There is something about owning a motorcycle that makes you not only want to take it out on the open highway but to tinker with it.
Perhaps because the body panels are so easy to remove, we feel the urge to upgrade, maintain, and even do minor repairs.
If you are new to motorcycling or if this is your first time working on them, you might wonder which tools would be best to have on hand. There is a huge array of tools to choose from, so how can the average person choose the best ones for the amateur?
We would like to give you a list of the 10 most used motorcycle tools for repairing or working on your bike. Be prepared to print this list because you will want it when you head off to your local motorcycle shop.
The Top 10 Most Commonly Used Motorcycle Tools
We are assuming that you have already collected an assortment of basic tools in your garage, such as ratchets, sockets, wrenches, and pliers. So, keep your eyes open for some good deals on the following:
While your bike has a stand to one side so you can park it, when you are doing work on it, this stand will not be sufficient, especially if you intend to take the wheel off. You will probably see both front and rear stands, although they are rarely sold in a package. If you can only afford one, start with the rear stand, especially if you are a beginner. Once you become more comfortable with repairing the bike, you can spring for a front stand when you decide to remove the chain or rear wheel.
Tire Pressure Gauge
Your motorcycle really depends on those two tires, so you should check the tire pressure each day before you head out. Tires that are low on air can lead to poor handling and braking performance. If the tire is over-inflated, it not only wears the center of the tread off more quickly, but it reduces the area of road contact, so you lose some of the gripping action of the tire. It only takes about 1 minute to check the air pressure, and it’s well worth the trouble.
Hex Head Sockets
Sometimes called Allen Wrenches or Hex Keys, these come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Motorcycles use quite a bit of them, so keeping a few sets on hand is always a good idea. If you already have Allen wrenches, be sure to add some different types of hex heads that you put on a ratchet so you can apply more torque when necessary.
Sometimes, as hard as you might try, a fastener simply will not budge. When you notice that the head of the fastener is starting to strip, it’s time to get out your impact driver. This tool is designed to “shock” or force the fastener to come loose without applying all that twisting effort. Don’t resort to a torque wrench or use a cheater or breaker bar! The last thing you want to do is break the head off the fastener and find yourself needing to drill it out!
You might be wondering why in the world you would need a torque wrench, especially when we just advised you in #4 to NOT use them. The trick here is to not use them where they aren’t needed. The truth is that nearly every fastener on your motorcycle will need a torque wrench when you put them back on. You don’t want them too loose or too tight so you will need to have a good quality torque wrench.
Cable Lubing Tool
These are very inexpensive tools that are priceless when you need to lube the cables on your bike. This works when you screw one end on the to the top of the cable and on the other end, you insert the can of cable lube. Give it a shot or two and when you see the bubbles come out at the far end of the cable, you know the job is done. Regularly lubricating the cables on your bike will ensure that they last long and stay quiet.
If you have an older bike you might not need this, but newer models that have ABS (anti-lock) brake systems will find this vacuum hydraulic brake line bleeder a must. This will not only save you time, but you will do a much better job when it comes time to bleed the brake system on your bike. You don’t need to spend a fortune on one of these, but you will be so happy you have one when you need to get the air out of the brake system.
Motorcycle Axle Tool
Sometimes called the front axle Allen tool, this tool will help you remove the front wheel on your bike. In the old days, you had to have a separate Allen tool for this purpose for every different motorcycle you owned! Whomever invented this was sick of this problem as well and we are certainly glad that they invented this tool. Over the years, you will be too!
Oil Catch Pan
If you are a true beginner, changing the oil on your bike is so simple, you won’t have any problem doing it yourself. What you will need, however, is a place to catch the oil as it drains. An oil catch pan is perfect for the job. Once the oil is drained, you can easily pour the used oil into an empty bottle and take it to your local recycling center. Never dump motor oil in the drain or throw it out with the regular trash. Nearly every gas station and mechanic shop have a recycling station to accept your used and dirty oil.
If you don’t already have one of these handy devices for other jobs around the house, you will definitely want one for your bike. You don’t need a fancy gadget, just a basic multimeter that shows you resistance, DC voltage, and continuity. With this device, you can trace electrical shorts in the wiring, test the battery, and more. Once you start using a multimeter, you will wonder how you ever got by without one.
Don’t forget to pick up a service manual for your year and model. While it’s not a “tool” per se, it will come in very handy when you are working and wondering where those extra parts should have gone! Just kidding. A service manual will show you where certain parts are, how to test them, and what torque the fasteners will need to be reassembled.
Now you can really jump on your ride and feel confident about riding down the highway.