the billet alloy encased reusable filters. Whether it’s comparisons of standard ‘throw away’ filters or standard verses reusable filters there just doesn’t seem to be truly convincing arguments/data out there one way or another.
I’ll try and add more information here as and when I get chance to do more research (or should some kind reader send me anything;-)
Here the question is asked in relation to Ducati motorcycles, the Multistrada 1200 in particular but any information regards the quality / performance of oil filters applies to motorcycles in general.
An interesting and well written article below from the guys at TPO Parts and reproduced here with their kind permission: www.tpoparts.com
First a couple of points/observations from me:
1) Note that this article was written around 10 years ago! (c2004)
2) An obvious shortcoming – only the two brands of oil filter are compared so not the definitive answer to the what oil filter question
NB: it is unlikely that UFI still manufacture the Ducati OEM oil filters – vehicle manufacturers frequently change their suppliers of various parts 😉
Anybody know? (hint…..contact link on the left above)
3) The comparison is limited in as much as it only looks at the mechanical properties of the filters, which whilst very likely a good indicator of performance/quality, further testing and data would be required for a categoric result e.g:
- Filter medium density – testing for size of the largest particle that can pass through. Can be a difficult test due to the very nature of paper/fibre type filter media as pore size varies due to the random nature of the fibres that make up the material. So for example, on a single pass test larger particles may pass right through the filter but with recirculation more and more of the larger particles will be ‘captured’ – but at the same time there is a chance of some larger particles continuing to circulate.
It’s a compromise as rate of flow is also important but the ‘better’ a filter is at removing particulate in the oil the more restrictive it will be to oil flow.
- Rate of flow, how restrictive is the filter? i.e. what volume of oil can be passed in a fixed period of time. How does rate of flow change with time/mileage.
- Pressure release/bypass valve – at what pressure does this activate i.e. the point where there will be no oil filtration!
I’m sure there’s more…..this is where someone more knowledgable/technical than me needs to take over! (hint…..contact link on the left above)
Comparison of OEM and K&N oil filters for Ducati motorcycles
We at TPO parts work on Ducatis regularly. One thing that you will hear from many Ducati mechanics is that you should only use OEM oil filters. That can be a major inconvenience with Ducatis. The OEM filters are hard to find and they are also very expensive. We were excited when we heard that K&N–makers of what is probably the world’s best performance air filters–started making oil filters for Ducatis. We decided to purchase one and sacrifice it in the name of science to see just how they compare to the OEM filter. In this article we will show you the step-by-step dissection and comparison of an UFI oil filter (Ducati’s OEM supplier) and a K&N Ducati oil filter. You will be able to see exactly how the two compare…and we think the results will be surprising!
Here you can see our test subjects. One K&N filter and one UFI brand filter. UFI is the OEM supplier for Ducati, and this filter is exactly the same as the filters that come factory installed on Ducatis. The ugly tool in the foreground is an oil filter cutter. This tool works a bit like a can opener. It allows a mechanic to open up an oil filter so that he can inspect the inside for engine debris. Race mechanics do this becasue it lets them monitor the condition of an engine without having to tear it down. The practice of opening and inspecting used oil filters is common in all forms of motorsports. We’ll get to that part in a little while.
First looks: Out of the box
Here you can see the K&N filter (left) and the OEM filter (right). The K&N filter came with a heat-shrunk plastic cover over the open end of the filter. The OEM filter did not. You can see some cardboard particles from the box are inside the OEM filter. That doesn’t make me very happy, but then again cardboard bits are not likely to cause problems. The mounting plate of both filters are essentially identical, and so are the gaskets.
Here you can see the filters flipped over. It is a bit difficult to see in the photograph, but the K&N filter has a “nut” welded to the top whereas the OEM filter is smooth. This means that you can use an ordinary wrench to tighten or loosen the K&N filter. This is a very handy feature. If you have ever had to remove a “stuck” oil filter, you would be very happy to have this feature. No more fumbling with strap wrenches or the infamous “screwdriver trick”. Furthermore, the nut has holes in it so you can safety wire the filter to your bike. This is very handy for those of us that race. The following two photos show the K&N nut in more detail:
Surgery time: A look inside the filters:
Here we have cut open the filters and laid out the internal parts. The OEM filter is on the top, and the K&N filter is on the bottom. The parts, from left to right, are:
- The outer shell or housing
- The spring, which seats the filter against the mounting plate
- The filter core itself
- The anti-drainback valve (this keeps oil inside the engine when the motorcycle is parked)
- The mounting plate
- The box
It is immediately apparent that both filters have very similar construction. Both have a coil spring for seating the core, a pleated core, and anti-drainback valves. The mounting plates are essentially identical.
However, if we look closely we can see a few differences. First, the K&N filter has a taller core. This could mean that it has a higher surface area, and therefore can trap more dirt while having a lower pressure drop. We will investigate this further later. You can clearly see the difference in cores here:
Also, the K&N core uses resin-treated paper (notice the red color) whereas the OEM filter has plain paper media. Resin-treated media lasts longer and offers better filtration than plain paper.
Finally, the OEM filter has a plain rubber anti-drainback valve, whereas the K&N valve is made of silicone rubber. Silicone rubber has better chemical resistance, maintains better flexibility (which means better sealing), and it also can withstand much higher temperatures than natural rubber.
At this point it is clear that the K&N filter has some significant advantages over the OEM filter.
A closer look inside the filter cores:
Now we have cut the filter media away from the metal core. This will let us examine the cores and the media in more detail.
Notice that the OEM core (on the left) is obviously shorter than the K&N core. You can also see that the OEM inner core support has relatively few holes, whereas the K&N core has more holes visible. This means the K&N core can support higher oil flow.
Now let’s see how the filter surface area compares. We took the filter media from the core and laid it out on a workbench so that we can measure how much area it has.
Here you can see how we aligned the media and stapled it to a wooden workbench. Then we stretched it out so that it is flat and put down a measuring tape.
You can see that the OEM media is 57 1/4 inches long, whereas the K&N Media measures 65 1/2 inches long.
Now we can calculate the area of the media.
- OEM: 57.25 inches long x 1.25″ high = 71.56 square inches
- K&N: 65.50 inches long x 1.56″ high = 102.18 square inches
The K&N filter has 43% MORE usable filter area than the OEM filter.
Based on examining these filters thoroughly, it is clear that the K&N filter is superior to the Ducati OEM filter.
- The two filters are of comparable mechanical construction.
- The K&N filter has a nut for easy installation and removal, whereas the OEM does not.
- The K&N filter is able to be safety wired. The OEM is not.
- The K&N filter has a silicone anti-drainback valve that is more durable than the OEM.
- The K&N filter has superior resin-impregnated filter media.
- The K&N filter has a perforated core that can support more flow.
- The K&N filter has 43% more filter area, which means greater dirt holding capacity and less pressure drop.
There you have it, the K&N filter is clearly the better choice for your motorcycle. Oh, and did we mention they are much cheaper than Ducati brand filters from your dealer?