Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
- Could prevent premature tire wear, flats, blowouts & crashes
- As far as I know, the first TPMS for bicycles
- Shows real-time pressure & temperature
- Requires smartphone & app
- Third-party app tricky to setup
- Seems oversize on bicycle wheels
How obtained: Sample from company
RBR Sponsor: No
Weight: 12 grams each
New Safety Technology for Cycling
I’m starting this review with a quote from the company and I’ll tell you why after you read their pitch…
“Hundreds of cycling accidents occur annually due to low tire pressure or elevated tire temperature. StatCap offers cutting-edge Tire Pressure Monitoring technology to help prevent accidents due to catastrophic failure and to increase cyclist safety. Buy StatCap P1 – BEFORE catastrophic tire failure occurs!”
“Hundreds of cycling accidents” from tire pressure and temperature changes?
The reason I gave StatCap the soapbox at the outset is because I had to think about it for a while to decide whether or not, what they said about hundreds of accidents is true. Apart from when I roll through some glass or hit a pothole, I certainly don’t worry about MY tires becoming too soft. In my experience, as long as they’re up to pressure when I leave on a ride, they stay that way.
And, I’m not concerned about them overheating, either. And that goes for my high pressure road and low pressure mtb rubber, too.
But, I’m willing to give StatCap the benefit of the doubt, because of another of my hobbies, which is RVing. Tire pressure monitoring systems on RVs are common because these overweight beasts definitely can have varying tire pressures and temperatures which both can and do lead to failure and serious accidents.
Also, TPMS seems almost standard equipment on motor vehicles now. And, back to bicycles, with low pressures becoming more common, on gravel bikes and with tubeless and fatter tires, even a few psi can change how a bike rides significantly.
Plus, I have experienced many “mystery” flats where I wasn’t sure what caused the tire to fail. The worst of these was a front blowout at about 35mph cornering on a steep descent, which could have killed me. Afterward, I couldn’t find anything wrong with the tire and I always wondered what caused it to come off the rim.
So maybe I should be more worried about my tires. And, maybe StatCap is onto something worthwhile. Let’s look at how they work. The components are pretty straightforward. There are two StatCaps and two brass valve adapters for Presta valves. If you’re running Schrader valves you won’t use them.
Inside each StatCap is a watch-type battery. To activate the batteries, the caps unscrew. A nice folding wrench for this comes with the kit. Once opened, you pop the batteries out and peel the stickers off them and put them back in. When you screw the caps together again they’re now activated.
Then the StatCaps screw onto the adapter or a Schrader valve. You hear the psst of a little air escaping and triggering the StatCap to send a signal to the app. You also need to download a third party app from a company called Tahuna to pair the StatCaps via Bluetooth. Once that’s accomplished, you go through a setup procedure on the app to get it to show the tire stats on your smartphone screen.
Not-so-easy Application Setup
That was the most challenging step for me. I followed the three how-to videos that StatCap provides, but it left me wishing that StatCap had its own dedicated app. The Tahuna app has all kinds of other modes and selections making it confusing and easy to get lost.
Still, when it’s setup, it connects right away and shows you real-time what the pressure in your tires is and the temperature, too. You set lower pressure alarms and they sound if the psi reading goes too low. You’ll hear it when you remove the caps to top off the tires. There are also temperature alarms – though I’m clueless what constitutes too hot for bicycle tires.
On the Road
Out of the road, I found it somewhat fascinating to be able to see the pressure and temperature changes, something I’ve never thought much about before. And, if you’ve got favorite pressures you like to ride for maximum comfort or control, you can finally actually monitor them as you ride. The StatCap refreshes the readings every 250 milliseconds so even riding at the highest speeds you’ll know in time if a tire is in trouble.
You can have that feeling that the tire pressure isn’t quite right for the conditions or that a tire is going flat. Now, you can actually see what you’re running without stopping and checking with a thumb, pump or gauge. You also see the battery life of the sensors.
I wanted to see if the StatCaps change the balance of the wheel, since each adds 12 grams to the valve stem, already usually the heaviest point. So, I put my Cervelo in a repair stand and pedaled to get the rear wheel with the StatCap spinning crazy fast without it and then with it. What this showed was that there’s almost no difference with or without.
My last test was to try the StatCaps on my RV and sure enough, the app immediately showed the tire pressure.
Overall, I am impressed by how well the StatCap system works and believe some cyclists will appreciate having them. But, I would like to see StatCap come out with a model smaller, lighter and less conspicuous plus their own easy-to-use dedicated app. Ideally, you would be able to pair them with the cycle computer you already own, too.
Still, for a first TPMS, the StatCap is definitely worth trying if exact tire pressure is important to you. According to the company, they’re already working on a much improved second version. They say it will include:
- advanced software and hardware specifically designed for interactive streaming, and active training
- ability to send alerts on rim and tire anomaly including wobble, tire pressure, heat
- interactive AI to distinguish what is a problem and what is not
- connectivity to bike computers through Ant+ and BLE
- able to find a sweet spot we call “the perfect bubble” means you are getting the most out of your ride/watts produced
- chipset could provide the ability for IBeacon, movement alarm: data could see bike movement or impact like a curb hit or catastrophic event
- firmware upgradeable
Ride total: 9,382
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.