Although tire pressure monitoring systems are becoming increasingly common on four-wheeled vehicles, they're still quite the rarity on two-wheelers. RDV Labs, however, wants to change that. The San Francisco-based startup's CycleAT system is designed to continuously monitor the air pressure in motorcycle and bicycle tires, relaying that information to the rider's smartphone in real time.
The hardware end of the system consists of two sensor units, one for each wheel. These attach to the valve stems, and contain sensors that measure not only air pressure (up to 200 psi/14 bar) but also temperature, wheel rotation and orientation. They also each have an integrated lithium-ion battery, that should provide about 100 hours of use per charge.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Sensor data is transmitted via Bluetooth Low Energy to an app on the user's smartphone (iOS or Android), or Pebble smartwatch. Using that app, riders can check the pressure and temperature of the air inside their tires, along with their speed and wheel alignment.
An optional anti-theft kit utilizes a set screw to keep the sensor units from being plucked off by passers-by. Additionally, an "in-line fill" feature allows them to remain attached to the stems while the tires are being topped up, with the pumped-in air passing right through.
The aluminum/nylon-bodied sensor units weigh about 30 g (1 oz) each, and are made in high- and low-profile configurations. According to the designers, tests have shown that the devices have a "minimal effect" on the weight balance of motorcycle wheels, while the addition of an opposing 30-gram wheel weight will restore the balance to a lightweight bicycle wheel. That said, some people (particularly cyclists) might simply find the sensors to be a little too... big.
If you're not one of those people, though, you can pre-order a pair by pledging US$139 to RDV's current Kickstarter project. The planned retail price is $199 and shipping is estimated to start next March, assuming they reach production. Hopefully they fare better than the somewhat-similar BTPS Bike Tire Pressure System, which didn't meet its funding goal.
Prospective buyers might also want to check out the more basic P-eye pressure sensing valve cap.
More information on CycleAT is available in the pitch video below.