One of the ‘new fangled’ safety systems that some manufacturers fit to higher-specification motorcycles is a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
Carried over from the car world, which admittedly uses the system to alert drivers of cars fitted with run-flat tyres of a problem, this system can provide a crucial early warning of a problem with a tyre and give the rider time to stop safety before experiencing a dangerous fast deflation.
Cars using run-flat tyres need it as some drivers may not be aware they have lost pressure, as these tyres are designed to stay on the wheel rim when some or all of the inflation air has been lost – specially designed beads stay on the rim and stronger sidewalls support the weight of the vehicle.
On a bike, this isn’t practical but anything that can give advance warning of impending problems can make a big difference to safety, not just for the rider and pillion but other road users as well.
Bikes such as high-end BMWs and KTMs feature TPMS from the factory but it is possible to fit an aftermarket system to any bike. Factory systems use sensors built in to the wheels but the aftermarket uses pressure sensors that screw on to the pressure valves and read the actual air pressure in real time.
However, don’t think that this is a replacement for regularly checking your tyres – a system like this is there to offer a warning of problems, not eliminate the need for you to check regularly.
They won’t for example, show whether you have any damage to your tyre or how they are wearing. You still need to do your regular checks.
Here is a selection of TPMS systems for motorcycles.
Tested by Emma Franklin, 1 month, 500 miles - Quality 5/5, Value 4/5
If you’re going to fit a TPMS, then one from one of the world’s biggest tyre manufacturers is probably a fairly safe bet. This Michelin system is subtle in its design yet effective in its operation. Clearly marked sensors fit to the front and rear tyres using the included tool and the sensors are battery powered and activate when movement is detected.
The display unit is a small removable version that is held in place in its mounting by a magnet and it charges wirelessly, so you can remove it when parked up. An elegant, if expensive, solution.
What Emma said: "This kit allows you to keep an eye on your tyre pressures at all times via a pair of sensors that replace your valve dust caps. These sensors then wirelessly relay a live pressure read-out to a small dash- mounted display housed in a magnetic mount.
"Fitted to my seldom-used Kawasaki ZX-10R, it’s been handy for letting me know the status of my tyres prior to a ride. Checking it against a pressure gauge reveals that the system is very accurate. Visual warnings are displayed in the event of a sudden loss of pressure while out on a ride, indicating the affected tyre.
"The system also warns when a tyre’s under-inflated or over-inflated. It’s a high-quality bit of kit, and the fact that the display is rechargeable via USB is a nice touch. I’d advise fitting the kit at the same time as a new pair of tyres, as your wheels will need to be balanced in order to take into account to small-but-not-insignificant weight of the sensors."
This system from Jansite is Amazonu2019s Choice for u2018Motorcycle Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systemu2019 and gets pretty decent reviews on the site. Itu2019s a waterproof (obviously) wireless TPMS using a sensor on each tyreu2019s valve stem and connecting to a bar-mounted display unit.
This shows the pressure and temperature of each tyre, as well as the time – handy for bikes with no clock. In addition to the digital read-out, it has an audible alarm for low pressure and its rugged looks would suit many adventure-style bikes.
This system operates fundamentally like the others here but with one difference u2013 the power for the display unit can either be via a charging cable or from a tiny solar panel mounted on the top of the display unit. So theoretically, you should never run out of power.
The display shows pressures, temperatures and the time and has seven audible alarms with different parameters to warn the rider, including quick leak and high or low pressures.
This budget system uses front and rear wheel sensors and a wireless display unit which includes a compass for additional information. It shows pressures in real-time in psi or bar and will highlight tyre temperatures as well. It has both visible and audible warnings of low pressure and is rechargeable using the supplied USB lead.
This system comprises of a pair of wheel sensors that fit to the bike. You scan the QR code on the packaging to download the relevant app on your phone (Android and Apple iOs) and pair the sensors using the barcodes on the packaging. The app then displays the pressures on your phone u2013 handy if you have your smartphone mounted on the bars or in view. The sensors are waterproof and the system needs a phone with Bluetooth 4.0 or higher to work.
A slightly different system this, in that it is designed to be hard-wired to the bikeu2019s battery (or 12V system with included connectors) and show pressures and temperatures at all times on the rectangular display unit, with pressures accurate to 0.1bar.
It comes pre-paired wirelessly to the two included wheel sensors that mount to the valves and it is fitted using the included double-sided tape or any other way you feel appropriate.
Front Solar System
This is another system with a solar-powered display unit, though this time, the panels are on the front so will work best when the sun is behind you, presumably. Like the others, it shows individual tyre pressures for the front and back, as well as temperatures, which can also indicate impending problems. An icon on the display panel shows when it is charging and this is perhaps better for summer use.
USB Charger TPMS
At just £22.79, this system seems to offer a lot. A display unit hard-wired to the bikeu2019s battery shows pressure and temperature for the front and rear tyres, as youu2019d expect. However, as itu2019s hard-wired, it also displays the battery voltage, which is a useful gauge of the bikeu2019s electrical system status and there is a built-in USB socket for charging items like your smartphone if you use it as a sat nav or itu2019s simply a bit flat.