How to DIY Clean Your Air Filter for BMW R1250 & R1200 GS


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It’s no secret that motorcycles need air filters to run properly. What may be a mystery is how often you should clean your bike’s air filter. Depending on where and how you ride, you may need to clean it as often as every other tank of gas! This article will show you how to DIY clean your stock air filter for the BMW R1250GS & R1200 GS.

The air filter of a BMW R1250 or R1200 GS motorcycle can be accessed and cleaned by removing 5 center panel screws and 4 air filter cover screws. With only 2 simple tools from your local hardware store, the air filter element may be removed, cleaned, and reinserted within 30 minutes.

BMW 1200GS Air Filter Element
BMW R1200GS stock air filter

I love spending time with my bike even when we aren’t riding. Regular washing and simple maintenance allow me to understand the bike better and help to identify potential wear-and-tear issues that may need attention. Air filter cleaning is a routine part of my bike care protocol, so let’s break down the steps.

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How often should a bike’s air filter be cleaned?

Motorcycle air filters should be cleaned after any dusty or bug-filled ride. Air, along with any particles in the air, enters the BMW R1250/1200GS through the air intake opening and travels through to the air filter. Additionally, be sure to inspect your air filter after any deep water crossings to check that the element did not get wet.

BMW R1200GS Air flow demonstration
This image shows the flow of air & debris

Excessive debris can accumulate when the filter goes without cleaning and can clog the air filter element. When this happens, debris can then end up in the throttle bodies and lead to engine performance issues or eventual engine damage if left unchecked.

Rough idling, stalling at low RPMs, a drop in gas mileage, or general drop in power output are all signs of a potential dirty air filter.

BMW recommends installing a new air filter element every 20,000km/12,000mi. This can be done by your mechanic during routine maintenance visits or you can DIY install by following these same cleaning instructions.


What tools are needed to clean the motorcycle’s air filter?

BMW R1250 & R1200GS bikes will require a TORX25 and TORX30 screwdriver to remove all required screws. In addition, a small handheld vacuum, dry cloth, wet cloth, and a flexible claw grabber tool are optional but do make the job simple and easy.

Tools including Torx25, Torx30, vacuum and flexible claw grabber
Must have TORX25 & TORX30

Where is the BMW 1250/1200GS air filter and how do I get to it?

The air filter of the BMW R1250 & 1200GS is located under the center panel directly in front of the gas inlet cap. To reach it, follow these steps:

  1. Put bike on center stand
  2. Remove seat
  3. Free the center panel by removing (4) T25 screws (2 near the seat and 2 near the handlebars)
  4. Next remove the center panel’s (1) T30 screw located between the top two T25 screws (if you have trouble reaching this screw, then use an inexpensive flexible claw grabber to reach it)
  5. With all 5 screws removed, lift the center panel off and place to the side
  6. The black air filter cover is now exposed and can be freed by loosening the (4) T25 screws (see 1 in each corner)
  7. If there is dust or debris on the air filter cover, wipe with a dry cloth before lifting
  8. As you lift the cover off, mind the 2 clips attached to the left and right side panels to ensure they are not disturbed
  9. Place the air filter cover aside and lift the air filter cage and element out and place them on a workbench or clean ground

PRO TIP: Lift air filter element straight up to avoid dumping debris back into the compartment

Watch the full process here:


What is the safest way to DIY clean the bike’s air filter element?

DO THIS – Clean the BMW R1250/1200GS air filter element by flipping it upside down and gently tapping until all of the dust, dirt, bugs, and debris fall out. It is as simple as that!

NOT THIS – Do not blow compressed air at the top of the air filter element as this will embed the debris deeper into the filter and shorten its effectiveness and lifespan.

BONUS: DO THIS, TOO – Clean out the air filter compartment with a handheld vacuum, dry soft cloth, and/or damp cloth to remove all excess dust and debris.

Watch here:


How do I reinstall the air filter on my BMW 1250/1200GS?

To reinstall your cleaned air filter (or insert a new one) perform the following steps:

  1. Insert air filter element and ensure the rubber gasket is set nicely into the compartment
  2. Place the air filter cage on top of the element and ensure a good fit in the compartment
  3. Position air filter cover back into place and reinsert the (4) T25 screws (ensure all 4 screws are securely tightened)
  4. Reinstall the center trim panel
  5. Insert and secure the (1) T30 screw and (4) T25 screws
  6. Place seat back into position

Watch here:

And now we ride!


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