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Expand your at-home motorcycle maintenance with an air compressor

Added December 21, 2018
Air compressor gauge

Adding an air compressor to your motorcycle’s garage can be one of the best improvements you make to boost your maintenance capability. Even if you take your bike to a dealership or independent shop for major service, having the power of compressed air will help with whatever maintenance you’re doing yourself.

Correct cold tire pressure

Modern motorcycle tires are amazing. Each new version provides greater traction and longer service. Because tires are so critical to our rides, you need to take proper care of them to get the maximum benefit. The single most important thing you can do for your tires is to make sure they have the proper cold tire pressure before every ride. Tires heat up on the road, increasing air pressure. Even riding just a few miles from your garage to a gas station to check and adjust your tire pressure won’t give you a truly accurate result. Having a home air compressor not only allows you to fill tires before you ride, you can also adjust them for the load you expect to carry—since two-up and solo riding often require different tire pressures. You’ll get better tire life, performance, and safety, all powered by compressed air.

How to pick an air compressor

Before buying an air compressor, take time to consider what kind of air tools you might use. If your only interest is inflating tires, a small compressor that produces more pressure than the highest recommended tire pressure would be enough. But there’s a whole world of air tools that help do a variety of jobs. Here’s just a sampling of some:

  • Airbrush
  • Dust blow gun
  • Hydraulic lift
  • Impact driver
  • Impact wrench
  • Paint sprayer
  • Ratchet
  • Spark plug cleaner
  • Tire changer

How much air power?

Tools often require different working pressures and air flow rates. These specifications are measured as pounds per square inch (PSI) and cubic feet per minute (CFM). Here’s how to decide how big of an air compressor you’ll need:

  • Decide what tools you’ll want to use and determine the required PSI and CFM. The tool that uses the highest PSI determines your PSI needs.
  • Consider whether you’ll use more than one tool at a time. If so, add their CFM requirements together and add at least 25 percent more to cover air leaks and any new tools you may buy later.

Not only should your compressor meet these requirements, you’ll also want one that works with the available electric service in your garage.

There are many home improvement stores and tool vendors who can give you expert advice and assistance in selecting quality air tools and a compressor. And remember, you can do more than motorcycle maintenance with air tools—you could even build a bigger garage!

Till next time, ride safe!

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