Last updated on April 1st, 2020
TPMS is one of the best accessories you can put on your bike as far as safety is concerned. If you’d like to keep an eye on your tire pressures while riding, nothing beats the convenience of a tire pressure monitoring system. However, as of yet they are seldom seen factory-installed on our two-wheeled vehicles. If you’re considering adding one to your motor bike, here’s a review of the best cheap motorcycle TPMS kit I’ve found so far.
Disclaimer – I’ve personally paid for the kits I’ve tested
Nothing in this post is sponsored. Likewise, I have no relationship with any manufacturer. This review is based on my personal experiences based on having researched, bought and tried multiple air sensor kits. As such, this is simply my personal unbiased opinion.
Best cheap motorcycle TPMS kit
There are a handful of both cheap and expensive motorcycle TPMS kits out there. Depending on your bike and budget, you may even have factory options available. But for your average sport bike looking for a wallet-friendly upgrade, this is the best cheap motorcycle TPMS I’ve found so far. It isn’t perfect, but it is definitely a useful upgrade for any daily rider. Over time I’m sure they’ll improve, but if you’re looking for a decent budget option that installs quickly, this is among the better ones.
The main advantages to this unit are:
- Displays exact front/rear tire pressure independently – It reads each tire’s pressure independently, measuring changes down to 0.1 PSI.
- Audible and visual alarms – It’ll make sure you notice when the air pressure is dangerously low.
- Completely cable-free for easy installation – Both the display and sensors are battery-powered, and as such installation is trivial.
- Cheap – If someone steals your unit, it isn’t a huge deal. The same goes if you damage or just don’t like it. The risk is small.
- Reads both tire pressure and temperature – Though the value of knowing internal air temperature is debatable for casual motorcyclists, it’s an interesting novelty.
- The sensors mount directly to your tire’s Schrader valves – Given that the sensors mount to standard auto tire valves, it’s a universal Schrader TPMS solution.
- Lightweight sensors do not require tire balancing – While tire balancing is appreciated, it isn’t essential.
If you’re not familiar with what TPMS is, keep reading. In this review I’ll go over the benefits, options, and why I chose this one for my bike.
What is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System?
If you’re the type of person who does their own vehicle maintenance, then you’ve probably already had that awkward conversation where you ask a friend how long it’s been since they’ve last checked their tire pressure. The response? “Oh. My mechanic does it with the oil changes once a year” Doh! And nevermind asking your mom…
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems are kits that consist of a display somewhere in the cockpit, and an individual tire pressure sensor mounted to every tire. There are both OEM and aftermarket options. Normally they simply monitor your air pressures and don’t bother you at all. When your tire pressure dips below the preset value, be it one or all wheels, it will alert you. Sometimes you’ll hear a beep, others it’s just a blinking icon on your dash. Considering that a disproportionate amount of accidents and tire punctures happen with low pressure, this is a huge safety advantage. More so considering that checking tire pressure is probably the most neglected routine task. Probably right next to chain maintenance for motorcycle riders…
Cage drivers are so careless that in Europe, TPMS is mandatory on a majority of new vehicles. While I hope in the USA it never becomes obligatory by fiat, I do hope that it popularizes itself as an optional accessory kit on all vehicles. It’s just something convenient to have.
But first, as far as why you’d want to install TPMS on a motorcycle, here are a few benefits.
Motorcycle TPMS Advantages
It allows you to check your tire pressures daily
For motorcycles, keeping your tires at the right pressure is even more important than in cars. You’ve got half the wheels on the ground as cars do, and they’re much smaller. Lose one wheel in a car and you’ll be pissed. Lose a wheel on a bike and you’re toast.
Considering that motorcycles tend to see irregular use, you’ll appreciate objectively knowing if your wheels are okay prior to taking off.
Bike tire pressures fluctuate quicker than in cars
Given the small volume inside most motor bike tires, there’s little margin for losing air. Any seepage is going to leave you with reduced tire pressures fast.
Not only can a punctured tire be at fault, but also atmospheric variations. If an already deflated tire compounds with abnormally cold weather, your tire may fall below safe air pressures. Using a motorcycle TPMS kits assures you’ll never skip checking pressures regardless of being in a hurry or not seeing the need.
Motorcycle tire pressures are harder to check
On cars checking air pressure is pretty easy – the valve is right there, and all you have to do is poke it with a stick. On two-wheeled stallions, not so much. The tire valves are often encased by dual disc brakes and/or a drive chain. Furthermore, small rims with straight valves impede the use of some tire pressure meters. This is decisively not ideal for frequent checking.
A wireless TPMS kit allows you to bypass all of that, and conveniently check air pressures from the comfort of your seat.
It’ll help you ride faster with better confidence
Last but not least, it helps you push your limits with extra reassurances. Nothing sucks as much as trail-braking fast into a curve while second-guessing if your rear wheel is low on air. And I’m sure we’ve all experienced something similar.
The ability to quickly take a look at the monitor prior to a turn can prove confidence-inspiring for new riders. And most of the time, a bit of trust is all you need to get through that hairpin turn. More often than not, tires – and motorcycles – are faster than the people on them. This just reminds you that you have no excuses.
How to install TPMS sensors on a Motorcycle
With the motorcycle TPMS kit shown here, installation is a breeze. The units come pre-paired so you basically just have to slap them on to the bike and call it a day.
The main step is to attach the tire pressure sensors. Be mindful that the front and rear tire pressure sensors come individually marked – don’t ignore it. Otherwise the display will show the tire pressures reversed. Similarly, the wrench and jam-nuts included with your kit are used for anti-theft purposes. You’ll want to install them and keep that wrench stored with the bike’s tools. Thanks to the display, you won’t have to remove the sensors to top-off air too frequently, anyway.
If for whatever reason your sensors aren’t properly paired, fixing that is easy. No OTC TPMS style tool is required as is the case with many cars. In this case, just check the instructions and follow the steps to re-pair the unit. It should only take a few minutes.
Regarding mounting the display, there are a few options. I mounted mine in front of the triple tree using little more than double-sided tape and a trimmed hot-shoe mount. The rear side of the display has a 1/4-20″ thread (a “tripod” thread) that you can use for easy mounting. The other included option is a handlebar clamp.
Since the display has a rechargeable lithium battery, the unit is truly wireless. You won’t need to route any 12v wires to it or install a fuse. Just charge it infrequently via the micro-USB port using a motorcycle USB charger.
Once that’s taken care of, you’re done. Now just enjoy the convenience of both simultaneously neglecting and obsessively checking your tire pressures.
My bike has rubber tire stems – Is that a problem?
On newer, well maintained bikes, I’ve never found this to be an issue. Metal tire valve stems are ideal, but I wouldn’t hesitate to put them on the rubber versions. There are plenty of riders out there doing so. That said, if the rubber valves are in bad condition – old, cracked or deteriorated – then I’d replace them first. It’s just common sense and proper maintenance.
Do I need to balance my tires after installing a TPMS kit?
Most manufacturers will say tire balancing after installing these small TPMS sensors is nice, but not obligatory. In other words, it can probably wait until your next tire replacement.
If tire balance really concerns you, one option is to install tire balancing beads. Given that the expense is small and you can install them without removing the tire from the rim, it’s a viable option. Plus, just about any motorcycle can potentially benefit from them.
Other aftermarket Tire pressure checking kits
To be honest, the good brand-name motorcycle tire pressure monitoring systems are few and far between. OEM-installed systems aside, of course. The selection for cars is a lot better, so motorcycle riders are a forgotten people in this aspect. The biggest player in the aftermarket motorcycle TPMS game appears to be FOBO, but it’s losing traction. All the other standard Schrader TPMS kits are mainly generic, rebranded units – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Nonetheless, here are a couple worth pointing out.
One well known unit is the RUPSE Wireless Motorcycle Kit. The reviews are not at all bad, but I don’t find the design particularly impressive. In my opinion, it looks a bit outdated. Also, you can’t view temperature and pressure simultaneously. Doing so requires the hassle of extra key-presses, which other units avoid. Some users also complain about how secure the mount is.
Then we have the Steelmate TPMS R5Y0 kit. There’s little information about it, though the seemingly G-Shock inspired display is interesting. I’m not so fond of the fact that it needs 12v wired power though. Besides that I’m skeptical to say more.
Another option is the Generic M3-B Motor Bike TPMS. It’s pretty equivalent to the one I installed, and if you like its display design more, or you find it cheaper, you might wanna choose it instead. One advantage is slightly more versatile mounting options.
Note – Given the shape of motorcycle rims, it isn’t possible to install any of the Doorman or VDO style TPMS kits out there.
Avoid bluetooth tire pressure monitors
I’ve also tried the other Bluetooth-enabled TPMS systems out there that work with a phone app instead of a stand-alone display. Currently, I do not recommend any Bluetooth models. The two products I’ve tested most recently are:
- FOBO Bike Bluetooth Tire Pressure Monitoring Kit – I owned this one for years.
- TP200 Motorcycle Bluetooth TPMS System – I trialed the TP200 for a few months before giving up on it.
While I experienced minor usability issues with both units, the main issue isn’t the product – It’s Android’s security features. Though Bluetooth TPMS kits used to work great, that is no longer the case.
Previously, Android allowed them to auto-open in the background. You’d never have to check the app manually – if the tire pressure was low, you’d see a notification automatically. Currently, unless you open the app before any ride – and close it afterwards – they won’t alert you, should you get a flat tire. That is, you must have the app constantly running 24/7 if you want to get an instant TPMS alert. Nowadays, Bluetooth TPMS kits for Android at best are impractical and at worse are dangerous – Don’t bother with them. Units with stand-alone displays are safer.
Another thing no one will tell you before-hand is that most of their apps are not available in the App store. You’ll have to install their unvetted apps manually. Also, due to Google, you are forced to activate GPS to use the Bluetooth sensors. Besides a hassle, that can have a huge impact on battery life.
If Android changes to allow the equivalent of push notifications from the Bluetooth tire pressure sensors without using GPS, I’d be glad to reassess.
How about the models with internally-mounted sensors
If you’re into cars, you’re probably familiar with the style of TPMS sensors that gets installed inside the tire rim. There, they are better protected from the elements and virtually immune from theft. However, unless you’re a first-adopter or need it for aesthetics, I wouldn’t recommend them.
The main issue is that there isn’t any popular aftermarket TPMS kit that includes this style of sensor. And mounting it internally is a much larger commitment than screwing on an air cap. If you receive a dud, you’ll have spent a lot of wasted time and money removing and reinstalling tires.
The other disadvantage is that since the sensor comes with their own specific tire stem valves, you can’t choose for yourself. That means no right-angle tires valves, no replacements if it breaks and possible compatibility issues.
Nonetheless, the biggest problem is potentially battery life. Changing the battery on an external TPMS sensor is easy – when your sensor is trapped inside your rim that’s no longer the case. Plus, in many kits the battery is non-replaceable, forcing you to get a new sensor (God knows who’d sell it) whenever the battery dies.
All in all, I’m sympathetic to the idea of internal air sensors for Schrader TPMS kits, but the current aftermarket isn’t there yet.
If you’re curious about getting automatic tire pressure sensors for your bike, hopefully now you’re informed enough to make an educated decision. I’ll update this post if I find anything better, but currently this is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System Kit I use on my bike. It may not be perfect, but its cheap, it works and its easy to use – That’s all I ask for.
Thanks for reading! I hope you found it useful. And if you’ve tried a tire pressure checker you like more, definitely leave a comment below. I’d like to hear about it. Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed this content, consider subscribing for similar guides in the future. On the other hand, if you want something to look at right now, check out the links below for some recent posts you might be interested in: