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Must-have items for motorcycle tool kits

Added May 16, 2017

In the not-too-distant past, before the time when nearly every new motorcycle was maintenance-free, riders expected to perform routine maintenance on their motorcycles. These repairs and adjustments were often made on the side of the road. Those were the days when tool kits on motorcycles were commonplace.

Computer ignition, fuel injection, ABS brakes, and the myriad of sensors and electronics on modern motorcycles are beyond the capabilities of shade tree mechanics. When those systems go haywire along the road, a cellphone is the tool employed. Yet with all the modern technology involved, motorcycles are mechanical devices—so carrying a tool kit is still worthwhile.

Factory tool kits

Did your motorcycle come with a factory tool kit? Since tool kits are not major selling points—like horsepower, chrome, and fancy paint—they are often less than ideal in terms of completeness and quality.

Even the few truly high-quality factory tool kits can benefit from a few upgrades.

What tools do you need?

Storage space on a motorcycle is always a premium, making a small-but-versatile tool kit the best option. Whether you start with a great tool kit or none at all, the place to begin is by examining your motorcycle. Here are some questions to start your tool kit design process:

  • What types and sizes of fasteners are used on your motorcycle?
  • What tools will you need to access common replaceable items such as the battery, fuses, and light bulbs?
  • What could be damaged in a simple parking lot tip over?
  • Has vibration loosened any parts in the past?

With answers in hand, you can begin the process of assembling or enhancing your tool kit. Every motorcycle is different, and each likely uses a few common sizes in each type of fastener. Choose high-quality tools to engage those fasteners. They will last longer and not damage the fasteners, making them well worth their price.

General purpose tool additions

There are also some other general-purpose tools worthy of adding to your tool kit. This is a partial list of tools many riders will find beneficial:

  • Long-handled allen wrench or hex key set
  • Vise grips
    • Small needle nose
    • Medium curved jaw
  • Pliers
  • Fuse puller
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Right-angled 1/4-inch hex bit ratchet driver (with screw driver and Torx tips)
  • Multi-bit screw driver
  • Multi-tool (knife, file, wire cutters, etc.)
  • Flashlight
  • Small shop towel

Many experienced riders also pack a roadside repair kit with spare fasteners and fuses. This can include things like wire, band iron, hose clamps, and duct tape to handle the things that might need fixing during a journey.

Being prepared to handle small repairs on the road can save both time and money. Plus, the cost of the tools and spares is cheap compared to the sense of confidence they impart. Besides getting some grease on your hands, fixing your own motorcycle is just part of the riding culture.

Till next time, ride safe!


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If you enjoyed this piece on the long-distance riding tips, you might also enjoy other motorcycle safety tips we have featured in our Safety section