Since purchasing my CTX1300, I was able to get my wife to go for a ride. This was not an easy task as she had a bad experience riding on the back of a bike when she was younger that left a very bad and sided opinion. When I married her, 24 years ago, she said no more motorcycles and I had to give up my Honda 900 Custom. After almost twenty years , I was able to convince her a motorcycle would save money and pay for itself not just in money, but time. She relented and within a week I had purchased another motorcycle, a Suzuki C50. As with all my vehicles, I decked out the C50 with everything I could find to make it a nice cruiser/touring machine. Four years later, I got her to go for a ride. She rode with me four times.
Now for the CTX1300, I had a HD Road Glide for a few months and was never able to get her to go for a ride on it. But after getting the CTX1300, I made it a point to get her on the back as I would like to take her on a long trip to see a few places. Our first ride was without events, and ended up taking a few hours, out to the beach at Neptune’s for a late lunch and then back home through Kanan Road. She really liked it. Much smoother than the Suzuki C50.
Since then, we have been riding 2-up together for the last few weekends. She is starting to enjoy the rides. Two weekends ago, I took her to Cyclegear and she tried on a dozen or so helmets and found one that fit her perfectly. The last two weekends, she had enjoyed our rides even more since the helmet she is using is not bouncing around on her head.
Safety is of the utmost when I am riding, and even more so when I am riding 2-up with someone as a rider. Anything that I can do to make the bike safer is a good investment, IMO. I have had a front tire hit a piece of glass and blow out at 65mph on the freeway (82 Honda 900c, before steel belts), and picked up a nail on a downhill grade doing 70mph, that deflated completely before I could get it pulled over and stopped (Suzuki C50T). Luckily, neither one was while riding 2-up. Both instances were frightening enough without having to worry about someone else behind me.
Having ridden a number of the larger touring machines, I have found that one of the most neglected items of most motorists and riders is tire pressure. Owners, tend to assume the tires will always hold air and they have to pick up a nail or cut the tire to lose the pressure. However, this is a fallacy. Tires will lose air pressure depending on changes in temperature, road conditions, and wear. Not to mention, ALL tires will leak over time. If you beat a tire to death over bumps or rocky terrain, it will lose more pressure than a tire rolling on a smooth surface.
Aside from tire pressure, overloading a tire’s load capacity is the 2nd cause of tire failures. This is far easier to do on a motorcycle than a car because you have only two tires, to work with. On a car, load capacity increases with each pair of tires, but on a motorcycle you do not have the luxury of more than two tires. A compact car, with four adults, and luggage, will typically still be well within the combined load capacity of all four tires. However, a motorcycle, supporting 2-up riding and the gear for a cross country road trip can easily exceed the tire capacity.
In addition, load capacity of a tire (motorcycle or car) is directly related to the tire pressure. As long as you stay within the tire manufacturers designed pressure range the load capacity goes up when the pressure goes up. However, the load capacity range of a motorcycle tire is far less than that of a car tire.
For example, take a Bridgestore Excedra Max Bias belted tire 200/50R17’s load rating is 75, which is 853 pounds, where as a Goodyear Advantage T/A Sport 205/50R17 is rated 93 or 1,433 pounds. The size differences between these two tires is not that significant when compared, but the load capacity is significant, …
Most all of the motorcycle tires in the size 200/50R17 have a load index of 75 or 853 pounds. Whereas the closest sized car tire will have a load index ranging from 71 to 93, or 761 to 1433 pounds. This assumes the recommended tire pressures are used.
On the motorcycle tire, this will be about 42 psi, whereas the car tires will range from 28 psi to 45psi. It also equates to a much narrower operating pressure range to work with on a motorcycle tire as compared to a car tire. If you use a lower pressure on the motorcycle tire, your maximum load goes down. Trying to use more pressure on the motorcycle tire, does not necessarily increase your load range capability.
From the above “sample” comparison, it would imply tire pressure on your motorcycle is far more critical than that of a car tire because the operating range is far more limited based on the tire choices available.
Because of this, any system that will warn you to check your tires will be for more beneficial for a motorcycle than a car. Not only for your safety, but also, for the safety of those around you, not to mention those that ride with you. If you can see your tire pressure on the fly, you can easily prevent a severe tire pressure issue from occurring. And I am for being proactive with anything safety. (Keep in mind nothing can prevent a road hazard except your awareness of what you are
heading toward and that includes road hazards).
Thus, the argument for a TPMS, or, Tire Pressure Maintenance System that can quickly give you an operating status so you can make an educated decision on what to do next, .. pull over, slow down, or keep going.
After reviewing a number of TPMS devices specifically for motorcycles, I found most to be rather expensive, at least for me. I don’t need a GPS w/TPMS, I have an Android with Google Maps that works just fine. I also have enough apps running on it, I don’t need another app running all the time using my battery up, so a $50 pair of Bluetooth valve stem sensors would not work. Not to mention all of these smartphone systems require the smart phone to be on and not in battery saver mode to work. (I use max battery saver mode all the time so I don’t have to worry about charging the phone as much).
Cost and simplicity wins out everytime, and while researching TPMS for my cars and trucks, I came across this:
This unit is solar powered, for sitting on your dashboard, so it does not need any electrical hookup and doesn’t need any replacement batteries. This feature peeked my interest as I hate having to replace batteries. So I made an offer for one unit and purchased it. My plan was to see if it would work for the CTX. If it didn’t, I could use it on one of the other vehicles I own.
Two days after ordering the unit, I was fighting the steering of the CTX through some canyons. It was like the front tire was flat. When I got home, the front tire only had 20psi in it. I filled it up to 42psi, and mixed up some Dawn soap and looked for the leak. It turned out to be a lose valve stem nut.
The following day, the TPMS came in and I installed it on the bike. Since it was designed for a car/truck, it has 4 wheel sensors. I’m only using the two for the right side of a car. The left two are still in the box and will be my spares.
The unit has a solar panel to trickle charge the battery by day, and can be charged via USP power for night rides. The USB power will also toggle the display on when the bike starts as it senses the 5V power.
I had to make a mounting bracket for the main unit off the RAM mount that holds my phone.
The tire sensors replaced the valve stem caps. Front:
Each sensor has a lock nut to make sure the sensor doesn’t work itself loose.
Once installed, I followed the instructions to set it up. Instructions were just adequate to get it running. Then I tested it, by loosening up the sensors to allow air to leak out. When it reached the minimum set pressure value, the alarm went off. This will be real handy while on a ride.
I also like the tire temperature monitoring. For those long rides across the desert with high 110 degree temps, this will tell you if your tire is overheating.
In all, it took about an hour to build and paint the bracket and then a few minutes to mount and install the main unit, and the sensors. Took another 5 minutes to setup the ranges and units (F, PSI vs C, Bar).
All for less than $25.