Tag Archives: tyres of interest

Tested: Michelin TPMS review

Updated Summer 2020

After problems with the original 2019 kits (explained below), Fit2Go updated their TPMS software for 2020. They also redesigned the magnetic mounting following negative reviews on amazon. In 4000 miles of riding on and off road, the magnetic fitting wasn’t a problem for me.
I tried the seemingly identical Mk2 version in March 2020. See pros and cons, below

michelin-tpms

Tested: Michelin TPMS (tyre pressure management system)

Where: Spain and Morocco 2019 and again in 2020

Cost: £80 (kits suppled free by Michelin for review)

Weight: Negligible

In a line: Once you discover TPMS there’s no going back. (More here)


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What they say
Introducing our first tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) for motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and all two-wheel modes of transport – bringing new levels of safety to riders for whom tyre condition is paramount.
MICHELIN TPMS – Bike detects a tyre in distress through loss of pressure, fast leakage or an increase in temperature – often the sign of an impending blowout. Its compact display flashes as brightly as a mobile phone torch if it detects an issue, plus identifies whether it is the front or rear tyre affected.
Our patented solution can be fitted in less than two minutes, bringing the same direct TPMS technology already proven in the passenger car and van markets to two-wheels for the first time.

This wireless system needs no programming and features a compact LCD screen which fits into a magnetic mount placed on a prominent part of the bike. The fully sealed and buttonless device can be quickly removed for security and is small enough to fit in a pocket. The display offers a battery life of up to three months, with the USB-powered inductive charger making it simple to top-up.
Once fitted, the unit displays the pressure of both tyres, in either psi or bar, toggling between the front and rear at set intervals.
Riders will see a low-pressure warning if a tyre becomes under-inflated by 15%, an enhanced alert when the pressure either drops by 25%, or if over-inflated by 35% or more. There are also alerts for high tyre temperatures or fast leakage (at least 2 psi per minute).

What I think:

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• Real-time tyre pressure data at last
• USB rechargeable – should last a couple of months
• No hard-wiring so fits in a couple of minutes
• Magnetic retaining dish secure off road
• Reads bar or psi
• Rated up to 7.5 bar (100psi+)
• Various warning displays
• Mk2 2020 kit paired up fast and worked seamlessly

cros

• In 2019 original and replacement units played up after a few days (see below)
• Doesn’t live-read from a static start (e.g.: overnight). Wheels need to turn first
• Expensive at £80, but there are both less elegant kits and pricier kits out there
• Green/yellow on black background hard to read unless under your nose
• Valve-cap lock-nuts complicate tool-free topping up
• On the 2020 version the F&R display interval was too slow for a quick glance.

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Review
There are some metrics I like to know while riding: speed, engine temperature, speed, fuel level are the obvious ones.
Now wireless technology has enabled inexpensive TPMS kits to display live tyre pressure readings, too. This is something that’s really useful to.

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I only realised how much I missed my Michelin TPMS kits once they both packed up mysteriously after a few days in Morocco.
A few days later I hit Tubliss tyre troubles in the middle of the desert. Luckily I wasn’t alone, there was a road 25kms back, and I was able to ride the flat slowly for hours to the coast and fit an inner tube. But being forewarned of low pressures or other tyre anomalies is what TPMS is all about.
I headed back north and a day or two later the tube slow punctured, then went suddenly after a dirt road short-cut pushed it over the edge. This time I couldn’t ride the collapsed tyre ten feet. Cue more laborious roadside repairs. This is why we like tubeless.
Because you never, ever get just a single puncture, I’d wisely bought a spare tube and was back on the road in 40 sweaty minutes. But especially with a slow puncture, with a TPMS I’d have been aware of it much earlier.

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Michelin TPMSThe Michelin kit is made by Fit2Go TPMS, an official global licensee of Michelin. It is composed of two over-sized valve caps marked F and R. You screw them on finger tight to the appropriate wheel and lock them off with a valve stem nut (yellow tool and nuts supplied; left). The round display module sits in a stick-on magnetic dish fitted wherever suits your eyeline and an appropriate surface. Putting the module in the dish activates the display: usually battery level (said to last for 3 months) plus front and rear pressures which flash up alternatively every few seconds. You may not get a pressure reading until the wheels are turning. There are no buttons or switches; place the module in and out of the dish three times and the display changes between bar and psi, though it may take a few minutes to read.

Playing up
The first kit I had was fully charged by me, but on fitting in Spain took many hours of riding to pair up and show pressure readings. That would be inconvenient if you regularly removed the module to save it getting pinched. Once things worked, I left it in place. (As I was only out for a month, I’d not brought the USB recharge dish.) Fitted flat like a plate on a table, it didn’t budge on rough tracks but was hard to read at a glance; at an angle like the bike’s clocks would be better and probably still secure. Or there’s always the tank bag. I’d also find black digits on a light background easier to read – like my Trail Tech temperature gauge, below right. Ten days in, after briefly removing it, the module went blank.
A replacement kit was brought out to Morocco, appeared to show a nearly full charge, and this time paired up in seconds and flipped to psi with no bother. But it also went blank after just five days. Neither unit was more than half discharged. I decided to put the original unit into the USB recharging dish from the replacement kit on the off chance, and it responded by charging from ¾ full (as it had been when it went blank). After just half an hour it was fully charged. Back on the bike it showed pressures in the original bar, and on changing to my preferred psi, displayed that too after about 20 minutes of being blank.
This suggests the display modules might discharge in a few days rather than three months, but while still indicating they’re more than half charged. Popping it in the recharge dish revives it, but it can be slow to pair up. This discourages you from removing it, if it indeed discharges when immobile. The blurb doesn’t advise removing it when not riding, but if it does discharge unused, it’s not reflected in the battery level status display.

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Especially when travelling in the AMZ where – as I found – tyre troubles can leave you up the creek, knowing the state of your tyre pressures is less a convenience and more an important safety measure. Now, when I could swear I have a puncture, I glance at the TPMS and relax; it’s just the road surface and my paranoia. Very reassuring. Best of all, the easily fitted and recharged Michelin TPMS kit now makes maintaining your tyres at optimal levels a whole lot easier.
But because my two kits seem to play up, I’d wait a bit before buying one. They sort of work, but not as they should. I sent both kits back to Fit2Go for analysis and will update this review with any news.

Updated kit – 2020

Fit2Go sent me their revised kit which I used on my Africa Twin ride in Morocco in March 2020. The kit was welcome as again, I’d DIY converted my rear tyre to tubeless and so wanted to keep tabs on pressures. (The wheel lost 20% over a few days – fixed by adding Slime).
The kit looks identical but no problems at all this time. Without making an angle bracket, I couldn’t find a secure and legible position on my AT (red arrows, left inset below) so put the display and dish inside the clear lid of my tank bag (below right). The opaque vinyl made it hard to read easily but there was no danger of it falling off. Had that ride not ended prematurely I’d have worked out some legible-angle bracket in the cockpit or stuck the dish on top of the tank bag.

The only complaint is that the display intervals seem slower than before: 10 seconds on Front then 10 on the Rear. It means you need several glances to ascertain both pressures, whereas a higher flip-count might mean you catch both in one glance. I still think the display could be brighter, too. Other than that and the high price (which may be dropping soon), all good.

Adventurising the RE Himalayan

Himalayan Index Page
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For what you pay and compared to vaguely similar bikes, Royal Enfield’s 2018 BS4 Himalayan comes very well equipped: centre stand; small tail rack plus tank sideracks; small screen; 15-litre tank giving a 400-km range; a small bashplate plus suspension that need not be instantly written off.
Most of those items won’t need improving, but when did that ever stop anyone? Below, I throw out some ideas to help turn the Himalayan into a functional overlander. As with all my project bikes dating right back to the XT500 of 1982, I like to experiment with new stuff and new ways of doing things, much like Enfield’s Himalayan itself.
It’s all part of the adventure and if nothing else, it’s good for the book.

MT60

Wheels & Tyres
Out of the showroom REH’s come shod with Brazilian Pirelli MT60s (right; mine stamped ‘2012’…). The spoked rims are steel: 21 front, 17 on the back. The Pirellis would have been OK for a regular Moroccan ride, but because I’ll be heading into the sands this time, tread becomes a little more critical. Below, some tyres of interestMotoz Tractionator Adventure; Anlas Capra X and Michelin Anakee Wild.

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One thing I’ve quickly discovered is that none of the above tyres come in the stock 120/90 17 size. The only similar tyre I know of is Mitas’ E-09 which I tried on the XR400 in Algeria; a great desert tyre. Generally 17s tend to be low profile tyres suited to bigger, more powerful machines, and 18s are for traditional dirt bikes with taller profiles giving more ‘suspension’ or ‘footprint’ at low pressures. The above trio come no smaller than 130/80 17. There’s probably only a few mil in it, but if possible I’d rather not go overboard with a ‘bigger-must-be-better’ rear tyre. Too much tyre will make the Him even more sluggish.
Swingarm space with the stock MT60s (left) shows plenty of room to the sides but about an inch at the front so for a replacement, actual dimensions may matter. The MT60 is 122mm wide and currently 93mm high from the edge of the rim. The swingarm gap will increase a little as the tyre wears and the chain stretches. Ratio-wise, 120 x 90% technically = 108mm tyre height, while 130 x 80% = only 104mm, so a 130 ought to have a lower profile or height. So even a 10mm wider 130/80 17 tyre will easily fit the Himalayan. Interestingly, an Anakee Wild 130/80-17 M/C 65R TL weighs nearly 50% more than a Wild in 120/80-18 M/C 62S TT (5kg). An  Anlas CapraX 130/80 B17 weighs 6.1kg. Motoz don’t know yet.
Fitting an 18-inch rim would greatly expand tyre choice at the slim 120/90-ish end. But with half an inch more radius in the rim, taller 18s could become a squeeze against the front of the swingarm unless a chain link is added to move the wheel back a bit.
An additional incentive to move to an 18 is a chance to replace the stock steel rim with an alloy rim which will be a bit lighter. Suspension and steering, as well as acceleration/braking all react more readily if the unsprung weight red, below – is kept to a minimum.

I read on the inter net that the effects of unsprung weight includes the rotational mass of the gyroscoping wheel, plus – at non-rallying speeds – the less critical up-and-down mass the suspension has to control (image below). Additional unsprung weight takes more power to turn that mass, more brakes to slow it and better suspension to control it. This mass can be reduced by considering tyre weight, not just the size, tread and price, going tubeless (eliminating heavy-duty inner tubes), as well as lighter rims, chain, rear sprocket materials; forks/swing arms and braking components. I’ve always thought this is a much overlooked area of weight saving on bikes, where changing a pipe is often used as an excuse to save weight. I remember the alloy front wheel on my XT660Z weighed a ton, partly because of the OTT twin discs when one good disc was all that was needed. Cheap stuff can be heavy, even in alloy.
The image below illustrates how much greater the reaction forces are with heavier wheels. Put another way, it’s why your trainers weigh only 320g. ‘Add lightness’ as the old racing adage goes.

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tubliss-section

And if I’m messing about with rims it would be a shame not to go tubeless, for all the usual reasons. See the link, but basically it’s: DIY mastic as on my 660 Tenere, Outex tape (~£70, never tried), BARTubeless (~£320, as on the 500X RR) and Tubliss (~£180 a pair; as on my GS500R), or a suitable rim (rare/expensive).
If I go to an 18 I’m thinking of giving the 2nd generation Tubliss (right) another go as it’s an easy and inexpensive fit, but they only come in 21, 19 and 18 inch, not 17. Along with greater tyre choice and lighter alloy, that’s a third reason to convert the rear to an 18 inch rim.

Is this all going a bit far with a humble Himalayan, or making the most of its potential? Will I or the bike notice the difference of a lighter wheelset, once all the other junk is added? Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to get a solid riding impression of the stock bike before setting off.

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Load Carrying
One of the REH’s distinctive features are the tank racks which some mistake for tank protectors. They’ll do that too but to me they’re clearly a handy place to lash items or bags. The previous owner had a similar set-up using Kriega drypacks and helpfully wrapped the Royal Enfield badge in string to stop it getting worn away.

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Lomobags

Kriega is one way of doing it, so is Lomo who’ve sent me a pair of their PVC roll-top crash bar dry bags to try (£39 pair). At around 6 litres each they look ideally suited to the racks. I plan to mount them semi-permanently and will use Lomo’s same-sized orange ultralight dry bags (£3) to lift everything out easily when lodging. In the US the more boxy, 3L Rigg fender bags (right) look like a neat fit too.

Then, once I zip on my Giant Loop tank bag, most of my daytime needs will be in view and at arm’s reach, meaning what’s behind can be left strapped in place. It may even mean I can do without a daypack on my back, plus the crash bags will keep the wind and rain off my creaking knees.

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For the back an Enfield pannier rack is has just turned from India for under 80 quid. Looks like a hefty set up – it weighs over 5kg. You’ll find them sold on ebay, or at twice the price from UK sellers. I’ve not decided what bags I’ll use on the side. At the simplest I can just lash on a couple of rugged PVC dry bags, as I did with the Rally Raid 500X a couple of years back.

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And right at the back the narrow tail rack has taken my long-suffering Touratech tail bag – one of my all-time travel luggage favourites.
Having all these bags spread around the bike is handy for access, compartmentalisation and weight distribution but at, quite literally, the end of a day, it does mean more faffing about to get it all indoors when the parking is less than secure.

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Comfort: handlebars; screen; saddle
The bike came with Oxford heated grips – luvlay juvlay. My old Barkbuster Storms will also get their nth outing on an AMW project bike, but it looks like they’ll require BTC 06 curved adaptor clamps (right) to get under the brake lines and so on (they didn’t fit).

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Talking of which, with this ABS model (brake line goes under tank to the pump, not straight down to the wheel) I’m not sure there’s enough slack to get much more than an inch of lift on the bars, which means my 50mm Rox Risers may have to sit this one out (they didn’t). Non-ABS Hims ought not have this problem. As it is the stoop for me isn’t too bad and the general position is of course much better than the XSR. I only tend to stand when I must, but that’s partly because I rarely ride a bike where prolonged standing off road is comfortable. One way to dodge the stoop is to lower my height by removing footpeg rubbers. Wearing very thin socks also helps. Fyi: ABS switch hack.

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The screen is better than nothing and has a tiny bit of fore and aft adjustment. It’ll be all that’s needed off-road; less so for a long cross-country ride. You can get those clip-  or bolt-on deflectors like the adjustable MRA Xcreen (below right) which I had on a recent Tiger (we don’t talk about that bike) and which worked well for what it was. Or Hitchcocks Enfield specialists do a taller version, but only by 60cm. Changing a fixed screen is a gamble while others have found chopping it right down greatly reduces buffeting. Much depends on your helmet, height and attitude to discomfort. You’ll never get it right all the time and it’s all part of the biking experience, so unless you know what works for you, by far the best screen is something adjustable like the Xcreen or the Palmer I had on the CB-X.

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It doesn’t feel like the seat will sustain my post Xmas mass, sprung or otherwise, for more than an hour or two. Nothing new there.
I’m getting a mesh Cool Cover to test. One good thing with fitted covers like this, as opposed to airbag seat bags, is that you can securely stuff added padding underneath without having to do a reupholstery job. I’ve got an old Aerostich lambs wool seatpad (right) which used alone may have had it’s day, but under the Cool Cover may add a bit more cushioning.
One good thing on the REH is the two-part seat; it makes any foam-hacking job a bit less terminal. On the right: an excerpt of AMH7 – looks like doing a good DIY job gets complicated. Here’s a nice Seat Concepts job from the US.

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Suspension
I’ve often wondered how much more it costs in time and money to make stock suspension which works out of the crate. There must be no shortage of data and algorithms, so maybe it’s the time in fine tuning an individual model where the costs pile up. We’re so used to regular bikes coming with great engines which can sing and dance in four time zones, but have adequate suspension which presumably is expected to work for most riders at moderate speeds. Crank up the speed or reduce the surface quality and composure soon slips away as suspension travel gets eaten up, as I found on my CB500X and XSR700. But on my BMW XCountry I discovered what decent suspension actually meant: not that obvious on road, but a whole new world of control as dirt turns gnarly. Problem is that’ll be no change from €1000 and trip to Holland, please.

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hypershock

Many reviews say the Himalayan’s suspension is pretty good for what it is, which is all the more surprising when you look at the seemingly spring-bound stock shock on the right. I read it’s not trying to be progressive but a dual rate spring and in fact there is a 2mm gap between the closely set coils.
Currently the only outfits offering shocks are Hyperpro (right; €500) and YSS (above left; made in Thailand). Unusually, both come with rebound damping but the YSS also has adjustable height and was just £270 from Wemoto on special. For that price it’ll be worth a shot and the option of dialling in a bit of extra height will be handy. As it is, the bike tends to sit a little too upright on the sidestand and adding a sandfoot won’t help. And also if I do go for an 18-inch rim where the tyre range is taller, a bit more space will be handy

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For the fork YSS also make a kit (above left) costing not much less than the shock. It includes valve emulators (available separately for around £80), something I’ve read of but never tried. For the moment there’s nothing to be lost by starting with some Chinese ebay fork pre-loaders (£10; left; as tried on the XSR). After that I may move up to a firmer K-Tech spring if they’ll make me one. Firmer springs may be enough to bring the front end back up if an 18-inch rear rim is fitted.

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Ancillaries
I’ll hard wire the trusty Montana in and fit a RAM mount on the bars. I’ll also add a PTO for the Powerlet heated vest and type pump. The claimed 220w alternator output is nothing special, but some wattage has been freed up with dinky LED indicators and there’s a spare LED headlamp which came with the bike. Otherwise I plan to add a switch so the lights aren’t on 24/7. There are times when you don’t want to be seen too easily.
Last but not least, the Trail Tech engine temperature gauge from last year’s XR will get wired on to some very hot part of the Enfield’s engine. With an oil and air-cooled motor, even a low output one like the REH, it’s all the more important know how hot things are getting down in the engine room.

Himalayan Index Page