It’s amazing how many riders overlook one of the most crucial aspects of their bikes when they consider uprating performance – wheels and tyres. After all, they’re the things that are putting you in contact with the ground.
The condition of your tyres, whether in terms of wear or how well they’re inflated can have a huge effect on your bike’s handling so optimising them via pressure gauges and pumps, wear gauges, etc should be vital.
On top of that, a roadside puncture repair kit is a wise buy – as can be puncture-preventative sealants. The wheels themselves need to be balanced correctly. Plus of course, you can customise the look of your bike with things like rim stickers and ‘tyre art’.
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But what can you get, what do they do and which are the best? Here’s our round-up of our favourites – and where you can buy them.
Ryobi 18V One+ Tyre Inflator
Tested by MCN Editor Richard Newland for six months
Quality 3/5, Value 3/5
The joy of never being able to think of sensible (non-bike-shaped) Christmas and birthday present ideas is that I sometimes have moments of inspiration and end up owning things I’d never buy for myself. This Ryobi high-pressure inflator is a case in point. Gifted by my sister at Xmas, it’s been pressed into action now across my six bikes, two cars and a camper van – as well as several mountain bikes, a paddling pool and one inflatable camping bed. It’s certainly got plenty of huff to puff.
You don’t get a battery with it – I didn’t need one as I’ve got other Ryobi tools already and the batteries fit all tools – but the 4.0Ah unit I’ve got would set you back another £66.99. The unit will chug out a decent 16 litres of air per minute and can deliver up to 150psi (10.34bar) of pressure, which is dramatically more than you’ll need for any bike or car tyre. The hose is 20in long and comes with a right-angled connector for the valve. I’ve not had any difficulty connecting it to my various different bikes’ valve arrangements. It comes with a set of connectors for your other inflatable needs, too – whatever they may be!
It’s a doddle to use. Simply slot your battery in place, connect to the valve of your chosen inflation victim, and squeeze the trigger. It’s not the quietest thing ever, but is completely in line with every other electric powered inflator I’ve used. As the pressure builds, the analogue dial will give you a reasonable idea of the psi/bar figure – but I’ve noticed that it’s not super-accurate, or necessarily consistent. Overall, I’d say it over-reads by around 5-10% most of the time, so I tend to overinflate by about that figure, then check the pressure manually with a Venhill gauge for accuracy. Afterall, 10% out is 3 or 4psi on a bike tyre, which can make a fair bit of difference to feel and tyre performance on some bikes.
Verdict: So, it’s not the cheapest, nor the most accurate – but if you’ve got a fleet of vehicles and an aversion to manual labour, it’s a pleasing way to dodge some effort.
Draper Tyre Pressure Gauge
Editor's Pick - We've tested this product and would spend our own money on it
A decent pressure gauge should be a must for all bikers, after all, how many times have you struggled with those poorly-fitting and notoriously inaccurate air lines at petrol stations? This one from respected UK tool specialists Draper comes heavily recommended and at a great price.
There’s a large, easy-to-read scale graduated in increments of just 2psi; the gauge is mechanical for long-life accuracy; there’s a 250mm long, flexible reinforced rubber hose and a precision bleed button for accurate deflation.
Jansite TPMS Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
More and more new bikes today come with the option of a factory-fitted tyre pressure monitoring system, which is a great boon for keeping an eye on the pressure of your tyres. But if yours didn't, what do you do?
An aftermarket, accessory version like this is the solution. You simply fit the two special caps that wirelessly connect to the display which monitors the pressures. Easy, simple and surprisingly cheap!
Gear Gremlin Emergency Tubeless Tyre Repair Kit
Motorcycles don't have the luxury like most cars of coming equipped with a spare wheel in the case of a puncture so the next best thing is carrying a compact roadside puncture repair kit with you. This one from Gear Gremlin comes highly recommended. It's suitable for all types of tubeless tyre and comes with all tools, cement and inflation canisters all packed in a convenient storage pouch.
Goop Motorcycle Tubeless Tyre Sealant
A popular alternative to carrying a puncture repair kit is to install a tyre sealant such as this into the tyre or tube through the valve BEFORE you have a puncture. As the wheel rotates it's evenly distributed around the inside of the tyre or tube, ready to seal punctures as they occur.
When a puncture does occur, the escaping air pressure forces Goop into the hole immediately forming a strong, airtight seal, and will seal as many punctures as may occur. It can also seal leaking rims meaning it can work on both tubed and tubeless tyres.
It will last the lifetime of the tyre or tube and simply washes away with water without leaving a sticky residue behind when a new tyre or tube is fitted.
VEEAPE Portable Air Compressor
There's not much use being able to accurately measure your tyre pressure or repairing a punctured tyre if you're unable to then inflate it to the correct pressure with either a decent foot pump, or preferably, a mini air-compressor designed for the job such as this one from VEEAPE.
It’s cordless, running off a rechargeable battery so you can use it anywhere, is suitable for motorcycles, rated up to 120PSI and has two clear LCD digital displays – one for the preset pressure you require, the other for its current pressure.
Bike It Pressure Alert Valve Cap
A cheaper, simpler alternative to sophisticated tyre-pressure monitoring systems are these mechanical valve caps which constantly monitor tyre pressure and alert you of pressure loss. Each cap has a minimum pressure rating, when tyre pressure is above the minimum a green ring shows, meaning that all is OK.
If the pressure drops below the minimum rating, a red ring shows – meaning it’s time to check and inflate your tyres. Simple but effective.
Oxford Wheel Stripe Kit
Fancy smarting up your bike's wheels? Then how about this easy to apply wheel stripe kit from reputable UK manufacturer Oxford Products? They're 7mm in width, come in six different colours and they come with an applicator to get that wrinkle-free finish which means they can be applied in minutes. They also offer increased visibility to other road users. Designed to fit 17-inch wheels.
Gear Gremlin Stirrup Pump
Again, if you need to be able to inflate your bike's tyres but don't want to go to the complexity (and expense) of an electric air-compressor, what you need is a good old fashioned foot or, as here, the even easier-to-use stirrup pump type.
This one is by Gear Gremlin, comes with all adapters, is easy to use and is suitable not just for motorcycles but also scooters, bicycles, footballs, basketballs and even inflatable watercraft.
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