It’s the age-old of question of topping off the air pressure of tires conveniently at home. Yes you can always go to a gas station or convenience store to do it but everything always lists “psi cold” and the tires heat while driving or riding. I do have a Slime air compressor that works off a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug. It’s small and gets the job done but it’s seems noisy too. To do the motorcycle tires I have to get each motorcycle tire over close enough to the car to use the compressor within reach of the cord and the cigarette lighter in the car. I started looking for a compressor that I could plug into a wall outlet. I didn’t need anything with an air tank that could power a nailer or other air tool. I just needed a light duty air compressor to top off tires.
I found a Kobalt 120 PSI electric air compressor at Lowe’s. It’s a handy little unit and retails for $49.98. It runs on 120 volt AC current or 12 volts DC using the cigarette lighter plug. The compressor has a digital tire gauge on it for checking tire pressures and has accessories for inflating sports equipment and air mattresses. It also has grommets on the front to hold your valve stem caps. One of the best features is that you can set the pressure you want in the tire, turn the compressor on and it will turn itself off when it reaches the pre-set pressure. No more guessing, checking, pumping and checking. The air hose and 120 volt cord wrap around the unit and the 12 volt cord is stored in the compressor. There’s also a compartment for spare valve stem caps, sports needles and air mattress/toy nozzles. The 12 volt cord is more than ample to reach all four tires on a vehicle but the 120 volt cord is only 21 inches long. I’ve checked the pressure against both an Accu-Gage dial pressure gauge and a BMW digital tire pressure gauge and it hasn’t been more than one half pound off. I think it’ll be a handy tool in the garage. Now I can leave the motorcycle right where it is and top off the pressure in the tires if needed.
In the video below I let 3 pounds of air from the back tire and then set the compressor at 48 PSI. It stops when it reaches 48.
Pros of the compressor:
Cons of the compressor:
- 120 volt household cord is way too short and requires an extension cord.
- After 10 minutes of continuous use it should be allowed to cool for 10 minutes.
No you won’t be able to completely fill and set a bead on a tire with this little gem but it’s great for everyday use in maintaining tire pressures.
Two things always bring up debate between motorcyclists and they are tires and oil.
It was time for a new rear tire on the Magic Carpet. My tire of choice for it is the Bridgestone BT020 Battleax (with the proper load rating of 79V for the K1200LT). So once again it was time to call Ken’s Motorcycle Tires in Woodstock, Georgia. I don’t even shop around anymore. Ken usually comes pretty close to meeting any online prices and with the mounting discount on tires purchased from him along with the great personal service, you can’t beat it. Here’s a prime example:
- I called Tuesday and ordered the tire (he normally doesn’t have tires in his small shop for a BMW K1200LT) and was quoted a price of $151.14 for the tire. Because the rear wheel is so easy to remove on the K1200LT I was going to bring just the wheel in and was quoted a price of $10.00 to mount the tire. Yes, $10.00. Mounting when bringing in the motorcycle is approximately $40.00. The tax and fees pushed it to a whopping $14.81.
- On Wednesday they called that the tire was in and to set my appointment to have it mounted.
- On Thursday morning I went and had the tire installed. It took all of less than 15 minutes!
- Just out of curiosity when I got home, I checked 2 online retailers who normally have good tire prices and they did, $164.00 at one and $153.00 at the other. This was for the same tire. Ken charges significantly more to mount tires that are not purchased from him.
We put 14,674 miles on the Bridgestone that was just replaced. I knew there were some miles left on it but with an upcoming trip I figured it better to replace the tire now when I could instead of when I had to. Ken said there was maybe “1,000 to 1,500 miles left on it” but agreed riding local is one thing and on a long trip is another. Our trip looks to be about 1,100 miles at minimum and that’s just to the destinations with no extra riding. I think it was a wise choice to change it now. I mean what if I put another 4oo miles on it before the trip. Maybe we’ll see about breaking in the new tire this weekend.
That’s right, the Magic Carpet got it’s new front tire today!
I had intended on using Ken’s Motorcycle Tires in Woodstock, GA but while they were closed on Monday, I checked some of the big online retailers and motorcycle shops. For a front Metzeler ME880 Marathon 120/70/B17 tire with a 58V rating for the BMW K1200LT I got prices ranging from $151.88 to $168.99 (prices in U.S. Dollars) and the low one added a $5 tire fee to that $151.88 price. I checked online to get an idea of what I’d be charged at Ken’s as his prices are usually just a few dollars above the online dealers but if I buy the tire somewhere else and bring it to him for mounting he charges more than if the tire were purchased there. So Wednesday I was shocked when I got a price of $144 from Ken’s for the tire! I ordered one up (he usually doesn’t stock the K1200LT tires).
This afternoon (Friday) Debby called from Ken’s to tell me my tire was in and to set up an appointment to have it mounted. Ken does installs on an appointment basis. “Can you come by at 3:30 this afternoon?” WOW! You bet I can! When I got there, I found the price of the tire was different. It was $143 instead of $144! Of course there was the mounting fee and the associated fees and taxes. My appointment was for 3:30 and by 3:55 I had my earplugs in and helmet on preparing to head for home!
It’s Ken’s 20th anniversary of being in business and he’s charging a flat $20 over cost on all tires to celebrate and thank customers. Thank you Ken!
And for the curious and Facebook oriented, Ken’s also has a Facebook page too.
The Magic Carpet’s front tire after yesterday’s ride. There’s no tread left on the right like there is on the left!
I knew we were getting close to needing a new front tire. But I didn’t think we were this close! Before we went on our ride yesterday I checked the tires like I always do. The front tire was getting close to the end of its life but the wear bars had yet to come to the surface and still had some tread above them. In fact, in a picture I took with the flash when I put the LED bulbs in the motolights, you could see the tread from a distance. That was only 8 days ago! Imagine my shock when I went to plug the battery tender in and noticed the front tire looking like it does in this picture. Not only had we made it to the wear bars on the one side but we went way past them on yesterday’s ride. I guess when you approach the end, it goes really quick. The tire in the picture has 17,157 miles on it and is a Metzeler ME880 Marathon that is rated for the BMW K1200LT. The Magic Carpet is grounded until it gets a new front tire.
Metzeler and Bridgestone are the only tires made that are rated for the K1200LT. I’ve heard Avon makes tires but since they’re softer (and stickier) they wear out quicker so I have no interest in them. I’ve used the Bridgestone BT020 Battleax on the front before but only got about 8,000 miles out of it. So it looks like I’ll be calling Ken’s Motorcycle Tires in Woodstock this week to check prices and order a tire. Ken usually comes pretty close to matching online tire prices but offers a significant savings when mounting tires purchased from him. In other words, if I buy the tire online and bring it to him he charges more to mount it. It seems fair enough to me. I’ll check prices on the Metzeler and the always lower in price Bridgestone and weigh the mileage differences against the balance in the checkbook. It can be a complicated mathematical formula.
This morning there was a post on bmwlt.com asking about Metzeler and Bridgestone tires looking for comparisons and opinions on mixing the two brands. I replied to the post trying to hit all the points the original poster asked about. Then I thought it would make a good blog post so here it is!
I’m currently running a Metzeler ME880 front and a Bridgestone BT020 rear and love it. (it’s my 2nd time with this combo).
I tried the BT020 front and it wore out way too quick, being shot at about 7,000 miles. Meanwhile my current front ME880 has 15,000 miles on it, yes 15,000 and has some good miles left. The cost comparison between the front Metzeler and Bridgestone in negligible so the Metzeler is the clear value here.
When I bought my first rear Bridgestone it was because of price. The Bridgestone was significantly lower in price than the Metzeler. From reading here, I knew the mileage would be less but not really that much less. I figured I could buy 3 Bridgestones for the eventual cost of 2 Metzelers and still have money left over. In between I did put a rear Metzeler on and was quite happy with it (the Magic Carpet had Metzelers on it when I bought it). That particular Metzeler needed to be replaced because of a road hazard damage and I just happened to replace it with a Bridgestone because Metzelers were backordered at the time. My current rear Bridgestone has about 10,000 miles on it and has plenty of good miles left. I had put 13,000 miles on a previous one and it was only replaced because of a previous puncture repair that had begun to leak.
I can not tell any difference in grip between the two when on dry roads. I had the bike “slip” on the rear once while fully loaded in a right turn at an intersection with the nearly new Metzeler. I was not on any of the painted lines. On tar snakes in the summer I do notice a difference. The front Metzeler sometimes feel like it’s on snow or ice when it hits them and I noticed the same with the rear. I don’t notice it as much with the rear Bridgestone.
I have noticed that the rear Metzeler looks like it gives more “rim to road” distance than the rear Bridgestone when both are new.
Most of my riding is two up and pressures are 42 and 46/48.
Well due to circumstances outside our control the tire installation had gotten delayed. I had taken the wheel off the motorcycle so I could take it to the shop to get the tire installed. I decided to check my rear brake pads while I was back there and found that I was in dire need of new brake pads. Because my regular tire shop was still closed due to an emergency I just went ahead and ordered a new tire and brake pads from Motorcycle Superstore. The damaged tire was a Metzeler ME 880 Marathon but I replaced it with a Bridgestone Battleax BT020. Granted the Metzeler will normally give you more miles while the Bridgestone is considered to be a sportier tire and better on wet roads but the Metzeler is now about $90.00 more than the Bridgestone! Yesterday I took the tire and wheel over to Ken’s Motorcycle Tires and had the wheel installed. This morning, I put the wheel back on and installed the new brakes pads. The Magic Carpet is ready to hit the road again!
The BMW K1200LT in unicycle mode.
After a ride last weekend I happened to notice a 5/8″ cut in the tread of the rear Metzeler tire of the motorcycle. We probably ran something over in the road. Yesterday I gently stuck a toothpick in the cut and parts of it were nearly 1/4″ deep. Since the cut was in the groove of the tread, I couldn’t tell if it had gone through the tire. The next thing I did was put rubber cement on the cut. Well I got my answer when bubbles started to appear. It looked like a slow leak and a pressure check this morning confirmed it.
So this morning I called the local tire shop I use, Ken’s Motorcycle Tires and found they were closed until next Tuesday because of an out-of-state family emergency. Better to replace the tire than risk a tire failure. Ken’s can pretty much match any internet motorcycle tire price within just a few dollars and the discount on installation of tires purchased from him more than makes up any difference in tire price. So I’ll wait until next Tuesday to order a tire from him. I began shopping around on the internet for tires and found that the Metzeler was now nearly $90.00 more than the Bridgestone BT020 Battleax for our motorcycle! The Metzeler is a harder tire and will normally last longer in miles, but the Bridgestone is a slightly softer tire and is sticks to the road better. I’ve had the Bridgestone before and loved it, having put nearly 14,000 miles on it before replacing it only because a previous puncture repair had started to leak. I can buy 3 Bridgestones with change leftover for the price of 2 Metzelers!
So, no riding until at least next week.
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Yesterday I had a Blue Knights meeting at Turner’s Corner Cafe in Cleveland, Georgia. After the meeting I led a couple of our members on a ride up Blood Mountain (US HWY 129) and then on Wolf Pen Gap RD (GA HWY 180). One of the roadside photographers took our picture going up Blood Mountain. We paid for the whole tire, why not use all of it?
I paid for the whole tire, why not use all of it?
Just over a month ago I replaced the rear tire on the K1200LT. Not so much because it was worn out, but a repair plug from a nail had begun to leak and I thought it wise to not do a second repair in the same spot. Well today it was the front tire’s turn. We’ll be going on trip along the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway next month and I knew the front tire didn’t have the life left to complete the trip safely. So now the Magic Carpet has Metzeler Marathons on the front and the rear. The good German ones and not the Brazilian ones. I like the rear Bridgestone Battleax, having put a lot of miles on it. But the front one didn’t last as long as I had hoped. But then again, softer tires means fewer miles.
The bike went back to Ken’s Motorcycle Tires in Woodstock for this one too. I really have to give Ken’s credit. I ordered the tire on Tuesday because they didn’t have one in stock. On Wednesday they called and said it was in and we set an appointment for Thursday afternoon to have it installed. You see, Ken’s works on an appointment basis. In only 20 minutes after getting there I had paid and was getting ready to leave with the new tire on the motorcycle! Oh, did I mention that he also inspects the brakes and anything else around the tire he’s working on?
This morning I dropped the wheel off at Ken’s Motorcycle Tires in Woodstock, GA to have the new Metzeler ME880 Marathon tire put on the back of the bike. Now just put it on and maybe put a few miles on it tomorrow. It’s good to have that tire on!