The Toolkit Thread
After participating in a couple of Neduro's clinics, and having had to use my toolkit several times during, it's become obvious that a formal list of toolkit and trail(road)side repair neccesities would be a useful item to have for both noob's and senior ADVer's alike. That said, I've taken a few hours on a recovery day after a very intense ride yesterday to photo-document my toolkit and essentials. Special thanks to Dan for letting me use his epoxy-painted garage floor and digital camera for the photoshoot!
That said, I would like to open for comment/criticism my toolkit, it's contents in considerable detail, and why they're in there. The stuff I carry is the product of many years or trailriding, dual sport riding, trials riding and more recently my short streetbike excursions. I ride primarily dirt, race alot as well - desert/enduros/scrambles/GP's - and generally have an observed trials and dirtbike background.
Thus, experience with repairs and essentials has honed my toolkit down to the items listed here, and I can only disclaimer that these are the things I carry on any ride(and sometimes when I race) that I expect to have bike or body drama on from one or more of the participants. I have carried things I eliminated later, and things I have only needed once or twice but that would have prevented a night spent in the cold or otherwise miserable.
A lot of this stuff might seem self explanatory, but oftentimes I'm the only one on a ride of 10+ people that has what someone else(or I) need. Everyone agrees that it's good to have, but no one seems to remember it when they are sitting around drinking beer later and have the chance to hop on the internet and mailorder the stuff they needed hours before to avoid a major catastrophe!
Anyone that spots anything I've missed, or has a worthwhile addition/suggestion for a situation I haven't yet encountered
is welcome to chime in about it - just provide some background and a reason, and try to keep it realistic by stating what form of riding it might work best for, or if it's bike-specific or the like. Everyone has different needs, and this should just be used as a guideline to developing your OWN toolkit. You get the idea!
For general riding where my tools and spares can't be carried on the bike, I carry a waist pack - or fannypack as we call it here in the US. I used to carry a tool wrap inside a backpack, but that proved too cumbersome to access and carrying the weight up that high was no help to moving aroudn ont he bike either. Obviously, some of us can't or won't wear a waistpack or even a backpack but I think the following banter should outline the important points of packaging all of your tools wherever you choose to carry them...
I looked all of the commercially available waistpacks, found them in stores and opened every pocket and un/zipped every zipper until I had figured out which ones had the features I wanted and fit me. Fox, Thor, Moose, MSR, Oneal, Fly, and Ogio, were the primary brands I looked at to name a few(I get by a lot of different shops). I also considered some stuff made by Mountainsmith and others at the outdoor sports shops, but I settled on the Ogio MX 450 for the following reasons:
- Fit. It fit my waist, and I'm a skinny white guy. Many I tried on had to be adjusted as small as they could go when strapped on to my 31" waist. I don't know why but whoever designs these things makes them long enough to fit around a big person and still have strap to spare. Perhaps this is flattery? I dunno...bottom line is that if you're not inclined to wear your toolpack because it's uncomfortable, there's a good chance that the ride you take without it will be the one you need it the most on. This should be a seriously motivating factor in selecting any baggage, IMO, even at the sacrifice of some other important factors in many cases.
- Security. Zippers on the MX450 were twice the size of comparable Moose or MSR packs. I know, I know, weight is an issue but not if all your tools fall out because a zipper didn't stay zipped or burst behind the zipper itself! Zipepr pulls must be easy to grab and use with gloves, or worse yet, wet/muddy gloves on without having to take them off to get into the pack. Larger zippers also tolerate sand/mud better, because they are less sensitive to the inevitable wear caused by them and evacuate them more readily when being cleaned or used. Buckles on the Ogio were high quality, and I could stand on them in the store without them breaking. Brittle plastic is not welcome on equipment that sees an environment like a toolkit on a motorcycle, whether riding or in storage in the bed of a truck or gearbag. The buckles on one of the Fox bags were broken in the store!
- Flexibility. The side pockets on the MX450 have expanding bottoms to carry an oil bottle, water bottle or other more voluminous cargo in an emergency. This feature is very similar to many of the expandable tailbags, backpacks and panniers out there, and is a small sacrifice in weight for a great gain in versatility.
- Stayputtedness. Is that a technical term? I don't know, but you get the idea. The MSR bags have an oval patch of grippy material in the center of the pack where it rests on your back. It seems good, and is better than the Moose ones or any of the others which just seem to have bare cordura in this critical location. But the Ogio one has this same grippy textile material all the way around the inside or contact surface of the pack. It stays put and does not slip down even after miles and miles of sand whoops at a good clip. A side benefit of this is that things that do not move at all do not chafe or rub raw, either.
Another benefit to the grippy material that it stays put when it's off your waist and open and sitting on the seat of your bike(inevitably angled so that most packs wont *quite* stay on there when your bike is on the kickstand or leaned against a rock/tree). Non-grip packs slide off and dump your tools in the sand/grass/mud/dirt = bummer.
These are my priorities, not yours. You may have different needs or different body shape or other issues that another pack works better to minimize, but the theme here is to think ahead to how you're really going to use the pack and look for features that look like they will solve those.
Make sure everything in your kit will work/fit/swing/loosen/tighten where you think you even might remotely need it to, and try it out ahead of time. There is no sense in carrying something you don't know how to use or that won't work on your bike. This is especially true of tools that need to fit in tight spaces, like to get to the underside of carburetors or backside of rear sprockets or the like.
Tins - Silly me, I pack individual tools in tins like the ones you get Altoids mints and other candies in. The above example has been used to carry spare chain and masterlinks, and is now my patch kit storage facility.
WHY ar tins so great? They make a tool that might otherwise poke through or wear through the compartment of your toolbag that it's in sit neatly in place, and stay there. If the tools are properly packed/wrapped in foam or felt, they can keep moisture out better than the tool bag alone and will not rattle like a maraca with each whoop you pound over. If the lids want to pop open, throw some rubber bands around each them and they'll come in handy sometime too.
Acerbis Sparkpug caddy w/plug - these are very common and made by others as well, do a good job of keeping spare plugs dry and will tolerate free-fall without allowing the porcelain part of the plug to crack. They work better if the plug cannot move within them, so I pack the end cap with a bit of open-cell foam to pad the electrode and keep things from shaking themselves to pieces:
If you own multiple/change bikes for some reason, be sure and update the plug so you're lugging around the right one! If your ride a twin cylinder, or more, carry that many plugs!
Sparkplug Wrench - I use the stock KTM one, because it's light and simple and fits my bike nice...BUT...there are many, many different varieties of these and what's most important is that it works. I'll be rounding up one for my 990 Adventure as soon as it comes in... As with all of your tools, use it at home before you need to use it on the trail so you're sure it will work when you are depending on it.
200, 400 and 600 grit sandpaper - I prefer the Testor's variety, from the model car/airplane shops, because it is abrasive bonded to a mylar backing that will tolerate oil, water, coolant and brake cleaners(petroleum distillates) without becoming useless, gritty pulp. It rolls up nice, and weighs .1 ounces to carry. Many uses, too:
Why carry it you ask? It works great to prep painted or anodized engine cases for the Quiksteel(below) to adhere properly to, even when they've leaked oil all over the place the grit will nor come off the sandpaper.
Ever fallen/crashed and put some big gouges in the stanchion of a fork? If you notice it before it eats your forkseal alive, you can rub it down with the sandpaper and preven leakage.
Got a leaky forkseal? good chance it just needs dirt removed from beneathe the lip. Flip over the 600 grit so the abrasive side faces the fork, trim it with a knife or scissors and it can be used to clean the lip of fork seals and dust seals out.
Quiksteel or equivalent - the best way to patch an engine case or sidecover with a hole/crack in it. Even if you can't find all the pieces of the case, you can use a pop can and make a patch on the outside of cases and use the epoxy to hold it in place and seal oil in. This stuff tolerates incredible heat and bonds amazingly well to almost anything but plastic. Not strong enough to use as a major structural repair, but in sufficient quantities will hold on chainguides, hold a busted cable into a lever where the barrel end pulled out, I have also seen it hold a stripped rear brake master cylinder rod into the pivot barrel on the end of the lever.
Axle Wrench - Be sure it fits your bike! Be sure you're prepared for front and rear flats! There are new Motion Pro 7075 Aluminum Combo Lever tire "irons" out there that have a 6-point hex axle nut wrench on one end and are very light and STRONG.
Chain ToolsMotion Pro T-6 Chain Tool - This is the lightest, easiest and only way you're going break and re-assemble an O-ring chain in the field with the same tool that I know if. Small and compact, it comes with it's own zippered case with elastic bands(just like my Ogio toolpack) to hold all the components in place and keep them from abrading themselves into uselessness. It works with all 520 and 525 chains, I don't know about 428 or 530...It even includes storage for spare parts:
Chain drive is one of those things like the spoked wheel - it has always been there and probably won't go away anytime soon. With rare exception, nearly every bike made in modern times uses a chain to transfer torque to the rear wheel and having the right tools/spares to deal with all of the common problems associated with this system them seems like a no-brainer to me. Even on a simple dualsport ride, an innocent little rock can bounce up into the chainline and cause all sorts of mayhem - its just a matter of statistical chance. If you haven't had a chain problem yet, you will, just keep riding.
Stored in the Chain Tool pack. Why? I have knarled chain on a rock, and twisted chain up, and folded chain the wrong way:
Minimum Two(2) Spare master links - amazingly, I have never had one come loose, but I have had to repair one for another person. A single random chain link repair usually means you'll need two master links.
Minimum Two(2) Links of Chain - this means two inner, two outer...in a continuous piece, precut...you can cut what you need on the spot or cut one link for extra orings lost in the process or...keep using your imagination. This is just plain old spare parts, really.
Spare Chain O-rings -
Chapman Tools - This is the best compromise of weight and functionality I have found in a miniature ratchet. It can be used with all of the above bits, as well as the 1/4" drive adapter and any sockets you carry. The Chapman ratchet mechanism itself is a light but a little fragile, especially if you use a cheater on it as is neccessary sometimes. I substitute the Husky ratchet below and use all the rest of the chapman stuff, for a very versatile and capable set:
Metric Allen bits - 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6mm*
1/4" Drive adapter
#2, #3 Phillips bits*
#2 Flathead bit*
*I keep these separately stored in thin felt in an Altoids Smalls tin:
Chapman 1/4" Drive adapter:
This allows you to use the sockets listed below on the extension, to get down into that sidecase bolt or up through the frame to toghten that shift lever with ease. Note set screw on the bottom of the extension in the above pic; it will retain any bit or adapter inserted into the extension to prevent accidental loss of the tool.
The Husky 1/4" & 5/16" reversable mini ratchet complements the good parts of the Chapman stuff. There are many other similar products out there ,but this one stood out to me for a couple of reasons, following. It also provides it's own well-retained snap-in 1/4" drive adapter for the larger ratchet(read: higher torque capacity) on the 5/16" end for close quarters use:
It's proven itself time and time again for me. The fact that the ratchets are robust AND reversible is a dead sell over other designs IMO.
Craftsman Stubby Combo Wrenches - 8, 10, 12, 13, 14mm sizes - These are off the shelf items at any Sears or mailorder from same. Strong enough to put a wrench-on-a-wrench for the same leverage as a typical long-pattern wrench, without the bulk/weight of same:
Thick chrome plating resists abrasion and scratching and most of all rusting in a soaked toolbag. You'll notice that I also carry a Yamaha-issue 14&17 combo open end wrench - most rear brake master cylinder adjutments require TWO 14mm wrenches, and there are occasionally 17mm hex heads on bolts that need attention on my bikes.
Craftsman Short 6-point sockets, 1/4" drive - More off the shelf items I keep on a trimmed and shortened and lightened socket rail. 12 points are a LOT more likely to strip seized fastener heads, and the Husky ratchets have very fin indexing to accomodate the better 6-point socket variety. I I used to keep these in a tin too, but they fit nice on a shortened rail in my new Ogio MX 450. Sizes: 6mm(Kiehin or Mikuni Mainjet wrench), 8, 10, 12, 14mm standard, 8 & 10mm deeps- all common sizes on my bikes. I'm not a fan of redundacy in trail tools, but oftentimes you need the deep sockes to loosen brak bleeders, adjust levers, you name it. On my bikes, I have found a need, so they're in my kit. You decide accordingly for your bike and it's possibilities.
Beware of bikes with oddball 15mm, 13mm and 7mm hex head fasteners - check your bike for critical fasteners the might need attention in the field, and stock the appropriate tools!
Inconel 600 tie wire, .025 or .032 - Available from MSC Industrial Supply or McMaster-Carr...Expensive nickle superalloy, but you'll find more and more uses for it. It's about 200% better than bailing wire: lighter, stronger(60ksi yield strength, 3x that of common bailing wire) and it doesnt rust instantly when immersed in moisture and turn the inside of your toolbag orange! It is especially strong even at very high temperatures, so it can be used to hold bent or broken exhaust pipes and expansion chambers and silencers on to get back to the truck.
Other usage examples: It can easily be used in place of a missing or broken exhaust spring. The .032 or larger can be bent into a cotter pin shape to hold a footpeg pivot pin in or similar. The .025 stuff can be bent carefully into a carburetor needle clip in the even one is lost. I carry about 18" of it in a small bundle or two.
Tweezerman tweezer kit- I live in AZ, and everyone knows how cactus remind you not to bump into them next time. Not to mention you can find all sorts of other uses for these, just lik you would at home. They weight nearly nothing and are indespensable on the trail IMO. These are SS so they don't rust, and come in their own case, which I orient in my toolbag so that they may never escape and get pointed at me while racing. Why is this important? A friend of mine had his come loose in his toolbag, get poked through the side, and gave him what was basically an "inkless tattoo" for the better part of a long lap in a harescrambles race...
Comb - Any small comb with fine enough combs to pull an entire chunk of Cholla cactus or similar out. Also doubles as a way to sift gently through the sand should you drop a bolt, etc., in it while making a repair.
SOG Paratool or equivalent - This hits a lot of birds with one stone: pliers, powerful needlenose pliers(due to doubler mechanism - SOG unique!), wire cutters, knife, a single- and double-cut file, a wood saw that trims broken plastic fenders etc. nicely, and even aluminum if need be, straight blade knife, a serrated knife, miscelaneous screwdrivers(although they never seem to be long enough to get to anything...hence the Chapman screwdriver bits), Scissors on some models that are good enough to trim tins/pop cans for patches in crankcases, etc. Some models have ViseGrips incorporated into them, which can be used on a broken shift/brake lever or stripped shift shaft so you can at least shift. The biggest thing here is to know what it has so you don't carry it twice or separately and also so you know what can be used where!
Radiator StopLeak - a small, motorcycle-sized portion stashed in a 35mm film cannister. This stuff can save a long trip or a short ride where a stick, pebble or complete all-out getoff mangles a radiator but leaves it jut weeping or leaking. Dump it in and keep riding/racing! It's light, useful and the 35mm cannister will come in handy for something at some poitn even if you have to dump out the stopleak. Just remember to get it out of there ASAP as it's very hard on waterpump seals and the like...
BIC lighter - you never know when you'll need fire, whether it be for signal or warmth or both. Put it someplace in your toolpack where the button can;t get held on accidentally, and it will be there, ready to go, for a looooong time.
Allen Wrench assortment - Socket head capscrews have become more and more common on motocycles, both for their weight-savings and also because the look really cool! Allen wrenches can be great little leverage devices, cheaters, etc. so carry as many sizes as you can - even ones you think you might not need.
I prefer the ball-end type, and buy the good ones because these are some of the most highly-stressed tools in your toolkit - especially when used at odd angles.
Hemastat or equivalent - Otherwise known as a "roach clip," although tey can be used much more constructively! These can be used for many things, from holding something in place while glue dries to pincing off fuel lines that dangle from a gas tank that's been removed. They are $5 at the fishing store and come in handier than you might think.
Roll of wire - 12 guage or larger, enough to get from the handlebars to the rear of the bike in case of a short or switch issue or etc. This is another one that has a million uses - you can use one strand of copper to clean a clogged carburetor jet out, tie off somethign really tiny, etc.
Duckbill Shorty Crescent Wrench - these models from Craftsman open very wide, enough for a 28mm hex fastener, and also have narrowed jaws for getting into tight spaces and small fasteners. Will also work as a 3rd tire iron should you need it.
Zip Ties - Everone knows how handy these little guys are, and also how versatile, and light! I carry a variety of sizes, from teeny tiny ones for wiring harness repairs through mondo ones that can hold major compnents of a wrecked bike in place, or used as handcuffs like they do in Mexico!
Here is a place where you DO NOT want to skimp - sure, you can get the jar of 10,000 colored cheap-o zipties in a giant jar at DollarMart, but do you really want to rely on those in a desperate situation? I buy only Thomas & Betts High-Performance UV-resistant models when I can, and in specific the versions you see here with an overmolded stainless steel tang that will NOT release and is infinitely adjustable - no tugging the lead ont he ty-rap for that last click only to have the ratchet mechanism slip back three notches like a cheap-o zip tie will:
Duct and Electrical tape - This is pretty common knowledge, add bubblegum and you can fix anythign right? It can all come in very handy, as long as it's stored so that when you go to use it, it's still sticky and functional. Seen here stored on a tire lever, with zip ties to prevent this from happening:
Lubricant, cable/pivot/kickstarter arm/footpeg etc. - I carry a small dropper bottle of WhiteLightning Epic silicone-based chain lube, because it works everywhere and while it attracts dust it works very well and LASTS. It can be used for anything that squeaks and shouldn't, and will not dry up like WD-40 - nor is it aerosol that will get bumped in your toolkit and soak everything with oil.
Miniature Hacksaw blades - How many times have you seen somethign so magled that you could not get it out of the way just to ride back to safety? I have see such predicaments many times, so I carry a couple of two-dollar mini hacksaw blades for just such occasions. They can be held by hand or in pliers, bent for use in a tight space, used for tough material or spacers/shims, used as a brace or stent for busted fenders..the list goes on. Cheap, and handy.
I prefer the 32 tooth-per-inch variety in the case I need to cut steel. They will load up if used on aluminum unless you stick them down intot he crankcase and dope them with oil before you bgin your cut.
I'm out of time right now - I'll finish this up tomorrow. I have many more things to discuss!
back at it:
Whats this? Isn't that a bicycle cable of some sort? Why yes, in fact it is. You can buy a bicycle deraileur cable at any bike shop on your way home from work anytime for a meager sum, and it will double as any cable on your bike(although most modern bikes have only a throttle cable anymore...). Should you break a throttle(or clutch, or ?) cable, you can anchor each end of a temporary replacement with clever use of the aforementioned Quiksteel by simply using your pliers to put a kink in each end and casting the quicksteel into place around it, on the throttle or carburetor pulley, or even in the slide as I have done on many occasions. The same goes for a temporary clutch cable. For whatever reason, bicycle deraileur cable is VERY strong for it's OD, and is usually smaller than most cables on a bike. This means it's easy to cut, and thread through the old housing without removing the housing/adjusters/etc. from the bike. I also used a length of cable recently to hold the flywheel still on a YZ125 while I retightened a flywheel nut come loose - long story - but carrying aything this strong with this sort of versatility for a minimal weight penalty is justified IMO.
A tire iron is a tire iron...except when it isn't iron. I passed my old forged steel tire ironson the day I got these in the mail from MotionPro - forged, 7075 aluminum tire "irons," complete with hex ends for loosening axles and rimlock nuts. They flex less and are stronger than any steel iron I've ever found, are 1/3 the weight and are easier to hold onto with gloves on your hands. The spooned tip of the one on the left in theis picture even has a lip forged into it, for biting the rim on that last pull that gets the bead of the tire over the rim. I've owned quite a few tire tools over my riding career, and these ones take the cake over all others - even the Titanium ones a freind of mine has.
There's no point in carrying tools to remove a tube if you can't patch it - so of course I carry a patch kit. Nothing too special here, other than that I always carry more vulcanizing compound that I know will be neccessary in case I need to make some sort of special repair due to a rock slash or the like. A variety of patches is always good too, of all sizes. Also, carry spare Scraeder valve cores and valve stem nuts - they always get lost at some point it seems.
If you use Michelin airstop tubes by chance, or they came in your new Euro bike, you must buy special patches for these. This is yet another case of proving the tools/repair items you carry out BEFORE you need to use them in a pinch...
In the dirt world, a CO2 cannister will fill a tire - I know this isn't neccessarily true with an Aventure bike, and I'll be changing this up when I get my 990...but int he mean time, any of the CO2 kits out there these days are pretty good. I find a lot of variability in the quality in the pumps ont he market, though, so be sure yours works before you haul it out into the wilderness and find it doesn't work fast enough or get pressure high enough to seat beads, etc...
Everyone probably knows already that this is a towstrap. The can also probably see that the end loops of this one are held fast with pop-rivets. Yeah, I know, you're probably all skeptical but this strap material is better known as "mule tape" - and it's tubular nylon webbing with extremely big strands that can have a rivet popped through them without ever really compromising the tensile strength of the webbing. This one is about 15 feet long, and while I only ever tow a motorcycle with a motorcycle as a very last resort, it is handy enough for it's weight that I carry it for other reasons too. Reasons like: many of the places I ride have trails that traverse inclines so steep that a bike ridden accidentally off of the trail can be an all-day job to get back on the trail - unless you have a strap that two or three people can tam on to pull the bike back up the hill. There are a million other ways to use this item too - think of it as a bike-sized version of the bicycle cable I recommended carrying earlier.
CLICK THIS to take you to the next post.
I'm sure this has been done before...
but I'm not sure if has been done this WELL before.
I can't wait til tomorrow. :D
Great stuff! Plz finish when you can!
This is one usefull thread.......
Thanks Tim for putting the effort into sharing this with us.
For all the times I have had to bum tools off you and Ned, I am going to head down to Cycle Gear and start building my own tool kit......TODAY!
Very nice work, both as to pics and explanations. Thank you.
I love tools. Now I have an excuse to go buy more.:D
One of the best threads I have seen, Thanks for the excellent work!
Y'all ridin' Harley or sumthin'? I doubt my old KLR will haul all that stuff. I do carry a spare plug on long trips (more the 10,000 miles). Instead of carrying it in a giant plastic case, I gap it, put anti-sieze on the treads, put it back in the original box with the cardboard ring around the treads and then wrap the box in duct tape. You now have a plug that you will never use and a handy supply of duct tape.
Fantastic, I've been waiting for a thread like this. Thanks :thumb
A small reccomendation if you have never tried it..
get shut of the electrical tape and use self amalgamating tape instead -far superior. It doesent leave that sticky goo behind when you remove either.
If you put a small zip tie aroung your lighter (under the thumb lever) you won't need to worry about the lever being depressed and your fluid going bye-bye. You can fit them tight enough to stay on in a bag or pocket, yet loose enought to flick off easily with your thumb.
Did I miss the J-B Weld and volt/olhm meter? I carry those two for sure.
Nit picking .. :1drink
I do not carry tools on my person!
They are heavy ... so take effort to lug around everywhere.
They will hurt if you fall on them.
They should be packed on the bike .. and packed low due to their weight/density.
2) Spares are not tools - zip ties, spark plugs, J-B Weld, wire, patches, tubes etc are spares. I only take one of each type of spark plug used on the bike. Yet to have more than one spark plug fail at a time. Spares are things that go on/in the bike and stay there .. tools get used and removed from the bike to be used at another time.
Old Hemastats can be had from medical/denitstry people .. ones that can no longer be cleaned well enough for their use are fine on a bike :wink: You can also get inspection mirros from teh same source .. buyt they go in the home tool kit - you won't want to break one on the road.. Arr they also have probes .. good for scratching things .. and removeing that bit of dirt/tar.. and checking connectors
Now THAT is a tool kit.
Can we just buy the whole thing from you? :D
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