Keeping it up

Tire pressure, that is

On a motorcycle, there are only two things keeping you upright, both of them critical to doing the job, and both of them manufactured out of rubber. When you think about it, two small patches of rubber aren’t much. The condition of those two rubber patches and the material surrounding them is critical to survival.

Ambient air temperature variations cause fluctuations in tire pressure. A change in air temperature of 10 degrees F. (5 degrees C.) will cause tire pressure to change by one pound.

Tire manufacturers show up at rallies all the time, and through their exercises we learn that up to 80 percent of all motorcycles have underinflated tires. Without a doubt, tire pressure is the most ignored problem affecting a motorcycle and its handling and stability. Too little pressure and your tires will overheat and cause premature wear. You’ll look funny wobbling down the interstate trying to pull off to the side of the road. You’ll have plenty to talk about with your riding friends when you tell them about your bike’s handling problems. On the other hand, I suppose it’s a good excuse to look for a new bike with better handling characteristics.

Avoid it all and check your tire inflation presures, and then when you discover that you’ve only got 20 pounds of air in the rear tire, and a garage isn’t nearby, fire up this little beauty:

Motorcycle Tire Mini Air Pump

It’s less than 10 bucks, it only takes a few minutes to take it out of the plastic housing, and after the fan is cut off with a hack saw, it’s ready to go. I added an on/off switch to mine, and I installed a Powerlet jack to replace the alligator clips that were used to connect to the battery. The Powerlet is compatible with BMW, Triumph and Ducati outlets.

I threw one of these — barebones, stripped of its plastic case — into a saddlebag years ago. I’ve used it exactly twice on my own motorcycle and three or four times on those of others who got a surprise when they checked their tire pressure.

For the long distance rider who finds himself in the middle of nowhere, it’s an item you shouldn’t be without, even if you subscribe to a tow package. A tubeless tire repair kit would be an added bonus for those who don’t run with tubes.

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