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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them









PRODUCT REVIEW: Doran 360M Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Provides early warning of tire pressure loss

By Carla King
12/13/2009

I've wanted to install a tire pressure monitor on my motorcycle ever since I rode a bike that had one—I couldn't believe how it eased my mind! When I received the Doran 360M monitoring system in the mail, though, I wondered if I'd be able to wire it to my bike all by myself or if I'd end up having to pay a mechanic to do it. 

Doran provides a lot of stuff in its kit so that the device will fit all kinds of bikes. Nobody will need all of it.
Doran provides a lot of stuff in its kit so that the device will fit all kinds of bikes. Nobody will need all of it.

When it comes to wiring the monitoring device to a motorcycle, every motorcycle is different, so the manual was necessarily vague on how to connect the wires to the motorcycle's electrical system. I figure this is probably where most people just stop and send the thing back—or pay a shop to do it. Actually, it shouldn't cost more than an hour's labor, but if the sensors are mounted on the inside of the tires, it'll cost you what they charge to mount and balance your tires. 

The first thing to do is to wire the monitor—the square, silver box with the digital readout—to the bike's electrical system. In my case, that's a 1975 BMW K75. The monitor has a positive (red) and negative (black) wire extending from the back of the unit. So I have to find a positive and negative wire on my bike to attach them.
The first thing to do is to wire the monitor—the square, silver box with the digital readout—to the bike's electrical system. In my case, that's a 1975 BMW K75. The monitor has a positive (red) and negative (black) wire extending from the back of the unit. So I have to find a positive and negative wire on my bike to attach them.

The previous owner of my BMW had installed a stereo system in the left glove compartment. I had uninstalled it but left the wires loose in the compartment.
The previous owner of my BMW had installed a stereo system in the left glove compartment. I had uninstalled it but left the wires loose in the compartment.

I find the pair of wires from a previously installed stereo system on my bike that I can use to provide voltage to the monitor—one white and one brown wire. I figure the brown one is positive and the white is negative. I use my multimeter to confirm they actually work and to determine which is positive and which is negative.

Neither of the wires registers any voltage when the ignition key is turned off, so I turn the key on and touch the multimeter sensor to the brown wire, which registers positive. The white registers negative. This means they are "switched" wires—power only gets through the wires when the motorcycle key or ignition is switched on.

If your bike doesn't have any fancy cable connectors like the stereo wires I have on mine, you could just twist the monitoring device wires onto your headlight wires, which are also "switched." You may have to partially remove your headlight to get to the wires. (Editor's note: If you don't have much experience with electrical systems on your motorcycle, we recommend you have a dealer install the monitor.)

You can also attach the device to an "unswitched" power source, which is a direct connection to the battery and means that the device will stay turned on at all times. This is nice because it takes six minutes for the device to read. You can find aftermarket auxiliary power fuse panels from sources like Whitehorse Gear.

A note about switched and unswitched power sources: A switched power source only turns on when the ignition key is switched on. An unswitched power source is a direct connection to the battery. It powers the device even when you switch off the bike and can drain the battery over time. But the Doran system draws such little power that it would take more than a couple of weeks to drain a fully charged battery. If you attach your battery to a trickle charger, then you might want to connect the device to an unswitched source so you won’t have to wait six minutes every time you turn on your motorycle for the monitor to read correctly. 

My white and brown wires have a female connector on each end. I need to buy some male partners for this pair from a bike shop, auto parts store, or hardware store. These compatible male connectors are called "spade" connectors, and they cost about 10 cents each.
My white and brown wires have a female connector on each end. I need to buy some male partners for this pair from a bike shop, auto parts store, or hardware store. These compatible male connectors are called "spade" connectors, and they cost about 10 cents each.

As I'm riding to the bike shop to buy some male connectors, it occurs to me that I could have just removed them altogether and simply twisted the wires together—bare wire to bare wire—then wrapped them with electrical tape. But I'm already pulling into the parking lot.

Back home again, it's time to squeeze the spade connectors onto the monitor's bare wires. 

When I open my toolkit, I'm thinking "needle nose pliers," but I find I possess a specially designed tool for this job. Isn't it great when that happens?
When I open my toolkit, I'm thinking "needle nose pliers," but I find I possess a specially designed tool for this job. Isn't it great when that happens?

I slip the wire ends (coming from the tire-pressure monitor) into the round slots of the spade connectors, then squeeze until it grabs the wire. The monitor's wire is pretty thin, so I decide to cut a little plastic off (my special tool comes with a wire-stripper) and double over the wire, making it thicker. That way the connector is sure to get a good solid grip on it. Now the wires are connected to the spade connector, and I just simply slide the spades into the corresponding positive (red) and negative (white/black) wire connectors on the bike. I turn on the key, and the monitor display lights up. Success!

Now it's time to mount the monitor somewhere on the bike. Doran provides several handlebar mounting devices and tape for this job so it will fit on different bikes. 

The monitor can be neatly mounted on your motorcycle's risers or on the side of your bike. I decide to put the monitor in my glove compartment where those original wires were. My handlebars are crowded enough.
The monitor can be neatly mounted on your motorcycle's risers or on the side of your bike. I decide to put the monitor in my glove compartment where those original wires were. My handlebars are crowded enough.

If you mount the tire pressure monitor away from view, Doran provides a red light that can be mounted where you can see it, alerting you to check the monitor. I like this better, as I wouldn't be able to read the numbers on the pressure monitor while I'm riding anyway. 

I choose to mount the warning light on my handlebars where I can easily see it. If I start losing tire pressure, the light flashes. It's big enough that you really can't miss seeing it.
I choose to mount the warning light on my handlebars where I can easily see it. If I start losing tire pressure, the light flashes. It's big enough that you really can't miss seeing it.

Now that everything is mounted, I need to get the monitor to talk to the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) sensor caps that get installed on my tires. These are the caps that actually monitor the pressure in your tires. First I take the caps off my tire valve stems and replace them with the sensors, which, when I program it correctly, will remotely send information to the monitor via a radio frequency.

This means (sigh) that I have to read the manual. It's not difficult, but it’s tedious, and because the information is not well-presented, I mostly just experiment. I turn on the key, press the "P" button on the monitor until the digital readout displays the letters "SN." Then I press the "P" button again until the top left wheel indicator is highlighted. (The system works with trikes and ATVs, so you have the ability to monitor up to four wheels.) Then I press the "S" button to run through numbers 1-9, choosing the first digit of my serial number, then the second and the third. Then repeat for the back tire. The sensors perform best on metal valve stems versus rubber ones. You'll want to ask about this when ordering the system from Doran to make sure you can change out the rubber valve stems to metal. 

The sensor caps screw on easily on the outside of the tire—or on the inside, if you choose to have them mounted that way. Each cap has a serial number so the monitor can identify it.
The sensor caps screw on easily on the outside of the tire—or on the inside, if you choose to have them mounted that way. Each cap has a serial number so the monitor can identify it.

Going back to the manual again, I program the monitor to display the pressure units in pounds, and then I program in the baseline air pressure for my bike. If the pressure gets too far below baseline, the sensor will send that information to the monitor and the red light.

Finally I'm ready to ride. I take off down the street. The light starts flashing, and so I stop to check the tires. The sensor cap on the back tire is gone, but I find it down the road, undamaged, thank goodness. It had lightly knocked against the casings on the brake calipers until it unscrewed the device.

Not having the equipment, time or inclination to do it myself, I decide to have my mechanic install both sensors inside the tires. Did I wish that I'd just paid for my mechanic to do the entire installation for me in the first place? No. I learned a lot about my bike in the process, and that's always satisfying. And I'm really glad I have the tire pressure monitor now. A lot of new bikes (and automobiles) come with them for a reason. Peace of mind is worth any price, and at $199.99 for the motorcycle system, I think this is fair price.    

For more information about Doran 360M Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems for motorcycles, trikes, ATVs and trailers, visit DoranMFG.com.

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