Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh Oh, where's that checklist again ?

When I awoke my bike from hibernation (something you don't have to worry about in warmer climes), I merely turn the key, wait for the fuel pump to stop its winning noise, pull in the clutch and push the starter motor. Then cross your fingers. In a few seconds it will come alive. At the end of each season I install the fuel stabilizer and plug in the battery tender, put on the bike cover and just wait for spring. During the past couple of weeks I have been riding it around including to and from work trying to use up all that old, fuel stabilized gas. In the previous post I refilled the tank with new, freshly brewed petrol and thought I was ready to roll with the new season.

Also this morning I broke one of my riding rules. When it is cold and there is a chance of frost on the roads I don't ride, however lately while it is freezing in the mornings the afternoons are very pleasant with temps in the low teens. I do my usual frost check before 7am when I leave for work. Frost on the carport, frost on the windshields of cars parked outside, and temps around 2C. My rule is NOT to ride unless the lows are at least 5C. I put on my riding outfit, started the bike and snaked my way out of the neighbourhood. The rear wheel didn't feel right. It felt like it was slipping. I pulled over, inspected the tires, pushed down on the frame of the bike and watched to see if the tires bulged. All looked well so I took the corners slower with less lean angle and proceeded to work with the assumption that the slippage was due to frost on the road.

After work I arrived home with the intention of checking my tire pressures.

(Actual Rear tire pressure)

Heavens to megatroid, even. The rear tire is supposed to be 2.5 Bar (36psi) and it was only registering 23psi (1.6 bar) after my long commute home, which means that it was actually less than 23psi when the tire was cold.

The front tire is supposed to be 2.25 bar (32 psi)cold but it was . . .

(actual front tire pressure)

It was registering 1.7 bar (25 psi) so it wasn't as low as the rear. I have an 8 gal Campbell Hausfeld air compressor but it is a chore to drag it out and hook up all the rubber hoses and get it into position.

Instead I used my new "toy"

(Craftsman portable self powered air compressor with digital gauge and auto stop feature)

I am sure a lot of us have numerous electrical tools that all take a different battery and charger. I got rid of all my units and went for this Craftsman system. All the components use the same 19.2 V battery. I have a few batteries which I cycle and I purchase the tools I need when I need it. So far I have the: drill, scroll saw, fluorescent Lantern, portable vacuum, reciprocating saw and this portable air compressor. All use the same battery which makes it very convenient.

This particular portable air compressor has its own digital gauge (built in)

(digital readout: PSI or BAR)

While I have other portable air compressors for my bikes, they do not have a built in power supply, you have to make a harness to connect to your battery to make them function. All of my bikes have a battery tender connector which can also be used as an external power source, or to power your electric vest.

Another neat feature of this compressor is that you can SET the PSI required, and lock the TRIGGER to the ON position. As soon as it reaches the pre-set PSI, it turns off itself.

(compressor "in action")

It is so easy to use. Just connect the schrader valve, set the PSI to the desired pressure, pull the trigger (or use auto lock feature). It will stop on its own when finished.

Just to double check, I used another pressure gauge to check the results

(rear= 35 psi)

(front = 32 psi)

While technically the pressures should be read when the tires are COLD, I am now in the ballpark and it will be an easy chore to recheck in the morning. As you only have 2 tires, don't do what I didn't do, make sure you check your tire pressures often. There, I feel safer already

(no larger than a drill, very portable and self powered)


  1. Now we are introduced to Canadian psi, which as I don't hang out much in bars is confusing. And fuel pumps whirring and electric vests and drills that pump air. My, you are a complicated lot eh? If my carburetted, formerly tach-less Bonneville told me it needed two and a half bars it would get spanked, promptly.

  2. Conch:
    Don't tell Jack about being spanked, I am sure it is something to which he aspires . . . (topless waitress, optional)

  3. Dear Bobskoot:

    Thank you for providing us with a great technical blog, which started out as a potential skid adventure, and went right into a tool recommendation. These are the kind of blogs bikers thirst for. Usually, they are offered by Redlegs Rides and in great deatil, at just the right intervals.

    It was a nice surprise to find this today. I intend to look at acquiring one of these drill compressors at my earliest convenience. I have an old pressure tank compressor that was used to clean cannons in the civil war. It too is a pain in the ass to drag out of its corner in the garage. But I also have an Airman Sparrow pump in the tail piece of my bike, that works off either of the two "Powerlet' outlets, which came standard from BMW in 1995.

    But I think this would be a neat thing to have in the garage, to replace my archaic wind machine, that takes 10 minutes to build up to 121 pounds.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  4. Hey Bob.

    I am in the process of replacing all my cordless tools with corded tools. I got bitten by them several years ago and the NiCads are not too long lived if you don't use them regularly. But I do like your new toy!!!! One day I might invest in Li-ions, but not anytime soon.

    BTW, I'm still around. Went on James's Deep cove ride a couple of weeks ago. There were pics posted too. Most likely will be at Bob's open house this weekend. (No, I did not get an electric bike. I still have my 50)

  5. So I was just wondering if this was the first time you even thought about the tire pressure. My reason being is that I would have thought that there would have been an issue on the earlier rides or was it just that the temp was low enough to make so much difference?

  6. Jack:
    Like yourself, I have one of those large 8gal compressors on wheels. It is stuffed in the carport. I cannot use an extension cord with 14ga wire, I need the Hvyduty 12 ga extension, or plug it directly into the 15amp circuit. It is hard to dig out cause the car is parked very close, and it is too heavy to lift, bla blah blah. So this little portable machine can go everywhere with it's own power. Not everyone has 12v outlet power on their bike. I also have those other portable compressors which must be plugged into 12v (in a prev blog entry).
    Thank you for stopping by

    I'm going the other way, getting rid of my 120 ac powered tools and going cordless. I was using my reciprical saw to cut some tree branches and reduce them down to size for the garbage bin. When they run out I have an excuse to go for a ride while the batteries recharge. If they were 120v tools, then I would never get a break

    I am very concious of my tire pressures. On my prev bike I installed those pressure sensors and only had to give them a quick glance everytime I fuelled up. I shutter to think that only last week I was going 120km on the HOV lane on the freeway. Tires felt solid, and by appearance they don't look low.
    Perhaps it was safer to have them a little lower in icy weather to leave more tread on the road, at least, that's what I am telling myself. I am sure that lots of KLR rides would often "pressure down" on some trails to obtain better traction, then "pressure up" when they return to normal paved roads

  7. Bob,

    This compressor looks like a nice toy for the toolbox...I like it

  8. Baron:
    It's actually a neat machine. I like the fact that it is self-contained with its own battery pack, and internal gauge and auto-shut off. Much easier to use than my 8gal compressor.

  9. Wow! Thanks for this intro to your new "toy." I want one; I shall get one! My BMW monitors the tire pressure but I still check it manually. Of course the two measures do not match and I'm inclined to go with the bike's monitor system. However, my Suzuki will love this. Great info!

  10. Sojourner Rides (Sharon):
    It was just a struggle to get my 8-gallon compressor connected and set up. When I saw this unit I knew I had to have one. I like the idea that it is self powered and very easy to use

  11. Where did you get the Craftsman Self Powered Compressor? I can't find it anywhere.


  12. Rodney:

    Sears Canada sells a line of rechargeable battery modular tools called "C3". The same battery will power various items such as: drill, scroller saw, reciprocating saw, neon flash light, vacuum cleaner, circular saw and in the set is available the portable air compressor. It is very handy not to fiddle around with my AC air compresser and hoses. When I get home from vacation I could email you the Sears part number.