Having the proper tools on your bike can save you or a friend from a ruined day and an expensive towing bill. Although many bikes come with a set of service tools, these sets are often incomplete and should be supplemented.
Even if you ride a small bike without much cargo space, you should be able to carry the most essential items in a small bag underneath the seat, or within a side panel.
Essential tools to carry include the following:
- A screwdriver with reversible Phillips and flat-head bits
- An inexpensive and compact set of box wrenches (SAE or Metric; for Japanese motorcycles, you should use JIS)
- A variety of appropriate fuses (Be sure they match OEM specifications)
- Replacement brake light and headlights
- An LED flashlight
- A crescent wrench and pair of pliers
- A wheel removal tool, and spark-plug remover (these generally come with most bikes)
- A masterlink (On chain-driver machines); they can be purchased be purchased from a dealer or some hardware stores
In addition, on a motorcycle, some less-orthodox tools are very useful in emergency situations:
- Heavy-gauge wire with alligator clips can be used to jump a bike and to diagnose or temporarily fix electrical problems – such as a frozen starter relay, or bad ground connection. Alternatively, you can purchase motorcycle jumper-cables
- A right-angle, or flexible shaft screwdriver (screws are often difficult to reach on motorcycles)
- A tire plug kit and CO2 inflation kit. Keep in mind, extreme caution must be exercised when riding a motorcycle with a patched or plugged tire (Stay under 30 M.P.H.), and it is critical that you replace the damaged tire as soon as possible
- A length of fuel line – this can be useful for replacing a ripped hose, or may be used to siphon gas in an emergency. Better yet, consider purchasing a siphon can hose. Remember, the tank you are siphoning into, must be below the donor tank. You can remove your gas tank to accomplish this
- Assorted and matching nuts and bolts (long and short). Do a survey of your bike to see what hardware might be useful. If you were to drop your bike, carrying some extra hardware, might prevent a ride home without a foot-peg, or with a dragging exhaust
- Some high quality duct tape wrapped around a pen could prove useful
Though this might sound like a lot of items, all of these tools are light-weight and will fit within a very small space. If you ride a bagger or touring bike, you might consider additional tools (e.g. a socket set, multi-meter) and replacement parts (clutch cables, inner tubes and an extra chain or belt, if applicable). Packing a Clymer or Haynes book is very useful, if you have the space.
Beyond carrying these items, it is important to know how to use them. Performing routine maintenance operations, yourself, will help you to become familiar you’re your bike. In addition, subscribing to and participating in discussions on an internet forum devoted to your model motorcycle will help you know which problems you are likely to experience, and how to remedy them. If you are planning a long trip with a friend, consider sharing larger parts and tools to conserve space.
No matter what happens, stay positive and vigilant; enjoy the journey along the ride.