Review by James Parchman
[This FilterMAG Magnetic Motorcycle Oil Filter Review was originally published in the September 2008 issue of Rider magazine]
One of the liveliest topics of discussion among any group of motorcyclists concerns oil. What brand, what grade, synthetic or dino, miles per change, replace filter or not, etc. Everyone has an opinion or 20, but a fount of certainty in this issue remains as elusive as the GPS coordinates of Pamela Anderson’s favorite sunbathing location.
The oil filtration system on modern motorcycles works well in removing the larger particles of metal and trash that wander aimlessly throughout your bike’s engine. So well, in fact, that it is a rarity for a catastrophic engine failure to occur due to contaminated lubricant solids. Larger is a bit subjective though, and we aren’t just splitting hairs when we say this, as even the most basic of today’s oil filters strain 40-micrometer (micrometer = one millionth of a meter) sized particles–about half the thickness of a human hair. More advanced (expensive) oil filters claim that they can efficiently remove particles smaller than 15 micrometers.
More filtration is a good thing, too! General Motors testing for the Society of Automotive Engineers determined that wear in a gasoline-powered engine was reduced 50 percent when lubricant particle filtration was increased from 40-30 micrometers. Wear was reduced a whopping 70 percent by filtering to 15 micrometers.
It is virtually impossible to trap tinier particles without inhibiting oil circulation. But to get an idea of how much metal debris successfully bypasses the oil filter, if your bike has one, simply check out what’s on the end of the magnetic drainplug during the next oil change. If such a tiny magnet successfully traps so much metal, imagine what a powerful one could accomplish!
Such is the theory behind the FilterMAG motorcycle oil filter, a clever product designed and manufactured in Surprise, Arizona. A FilterMAG is a Zytel polymer sleeve that contains multiple bars of Neodymium rare-earth magnets, and attaches to the outside of a standard oil filter. As engine oil circulates through the oil filter, the magnetic field of the FilterMAG traps metallic particles against the inside of the filter, preventing their recirculation. The FilterMAG was designed for heavy-duty machinery, where extending maintenance intervals adds up to big $$.
We tested the product on several motorcycles and found installation to literally be a snap, as the FilterMAG locks onto the oil filter’s casing with a magnetic pull of 75-300 pounds. Not even the roughest road will shake it loose, either. At oil change time, the FM is detached from the old filter and reattached to its replacement.
Mileage on our test bikes ranged from around 10,000 to more than 120,000. When changing oil, we found small metal particles held against the inside casing of the oil filter by magnetic force. Whether they were initially trapped by the oil filter or the FilterMAG we can’t say, but it never hurts to err on the side of cleaner oil.
The FilterMAG carries a lifetime warranty, and is available for most motorcycles at prices ranging from $30-$50, depending on size and whether you want its finish painted, stainless steel or chrome plated. FilterMAG can be purchased directly from the manufacturer, or from an increasing number of retailers. The model selector box on the company website seems to have some problems, so call if you don’t see your machine listed.
For more information contact FilterMAG Inc., 13260 W. Foxfire Drive #7, Surprise, Arizona 85374; (800) FILTERMAG or (623) 556-4201; www.filtermag.com