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The Sound RIDER! guide to

Replacement Valve StemsValve Stems

A book of biblical proportions could be written about motorcycle tires. There are so many facets  ranging from pressure levels and wear to maintenance and getting full use out of them. And somewhere in that book, there would have to be a discussion about valve stems. But the book does not exist so we're going to have that discussion right here.

Tube or Tubeless?

Your motorcycle came with a set of tires that either run tubes or are tubeless. Oddly enough, there are a number of riders who don't actually know if their tires are tube or tubeless. There are several ways to tell just by looking at the valve stem.

If your wheel has adjustable spokes attaching at the center of the rim, you very likely have a tube in there since without an after market product, your tires won't hold air otherwise.

If your rim is cast and does not use adjustable spokes, it's very likely you have a tubeless setup. If your rim uses adjustable spokes attached to the outer edge of the rim (such as BMW adventure models), you may be running tubeless.

If the valve stem has a nut on it, it's not possible to know just from that factor if the setup inside is tube or tubeless. 

Just because a tire may have the word tubeless on it, does not mean you are running without a tube. Tires like Avon's Distanzia and Gripster models can be used both for tubeless and tube purposes and it's common for dual sport riders to run them with a tube on spoke wheels.

It's important to know what type of setup you're running for the next part of the discussion so you can apply the information to your needs.

The trouble with most tires these days is that OEMs continue to ship their bikes with straight valve stems. If your bike has two brake rotors up front, you know what a hassle it is to get an air chuck onto the stem. If your bike has hard bags or a lot of body work around the rear, you know what a pain it is to get an air chuck back there as well.

But there are several little aftermarket helpers you can purchase that will make checking your air pressure and getting air into your tires much easier.

Right Angle Valve Stems (tubeless)

Not always easy to find, right angle valve stems are a great way to simplify access to your tires' air needs. The next time you remove or replace your tires, consider getting a pair. Most on the market range from 84 to 90 degrees, making it a cinch to air up without the hassle of working an air chuck in between rotors, hard bags and excess body work. Why more OEMs don't incorporate these into their models still has us scratching our heads, but so be it, and let the third parties profit.

For most bikes with one liter motors and under, a short stem alloy (shown at top) type gets the job done right. These are light enough not to cause havoc at the point of balancing the tires, and the fit and finish is really nice. The alloy short stems we carry come in five colors so there's something for everybody. K&L makes a similar stem, however the fit and finish is sloppy, it' unpolished and it comes in grey only.

PVR-70 Right Angle Valve StemFor larger bikes, typically with larger-than-one-liter motors, a stronger rim is required to handle the stress of the excess weight that comes with a larger motor and often heavier frame and add-ons. Thus the rim is thicker and requires a deeper stem. These stems are categorized as PVR70s. We used to get them in brass, but that was tacky and we have now moved over to a chrome model. Either way, they get the job done and carry the longer stem in their design allowing for use on thicker rims. They weigh a bit more than their alloy counterparts, but because the rim they are going on is heavier, balancing isn't as much of a problem as you might imagine.

Whenever you change tires on a tubeless rim, it's always a good idea to replace the valve stems as well each time. Like the rubber on your tires, the rubber gasket on the valve stem is susceptible to hardening and cracking and will eventually fail over time. While they will last several years, through the typical life off a tire, don't be a miser and try to carry them over to the next set.

90 Degree Valve Stem Extension for Tubed TiresRight Angle Valve Stem Adapters (tubes)

Tube riders, you are not left out. But the procedure is different so listen up. For you, we have a right angle valve stem adapter. At the time of airing up or checking your pressure, the adapter can be connected to the stem, but IT MUST BE REMOVED WHEN YOU ARE DONE SERVICING THE TIRE. Because of its larger size, leaving the adapter on as you ride can break the stem from the tube and then you're in trouble.

SR!/Spring 13


To purchase right angle valve stems, right angle valve stem adapters and other items that make it easy to maintain your tires, visit the Tire Stuff category at the Sound RIDER! online store, or check in with your local dealer.


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