Like us, you’ve probably been deep into some essential maintenance on your bike when you find you don’t have the tool you need.
You may be forced to improvise. But it’s better to have the right tool for the job.
Here’s a list of the basic tools every garage needs as well as the tools needed on the road or trail to get you home. First, garage tools:
- Wrenches.Consider a set with a ratcheting box end on one side and an open end on the other. Be sure to get a full set that includes 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19mm sizes, more if possible.
- Ratchet wrench and a collection of sockets. For example, consider a set that includes a 3/8-inch drive 7.5-inch standard ratchet, a 1.5-inch thumbwheel ratchet, 3- and 6-inch extensions, a universal joint, standard sockets from 6mm to 19mm, and deep sockets from 10mm to 19mm.
- T-handles. They’re hard to beat for ease of use. A good set includes 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 17 and 19mm sockets. T-handles are also great for hex keys. Ball-end T-handle hex keys are great for hard-to-reach bolts, as well as standard hex keys at one end of the T-handle. Be sure to see whether you need torx keys.
- Tire gauge.
- Battery charger.
- Chain breaker. When it’s time to replace the chain on your motorcycle, you’ll be thankful for the day you bought a quality chain tool to break the chain and press on master link side plates.
Unfortunately, we don’t always get to work on our motorcycles in the relative safety and convenience of a garage. When you break down out in the real world, here are some of the things you need to get going.
- Portable tool kit, street. A good kit for a metric cruiser, for example, might include four combination wrenches (8, 10, 12 and 14mm), an adjustable wrench, locking pliers, tire-pressure gauge, flashlight, four hex keys (3, 4, 5 and 6mm), a six-in-one screwdriver, two-in-one spark-plug socket, electrical tape, spark-plug gap gauge, WD-40, thread locker,¼-inch-drive ratchet and three sockets (8, 10 and 12mm), plus a two-inch extension.
- Portable tool kit, trail. A good kit would include two combination wrenches (10 and 12mm), an 8-inch adjustable wrench, a four-in-one screwdriver, locking pliers, two forged tire levers, an LED flashlight, electrical tape, cable ties, safety wire, WD-40, a low-range tire gauge, and a shop towel.
- Tire repair kit, tubeless. Probably the most common roadside, or trailside, repair is fixing a flat tire. A tubeless tire repair kit should include a tire gauge, CO2 cartridges, an inflator, three tubeless tire plugs, a plug insertion tool and glue.
- Tire repair kit, tube. A tubed tire repair kit should include steel tire levers or splurge and get lightweight titanium ones), a tube of rubber cement, six feather-edge patches in three sizes, a buffer tool and a valve cap/core remover, and an inflator.
- Tire inflator. Extra insurance would be to have an engine-air pump that threads into the spark-plug hole to inflate the tire, or even a portable motorcycle tire inflator that uses a 12-volt electric motor and metal compressor assembly to inflate your tire, running off your bike’s battery.<
- Beadbreaker. If you’re changing a tire, you’ll need to break the tire bead. A compact breaker kit should include tire irons, rim protectors, a valve stem multitool and tire mounting lube.