Tire Gauges | Tools 101

By Karel Kramer, Photography by Karel Kramer

Tire pressure has always been important for motorcycle perform-ance, handling and safety, and more so given modern chassis, suspension and tires. Proper inflation is most critical for heavily loaded touring bikes to maintain load capability, and for sportbikes to achieve maximum grip. At the same time, any motorcycle rider needs to keep an eye on air pressure to maintain long tire life. So how do you choose a gauge? For your toolbox, pick a quality gauge whose face is easy to ride—analog or digital, no matter. Dunlop suggests using one that continues to display the pressure reading after you remove it from the valve stem. If you purchase a professional mechanic’s tire gauge, keep it in a padded hard case and don’t drop it, let it get bounced around or jostled by other tools. Naturally you will need a smaller, tougher gauge to carry on your bike. Many of the small pencil gauges and battery-powered digital ones are accurate enough for general riding. Just check them frequently against better gauges to ensure they remain accurate. Subjecting a gauge to pressure above its maximum rating can ruin its accuracy, particularly on the better dial-face models. The worst offenders here are road bicycles, which routinely run pressures that will damage a gauge calibrated to 50 or 60 psi. If you race at events with tire support, the manufacturers’ representatives may have a way to check your gauge, so take advantage of that.

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