Garage Farkles we love, Air Compressors for Motorcyclists
by Mark DT
Spring has arrived. Many of you living in places that get real winter weather are no doubt itching to DE-winterize your motorcycle. If the motorcycle has been put to bed properly in the fall this should be a fairly easy job. First ensure that your battery is fully charged. Second make sure that your tires are properly inflated. Doing this at home means having an air compressor handy. Owning an air compressor for keeping my motorcycle tires’ pressures perfect is something I would never do without. However, I wasn’t always this way.
Check your motorcycle owners manual and it will no doubt give you very specific tire pressure settings to use to ensure your ride performs its best. Even being a few pounds per square inch above or below the manufacturer’s settings can be inviting trouble, especially on higher performance motorcycles. However, all manufacturers’ suggested motorcycle tire pressures are given based on a cold tire. If you are checking your tire pressure at the local gas station, you may be under inflating your tires by several pounds per square inch depending on how far the ride is from your home to the nearest suitable gas station.
Being a cheap and thrifty motorcyclist, I’m not too embarrassed to admit that the day my local gas station started charging $1.00 per use for their tire inflation hose, was the day that I started shopping for an air compressor. This gas station was only a mile from my house, and even though I knew it was less than ideal, I couldn’t pass up getting my air for free. After my local gas station started to charge me for air on top of the ridiculous amount of money I spent on petrol I thought enough is enough. The silver lining to my gas station’s greed was that I got off my butt and properly equipped my garage. Even better news, I was able to do so for under $75.00.
I am fairly obsessive about checking my tires. I will check the pressures several times each week throughout my riding season of March until November. I have two motorcycles, plus two cars that sadly don’t get the same obsessive attention. Even so, I could see it wouldn’t take long to recover the cost of a basic air compressor at $1 per top up with several vehicles in our home.
Having had an air compressor now in the house for the last five years I can say sincerely that it was worth every penny. I bought a unit with a 3 gallon tank and all the attachments so I could use it for more than just servicing motorcycle tires. (Bicycles, footballs, air tools, etc.)
Now five years forward, what would I recommend to riders that want to be able to service their tires at home when they are cold as opposed to having them warmed up after riding to the local gas station? If space is not an issue my first choice would be to get a small 3 gallon tank air compressor that runs on AC voltage and keep it in the garage. The footprint of my current compressor is around the same as stacking three shoe boxes on top of each other, so even in a small single car garage storage is not an issue.
If space is an issue, you live in an apartment and or you don’t have AC power where you work on your bike; you may want to consider buying a portable device that can be powered off your motorcycle battery. A good value option for a portable DC air compressor is the Stop & Go Mini-Compressor. At only 4” by 6” by 2” in size, it may even fit below your seat, but will easily fit in most tankbags, topcases, or panniers. These DC tank-less units are not as fast to inflate tires as the AC air compressors, and because they draw off your motorcycles battery they do require extra attention when being used. However for extended road trips, apartment dwellers without much storage space, etc, they are a viable option to be self sufficient and take care of your motorcycles tires.
Remember that having a good quality air pressure gauge to check your tire pressures is very important. You can only be as precise as what this gauge tells you. Also, if you are lazy like me, consider just writing on the inside wall of your garage with a permanent marker your recommended tire pressures from the manufacturer. This will save you having to check the manual or sticker each time thereafter. If you have more than one bike make sure to list them all.
The following products are the best deals I could find that I would use to replace the current tools in my garage. They are excellent quality and very well priced from well regarded e-vendors (Amazon, Dennis Kirk and Chaparral Motorsports’ online stores). To check other vendors prices click here.