Checking tyre pressures is a often considered a faff and some people don’t even bother. A ‘visual’ check or a kick with the boot and they’re off on the road. But this can be a huge mistake. Wrong tyre pressures can ruin your fun and best and cause an accident at worst.
Why check you tyre pressure?
The correct tyre pressure will make sure that the tyre is contacting the road in the right way – the way it has been designed to. That means it will adopt the correct shape and present the optimum amount of contact with the road. If the pressure is low, then the tyre won’t be the right shape and will distort as you ride, leading to a loss of feeling for the road and a definite looseness to the bike’s behaviour.
If it’s too low, then in addition to the bike handling badly, the tyre could start to become damaged and worse, it won’t be able to sustain the levels of braking that you would be used to, increasing potential danger to you and other road users.
Conversely, if the pressure is too high, then this will also affect handling by making the tyre too rigid and preventing it from presenting the right contact patch on the road.
The solution is simple; check your tyre pressures regularly. And by regularly, we mean at least once a week and perhaps more often if you use the bike daily. In an ideal world, before every ride but some people may find that impractical.
Which tyre pressure gauge is best?
There are all sorts of gauges available, from simple pencil-style slide-out ones to digital ones with separate displays and hoses. The easier to use, the better – it’ll mean you’re more likely to check your bike. Also think about how and where the valve on your bike is and the best way to get a gauge on it – do you need a 90° chuck, for example?
The best motorcycle tyre pressure gauges
AstroAI Digital Tyre Pressure Gauge
This compact hand-led digital gauge gets great reviews. Using a back-lit LDC screen, it shows pressure in psi or bar, up to 150psi/10ba, more than enough for any bike. It has an auto-off function and the angled head (in relation to the handle) should make accessing motorcycle tyre valves straightforward.
Draper Digital Tyre Pressure Reader
Appearing remarkably similar to a gauge I've been using for years, this one from Draper has a small readout to show pressure in psi or bar, up to 100psi/7bar. It has a one-button design and pushes down on to the valve to get a reading and should access most motorcycle tyre valves. It shuts itself off after a short while of inactivity.
JACO ElitePro Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
A fair step up in price, this gauge is aimed at those who want more precision in their readings, with a quoted accuracy of 0.5%. The separate digital gauge uses dual sensors to read in 0.1psi increments up to 100psi. The reading stays in the display until the 'On' button is pressed and the short hose with the angled chuck makes getting to tyre valves easy.
This handy gauge from Oxford reads both Schrader and Presta valves, meaning it works on motorbikes as well as cycles, the rotating head swivelling depending on which you need to check. Reading up to the equivalent of 199psi in four units, it also has a torch built-in and a bleed valve to reduce pressure while it's on the valve. A rubberised grip makes it easy to use.
RACE X RX0014 Tyre Pressure Gauge
This handy analogue-display gauge won awards in the past and is very easy to use. The angled chuck, at 45°, makes accessing valves easy and the reading on the needle stays until you release the pressure with the side-mounted button. It reads up to 60psi/4bar and comes in a protective case, with a quoted accuracy of 2%.
Halfords Mini Keyring Tyre Pressure Gauge
This tiny gauge from Halfords' own range is so small that, hung on your bike keys, there's no reason not to check your pressures. It's accurate to 1%/0.5psi and reads up to 60psi/4bar. It's basic but handy though it may struggle to get to some bike valves in the centre of the wheel.
Venhill VT32 Tyre Pressure Gauge
Seal of Approval: We've tested this product and have found it performs well When RiDE tested pressure gauges, the Venhill was given a Best Buy award, as it was easy to use and accurate. The company quotes an accuracy of +/- 1.2-1.8psi but in reality, it was closer than that. It reads pressure on the analogue dial with scales in both psi and bar (60psi/4bar maximum) and retains the reading until the release button is pressed.
Sealey TSTPG9 Tyre Pressure Gauge with Pocket Clip
Old-school technology but a proven concept. This pencil-gauge from Sealey has a 90° chuck (there are others with inline chucks but they're tricky on bikes) and the cylinder slides out with graduations on the side to indicate the pressure against the edge of the outer jacket. Reads up to 50psi in 1psi increments and is small enough to on the bike.