Can you feel it? Well, you ought to! Inflation is nothing to mess around with. Ensuring your tires’ pressures are inflated to manufacturing spec (found in your bike’s Owner’s Manual or on a swingarm sticker) is just about the most important thing you have to do. It’s a safety thing, don’cha know, since low tire pressures equal squishy handling and poor braking. The good news is that it’s a very easy maintenance task to accomplish.
In addition to maintaining the handling and braking power that you so love about your bike, you’re preserving the life of your tires – and improving gas mileage, too.
Get in the habit of checking your tire pressure (both tires!) before every ride. The porosity of rubber tubes and tires means that minute amounts of air seep out, diminishing pressure. This is why it’s key to check before every ride – make it part of your pre-ride routine.
The key to precise tire pressure – like many things – is having the right equipment. The Stockton Tool Company Tire Gauge is superbly suited for the task. With its tough armored rubber exterior, flexible 10-inch rubber hose, easy-to-read dial and precision components, measuring tire pressure is easier and more accurate than ever.
It’s important to check pressure on COLD (ambient temperature) tires. Once you’ve started riding, road contact friction heats up the internal air, expanding it and causing your tires to “grow”, defeating an accurate reading.
Begin by removing your valve stem caps (you do have caps on your valves, right?). Place the angled head of the tire pressure gauge onto the valve stem. Press down, making sure to keep it as perpendicular to the valve as possible to get the most accurate reading.
It’s always good to do this at least a couple of times to ensure your reading is consistent and, thus, accurate. The Stockton Gauge makes this process easy because it has a relief valve that maintains the reading even after you’ve removed it from the valve – very cool!
Assuming that you are consistent with your pressure checks – and ride often – you will probably only see a small decrease in day-to-day pressure. This decrease may be just a couple of PSI (Pounds per Square Inch), but each PSI makes a difference.
Now, a lot of folks think that they have to have a massive compressor in the garage to fill tires. Or if not, they must head to some gas station that charges a buck for the “courtesy” of using theirs. But here’s a tip: get a Tire Balls Hand Pump Inflator, a Helix Racing Foot Pump or a Double Tough Mini Tire Inflator. As mentioned, if you stay on top of your pressure checks – and you should – topping off with a pump is really easy and you’ll find that the increased gas mileage and tire wear will easily offset the cost of the pump. A few pounds will usually do it and you’re on your way. They don’t take up much space either.
So there you go. Check your pressure before every ride. Use a good gauge. Top off with a pump. Get out and ride. No pressure at all, right?