Tire Watch - Technology Serving Bikers
File under Product Review Tips/How To
Author: Mike Werner
Location: Normandy, France
I don't know about you, but often when I ride, I ask myself if the motorcycle tires are correctly inflated, specially when the motorcycle makes a strange move on the tarmac. I know, I know;.. we should check the tire pressure before any trip, at least that's what the user manual states. But let's face it, if we manage to check the oil level we're doing better than most.
But if you think about it, the tires are the primary element between you and that hard surface we call mother earth ! Riding your motorcycle, alone, with a pillion, with cargo, or any of the above, means that your tire surface changes aspect. The faster your go, the more important it is that your tire is properly pressurized. Ask any racer, heck, ask Rossi... their tires are one of the most important aspects on their motorcycles. It can not only make or brake a race for them, it can actually mean a life or death situation !
Furthermore, in today's high oil barrel price, not properly inflated tires will make you use more gasoline (this can be up to 5%)!! Also, you'll wear out your tires much more quicker.
It's for that reason, that motorcycle manufacturers put in their users manuals, that you should check the pressure of your tires, preferably before ANY trip !! But that's a hassle. Getting down on your knees to put a pressure gauge to the tire's valve is a royal pain....
Well, no more ! Technology to the rescue ! In comes the "Tire Watch" from LDL Technology (insert applause here!). Tire Watch is a small transmitter that is inserted inside your tires (both of them). It transmits data, wireless, to a central console. Tire Watch doesn't just send tire pressure, it also sends tire temperature, and more importantly, it tell you what the temperature close to the road surface is.
Never one to ignore safety, specially on a motorcycle, I got myself the Tire Watch product. It arrives in a nice little package, and when opened, this is what I got:
1. A set of seals (different ones for different tires)
2. Main tire unit (transmitter). One for each tire
3. Console attachment (there are different ways of attaching the console to your motorcycle)
4. Central LCD console
5. Valves (at a 90° angle !)
6. Set of screws, seals and attachments
7. Springs used between valves and transmitters
8. Instructions (with photos)
Since I'm incapable of even changing the oil of my motorcycle, off I went to Siligom, my friendly neighborhood tire store (the owner is a biker himself).
This is probably the only disadvantage of the Tire Watch;- you need to remove both tires. You're going to spend more time removing tires, then placing the product. But.. that's life !
Once the tire is removed, you let out all its air, and remove the rubber tire.
Once all the rubber if off, you remove the sealants from the old valve. Cut it off with a knife.
Put the spring (#7) and then the transmitter (#2) on (inside the tire well). The transmitter weights 26 grams, so has no effect on the tire balance. The battery that is included will last at least 5 years.
And then put the valve (#5) on the outside. Notice that the valve, contrary to most original ones, is angled at 90°. This makes it much easier to hookup to an air compressor.
Put the tire back on....
.... and pump air into it.
Check for leaks (if not, you'll notice it later on your display).
Put the tire back in place.
Repeat for the front tire ! Now for the interesting part:
The LCD console looks like this:
It'll show the pressure in the front and the rear, plus time and temperature. In the beginning, you'll need to initialize the unit. You start the console by pressing the left button, and then ride for a maximum of 4 minutes at 20 kph. While riding you'll see the console starting to receive data.
You can attach the console in many different ways (LDL supply different fixtures with the package). I initially jammed in between the dash and the screen:
It's obviously not the best way, since you'll loose it quite quickly.
Next, I used the handle bar holder. It's an easy fit, and has a central screw to hold firmly in place. The holder has a quick release, so you can take it off your motorcycle very quickly.
Using the console
Now, for using the equipment. Once you start your motorcycle and turn on the device, you need to ride a short distance before the unit starts transmitting tire pressure. It senses that you're riding, so will start sending data once it's ready.
It's very interesting to see how the tire pressure changes when you ride. After 30 minutes and high speeds (honest officer, I was on the autoroute), the pressure went from the front to 2.4 (from 2.2 bars) and the rear to 2.8 (from 2.5). The temperature (also shown on the display) showed 8°C.
The unit will alert you if data falls below or above predetermined parameters. Obviously tire pressure, but also road temperature. If it starts reaching freezing point, the temperature will start flashing, alerting you that there could be ice on the road.
You can program in yourself some of the alerts.
At the top of the display is a small LED. In case of an alert, it will flash ! It will even alert you if you have a slow puncture !
You can by pressing on the right button, cycle through data.
You can for example look at the tire temperature.
You can cycle through values, or you can program the unit to display PSI (instead of Bars), temperature in °F (instead of °C), etc.
The unit is very well put together, and easy to use. Once installed, there's not much you need to do. It's an extra safety device that also shows outside temperature.
Please also remember; if your tires are not inflated correctly, you'll be using a lot more gas, and your tires will need replacing much quicker.
In my humble opinion, this is one gadget that's more than a gadget !! It's a must for long distance riders, or people who commute a lot on their motorcycles. Maybe one day we'll see it as a standard.
The price is reasonable (for what you get, and for what you save). Here in France, the maximum price is €299.
Not all motorcycles are compatible, so check their site.
Click here to access their website.