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greiffster

Steelmate EBAT ET-900AE TPMS

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greiffster

Steelmate EBAT ET-900AE TPMS

 

Over the last couple of years, I've gotten used to the TPM systems in my vehicles. I thought I'd explore some options for installing an after-market one on my '08 GSA since it did not come with that option. (I understand it was on option on the '08 for about $500, but I can't confirm).

 

I didn't have any luck finding a system where the sensors were mounted in the rim. About the only thing I found were replacement sensors for a bike that already had the TPM option. If anyone knows of an internal rim mounted TPM system that will specifically work with a GS, I'd love to hear about it.

 

So, I was left with trying out an external valve mounted TPMS. There are a bunch on eBay and amazon for cheap money. Here is a quick review of the Steelmate EBAT ET-900AE TPMS. Here's a shot of the eBay stock photo.

 

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First off, this thing is cheap money. 45 bucks to the door, so I don't have much invested if this turned out to be a worthless POS. It shipped fast and arrived fast and looks like this coming out of the box, exactly like the photo shows (not sure why I didn't put the wiring and actual unit in the last photo?).

 

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Installation:

 

This TPMS is hard-wired into your bike's power. There are a couple of systems I found that have their own battery and are recharged via an included USB cable. They really aren't any more expensive (maybe a little), but I just didn't want another thing to have to recharge. I have a Touratech fuse block mounted under my seat with a couple empty 12v output slots, so I just cut off the negative wire post mount (in the first picture), crimped on some female spade connectors, and plugged it in to my fuse block. Done.

 

When it comes time to mount the display, you have two options. You can either mount it to the handlebars or take that clamp completely off and stick it on your dash or elsewhere. I liked the idea of mounting it on the handlebars but that comes with a couple problems. First, the handlebar clamp diameter will only fit on the GS where the bars taper down near the grip. There was a spot on the left side just adjacent to the clutch reservoir that would work, but what about the wire? You would have to zip-tie the wire back to the pivot point near the roundel OR leave enough slack in the wire to turn the bars left or right and let it flop in the wind. Not a chance, either way would look like a hack job.

 

So, grab a little torx and unscrew the bar clamp and throw it in the trash. Use the included pressure tape and stick that puppy somewhere. Here is where I put it and its rather inconspicuous.....

 

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The picture is from the left side of the bike and looking under the handlebars from just in front of them.

 

I will mention that the length of wire was just barely long enough to that mount point, straight back along the tank, down and across the battery to the fuse block. So, if you have ideas of maybe mounting it to the dash (or the handlebars), you'd likely run of wire and have to splice in a length.

 

The valve sensors install easy. Just unscrew your existing cap, stick on the little rubber dust boot, thread on a brass nut, then the sensor. The brass nut is then tightened to the sensor with the included little wrench. This is worth mentioning because if you want to add air to your tire, you'll have to pull out your little wrench and unscrew both the sensor and brass nut. That's the big con of a system like this. More about this later. Here are a couple of photos of the sensors installed.

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Operation:

 

The operation of the system is quite simple as it just displays the front and rear pressure alternately, every couple of seconds. There is a setup button where you can adjust a few parameters such as psi/Bar, C/F, max. temperature, and “threshold” pressure. The system will alarm (beep) you when your pressures are +/- 30% of your threshold setting. In addition, the system will alarm when the temperature exceeds your max. temperature value.

 

I aired up my tires to 36 psi front and 40 psi rear. After initial installation of the sensors and power up, the display read 34 front and 38 rear. So, they both read 2 psi low, but within the tolerance of the included instruction manual. The next day, a couple local friends and I went on a weekender moto trip to Robbinsville. So, after two days and about 750 miles, here's my take…

 

The system basically works as advertised. The display alternates between pressure readings on the front and rear tires. After a few miles down the road and some heat in the tires, the front was reading 38 psi and the rear 43 psi. The remainder of the trip, the pressures stayed around the same with riding pressures around 4, 5, or 6 psi higher than the cold pressures. I'm not sure why I was initially surprised by this?

 

The tires never hit the pressure or temperature thresholds, so I never experienced the alarm. Honestly, I doubt I'd hear it anyway through the helmet and earplugs. But, a quick glance down many times during the two days gave me the confidence I was hoping from a TPM system. So, a couple thumbs up.

 

The biggest drawback of this type of system is the fact that you have to remove the sensor to put air in the tires. So, you have to bust out your little wrench and loosen the brass nut, then unscrew the sensor. I also had to un-thread the brass nut because my cheap air pump won't clamp on to the schrader valve with the nut on, even threaded to the bottom. Now, do you HAVE to use the brass nut. Maybe not, but remember that the sensor only works because it opens up the valve. The pressure remains in the tire due to the seal of the sensor. You don't want that dude coming loose. I am still a bit scared by this, but I didn't experience any loss of pressure through the sensor and it seems to seal well. To be fair, this is inherent to any external valve mounted TPM.

 

The sensors do go into a sleep mode when they don't sense motion. So, in the morning, when I started the bike, the display read the pressures from the previous evening. I assume it just holds the latest readings until the sensors send new data (supposedly every 3 seconds when sending). I had to jump on the bike and ride it around the parking lot to “wake” up the sensors (supposedly 20 kph). That kind of stinks, who wants to do that every morning?

 

I initially had some concerns regarding the weight of the sensors and how it would affect the balance of the tires. But, I confirmed the weight of the sensor at 10 grams and with the brass nut the total was 13 grams. If I did the math correctly, that's close to 0.5 ounces or 2, ¼ ounce sticky wheel weights. I don't think you'd notice on a motorcycle tire. But, you could re-balance with the sensor attached.

 

Summary

 

Pros:

Super cheap. 45 bucks all in.

Installation is easy, especially using the stick-on mount.

The sensors are very light, so probably not an issue for rubber valves or balancing.

 

Cons:

The included wiring probably too short for a lot of installs.

Removing the sensor and nut is required for airing up the tires.

The tire is sealed at the sensor which has potential for a leak.

The sensors have to be woken up by riding.

 

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ltljohn

Nice write up. I like the idea of the nut to lock things down but I think needing a wrench to put air in my tires would be a deal breaker for me.

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greiffster
Nice write up. I like the idea of the nut to lock things down but I think needing a wrench to put air in my tires would be a deal breaker for me.

Yeah, I'm going to zip tie it to my little digital pressure gauge. That way I won't be able to find either of them. :dopeslap:

 

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JR356

If those are rubber valve stems,you may be headed for future trouble.

You need metal valve stems or rubber coated metal stems to prevent stem tearing/separation when using any kind of external TPMS.

 

JR356

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greiffster
If those are rubber valve stems,you may be headed for future trouble.

You need metal valve stems or rubber coated metal stems to prevent stem tearing/separation when using any kind of external TPMS.

 

JR356

 

I thought about this a lot. Steelmate does not make any mention of the use of rubber or steel valve stems. The Garmin brand valve TPMS does state that they are designed for metal stems only. Obviously, they thought it important enough to mention. Or their lawyers did.

 

I have been using the straight stubby rubber valves stems and they seem very sturdy. There is very little lateral movement to the them when you try and flex them. Again, I use the short ones. The TPMS valves are very light at 10 grams. It doesn't seem like the additional force would have much (if any) effect since it is mostly acting radially to the stem. 45 or 90 degree stems might be a different story.

 

I wasn't worried about the stems. But, now I am second guessing that decision :dopeslap:. I've got about a 1000 miles on the bike with the TPMS valves installed and haven't had any problems. But, I'll keep an eye on them.

 

I do change my stems out every tire change and can certainly swap out the rubber stems for metal. I was hoping to not have to un-mount the tires (or at least break the bead) just to try out this system.

 

.

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greiffster
If those are rubber valve stems,you may be headed for future trouble.

You need metal valve stems or rubber coated metal stems to prevent stem tearing/separation when using any kind of external TPMS.

 

JR356

 

So this has been bothering me since JR356 posted it.

 

I decided to calculate the additional weight or centripetal forced put on these valve stems. At 80mph, I calculated that to be about 250 times the TPMS sensor weight or in the neighborhood of 7 lbs. Wow, that's significant. If that weight was truly static in the radial direction, maybe it wouldn't be a problem. But, I would guess there to be plenty of vibration and movement due to the rubber mount. This could really be a problem, especially over time. I am going to swap out the rubber stems to a metal stem mounted to the rim.

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szurszewski

You'll never know if you need to unless you don't do it :)

 

Actually, you should really run through several sets of tires until you've had enough valve stem failures to plot some solid data.

 

;)

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greiffster

Actually, you should really run through several sets of tires until you've had enough valve stem failures to plot some solid data.

 

;)

 

Maybe I should haul around an extra couple thousand pounds asymmetrically to speed up the failures? :dance:

 

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szurszewski

Actually, you should really run through several sets of tires until you've had enough valve stem failures to plot some solid data.

 

;)

 

Maybe I should haul around an extra couple thousand pounds asymmetrically to speed up the failures? :dance:

 

 

Good plan - I happen to have a couple of thousand asymmetric pounds for sale, and for you'd I'd happily deliver - just let me know when I should bring it by your place.

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