Create your own tool kit

Posted by Tom Mehren on

Creating Your Own Motorcycle Tool Kit

It used to be you bought a motorcycle and it came  with a tool kit that would let your do just about anything you needed during a simple level one service. Adjust the chain, drop the oil, reposition mirrors and levers and so on. That was sensible.

After buying a new bike this past month, I opened up the tool pouch to find a screwdriver and a fuse puller. That was it. Thank you very much.

My next step was to see if the manufacturer offered a complete tool kit to handle level one work. No. But they did offer all the tools separately. Imagine what the price tag would be on that!

Some manufacturers do offer optional kits, but they are not always specific to a particular model, so you may wind up with some tools you don't need and be missing a few you do.

Ditto on aftermarket kits such as those offered by CruzTOOLS and Motion Pro.

Photo: CruzTOOLS Road Tech Metric Kit is a good start for owners of Japanese and European motorcycles that did not include a tool kit at the time of purchase. But that's just the beginning.

Nowadays, the only real way to insure you have the tools you need on the go is to start by sitting down with your motorcycle, its manual, your home tool box and a note pad. Then have a little meeting of the minds between the four of you.

Start by opening your manual and going through the maintenance section. What size tool would you need to open up the drain plug on your oil pan? Write it down. Will it require an open end, closed end or socket? Make a note of that.

How about the oil filter? What will you need to access that and replace it? Write it down.

As you work your way through the tasks and identify the tools you'll need, try and slim it down so a single 10mm wrench, let's say, will accomplish all the 10 mm duties. Remember that certain tasks like a chain adjust might need two of the same sized wrenchesone open and one closed.

Today many motorcycles have a lot of bodywork, so you must account for all those allen or hex bolts that will need to be removed to get to, say, the battery.

Moving through this procedure when you purchase a new or used motorcycle will also keep you aware of what you'll need to do when the time comes to perform some maintenance. Don't assume it's going to be simple to access an oil drain plug easily. You won't know until you actually take a gander at location and accessibility (and you early F650GS owners know exactly what we're talking about here).

Now you've got your list and it's time to go shopping. Your options are:

Your Dealer: As stated before, I was able to purchase all the tools I need through my dealer via the manufacturer's offerings. But the grade of each tool may be lower, and I may be able to get better grades for the same or better price elsewhere.

Some dealers have a significant supply of tools from OEM kits that seemingly never got to the customer at the time of purchase. Ask if you can dig through the loose tools and make a deal to get your kit off the ground.

What we like about OEM kits is they are typically stealthy, with pieces nesting together to make it easy to store in a small place.

After Market Companies: Companies like CruzTOOLS and Motion Pro offer a good selection of after market tools. Between the two they probably have 90% of what you need. In the case of CruzTOOLS, their basic kits are a good place to start. See what is included, then fill in the blanks using the below alternatives.

And don't forget the axel wrenches. Again, CruzTOOLS offers some nice stealthy alternatives. You don't really want to ride around with the large size wrenches you'd get at the hardware store. Go for a lightweight slim setup. The CT wrenches come in combinations of 14/22/27mm and 14/22/32mm. One of each will work for many bikes.

Photo: Minimize space by getting smaller tools that still get the job done. Sears large 32mm wrench can't hold a candle to the small size axel wrench from CruzTOOLS.


The Hardware Store: Places like Sears, Lowe's and Home Depot are where you're going to go to start filling in the gaps. A simple 8mm and 10mm allen wrench can typically be purchased solo. No need to carry around one of those combo allen sets with everything in it from 1.5mm to 10mm. That's just going to suck up space in your storage area.

Beyond level one maintenance, be sure you have your bases covered on handlebar bolts, shift & brake pedals and other parts that might need tending to in the event of a crash. 

The new mantra at motorcycle manufacturers is to use a 19mm hex nut on the front axel. To get that out CT makes a 19/22 hexnut removal tool (shown left).

And then there are odds and ends you might want to add. Some CruzTOOLS kits include electrical tape, bailing wire, a flashlight and a one-use tube of white grease. Practical. If you  already carry these items, keep them in the pouch the kit comes in, otherwise discard the duplicates to your spares box in the garage.

Most importantly, you're in the garage - so HAVE FUN!

Tom Mehren


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