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Not everyone thinks of a thermometer as an essential tool for motorcycle riders—even a lot of bikers think of thermometers as accessories at best. Yet for bikers in 2020, they deserve a second look. Motorcycle thermometers are a great way to figure out what conditions of the road or your bike you should watch for, such as ice below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, overheating above 100 degrees, and more.
Take the guesswork out of your motorcycle ride. Check out our guide to the best motorcycle thermometers available on the market, for a more comfortable, better-informed journey.
The Best Motorcycle Thermometer
DROK specializes in manufacturing electronic modules for all sorts of purposes, and the 180038 motorcycle thermometer shows off the company’s experience very well. Its easy-to-read digital display can measure a temperature range from 10 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, clearly warning you about adverse conditions ahead of time.
Like a lot of motorcycle temperature gauges, the DROK 180038 doubles as a voltmeter, which can tell you if your battery is having trouble. It hits just the right note of simple usability—bright enough for daytime reading, but not so bright that it blinds you on night rides, and not overloaded with unnecessary extra features.
Combination thermometer and voltmeter
Plugs into cigarette lighter
External temperature sensor
- Weight1.6 ounces
Easy to read while riding
External sensor can be adjusted to keep it out of wind or sunlight
Built-in fuse won’t damage your battery
Fahrenheit reading is sometimes up to four degrees off
Can shake loose during rides
External sensor is not protected very well
NITRIP’s handlebar-mounted thermometer is a great value for anybody seeking to monitor temperature on a budget. It’s simple to install, built out of a strong and waterproof casing, and it focuses on telling the temperature as accurately as possible.
In addition to its accurate thermal conductivity, this handlebar-mounted thermometer looks great, and will fit easily with whatever aesthetic your bike is going for.
Universal handlebar fit
- Weight2.82 ounces
Temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius
Sleek appearance blends in well with your bike
Good conductivity for accurate temperature readouts
No light-up display, so it’s hard to read at night
Only held in place with a screw
Not much info about manufacturer
For those willing to spend a bit more, MASO’s motorcycle thermometer offers sturdy electroplated aluminum construction that fits easily to all 7/8″ or 1” handlebars. Both the thermometer and the included motorcycle clock are waterproof, and their dials are made to resist the shocks of a typical ride. We really like that the clock has a luminous dial for night riding.
This product isn’t perfect, though. We would have preferred to see some backlighting for the thermometer as well, since temperature hazards—especially from snow and ice—are just as likely to appear in the dark. Also, while the screw-tightened clamp is OK for holding the thermometer and clock in place, it doesn’t encircle the handlebars and threatens to shake loose.
Includes a thermometer and a motorcycle clock
Light-up clock dial
Fits 7/8″ or 1” handlebars
- Weight6.4 ounces
Dials are good at absorbing shocks
Screw-tightened for added security
Doesn’t grip the handlebar as tightly as it could
No backlighting on thermometer
Lesser-known brand with an uncertain record
For excellent value on a motorcycle thermometer, check out this model made by Lanlan, using imported Japanese materials. Lanlan’s motorcycle thermometer ships with a clock, both of which are explicitly made to fit motorcycle handlebars.
This thermometer is built for Kawasaki and Yamaha motorcycles, but also works with Harley-Davidsons, Hondas, or any other model. Its analog display is built out of high-quality materials that will withstand plenty of the dangers of the road—dust and direct sunlight won’t dull its shine for a long time.
Ships with both a thermometer and a clock
Waterproof aluminum casing
Suitable for general motorcycle use
- Weight1.6 ounces
Accurate and easy to read
Temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius
Not always firmly attached
Bad at handling direct impacts
Small numbers can be hard to see in the dark
This small stick-on thermometer/clock, no more than an inch and a half across, will fit easily on any motorcycle dash. It comes with two adhesive pads to hold it in place—that’s all the installation it takes.
Once on your bike, the digital display will show you the temperature in Celsius, along with the time. It includes a backlight for night reading, and its casing is totally waterproof, keeping rain and dew out of the clock mechanism.
Adhesive motorcycle thermometer and clock
Universal for all bikes
Compact 1.4” size
Takes AA batteries
- Weight0.48 ounces
Strong adhesive pad holds unit in place
Digital display is small but easy to read
Waterproof plastic construction
Only shows temperature in Celsius
Backlight only lasts for a few seconds at a time
Have to remove tape to change battery
This digital thermometer from DROK is not explicitly intended for mounting on motorcycle handlebars. However, it’s sturdily built for indoor and outdoor use, so we don’t see any reason it couldn’t be used as your motorcycle thermometer.
The thermometer ships with a display and two temperature sensors, so you can measure both in and out of the sun to get an average air temperature. Its digital readout is clear and easy to read, and it’s simple to connect to your preferred bike-battery power adapter.
Digital Celsius readout
Two temperature sensors
-50 C to 125 Celsius range
USB power supply
- Weight1.6 ounces
Readable digital display
Accurate within one degree Celsius
Two probes reveal a wider range of temperature data
Requires a DC power supply or a battery
Requires DIY mounting
Best Motorcycle Thermometer Buying Guide
Some motorcycles come with built-in thermometers on the handlebars. If you’re a biker who doesn’t have one of these models, though, you might be wondering what the advantage of getting one would be. Can’t you just feel out the temperature with your own senses, and check for ice and other hazards with your eyes?
In this guide, we won’t just explain what a thermometer can do for you—we’ll also tell you everything you need to know to find one that works for you. We’ll cover the uses of motorcycle thermometers, the different varieties, what to look for when buying one, and other tips for getting the best.
Do You Need a Motorcycle Thermometer?
Motorcycle thermometers include two important parts: sensors to get an accurate reading on the air temperature, and displays to show you the information in a way that you can read while riding.
The readings they give you won’t be as accurate as they would be if you were stationary—it’s tough to get windchill or shade/sun adjustments, for example—but it’s still going to be far more accurate than the way you feel while cruising down the highway.
These are just a few of the things motorcycle thermometers can help you watch out for:
- Icy conditions: The air temperature always feels lower while you’re in motion, so it can be hard to tell when to start being aware of snow and ice hazards. A thermometer can make sure you stay watchful without jumping the gun.
- Rapid temperature changes: Unless the places you like to ride are exceptionally flat, the temperature can change very quickly. A thermometer can help you determine how elevation changes are influencing the weather around you.
- Heat: Bikers wear a lot of layers to stay warm, but how do you know when to start shedding them? Thermometers make that decision much easier.
Different Kinds of Motorcycle Thermometers
You can use plenty of things as a thermometer for your motorcycle, and get the data you need in plenty of different ways. There are three important characteristics all of these need to share: They’re safe to read while riding, they’re accurate, and they won’t fall off on the highway. Outside of that, there’s a lot of room to get creative.
- Digital Displays
Digital thermometers are popular because of their brightness, their readability, and the wide range of information they can pack onto the screen. These require some kind of power source—either their own battery or a cigarette lighter adapter that can run them off your bike battery.
Typical features of digital motorcycle thermometers include readouts in Fahrenheit and Celsius, clocks, voltmeters, combination clock-thermometers, and backlights for night riding. Oddly enough, they’re less likely than analog models to report temperatures in both measurement systems, so be sure you’re getting the kind that you want.
The other disadvantage of digital readouts is that you’ll need a way to mount them in place. They won’t necessarily come with holders or screws.
- Analog Displays
These are the simplest kind of motorcycle thermometer. They’re made to attach directly to the handlebars, usually tightened with a clamp or screw. Aluminum and stainless steel are popular construction materials. They typically have a white or black face.
Analog thermometers don’t need a power source. They work like the kind of thermometers you’re used to, with a dial that responds to ambient air temperature. They’ll often be marked in both Fahrenheit and Celsius degrees, so you can pick the measurement you prefer.
The disadvantages of analog displays is that they’re often cheaper and less durable, and don’t tend to come with light-up faces so you can read them at night. Numbers are also generally smaller, so you might have to stop your bike to see if the air temperature has changed.
- Phone Holders
For those who like to use as few devices as possible, but still want to get complete information while riding, phone holders are a great solution. Just download a thermometer app on your smartphone, attach the holder to your handlebars, clip the phone in place, and ride.
This does, of course, come with all the drawbacks usually associated with using smartphones for everything. Thermometer apps can drain your battery quickly, and it’s not always easy to recharge while on the road—you might have to purchase a separate device just to keep your phone going.
It can be worth it, though. Some apps have excellent displays that rival the best digital thermometers. This is a route with some tradeoffs that can work great in the long run.
What to Consider When Buying Motorcycle Thermometers
Nobody knows the way you like to ride better than you. You’ve got a handle on your favorite roads, favorite destinations, and favorite speeds. Using that knowledge is the best way to find a thermometer that’s going to work for you.
Start by answering these three questions:
1) Are you going to take it on rough or smooth rides?
2) How fast do you plan to go?
3) Will there be a lot of elevation change? Then run down this list of important features.
- Temperature Sensor
All thermometers have a temperature sensor that’s separate from the readout. On a human thermometer, it’s the metal tip; on a cooking thermometer, it’s the spike you insert into the meat.
Motorcycle thermometers have different sorts of sensors. On an analog thermometer, it can work a lot like it does on a thermometer for meat, candy, or taking your temperature. On a digital thermometer, it’ll be a bit more complex, and more obviously external.
Some sensors can be adjusted in order to get more accurate readings. Your sensor will be the most accurate when it’s protected from both wind and direct sunlight.
- Temperature Readout
The other side of the coin from the sensor is how the thermometer conveys temperature information to you. An analog readout looks a lot like a traditional speedometer or other built-in gauge, with one hand pointing to the current temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. A digital readout will display the numbers to you directly.
The critical point here is that you have to be able to read it while riding. That means big numbers, and a location somewhere you can look at without taking your eyes off the road for more than a second. If you ride at night, you’ll also need some kind of light source, which may or may not be built in.
Digital temperature readouts can be adjusted to show other information, such as the current time or the voltage of your bike’s battery.
Your motorcycle thermometer may or may not come with a mount or fixture that can be used to hold it in place. Some thermometers come with a built-in clamp, which may or may not be adjustable, and will try to fit as many sizes of handlebars as possible. These can come with a screw and a hex key to tighten them in place.
Other thermometers might require mountings to be purchased separately and clamped in place beforehand. If you’re using your phone as your thermometer, of course, the mounting will be the entire point, since the phone handles everything else.
- Power Source
If your thermometer is analog, it won’t need to run on anything—the sensor and readout don’t require a power source to work.
If you go with a digital model, you have a couple of options. Some motorcycle thermometers, which are also designed for use in cars, plug into cigarette lighters for their power. Others have built-in USB adapters that can be plugged into a USB charger.
Depending on what your motorcycle comes with, you might need to buy another accessory to make your thermometer work, but these power add-ons can also be used for other devices.
Tips for Buying and Using Motorcycle Thermometers
Getting the most use out of motorcycle thermometers is all about paying attention. Once you get your thermometer set up how you like it, the next step is to get comfortable using the information it’s giving you.
- Before you go riding, plan out your trip. Know where you’ll be heading and how likely you are to experience rapid temperature changes.
- The thermometer will react to changing temperatures before you do. Let it tell you when to add or remove layers of clothing. If you wait until you’re already feeling hot to take your jacket off, you’ll spend more time uncomfortable and sweaty than you need to.
- When riding at night, if your thermometer doesn’t have a light-up display, stop your motorcycle if you need to check it. Better to interrupt your ride than ride in a way that isn’t safe.
Best Motorcycle Thermometer FAQs
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of your options in terms of thermometers for motorcycles or scooters, and what you need to think about when buying one. In this section, we’ll try to clear up any remaining questions you may have. This FAQs section deals with questions about power sources, mounting, and alternative thermometer options.
Q. Do all motorcycle thermometers run on batteries?
A: Not all. In fact, it’s more common for them to either run off your bike’s battery through adapters (if they’re digital) or without power at all (if they’re analog).
Q. Are adhesive thermometers a good idea on motorcycles?
A: We recommend against it. Stick-on thermometers work great for monitoring the temperature of a room, fridge, or fish tank. But on a motorcycle, they give much less accurate information and aren’t built to hold up to the elements.
Q. Can I use my phone as a motorcycle thermometer?
A: Absolutely! As long as you have some sort of mounting and a thermometer app you can read on the road, your phone is a perfectly good substitute. Just remember that thermometer apps are known to drain phone batteries pretty quickly.
Our Top Pick
The DROK 180038 Digital Thermometer is our favorite motorcycle thermometer. It’s got the best balance of easy installation, complete information, and durability. We like that the readout is never hard to read whether it’s night or day, and it’s cool that you can adjust the sensor to keep it out of the sun and wind. Not to mention, the price is unbeatable.