With the relatively small contact patch a motorcycle has compared to a car (each tire, or tyre depending on where in the world you are, only has about a palm sized area in touch with the road) it’s saddened me that while automotive tire pressure monitor systems (TPMS) have become more sophisticated over the years - going from a single warning light on the dashboard to displays showing individual tire pressure and temperature in real time - motorbikes haven’t seen much in the way of similar advances.
Now, it is true that an experienced rider will know in their gut pretty quickly if something is “off”, and it’s not actually a difficult thing to quickly throw a gauge on the tire to check, but … it’s nice to have a backup, even if you are religious about manually checking regularly.
My new Harley Davidson Street Bob does have some nice technology on it, so I find it really surprising - especially with the digital dashboard - that there isn’t a built-in system, even as an optional (dealer fit) upgrade. They currently only seem to offer a TPMS for some of the top of the range CVO models. Many current bikes, and most of the older bikes still in use therefore lack this capability.
My requirements were pretty simple - something unobtrusive, low maintenance, reliable and what wouldn’t lock me into other technology purchases. There are some stand-alone systems (both with external sensors or internal ones, more like automotive applications) but they required mounting a dedicated display on the bike. Garmin do have a stem mounted solution but it only works with a couple of their Zumo GPS models, which didn’t help me as I use a different navigation solution.
For me, the ideal solution came in the form of the FOBO Bike 2 (or Trike 2 for 3-wheelers). This system has a small stem mounted sensor (about 2cm diameter, and 1cm tall - the size of a small stack of pennies) for each wheel and uses bluetooth to talk to your phone (iOS and Android) giving you a real-time update on pressure and temperature of your tires, and alerts (on the phone and a smartwatch if you have one) in the event of a slow or fast leak. I can even use it to check the temperature of my tires - and thus the garage - before I get out of bed, so I know what to wear!
By using my smartphone I don’t need any extra hardware, and it’s easy to keep the app updated as new features are released and the app is optimized.
While there are a couple of features I’d like to see added/improved (sharing data with the ‘dashboard’ app I use so I can display/alert within that app rather then rely on their overlay; improve battery consumption when the service is running but I’m not actually using the bike), and having it stem mounted means it’s exposed to the elements (but easy to change the battery) this is a great solution, and the service and support from the FOBO team has been great.