If you are precious about your motorcycle tyre pressures, you should carry an accurate portable pressure gauge as many service station air hoses are damaged or inaccurate.
That’s because they are often abused by motorists.
Modern flexible air hoses with the digital pressure display on a separate fixed post are more accurate and less likely to be abused and damaged.
Service stations are not obliged to provide the free service and some have chosen to withdraw the service because of vandalism and accidental breakage.
An RACQ survey found almost 10% of servos had malfunctioning air hoses.
Since many don’t even bother to refill the paper dispensers at the pump or wash down diesel spills on the forecourt, it is a tough call to expect them to also fix broken air hoses.
I surveyed several service stations in my area and found the indicated tyre pressures on air hoses varied as much as 3psi/20kpa. That might not seem like a lot, but it can affect handling.
Accurate pressure check
After inflating my tyres to the pressure indicated on the servo’s air hose, I usually check the reading against a simple pencil-style pressure gauge I received free as an RACQ member.
It has the pound-force per square inch (psi) reading on two sides of the stem that juts out and kilopascals (kpa) on the other two sides.
It’s not the most accurate gauge, but it’s often better than the servo air hoses.
They are cheap at just a few dollars and only the size of a pen, so you can carry one in your jacket pocket.
You can also buy small digital tyre pressure gauges, but remember you only get what you pay for. We’ve used some el-cheapo units which are useless.
Buy a well-known and trusted brand name, like Oxford, and be prepared to pay $30 or more.
The most accurate I have used is this Rocky Creek Designs gauge which is an analogue dial on a flexible hose. It’s easy to read and shows highly accurate and detailed readings, but it’s a bit bulky to carry around on a motorbike.
If you don’t trust the service station pumps, you can buy an air compressor and do it yourself.
Air compressors that plug into your mains power supply are bulky, but handy for blowing up the kids’ jumping castle, air mattresses, etc.
If you want something small and portable to take with you on your next motorcycle adventure there are many 12V models available.