Just as carrying an umbrella or rain gear has a way of warding off inclement weather, packing tools and a patch kit seems to help prevent the inconvenience of roadside repairs. Or it could just be that today’s motorcycles are reliable and tires are durable. Nonetheless, whether you uphold the Boy Scouts’ motto or believe an ounce of prevention pays you back sixteen-fold, a compact, portable air compressor (along with a tire repair kit) ought part of your essential, every-time-I-ride gear.
The Stop & Go Mini-Air Compressor offers the advantages of being inexpensive ($34.95), compact (4 x 2 x 6 inches), lightweight (14 ounces) and versatile (many connection options), with the disadvantages of slow inflation time and an imprecise air gauge. The Stop & Go is a complete kit that comes in a durable, padded, zippered Cordura nylon pouch. Inside you’ll find the 12-volt air compressor unit with a 4-inch, screw-on tire valve hose and a 66-inch power cord that conveniently attaches to your trickle-charger pigtail lead. If you don’t have a pigtail already connected to your battery, you can use the 12-inch extension with alligator clips that connect to your battery’s terminals. A third option is the 36-inch socket extension that fits in a cigarette lighter or 12-volt socket. Also includes are two adapters: sports needle (for basketballs) and inflatable (for pool floaties). Built into the air compressor is a 0-120 psi air gauge and an LED light, in the event you have the misfortune of repairing or reinflating a tire in the dark.
Fortunately, I haven’t had any flats to repair since I received the Stop & Go and started carrying it in my tank bag. (It also fits easily in saddlebags, top trunks, backpacks, fanny packs, etc.) But I do quite a bit of dual-sport riding on my Kawasaki KLR650, which means that I air down when the pavement ends and back up when I leave the trail. The 50/50 on/off-road Continental TKC80 tube-type tires on my KLR are fairly skinny compared to most street-only tires, and the owner’s manual recommends 21 psi front and 28 psi rear with a load over 215 pounds (yep, that’s me). These recommended pressures seem to be a compromise between street and dirt. On the street, I run 32 psi front and 36 psi rear; off-road, 18 psi front and 20 psi rear.
The built-in LED is supposed to indicate the compressor is receiving power, in addition to putting some light on the task at hand. Unfortunately, it didn’t come on even though I had power. On itswebsite, Stop & Go claims, “Your motorcycle tire will be fully inflated in less than 10 minutes.” Well, that depends on the tire. Here’s a comparison of inflation times for the tires on my Kawasaki KLR650:
KLR650, front 90/90-21
0 psi – 18 psi (off-road pressure) = 3 minutes, 14 seconds
18 psi – 32 psi (street pressure) = 3 minutes, 20 seconds
KLR650, rear 130/80-17
0 psi – 20 psi (off-road pressure) = 5 minutes, 43 seconds
20 psi – 36 psi (street pressure) = 6 minutes, 40 seconds
Though the KLR’s front tire has a larger diameter than the rear, it is 40mm narrower, which helps it reach full inflation for street riding in 6 minutes, 34 seconds versus 12 minutes, 23 seconds for the rear. The folks at Stop & Go include a neon orange card inside the box that reads, “IMPORTANT NOTICE: This Mini-Air Compressor is NOT INTENDED for use on truck or automobile tires. It is intended for use on Motorcycle, Scooter, and ATV tires ONLY!!!” The reason for this warning is that it takes too long for to inflate high-volume auto/truck tires. But it also takes a long time to inflate large motorcycle tires.
For comparison, I inflated the rear tire on Rider’s 1999 Honda Gold Wing GL1500SE. We recently had it serviced and new tires installed by JBJ Cycles, Gold Wing specialists in Santa Ana, California, and they recommend running 41 psi front and rear. To inflate the rear 160/80-16 tire from empty to 41 psi took 28 minutes! That’s quite a long time to spend twiddling your thumbs on the side of the road waiting for a tire to air up after fixing a flat. But it only takes a few minutes to add a few pounds of pressure to your dual-sport’s tires after a trail ride.
The bottom line is that the Stop & Go Mini-Air Compressor works. It is an inexpensive, lightweight, compact, portable compressor that will inflate your tires by drawing juice from your motorcycle’s battery. It is loud and buzzy, and after five minutes or so the unit gets warm and starts to smell like hot plastic. And after a few uses the air gauge loses its precision and may be off by 5 psi or more (this happened on two units we tested). Given the low cost and convenience, I can live with these limitations.
For more information or to order online, visit www.stopngo.com.