If you want to maintain your motorcycle in good condition in between services, you need the right tools for the job. So we asked Tools Critic expert “Mark T” for his advice. He knows about all sorts of tools for everything from woodworking to gardening to working on your pride and joy. Here are his tips for seven essential motorcycle maintenance tools:
It’s rare to find someone who owns a motorcycle that is totally mechanically inept. Some may call it necessity, since taking your bike to a mechanic or dealership every time it has a small issue gets extremely costly in time, and quite often is very inconvenient. But I think it’s more than that. I think there is a small bond that develops between a rider and his bike that makes him care for his motorcycle with a passion that only other bikers understand.
Unlike driving a car, riding a motorcycle is a more intimate experience where you can literally feel that your safety depends on how mechanically sound your bike is. No one will care for your bike as much as you do, and although you may need to visit a mechanic every once in a while, there are some basic maintenance checks that you can easily do on your own if you have the proper tools.
We call them must-have tools, since without them, even the easiest jobs get complicated. They are not expensive and can be used by beginners and professionals alike. Here are the seven must have tools that we recommend you invest in as soon as you purchase your first bike.
1 Nitrile Gloves
You might have seen mechanics using special gloves when working on a motorcycle, and although those obviously seem useful, you may think that they are not really a priority. But honestly, they are. Every time you interact with your motorcycle, it gets dirty and greasy, and you get a mixture of dirt, oil and lube on your hands and under your fingernails that’s very hard to remove. There are chemical solutions that can help you with that, but longer term, those chemicals are very harmful for your skin.
Investing in a pair of nitrile gloves, especially heavy duty ones, is a must. They are very thick and won’t tear easily, they keep your hands clean, and can be easily stored even in the motorcycle storage compartment.
2 Torque Wrench
Fastening your bolts regularly and ensuring they are set to the recommended settings should become second nature if you’re a bike owner. You can get the torque settings from your motorcycle manual, and once you learn them, you need to make sure that your fasteners are always torqued properly. If they are too loose, the bolts will strip and rattle, if you over torque them, you risk breaking them.
A torque wrench will “click” once you reach your desired level, and it’s one of the easiest to use but most valuable tools that a motorcycle owner should invest in.
It’s not the most intuitive tool and definitively not the first one that comes to mind when thinking about working on your motorcycle (some people may think that if it reaches the point where you need a hammer, it’s time to call a mechanic), but a small hammer or a rubber mallet comes in handy when you want to put things in their right position. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll need one and use it.
4 Socket Wrench Set
Now we’re getting into the serious tools, the bread and butter of any motorcycle maintenance kit. A wrench and a socket set will be the most used tools in your arsenal, so it’s worth it to consider splurging a bit on a high-quality set that will last you for years to come. You don’t need a professional level set that costs hundreds of dollars, but you’ll need one with enough options and accessories to cover any situations. I personally recommend a six-points socket with T-handles, but other than that, any of the best-selling sets on the market will do.
5 Chain Breaker Tool
Replacing your chain and sprocket is one of the most difficult procedures and a lot of amateurs defer to the expertise of a mechanic. Depending on the type of bike you own, you’ll need to replace your chain every 10,000 to 30,000 miles (about 15,000-50,000km), but you need to refer to the owner’s manual for the exact specifications.
If you decide to do this on your own – it’s not that complicated once you get the hang of it – you’ll need a chain breaker tool, as it’s basically impossible to do the procedure without it. Make sure you replace both the chain and the sprocket at the same time, otherwise an old sprocket will wear out your new chain much faster than normal.
6 Impact Driver
An impact driver or an impact wrench will come in useful to bulge those pesky screws that get really locked. When the elbow grease fails, it’s time to apply some “tough love”. You don’t want to shear your fastener, so an impact driver is the perfect tool since it will just gently shock the fastener loose.
You don’t want to damage your fasteners, so always make sure you use impact bits (which should come with your driver) when using an impact driver.
7 Tire Pressure Gauge
We left one of the most important tools for last, but don’t underestimate the importance of checking your tires regularly. A tire pressure gauge will help you do just that.
Properly inflated tires will reduce the risk of a motorcycle accident, will reduce fuel consumption and will improve your motorcycle performance. Ideally you should check the pressure of your tires before every ride.
There are analog and digital pressure gauges out there, and honestly, any of them will do. Since you can use one on your car as well, it makes sense to invest in one that’s good quality and that you’re familiar with. I know some old-school riders prefer the analog ones, but I think the new digital ones are more convenient to use.
Maintaining your motorcycle it’s considered by many riders an art, and with the right tools, it might become a passion for you too. When you add the benefits of saving a lot of money and increasing your safety, it becomes one of those things that once you do them, you wonder why it took you so long to get started. We hope that this guide will put you on the right track.