Independent Testing: 3.5L Intakes (E-Bay, K&N, Big Bully, Air Hammer HO)

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    Independent Testing: 3.5L Intakes (E-Bay, K&N, Big Bully, Air Hammer HO)

    Introduction:

    I am no expert nor do I claim to be but after seeing the popularity of threads regarding which intake is “best” I decided to put forth the time and effort to try evaluate a select few at a comparable level.

    There are many intakes on the market ranging in price from $20 all the way to $450, but the ones I have chosen to evaluate (and their retail price) are:

    -E-Bay “Ram Air” - $45
    -Big Bully - $175
    -K&N - $265
    -Air Hammer HO (no longer in production) - $350 unfinished/ $435 custom powder coated

    I have selected these intakes based on popularity and to get data for a good spread of price points. I really wish I could have tested more but funds did not permit.

    For my comparison I plan on evaluating the intakes in the following categories:

    -Appearance/ Build Quality
    -Installation
    -Sound
    -Performance

    The goal here is to provide you with the information necessary to make your own judgement on which is “best” however I will also be stating my own opinions and thoughts as we go along.

    Note: The E-Bay and Big Bully intake used for my evaluation are brand new and the Air Hammer and K&N have been heavily used.

    Edit: A clarification on the state of intake filters, the K&N has been "heavily used" but was cleaned and oiled with the K&N kit a few days prior to the test. The Air Hammer HO is on it's third owner but I put a new filter on it about 6 months ago.
    Last edited by Chutsk10; 03-19-2012 at 12:16 PM. Reason: Title Change
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    Appearance/ Build Quality

    Appearance/ Build Quality

    E-Bay

    Intake tube consists of polished aluminum; the tube itself is very thin but appears to be durable. The finish is “blotchy” at best and could use a quick hit with a buffer to even it out. The couplers and breather tube are made of a soft silicone rubber, fully functional but durability is questionable. Regular screw type band clamps are used at all junctions and the filter is slightly smaller than the other intakes tested.






    K&N

    Intake tube consists of a rigid plastic and appears very durable. The finish is even and looks great right out of the box. The couplers and breather tube are of a thick rubber and regular screw type band clamps are used at all locations. The filter is larger than the E-Bay intake but still smaller than the Big Bully and Air Hammer HO. This is the only intake tested that has a heat shield which is composed of steal with rubber trim. The functionality of the heat shield is debatable.






    Big Bully

    *Big thanks to ken and Chris for donating a Big Bully for my evaluation.

    Intake tube consists of fairly thick steel and the powder coat finish is flawless. The welds around the mounting arm and breather socket look solid but could have used a little grinding before powder coat however these welds are not visible when the intake is installed. The couplers are of a thick silicone and the stock breather tube is to be used. “T” type band clamps are used and the filter is of similar size to the Air Hammer HO and slightly larger than the others.






    Air Hammer HO

    Intake tube consists of fairly thick steel and the powder coat finish flawless. The welds look solid but could have been grinded flush, these welds are visible when the intake is installed but to my understanding I have a pre-production model and the welds were taken care of on the full production intakes. The couplers are of thick rubber and the stock breather tube is used. “T” type band clamps are used and the filter is of similar size to the BB and slightly larger than the others tested. This is the only intake with a constant taper design from filter to throttle body, which in theory builds velocity within the intake tube.






    Overall Comparison

    I found the Big Bully, Air hammer HO and K&N to be of excellent build quality and appear to be very solid intakes. The E-Bay intake exceeded my expectations and does look great however durability is questionable.


    Left to Right: E-Bay, Big Bully, K&N, Air Hammer HO




    Last edited by Chutsk10; 08-03-2009 at 09:37 PM.
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    Installation

    Installation

    I performed each installation with no instructions and the times estimated below do not include the removal of the stock intake. Overall none of the installations were difficult and can be done by anyone who can turn a screw.

    E-Bay

    Easy installation, this intake sits in place very nicely with no fitment issues at all. The coupler at the throttle body was a little small and a flat head screw driver was used to help pry it into place. The IAT sensor fits into a rubber grommet at the throttle body end and the breather tube slipped onto a “nub” near the filter. Mounting brackets were supplied with no instruction or nuts/ bolts and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to position the mounting hardware leaving the intake dangling precariously off the throttle body.

    Installation time: 10 minutes








    K&N


    This installation was the most involved as it had the most pieces. It took some time piecing together all the components of the heat shield, the filter was a tight fit onto it’s coupler and some oil and force was needed to get it into place. Mounting is solid with a support arm that bolts onto the engine and the intake fits the engine compartment easily. The IAT sensor fits into a rubber grommet at the throttle body and a plastic elbow in which the breather tube attaches fits into another grommet near the filter.

    Installation time: 25 minutes










    Big Bully


    This intake has by far the most rigid mount which also serves as a guide to placement during the installation. Attach the filter, attach the coupler, mount up the support arm and tighten your band clamps. I found this intake to be a tighter fit than the K&N and E-Bay intake but it still didn’t take much to get it into place. The IAT sensor fits into the coupler at the top and the breather tube fits into a brass elbow which screws into the intake tube near the filter.

    Installation time: 15 minutes








    Air Hammer HO

    Very few parts involved in this one but by far the tightest fit. It takes some playing with to orient it in the right location but once secured on the throttle body you are practically done. A spring takes the weight at the filter end and the rest of the support is provided by friction. It doesn’t sound like much but this thing fits so tight no other support is necessary. The IAT sensor fits into a rubber grommet at the throttle body end and the breather tube connects to a brass elbow which fits into another grommet at the filter end.

    Installation time: 15 minutes







    Last edited by Chutsk10; 08-03-2009 at 07:39 PM.
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    Sound

    Sound:

    These sound clips were recorded with a Shure vocal microphone onto my laptop using ProTools 8 software.

    The microphone was positioned at eye level right between the driver and passenger head rest pointing towards the front windshield. The front windows were open and the rear windows closed.

    The idea here is to give you a comparison between intakes, once the microphone was positioned and input gains were set nothing was touched between intake runs. If you set your speakers to one level and listen to each clip you should be able to get a feel of how they sound compared to each other.

    For these clips the car went from 0 to around 60 with the pedal pinned to the floor and I should mention there is no air silencer in place.

    As an after thought I wish I recorded the audio during the dyno runs from the outside of the car but it is too late for that. All in all I found each intake to result in a very similar increase in sound.

    Note: When combined with the predator the after market intakes sound much louder and have more of a growl to them, unfortunately I have no sound clips to offer of that.

    Stock:
    http://www.supload.com/sound_confirm...=995987301.wav

    E-Bay:
    http://www.supload.com/sound_confirm...=696584608.wav

    K&N:
    http://www.supload.com/sound_confirm...=937118831.wav

    Big Bully:
    http://www.supload.com/sound_confirm...=638742951.wav

    Air Hammer HO:
    http://www.supload.com/sound_confirm...1232843670.wav
    Last edited by Chutsk10; 08-03-2009 at 08:27 PM.
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    Performance

    Performance:

    While my test results are open to interpretation I will provide my opinions and conclusions on these results based on my knowledge, the opinions of the tech running the tests and the overall hard data.

    Test Vehicle:
    -2005 Magnum SXT with 91230 km on the odometer.
    -Stock engine
    - 22” rims with 265/35/22 tires.
    - 89 octane fuel
    Test Equipment: Dynojet
    Test Date/ Time: Saturday August first, 10:30AM - 12:00PM.
    Temperature Range: 76.3 F - 83.4 F
    Humidity Range: 33% - 49%

    Note: SAE correction was applied to the results compensating for changes in ambient temperature and humidity.




    Test Set 1


    The car was driven 1 hour to get to the shop and an hour had passed before the first run began, three tests were performed on each intake allowing cooling time in-between intakes. The tests were done with an open hood and 2 large fans had been aimed towards the front grill.

    Run Data:


    Best Run Graph:


    Now unfortunately I am not really happy with these results. As an after thought I wish I regulated the cool down time more closely and wish I had my predator hooked up recording engine temperatures to help explain the results more accurately.

    It is obvious to me that engine heat is a HUGE factor in these tests. As you can see there is a dramatic decrease in test results from the 3 back to back pulls for each intake. I also do not feel the cool down times were sufficient and the engine was progressively getting hotter for each intake which again, I think is clear from the data

    Not happy with these results it was time for a new approach.





    Test Set 2


    Note: These test results are not to be compared to those of Test Set 1

    After the last test done above the engine was allowed to cool for 15 minutes this time I was being more aware of the clock. Also during cooling one of the fans was positioned on top of the engine blowing directly onto the intake manifold, the fan was then placed back in front of the grill during the tests and again the hood remained open.

    I only had time to run the Air Hammer HO and Big Bully in this manor and feel these results show a better comparison than the tests done above. I also feel the K&N would have performed very similar to the others if tested in this manor since it showed strong results in the tests above even when the engine was hot and for what it’s worth the dyno tech (who has been doing this for 15 years) said the K&N “felt” best during the runs.

    Three tests were done on the Air hammer HO but only one on the Big Bully simply because time was running short and it is obvious from all the previous tests that the first run was always the best.

    Run Data:


    Best Run Graph:


    Performance Conclusion:

    It is hard to put an exact number as to how these intakes will perform on your specific vehicle or in real world conditions. My results are mainly to show a side by side comparison and after running these tests I fee the K&N, Big Bully and Air Hammer HO will all perform very similar to each other. Although the numbers are slightly different not one resulted in substantially larger gains to comfortably call it better in the performance department. I am also happy with the E-Bay data as it was early in the first test group before the engine was too hot and would say that they are indeed an improvement over stock but not quite up to par as some of the more expensive ones out there.

    Edit: While looking for some more comfort with the accuracy of the second tests I found dyno charts over at LX forums showing that the Air Hammer HO had an increase of +12.58HP over stock when tested on a Dynojet, the same brand of dyno used in my tests. I was also informed that there is no calibration needed on Dynojet units and that they are very consistent with other Dynojets. So with that being said I feel confident in the +12 HP numbers for both the Air Hammer HO and Big Bully but damn I am still kicking myself in the a** for not testing the K&N the same way.

    Edit: Upon further investigation I found that K&N actually does post dyno results on their website for the 3.5L intake for the LX models. Again they were done on a Dynojet so they should be fairly comparable, and they are showing gains of +11.68HP which is in the range of what the BB and AH were producing.
    Last edited by Chutsk10; 08-05-2009 at 07:07 AM.
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    Conclusion

    Conclusion:

    After spending some time with these intakes I personally feel the K&N, Big Bully and Air hammer are all on the same level in terms of a quality and performance and the only major difference to me is appearance and price. For a very cost effective solution the E-bay intake is really not that bad a choice either however I do find it is a little lacking compared to the other three.

    I am actually disappointed with how the dyno testing went and wish I was better prepared but this was the first time I have ever tried something of this sort and I was learning as I went. I have tried to make the best of the results and I remind you once again these are just my interpretation. I encourage discussions on the results from those that may have more knowledge on the subject. I will gladly answer any questions regarding the intakes, test methods and tests results. I also have dyno charts of every single run listed above available upon request.




    Well I hope that helps haha thanks to those who actually made it through the whole thing!
    Last edited by Chutsk10; 08-03-2009 at 08:14 PM.
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    Nice! I'v had stock,E-bay one with K&N filter and now BigBully. Have fun.
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    Ohhh I had my share of "fun" haha
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    Damn skippy!!! Any plans to solve Global Warming and ending world hunger next? You are the MAN!!!
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    Still uploading files . . . . it is all saved on various folders on my computer haha now that I look at it all in one place I wonder what the hell I was thinking!
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    WELL DONE, CHUTSK!!! One of the best prepared presentations I've seen. I know you must have put a lot of work into this. Thank you.
    Last edited by Prospector; 08-03-2009 at 08:48 PM.
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    Big Bully 12+ HP!!!!!!!! half the price!!!!
    Last edited by Threegpsi; 08-03-2009 at 08:29 PM.
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    Anyway she is done. Anyone want anything else? I was going to test intake air temperatures to see if the heat shield on the K&N works. . . I can also run some 0-60 runs to see how these things stack up in real life . . . there is more that can be done! haha Ok, time for bed.
    Last edited by Chutsk10; 08-03-2009 at 08:42 PM.
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    well done man, very impressive presentation!
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