Motorcycle Tire Gremlins


No matter how much we talk about motorcycle tire pressure it probably still won’t be enough. How much is enough? Check your factory authorized service manual!

Tires and the air inside them should not be taken for granted. I bet most motorcyclists don’t take the time to check them as often as they should. They take them for granted! I’m not going to go through the advantages of having properly maintained tires or even the liabilities of not having them. It should be common sense! What I do want to point out is: there are gremlins waiting to steal from you so you need to check the air pressure on a regular basis and have an air compressor at home to adjust as needed.

Here are three different types of tire gremlins that have visited us lately to steal our precious air:

1. The Grime Gremlin! After having a new tubeless front tire installed on Diana’s Dyna Super Glide it didn’t seem to hold air well. I only knew this from checking the pressure on a regular basis. I was pretty sure the tire was good but didn’t trust taking it back to where I had the tire installed. I feared they would not be honest with me and would automatically charge me to install a new one. I found a trustworthy motorcycle mechanic by asking around. He sprayed the full diameter of the rim with soapy water demonstrating that air was leaking out around the tire bead! There was not an air tight seal due to tire grime that had built up on the rim. Considering this is only a three year old motorcycle, imagine the grime that could be on your wheels. It took a good amount of elbow grease to clean that rim and at the hourly rate of most mechanics and today’s work ethic I doubt anyone would have taken the time to do it until it became a problem.

2. The Stemlin Gremlin! I was checking the pressure on my brand new front tire and found it was just a little light again! This time I noticed the stem kept hissing. It sounded like an angry gremlin! or escaping air! I pressed it in and out a few times until it settled down and stopped making so much noise. I’ll have to have a professional adjust it.

3. The Puncture Gremlin! My back tire is not holding air well! Several pounds low again! While checking the pressure the answer staired back at me. It was a most evil looking industrial staple with two fangs of steel that had penetrated through the benevolent Dunlop. I had been screwed and nailed before by single toothed monsters like this, but never taken a double hit like this!

The only way to know if you are being robbed of this precious commodity we take for granted… is to stop taking it for granted! Check check check your “cold” air pressure at home before you hit the road. Have an air compressor handy to make the needed adjustments. I invested in a small travel size compressor I keep in my saddlebag and also a shop size one at home. After I got it I couldn’t believe I lived for so long without it. Remember the Martin Lawrence scene in Wild Hogs? Now I can adjust the tire pressure on our cars and truck too! Summer will be here soon and I’ll be able to blow up the inflatable swimming pool and accessories! Don’t take air or the ability to blow things up for granted!!!!

6 Responses to “Motorcycle Tire Gremlins”

  1. I ride a Goldwing and usually keep 2-3 psi more than recommended by Honda. This bike is a royal pain to check the rear pressure on so I am betting that many people don’t do it at all much less regularly. As for the front I can tell by a short ride down the street when it is more than a couple psi low. I live in a quiet area and always pretend I am running a slalom between my house and the first stop sign. Low pressure and the bike is sluggish and heavy in its responses as I weave down the street.
    Next thing to pay attention to is age, a close inspection the other day showed plenty of tread depth but deep age cracks down in the tread itself. Same thing on my son’s Yamaha. We will both be getting new tires even though we have lots of tread left.

  2. Good post. It serves as a reminder to be more diligent with my own tires.

    I think we all get lulled by the fact that our car tires are good for 60,000 miles or more and most newer cars (and trucks) have indicators that tell you when your tire pressure is low. Compare that to a 10,000 mile life of a motorcycle tire and the need to check it every couple of days and it’s easy to see why we become complacent.

  3. I try, I swear to god I try. I do really well, too, until a couple of months in, when checking the pressure on three machines seems, well, tedious after they haven’t changed in months. But it makes sense on so many levels, it’s good for tread life and mileage, but there is also a lot of risks involved with rolling squishy tires.

    Behind Bars

  4. i have the all important special pigtail and keep a small compressor in both bikes. with a plug kit, i can pretty much make it home or to a repair facility for a NEW tire. tires need to be checked cold-dead cold for proper pressure. a distance of less than a mile can give a false reading. warmer weather can can mean a release of pressure rather than having to add. don’t be fooled by claims of dry nitrogen being better. the air is 78% nitrogen, a couple more points toward total doesn’t do anything except lighten your wallet. find out what the tire manufacturer recommends. a smooth ride and less tire mileage may be offset with a better handling ride and higher tire mileage. jmho.

  5. I awoke today, took a shower, put on a pot of coffee and came to my computer to see if Glimmerman had paid me a visit. It put a smile on my face to find he did! I’m going to get those tire repair kits and travel size compressors and sell them at so that everyone can be prepared for a tire gremlin.

    Glad to hear from Goldwing Dave, Canajun and Brady too! Thanks a bunch for sharing your thoughts on tire gremelins! Don’t feed them after midnight or get them wet!

  6. well, i have a full moon ride coming up and it may well be after midnight. some of my most memorable rides have been very late under a full moon. always pack for the worst, then enjoy the best.

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