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Tire Gauge 101


How often do you check the pressure in your tires? Once a week when you ride regularly, or just when the tire looks like it is going flat? Did you know it is generally agreed that the pressures should be checked EVERY time you ride?

With only two wheels separating you from the ground, having good condition tires is very important, and tire pressures are just as important as the tire itself. Low tire pressure can cause unstable handling, excessive tire wear, and even a blow out or tread separation from overheating. High pressure can reduce traction and cause wear also. For your tires to work at their maximum, tire pressure usually needs to stay within a small range for the type of riding you do.

For off road riders, the right tire pressure will ensure proper handling and grip, and will also extend the life of the tube and tire. Most off road or motocross bikes will run anywhere from 12psi to about 20psi at most. While this is probably the widest range of pressures of any type of tire, low or high settings will make the bike behave very differently.

Street riders have a different set of priorities, with predictable handling and maximum traction as the most important. Tire life is affected by pressure also, and street tires are getting more expensive all the time, so it is important to try to get as much life out of your tires as possible. For the majority of street bikes, 34-40 psi is common. Generally street bikes also run slightly lower pressure in the front compared to the rear. The higher pressures also protect expensive mag wheels from damage by pot holes and other pavement irregularities.

An exception to the street pressure rules is the growing group of sport and track day riders. There are new sport tires available these days that are far more advanced than even the best racing tires of just a few years ago. These tires use lower pressures to maximize grip and allow the tire to more completely conform to the pavement for amazing performance. These tires generally run at 30psi to 32psi, and sometimes even lower for closed course track use.

What is the common tool that all of these riders need to make sure they get all the performance out of their tires? A quality air gauge, of course. In 2008 Motion Pro introduced our first tire gauge, the Liquid Filled Professional Tire Gauge. It is available in two pressure ranges to work with off-road or street bikes, and an extra low pressure gauge for ATV or trials bike use. After several years of development and market research we believe that it is the best built and most accurate analog (dial type) gauge on the market. Every gauge is tested here at Motion Pro for accuracy and is specified to be within +/- 1.5% of the maximum range of performance. That means that the 0-60psi gauge is accurate to within 0.9 psi. No other gauge on the market in its price range can match that. Most commonly available gauges can have errors of as much as 5 psi. The gauge also has a high volume pressure release button which is especially helpful in adjusting the pressure in the wide cross section sport bike tires, which have a lot of volume. The hose has double swivel fittings, which allow the user to get the air chuck easily into tight spots, like on the front wheel of a sport bike, which usually feature large diameter double brake rotors, limiting the amount of space you have to get to the air valve.

Why is the gauge liquid filled? Good question. The gauge is filled with a high viscosity glycerin, which can protect the gauge from bumps and bruises in your tool box. The liquid also damps and slows the movement of the gauge needle, so if your tire was massively over-pressurized by an enthusiastic tire changer, you have a split second to disconnect the gauge from the tire before it can be damaged, if you are paying attention.

While the Motion Pro gauge may cost more to buy than some other gauges, it is a sound investment given the cost of tires, and how much it can help you maintain the performance and extend the lifetime of this very important part of your motorcycle.

Having a quality tire gauge in your tool box is a great investment and an advantage not only to the life of your tires, but for the best performance, and also an investment in safety.

Check out the Motion Pro tire gauges at your favorite local dealer or online at http://www.motionpro.com/motorcycle/tools/category/tire_pressure_gauges/.

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