Toss the gauge for something better.
By: R. Bruce Thomas
There’s no easy way to say this so, just like ripping a bandage off, here goes.
If you’re still using a tire pressure gauge before every ride you’re wasting your time and putting your safety at risk. I’ve ridden all over North America riding as much as 32,700 km in 31 days and never once put a tire pressure gauge onto my tires.
I know. I hear you. Your tires are your connection to the road and if you don’t ensure your tire pressure is OK you could crash. So how can an ATGATT (all the gear all the time) guy tell you to toss your gauge?
Like so many things in the motorcycle world, technology has made it possible to put your tire gauge out to pasture while increasing your safety as you ride, every kilometer, all day long.
I’m talking about having a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) on your bike. Many new machines come with this feature from the factory but we don’t all have new bikes. There are a number of aftermarket options. I have been running with the HawksHead Moto Track 2 XP system (tpms.ca - yes, out of BC) on my Honda ST1300 for a number of years now and it is one of my favorite farkles.
With the sensors on my valve stems the data from my tires is constantly transmitted to the monitor, which I have mounted on my dash. Turning on the monitor displays the tire pressures at the start of my ride and I can see the info (including temperatures with the push of a button) all the time. If a problem should occur, the monitor will flash and sound an alarm at upper and lower levels that I can configure. A handy accessory, which I would say is essential, is the T-Valve which replaces the regular valve stem on your rim and lets you adjust the air in your tire without having to remove the sensor.
The monitor runs on a single AAA battery which I change when the indicator starts flashing. The sensors use CR1632 batteries which I swap out in the spring and have lasted a full riding season.
I haven’t had any issues with my own tires, even on those month-long trips, but I did experience the benefits of TPMS while touring in Mexico with Riders of the Sierra Madre. The BMW F700 GS had factory TPMS and the dash lit up and started flashing at me when we picked up a sharp object in the rear tire. I was able to safely pull off the road and get the tire repaired before we had a serious problem.
While you’re making that list of things you want to fix on your bike over the winter make sure you add TPMS to the list. A system would also make a great gift for any rider you know. Once you’ve experienced the peace of mind that TPMS offers, you will consider it an essential component of ATGATT.