My sister asked me recently what kind of motorcycle Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) I would recommend. She doesn’t ride, but her 80+-year-old father-in-law still does – he’s logged 500,000 cross-country miles the last eight years on his Harley Ultra Classic.
I loved the question. I’m a firm believer that all bikes should be equipped with this life-saving technology. I’ve represented numerous clients who experienced catastrophic tire failure due to slow tire leakage that started during a ride. Many of these people checked their tire pressure religiously and some had even checked the tire pressure within 100 miles of the tire failure. Slow leakage can arise from a tire manufacturing defect, a leaky valve stem, small cracks in the rim, or picking up road hazards such as a nail. The only defense against such a scenario is TPMS.
I went on the internet so I could send her a link to my favorite system, made by Orange Electronics and installed on both my Harley and Suzuki, but I found it’s no longer available. So I researched what else I would recommend.
What I like about my Orange system is: (1) it gives real-time pressure; (2) it updates itself nearly continuously (other systems’ updates can be as long as minutes between updates); (3) the display is large and easy to read; and, (4) the display shows both front and rear pressure all the time. The one drawback of the Orange system, and for many folks it’s a BIG drawback, is that the sensor must be installed INSIDE the tire, which requires taking the bike to a tire mechanic, removal of both tires, installation of the sensors, and re-installation of the tires.
So I used these criteria when I went looking for a new system to recommend. I found the Steelmate Motorcycle Tire Pressure Monitoring System TPMS 2 Sensor LCD Display.
Two differences between the Steelmate and the Orange: (1) the Steelmate has the sensors built into valve stem covers. To install the sensors all you do is remove your old valve stem covers and screw on these new ones. This also means that when the batteries need to be replaced in the sensors in about two years, it’s easy. (with the Orange system, you have to buy new sensors–no battery replacement). (2) The display seems adequate in size (by looking at the pictures) but it only shows one tire at a time–apparently it alternates between front and rear every few seconds. At $109, it’s also pretty reasonably priced.
If you know of other TPMS systems you’d recommend, I’d love to be able to share the information.