Having a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) eliminates the need for regular checks with a manual gauge.
By giving the rider real time feedback on the tyre’s current pressure, these systems help you avoid accidents, uneven tyre wear and poor fuel economy.
If you’re forgetful, consider getting one.
Best Motorcycle Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
Michelin Fit2Go TPMS
An excellent solution for anyone trying to keep visual impact from accessories to a minimum. Some of us are in this camp – unwilling to mount even our smartphones on the handlebars, nevermind a host of other displays.
The unit is tiny – a little larger than the face of a wristwatch.
It’s not really intended to be read or operated in motion. Instead, it flashes when it detects any unusual activity in your tyres – “as brightly as a mobile phone torch “ according to the manufacturer’s slightly odd copy.
We can confirm that it’s bright enough to see flashing even in daylight.
It uses a proprietary pairing system that’s been used successfully in four-wheeled applications for several years now. We like that installation and setup can be done in seconds, and in the unlikely event of problems customer support is first rate.
Our favourite part is the (up to) 3 month battery life from a single USB charge. Fit2Go indeed.
- Excellent battery life
- As safe as the most expensive options
- Limited display
Bike It Pressure Valve Cap
An affordable and elegant option from Bike It.
It’s a valve cap solution. But, rather than pairing to your phone or a display for feedback – these give a reading on the tyre.
The valve caps display two colours – green when the pressure is correct and red when it drops below the minimum rating. Four versions are available in different psi ratings. Make sure to buy the one that’s rated for the same psi range as your bike.
This doesn’t have the same level of accuracy or real time monitoring of the others on our list, but it’s a fraction of the price.
The big drawbacks are: no display and no alarm system. More advanced (and expensive) solutions can potentially warn you of an impending blow out or slow puncture. This makes them ultimately safer. Still, Bike It’s Pressure Valve Caps are a lot better than no TPMS solution.
- Reliable and durable
- Way better than no TPMS
- No real time monitoring or alerts
Garmin Tyre Pressure Monitor Sensor
Garmin’s TPMS is a big initial investment. Two units and a proprietary Zumo display device will set you back quite a bit.
But credit where it’s due – this is an excellent high-end TPMS solution from a tried-and-true manufacturer. It’s a valve cap type set, replacing your bike’s original dust caps.
This is a full-featured system with custom thresholds, instant data transfer, real time alerts and a longer-term monitoring system that can detect slow punctures before they become a bigger problem.
We like the sleep function. It shuts the unit down when stationary and wakes it back up when in motion. This helps extend the battery life – potentially up to 18 months.
- Premium TPMS solution
- Sleep function and battery life
- Garmin’s reputation and customer support
FOBO Bluetooth TPMS
An easy-to-fit, valve cap and app solution for iOS/Android. These can get convoluted and cluttered with too many in-app options, but this one keeps the user interface fairly simple. Custom thresholds, alarms and other advanced features are accessible too.
One great feature here is that it really does offer 24/7 monitoring. You’ll get an alert on your phone any time the pressure in your tyres drop (can be switched off).
We think we’d rather know about a puncture when it happens than when we’re already in a rush to be somewhere.
- Easy to fit and pair
- 24/7 pressure monitoring
- Optional advanced features
What we need to consider before shelling out for a tyre pressure monitoring system.
What Is TPMS?
TPMS stands for “tyre pressure monitoring system”. Most contemporary cars already include a system like this. In some countries, this is a legal requirement for all motor vehicles.
Newer, higher-end bikes will have some TPMS built-in. But if you’re riding something more basic, vintage or just older – you may have to look into an aftermarket solution
Why Should I Get One?
The primary function of these systems is safety, but incorrectly inflated tyres also have a negative affect on your fuel economy and cause uneven tyre wear negatively affecting tyre tread depth.
The products on our list range from high-tech Bluetooth solutions with digital displays to simple mechanical devices with colour-coded indicators.
In reality, checking with a tyre pressure gauge before riding is almost as effective but a TPMS makes the process much simpler and means it’s less likely that you’ll forget to check your pressure.
Types of Monitor
External sensor TPMS mount on the outside of the tyre and wheel assembly. These systems most commonly come in the form of valve caps which thread onto your valve stem, replacing the original dust caps.
External sensors are more common as they’re cheaper and easier to fit. But because they’re fitted to the outside of the tyre (not the area that’s supposed to be pressurised), they aren’t as accurate as internal sensors. They’re also more likely to be stolen/knocked off.
Internal TPMS are fitted inside the tyre wall. While this is the only way to 100% guarantee the accuracy of pressure readings, it’s also much more difficult and expensive to install (you need to remove both wheels and tyres!).
These systems are less common as aftermarket solutions, but are often the type fitted OEM in the factory.
These systems are whatever the manufacturer chose to install on your particular bike in that particular year. Some companies use an external, valve cap style system, while others opt for internal sensor systems.
Whatever is installed from the factory is probably well-tested, (maybe) under warranty and best repaired by someone who knows what they’re about.
Some TPMS require a display to be mounted around your instrument cluster to let you know when there’s a problem. Because they only need to display a minimal amount of information, TPMS monitors are usually pretty small and can be discreetly mounted somewhere on the bars.
If the aesthetics of this bother you, choose a system that pairs to your smartphone or a mechanical system that displays issues directly on the valve cap.
The apps that support Bluetooth TPMS on smartphones are fairly intuitive. Advanced features include the ability to manually set thresholds for tyre pressure and set alarms with varying degrees of noise/vibration/light.
This means a slow puncture warning will take on a different form than an impending blow out etc.
Thankfully, there isn’t a huge amount of complexity here, so pairing and using all these systems isn’t a hassle. Default settings work best for 99% of commuters out of the box.
With both internal and external TPMS, the sensors that transmit data are mounted in and around the valve. Because of where they mount, TPMS can only be mounted to metal stemmed valves.
With many external TPMS, the valve cap is the system – it takes and transmits a pressure reading to a display or smartphone
Internal TPMS are mounted underneath the valve stem on the inside of the tyre. These systems last as long as the battery that powers them (usually 3-7 years). This is also about the average life of a motorcycle tyre, and both are intended to be changed at the same time.
This auto-off feature detects when the bike is stationary and turns the unit to sleep mode, extending battery life. It detects when the bike begins moving again and starts to transmit pressure readings.
All of the battery-powered units on our list feature replaceable, single batteries.
This is an essential feature and thankfully is not an issue with these products. If there were problems reported with any of the units on our list – we’d tell you.
Adventure, touring and motocross riders all but seek out wet weather, and in the UK even commuters need to be prepared for torrential rain.
Key takeaway here – any TPMS solution is better than none. Even the cheapest solution on our list is a big upgrade on getting the dust caps off and a gauge out regularly.