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Thread: Tire Pressure Monitor Systems

  1. #1
    jcridge
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    Tire Pressure Monitor Systems

    I have been thinking about an add on tire pressure monitoring system for my K75. There is a number of different companies selling them. What do you like or dislike about them and what has been your first hand experience with the system you have? I try to check my pressure daily, but that doesn't always happen as I ride 80 miles daily, plus much more on the weekends, I'm thinking peace of mind for those times I don't have a chance to check the pressures, and unforseen potholes, construction debri, etc... at 80MPH has its draw backs as well.

  2. #2
    shire2000
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    I am not a gadget kind of guy. I would rather go out and buy a high quality tire gauge and use it to check my tire pressures prior to each ride. Very simple to use, and most are quite reliable.

    As to some system that is supposed to monitor the tire pressure, you then have to wonder, Is it still working? How accurate is it, if it is still working? I would think that those little sensors that go on the valve stems would have to be very well built electronics to be able to stand up to the bumps and jolts that they will get on the wheels. And then you have to find a place to mount the monitor.

    Nah, give me a good quality tire guage, I know it works.


  3. #3
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shire2000 View Post
    I am not a gadget kind of guy. I would rather go out and buy a high quality tire gauge and use it to check my tire pressures prior to each ride. Very simple to use, and most are quite reliable.

    As to some system that is supposed to monitor the tire pressure, you then have to wonder, Is it still working? How accurate is it, if it is still working? I would think that those little sensors that go on the valve stems would have to be very well built electronics to be able to stand up to the bumps and jolts that they will get on the wheels. And then you have to find a place to mount the monitor.

    Nah, give me a good quality tire guage, I know it works.

    Well, I go out, start my bike, and ride about 10 feet.

    The Smartire system displays the front pressure, followed by the rear pressure.

    At any point while riding one press of the button and it displays front pressure, a + or - with temperature corrected deviation from the programmed pressure, and the internal tire air temperature. Then it repeats this sequence for the rear tire.

    If the pressure drops 15% below programmed pressure a light starts flashing. Ditto - if the temperature in the tire gets high.

    All this, every time I ride - all the time.

    If it fails to work it would either go blank or alarm - that flashing light goes off if it can't find either sensor.

    If you actually check your tires every time you ride, and every time you stop for gas, or occasionally just because you stop to check your tires you are arguably as well off - except for the temperature feature. If you check temps on your hot tires you are probably then almost as well off.

    Otherwise ..... I don't think so.

    Added: As to durability, my Smartire system has been on my R1150R for just over 90,000 miles with zero defects. Every now and then it misses a sensor but if I try again in a minute or so it finds it.

    I have had two rear tire punctures with the system installed. The alarm went off when the tire got down to 36 p.s.i. - long before I could feel anything awry, and soon enough to not cause any tire damage. That is a feature you just don't get with the finest hand held gauge ever constructed or sold.
    Last edited by PGlaves; 09-26-2008 at 09:31 PM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  4. #4
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    I've been looking for the same thing for my R12R.. and what I found:

    SmarTire has apparently discontinued the motorcycle line (according to their website) - but it is still available from Canada on Ebay, and one or two vendors who apparently have stock.

    http://www.vulcantire.com/smartire_mc_sys.htm

    http://www.smartire.com/motorcycles

    Upsides
    • Price is right. About $120 shipped from Canada
    • Works - if Paul says it does - it does
    • Weatherproof display

    Downsides
    • Display color, apparently is a brightish blue. Aside from my eyes not focusing well on that color at night, it pretty much clashes with the orange illumination on the R12R gauges. Not as much an issue with a K75 - which has white lighting
    • Inside tire pressure sensor prone to mounting damage. Rather a common problem with them - a tire installer kills the sensors. Paul has avoided this by doing his own mounting.
    • Future parts availabilty? Unknown..


    Kisan Technologies has a "tireAlert" product.

    http://www.kisantech.com/index.php?cat_id=6

    Upsides
    • Display designed for motorcycle use (and colors don't clash with the newer BMW instrument panels)
    • Weatherproof display
    • Functionality looks good - designed for a motorcycle
    • Inside wheel pressure sensors less prone to damage since they are part of the valve stem. Uses outside (stem mounted) sensors for rims like the front one on an R12R - where the valve stem is metal screwed into a spoke on the rim.

    Downsides
    • The mounting of the outside stem mounted sensors makes it difficult to top off tire pressure - the sensors must be removed to do this.
    • The RF output of the sensors is limited (FCC licensing problem) so the positioning of the antenna that picks up the signal (one per wheel) is critical, and may be difficult on some models.
    • Price - with the required special mounts for the antennas - the price starts creeping up towards the $300 mark.


    Doran has one made for motorcycle use

    http://www.doranmfg.com/motorcycle-t...ng-systems.htm

    http://www.doranmfg.com/motorcycle-t...tm#360msystems

    Upsides
    • Display is made for use on a bike, weatherproof, and useable with gloves on
    • Easy mounting of sensors on valve stems - and antenna placement isn't critical (RF output is enough from the sensors.)
    Downsides
    • Size and weight of sensors - they are large, about the size of a walnut, and fairly heavy - requiring 5-6 oz of weight on the opposite side of the rim to compensate for them.
    • Sensors must be removed to adjust pressure - and they are first screwed on, then locked with small allen-setscrews. The allen wrench gets lost, and the screws can be a PITA to get to with it on the stem.
    • They do mention mounting the sensors inside the rim/tire - but in the case of a flat, I suspect the sensors would be crushed. Also adds the risk of damage during tire swaps.
    • Price - one of the more expensive. - around $300


    NOTE - a friend has this system and is quite pleased with it. It has alerted him to low tire pressure more than once, and he feels it has paid for itself just with the few warnings he has received.

    ZADI RTS system - made in Italy system.

    http://www.bike-design.com/article.php?id=273

    http://www.zadirts.com/en/rts_moto_prodotto.php

    Imported to the US by:
    Phillips Motorsport Group
    Address: 151 Calle Iglesia
    San Clemente, CA 92672
    Toll-Free: 1-800-221-7291
    Local: (949) 498-9090
    Sales Fax: (949) 498-9492
    Customer Service Fax: (949) 366-6511
    Email: info@lockhartphillipsusa.com

    Upsides
    • Sensors appear to be the same or very similar to the ones BMW uses for their TPM system. They include a valve-stem replacement sensor, and one made to mount inside the front rim of BMWs with stem-in-spoke design.
    • Display would be a good match with current BMW instruments, and is designed for bike use (bar, shelf mount, and weatherproof)
    • Functions designed for bike
    • Completely battery operated - no wiring needed at all
    • Pricepoint isn't bad - around $200

    Downsides
    • Availability unknown right now - I'm working on it.. a friend is becoming a Lockhart dealer and will see if the system can be bought.
    • Parts availability unknown
    • Risk of sensor damage - but probably no greater than the BMW factory systems - during tire changes.


    As mentioned - I'm looking into the ZADI system for my R12R - if and when I get it - I'll probably do a review for the Owners News on installing it, and using it. I like the sensor design, and I like the no-wires approach.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BTW - when I bought my R1200R I was told that the BMW system (not quite available at the time) would be retrofittable to the R1200R. I have since been informed that what I was told isn't true - and it can't be. If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know. I can't see any practical reason why it couldn't be (the wiring harnesses appear identical, the receiver is part of the alarm system, which can be retrofitted I believe, and the rims are designed for it, and the ZFE would appear to be programmable so it should be possible to enable it..) but BMW claims elsewise.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  5. #5
    jcridge
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Well, I go out, start my bike, and ride about 10 feet.

    The Smartire system displays the front pressure, followed by the rear pressure.

    At any point while riding one press of the button and it displays front pressure, a + or - with temperature corrected deviation from the programmed pressure, and the internal tire air temperature.

    If the pressure drops 15% below programmed pressure a light starts flashing. Ditto - if the temperature in the tire gets high.

    All this, every time I ride - all the time.

    If it fails to work it would either go blank or alarm - that flashing light goes off if it can't find either sensor.

    If you actually check your tires every time you ride, and every time you stop for gas, or occasionally just because you stop to check your tires you are arguably as well off - except for the temperature feature. If you check temps on your hot tires you are probably then almost as well off.

    Otherwise ..... I don't think so.

    Exactly what I'm looking for...thanks for the post.

    Did a quick search and found out Smartire is no longer going to suppport or distrubute the TPWS for motorcycles.

    I'm sure it's a robust system by the sounds of it, as they support trucks, RV's cars, etc... but they most likely don't sell enough M/C systems to make it viable.

    The search continues

    I commend anyone who manually checks their tire pressure before every ride, I put way too many miles on and ride everyday to be able to do that ...everytime.

  6. #6
    shire2000
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    Maybe because I was brought up in the days when Bias ply tires were a "new thing" and were not always absolutely air tight, it was almost beaten into my stoneage skull that you always check your tires before every ride. It is now a habit. Before I roll the bike out of it's nice warm garage, I go thru a little mental check list.

    1. Check oil.
    2. Check Tire pressures
    3. Check battery fluid level on the one bike that still has a lead/acid battery.
    4. Roll bike outside and start bike up.
    5. While bike warms for a minute or 2, check all lights and horn work.
    6. Finish putting on gear and hit the road.

    If I am traveling, I still check everything before heading out on the road.

    For some of us old fogeys, it is hard to break old habits.

    But if you like the idea of having something monitor your tire pressure, as long as it works, what the heck.


  7. #7
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shire2000 View Post
    Maybe because I was brought up in the days when Bias ply tires were a "new thing" and were not always absolutely air tight, it was almost beaten into my stoneage skull that you always check your tires before every ride. It is now a habit. Before I roll the bike out of it's nice warm garage, I go thru a little mental check list.

    1. Check oil.
    2. Check Tire pressures
    3. Check battery fluid level on the one bike that still has a lead/acid battery.
    4. Roll bike outside and start bike up.
    5. While bike warms for a minute or 2, check all lights and horn work.
    6. Finish putting on gear and hit the road.

    If I am traveling, I still check everything before heading out on the road.

    For some of us old fogeys, it is hard to break old habits.

    But if you like the idea of having something monitor your tire pressure, as long as it works, what the heck.

    I formerly would have agreed with you - back when I seldom rode during the week and mostly took weekend trips or trips to rallies. Now I hop on the bike almost every day - sometimes several times a day.

    And, you are an exception. I often see horribly underinflated tires on bikes running around at rallies. If everybody was a diligent as you ..... but they aren't. Back in 1974 BMW put a float and switch in the brake fluid reservoir so you didn't need to take off the cap and look every time before you rode. Some technology is an improvement - some certainly isn't.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  8. #8
    shire2000
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    I agree with you, I am an exception. And not always in a good way. That brick wall never seems to move.

    I ride pretty well daily, averaging 30,000 miles per year on my R100RT, and at least 10,000 miles per year on my other rides. I just learned way back when we didn't have all this new gadgetry. Heck, I remember when shifting with your left foot was real new and took quite a while to get it right. We didn't have all these monitoring systems, computerized gizmos to help guide us where we are going, etc. We thought we were "new age" when we strapped a tank bag on with a clear plastic sleeve on top to put our map in. Boy, we thought that was great.

    If the tire monitoring system works for you, great! I am just old school and for some reason I get a satisfaction of doing things manually. But then, I don't feel right unless I spend at least a part of the winter taking my bike apart and cleaning all the wire connectors, lubing splines, retorqueing everything, yadda yadda. Gives me self satisfaction knowing that the only person I can blame for anything going wrong during riding season is myself.

    Now you young whippersnappers, Always remember "Youth and exuberance is always defeated by Age and treachery". Best be nice to us old geezers.

  9. #9
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    My desire for one isn't to avoid checking the tire pressure.. doing that in the garage isn't a chore (compressor with tire-gauge attached is right there..) it's for the puncture on the road.

    I have experienced rapid deflation at 80MPH on a very busy highway. It was no fun at all. It's as close as I've come to crashing (luckily I remembered - do nothing, let the bike slow down and wobble like mad - and move toward the shoulder..)

    The excitement would have been avoided with a TPM system. That's my goal - unexciting rides.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  10. #10
    shire2000
    Guest
    Actually, I don't think anyone needs a monitoring system to tell them that they are experiencing a "rapid deflation at 80MPH". You know pretty darn quick that something is definitely wrong. The bike will tell you in no uncertain terms. Been there, done that, on more than 1 occasion in the past 40 years of riding.

    I think that the monitoring system may be a good way of being informed of a slow leak. You see the warning light, pull over and check it out. Maybe pump the tire back up with your portable compressor and head for the nearest repair shop. Or, in my case, I find a nice flat spot off the road and fix it myself. Yes, I run tubes and can change one out fairly quickly on the side of the road. I always carry 2 spare tubes.

    So, yes, the monitoring system could be a good thing.

  11. #11
    jcridge
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    Don,
    Let us know how you make out, sounds interesting.

    With regards to the Smartire system, does anyone know why did they discontinue that line? Something better coming out or just not enough support for M/C's, etc..?

    I was thinking of purchasing the Smartire and one spare as an eventual backup. That made me think... do the transmitters have batteries, I would assume so, and can they be replaced. Operating life of battery would be my next thought???

    Paul,
    Do you have the manual for your Smartire still? How long have you had your system?

  12. #12
    On the road again! R80RTJohnny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shire2000 View Post
    Maybe because I was brought up in the days when Bias ply tires were a "new thing" and were not always absolutely air tight, it was almost beaten into my stoneage skull that you always check your tires before every ride. It is now a habit. Before I roll the bike out of it's nice warm garage, I go thru a little mental check list.

    1. Check oil.
    2. Check Tire pressures
    3. Check battery fluid level on the one bike that still has a lead/acid battery.
    4. Roll bike outside and start bike up.
    5. While bike warms for a minute or 2, check all lights and horn work.
    6. Finish putting on gear and hit the road.

    If I am traveling, I still check everything before heading out on the road.

    For some of us old fogeys, it is hard to break old habits.

    But if you like the idea of having something monitor your tire pressure, as long as it works, what the heck.


    I see absolutely nothing wrong with your habits. Some habits you keep some you lose - These you keep!

    Thanks for sharing.
    2008 R12RT (Blue)
    1986 R80RT (Silver)

    Member of the Loonie-Tics. MOA 292.

  13. #13
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcridge View Post
    Don,
    Let us know how you make out, sounds interesting.

    With regards to the Smartire system, does anyone know why did they discontinue that line? Something better coming out or just not enough support for M/C's, etc..?

    I was thinking of purchasing the Smartire and one spare as an eventual backup. That made me think... do the transmitters have batteries, I would assume so, and can they be replaced. Operating life of battery would be my next thought???

    Paul,
    Do you have the manual for your Smartire still? How long have you had your system?
    I not only still have the manual - I have an entire new system too. I have been debating what bike to put it on. I got it for Voni's R1100S but .... she might trade that bike. I want her to, but she is resisting the notion. So I haven't installed it. I will next tire change if she still has the bike.

    The one on my bike has been on it since 2003 when the bike was nearly new.

    I don't know the details - but understand that active pressure monitoring systems are being phased in as mandatory in the European Union - and soon in the US as well. Which classes of vehicles first - I don't know the details.

    I was told by a rep from Smartire that they were discontinuing their efforts for motorcycles so they could direct time, money, and other resources to the commercial bus and heavy truck market where they were becoming mandatory. And thinking about it, a system with 8 to 16 sensors plus readout for those sensors, marketed to major trucking companies with a fleet of less-than-new trucks, is probably going to be a whole lot more profitable than selling to a few motorcyclists. I had no reason to doubt what he was telling me.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  14. #14
    Registered User soffiler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    ...I don't know the details - but understand that active pressure monitoring systems are being phased in as mandatory in the European Union - and soon in the US as well. Which classes of vehicles first - I don't know the details...
    Paul:

    I don't know about the EU, but TPMS has been mandatory in the USA on a phase-in schedule since 2003, culminating with 100% of passenger vehicles under 10,000lb gross that are manufactured after Nov 1, 2006. FMVSS #138:

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_20...cfr571.138.pdf

    I can't find anything suggesting a similar requirement for motorcycles in the USA.
    Steve O. - MOA #122171
    '05 R12GS, '76 CB200 (wife's)
    '91 K100RS, '87 Honda CBR1000 Hurricane, '84 Yamaha FJ1100, '85 Honda VF500F, '76 Yamaha RD400, '82 Honda XL500... and more

  15. #15
    Registered User jshuck's Avatar
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    mine didn't work

    I installed a Smarttire system and it never did work correctly. Next time the tire some off, so do the monitors. Lots of flashing and no eading. I thought the instructions were a little vague too. Buy a good gauge.
    John Shuck BMWMOA Ironbutt #31
    Co-Founder Dir. of Operations Fairfield County Concours
    Sept at the Fairfield County Hunt Club, Westport, CT
    02 GS, R90S's, R51/3

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