One of the most satisfying chores of owning a bike, is servicing it and to tackle it you will need the proper tools to get you started. Most motorcycles come with a standard toolkit under the seat, the first thing you should do is take it out from under your seat and throw it away. Throwing the tool kit away serves two very important purposes- the first being saving weight, the second is saving you the headache of stripped bolts and broken bits.
The tool kits that come with most motorcycles are cheap, mass produced pieces of shit that you should under no circumstances ever use. If it’s an emergency and you have no other choice then maybe but even then I will be silently judging you.
First things first, please solemnly swear to use the tools you have bought only as they were intended. Screwdrivers are not meant for scraping or piercing, Spanners are not meant for hammering and cutting pliers are not meant to remove fasteners. You would have spent good money on the tools and using them like a 5 year old makes zero sense.
Tools aren’t cheap but no one is asking you to build a tool kit fit for the MotoGP, that would be the dream but that would also mean that you will most probably never use any of the tools. Here is a list of basic tools that every motorcyclist should have in their garage:
Picking up a good ratchet set from a recognised brand will help you tackle almost all the jobs. We have found that having a ¼ inch ratchet set with a few extension bars helps you get into hard to reach places and remove/fasten most fasteners and bolts. For higher torque application you like removing the swing arm spindle or suspension bolts you will require a ½ inch ratchet. You can minimize cost here by buying the ratchet and then picking up only the required sockets separately.
Our pick: Stanley ¼ inch socket set STMT72794-8, Stanley 86477 ½ inch socket set
Pro-Tip: Some brands actually sell toolkits specific to your motorcycle, if you can get your hands on one, it would save you the time and money of assembling a toolkit piece by piece. Again quality tools is key to ensuring easy maintenance of your bike. Most motorcycles use metric fasteners, so buying a metric only tool kit would make sense. If you own a Royal Enfield or a Harley Davidson, you will need both metric and imperial tool kits.
When you can’t fit a socket, you need something flatter and that’s where a spanner comes into play. Buying a 8mm-19mm set should cover almost all the fasteners on your motorcycle. Keeping a set of open ended and ring type spanners will help where holding the nut while undoing a bolt is required. It is also a good idea to keep a backup set of the spanners you use most often.
Our pick: Taparia Ring Open Double sided Spaner set
Allen bolts or recessed bolts are the easiest to strip if a cheap bit or ill-fitting Allen key is used. A good quality set of keys will not only fit better but will last longer. For any Allen bolt over 10mm it will make more sense to use a ½ inch socket drive to unfasten due to the high amount of torque required.
Our Pick: Taparia KBHM9X Extra Long Ball Point Set
Set of Pliers
Pliers are the most versatile tools if used properly. You will require 3 types of plier, a flat nose, a long nose plier and a set of wire strippers. A flat nose plier provides good grip especially when trying to free stuck cables or removing metal clips. A long nose plier is excellent in getting to hard to reach places, we usually use this to pick up bolts that fall down into inaccessible places. A wire stripper is useful while splicing wiring to add accessories.
Our Pick: FREEMANS 8″ Combination Plier, VISKO 254 6″ LONG NOSE, FREEMANS 5″ Wire Stripper
Pick up a good set of flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, screws are of different sizes and using the appropriate screw driver will make your job easier. It is better to buy screwdrivers with rubber grips as they offer better grip when your hands are covered in grease. Sizes 1,2 & 3 should be sufficient
Our Pick: Stanley 265242 6-Piece Screwdriver Set
Torx fasteners are used where higher toque is required to be applied. Torx and Allen keys are not to be interchanged. Some Torx screws also have a anti tamper center pin to prevent use of Allen keys. Torx keys are usually cheap and can be found at any hardware store
Our Pick: Alcoa Prime Long Reach Hollow End Torx Screwdriver Set
A torque wrench is one of the most frequently used and most important tools you can get. In a nutshell, it’s a ratchet-like device with an adjustable clutch that stops turning the nut/bolt when a predetermined torque figure has been reached. This prevents nut and bolt threads from being over-stretched or breaking off.
Our Pick: TRI-TORQ 1/2 inch Square Drive Torque Wrench or Craftsman Micro Clicker Torque Wrench
If you ever need to measure, there is nothing better than our trusty steel ruler, chain slack, suspension sag, dropping forks and just a guide to draw a straight line. The steel ruler is one of the best universal tools to have in your garage.
You should also think of having the following, though it isn’t necessary.
- Small flash light, we use rechargeable LED torches because they are small and last for a couple of hours on a single charge
- Spare fuses and bulbs
- Tire Repair kit, this should include – Tire plugs, an air pump, air pressure gauge
- Zip ties of different sizes
- Jumper cables
- Rubber Mallet
- Grunge brush, to clean the chain
- Paddock Stand
You don’t need to buy all your tools at one time, tools are an investment, buy the ones you need and slowly build your toolkit. Here’s to greasy hands and fast bikes