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I just watched Tremontes' video where he installs block off plates.( good video by the way) He went a little deeper than the air filter to install the plates. But I'm a little surprised that so much stuff has to be removed just to get to the air filter. I own an HD Sportster and it takes 2 screws to get to the air filter. Probably a 5 minute job total and that includes several swigs of beer. So I guess I'm spoiled. I had a Honda Magna that the tank had to be removed to get to the air filter, but it didn't have any extra body panels to take off. Just something I never thought of when I bought the bike. I guess it's done this way to keep the bike compact.
 

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I'm pretty sure it's designed that way to keep the bike compact like you say. There's probably a lot of back and forth between the engineers when designing a bike to try and tetris in all of the parts and systems in a compact design, but still functional. Sometimes that will have an affect on how much work it will take to get at those parts for servicing. On my last bike ('05 ZX6R) it took 15-20 minutes to remove the seat, side panels, and fuel tank, and 6 screws on the air box just to get at the air filter on that bike, and then just as long to put it all back.
 
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