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If you're obsessed with tyre pressures, the SKS Airspy SV is your dream widget. It's a pair of electronic pressure sensors that fit over your valves and tell your phone or Garmin bike computer your tyre pressure to within 0.1psi.
The widgets themselves use Bluetooth to transmit tyre pressure data to an app – SKS MyBike – on your phone and ANT+ to send it to a Garmin device. The readings tally closely with those from a standalone gauge and various track pumps and inflators, but I'm a bit dubious about the 0.1psi precision. Seems optimistic, and even if Airspy achieves it, does anyone really need to know their tyre pressure that precisely? (We have a feature on how to choose the best bike tyre pressure if you're not sure what would work for you.)
I found the Airspies generally easy and quick to use with my iPhone, but I did see them fail to connect to my Garmin Edge 1030 Plus from time to time. And it took quite a bit of faffing around to figure out how to set up the Garmin app. It's not covered in much detail by SKS's instructions or videos; they really need updating.
Installing the Airspies was very straightforward. You unscrew the tiny locknuts at the top of your valves, screw the Airspy valves into place, push the electronics pod down over the valve and hold the whole thing together with a knurled locknut. Optional 'anti-theft brackets' can be fitted between the Airspy and the nearest spoke, but I really didn't see the point. They might slow a thief down by a second or two, if that, and I found that if they pulled the Airspy to one side at all, they stopped it from working.
You then install the SKS/Mybike phone app if you don't already have it, and set it looking for Airspies to pair with and voila! your phone displays your tyre pressure.
If that weren't giddily exciting enough, there's a Connect IQ data field so you can display tyre pressure on a Garmin device that supports Connect IQ, which is pretty much all recent Garmins.
To connect the Airspies to your Garmin device, you use the Garmin Connect phone app to tell the Airspy Connect IQ app what to look for, by feeding it the serial numbers of the Airspy units from the Airspy app.
All right, I can hear you asking, this is all very clever, but what do you actually DO with that information? I thought the same thing. Surely this is a case of not stopping to ask yourself if you could, but whether you should.
I've come up with a few use cases in my time with the Airspies.
Use case 1: Is that really a puncture? You know that nagging feeling that your rear tyre is soft, but you're initially not sure whether it's losing air or you're just having a bad day? Airspy to the rescue with a warning that your tyre pressure has dropped.
You set this up through the Garmin Connect app on your phone where you can set the target pressure for your tyre and the maximum difference from that you'll accept. Set the pressure at 70psi and the difference at 5psi and you get a loud alarm on your Garmin if the pressure drops below 65psi, confirming that you're not just being a bit crap, you do have a puncture, and you should stop and fix it before your expensive carbon rim starts bouncing off the ground.
These settings are quite well buried in Garmin Connect. To find them you go to: More > Connect IQ Store > Manage Device > My Data Fields > SKS AIRSPY > Settings.
Use case 2: Do I need to pump up my tyres? You know, yeah, you probably do, unless you pumped them up, like, yesterday. But if you're not sure, you can check them from your phone or if they've dropped too far you'll get a warning from your Garmin device too. I don't use latex tubes, but for folks that do I can see Airspy being a useful reminder when they've lost pressure.
Use case 3: What's the best tyre pressure for my local gravel riding? With the Airspies in place you can start off at a silly high pressure and gradually lower it until you find the pressure that gives you the best compromise of grip, comfort, speed and not getting pinch flats. This is where the mad scientist possibilities of the Airspies emerge, though I'm reminded of something we used to say when mountain bike suspension began to get super-sophisticated and adjustable: with on-the-fly adjustment you can be sure your settings are always wrong.
The only other similar device I'm aware of is the SRAM Quarq TyreWiz. TyreWiz has built-in LED lights to tell you if your tyre's not at the right pressure, so can be used without app or bike computer, but it only works with tubes that have removable cores, and a pair costs £253. That makes £110 for Airspies look like a bargain.
There have also been Kickstarter projects that aim to do much the same thing. BTPS didn't reach its funding target, and two recent ones, PSIcle and Smart iPump have hit target but aren't yet shipping.
Mad scientists and tyre obsessives, mostly. The Venn diagram of those categories probably encompasses time triallists and some ultradistance and gravel racers looking to nail the balance of pros and cons of different tyre pressures.
Effective tyre pressure-monitoring widget with potentially handy low-pressure alert
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road.cc test report
Make and model: SKS Airspy SV
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This is a pair of electronic pressure gauges that mount on your valves so you always know your tyre pressures. They work with a phone app or Garmin bike computer.
Two-piece tyre pressure control system set
The compact and lightweight SKS AIRSPY tyre pressure sensor provides bikers with the certainty that they are riding with optimal pressure. Simply twist the valve adapter onto the valve, push the sensor onto it and off you go. When it has been mounted, the dust-proof and watertight sensor continuously measures the tyre pressure. The sensor uses Bluetooth or ANT+ to transmit the data to smartphones with the SKS MYBIKE app or a bike computer (Garmin) with the appropriate application.
Data transmission via Bluetooth or ANT+
Another practical feature: the AIRSPY tyre pressure gauge can also be used as a mobile digital pressure gauge. The tyre pressure can therefore be digitally measured each time the tyres are inflated. The AIRSPY is available as a set for the front and rear wheels. Suitable for all Presta valves and most Dunlop valves as well as for tubeless tyres. Includes a CR2032 button cell and U-lock in various lengths.
* For mounting on Presta or Dunlop valves
* Dust-proof and watertight
* Also suitable for tubeless systems
* Can be used as a mobile digital pressure gauge
* In-app alarm if there is a deviation in pressure
* Includes a U-lock
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
weight: 18 g
output max: 8.3 bar / 120 PSI
Tidily-moulded plastic shell around the all-important electronics.
It works; measure tyre pressure, warns you if it drops.
Not a lot of extra weight for the functionality.
Objectively fairly expensive, but rivals are twice the price or not yet shipping.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Generally well; occasional issues persuading Garmin to connect.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Yet another data point to feed into my riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Obscure Garmin Connect IQ data field setup.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The only other similar device I'm aware of is the SRAM Quark TyreWiz. TyreWiz has built-in LED lights to tell you if your tyre's not at the right pressure, so can be used without app or bike computer, but it only works with tubes that have removable cores and costs £253 a pair. That makes £110 for Airspies look like a bargain.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No; I just don't need to know my tyre pressures all the time.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they really felt the need to constantly monitor their tyre pressures.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Airspy works very well and is the cheapest device of its kind you can actually buy right now.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb,
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.