Whether you are going to head out on a years-long “epic” ride or just down the street on the nearest trail, it’s great to have tools to help you with a breakdown away from home. Sometimes what you carry boils down to how heavy the tools are and how much space they take up.
On my backroad ride from Vermont to Alaska, I found that I took too many heavy tools that required a lot of space. But when I’m riding shorter distances on trails or forest roads, I tend to lighten the tool kit up considerably. Still, I always wonder whether I left tools at home that I would later need.
I’ve had this dilemma for a while. But I’ve been fortunate and never been stranded due to a lack of tools. That said, I admit that I carry too many of them when I am far from home.
And to my good fortune, we recently received a call from Thierry Deschaetzen, the owner of SBV Tools. Thierry said he would send us some tools to test if we would write about the results. There are many tool companies out there who say their tools and tool kits are designed for motorcyclists, so when I was asked if I’d like to try the SBV Tools and keep them if I wanted, I said certainly. But I secretly wondered what might make SBV Tools different than other motorcycle tools and toolkits.
Later, I was able to chat with Thierry, and we talked about SBV Tools. It turns out that SBV is the OEM supplier for other leading brands. That says a lot.
Motorcycle specific toolkits
SBV packages its toolkits with tools for a wide range of motorcycles and by specific brands. For example, SBV has a separate tool kit for BMW, one for Triumph & Japanese brands, and one for KTM & Ducati bikes.
They also make a “Pro Mechanic” kit for all bike brands and a Basic Adventure Set with fewer tools but is more budget-friendly. And, if you want a bit more selection than found in the Basic Adventure Set, you can also order manufacturer-specific add-on tool pouches. So by the end of our conversation, Thierry said he’d send some tools.
The tools arrive
It didn’t take long for them to arrive. SBV sent their SBV 52530 Pro Mechanic Set. It’s for BMW, KTM, and Ducati, Japanese Big 4, and Triumph motorcycles. In other words, most everything. Nice.
When the box arrived, it seemed pretty small for such an extensive toolkit. But when I opened the box, I found out why the box could be so small. All of the tools come in a compact “roll pouch” type case. In my case, there are two separate roll pouches.
Inside is a nice selection of crescent/box wrenches, a box ratchet wrench, sockets, bits, 3/8 inch drive and more. You’ll find a complete list of all the tools in the SBV 52530 Pro Mechanic Set at the end of this review. So far, so good.
The roll pouches are well made out of a heavy denier fabric and contain pockets for all the tools, so there are no loose pieces in the pouch. Everything has its place. When you open the pouch, your sockets and bits won’t come spilling out.
Let’s talk about the tools themselves. Unfortunately, I’m not a materials engineer. But the tools themselves seem to be of high quality. SBV says that all of the sockets and wrenches are made of Cr-V (Chromium Vanadium Steel) and are satin chrome plated for durability. All of the bits are made of an exclusive material with a hardness rating of HRC 55-60. Each has an industrial black manganese phosphate impact resistant finish to inhibit corrosion. On their specs only, the tools seem like they are of excellent quality.
But while the tool’s makeup is important, what’s most important for riders is its capability, size, and weight. And this is what impresses me most about SBV tools.
The tool kits themselves are physically small. Both sets of tools easily fit inside my 10″ X 3.75″ X 7.25″ ammo case.
And, there’s still about an inch of leftover space the length of the whole can. More than enough for miscellaneous things like tie wraps, JB Weld, and Locktite.
All up, the tools and the tool rolls weigh in at 6 lbs. 12 oz. If you want to store them separately for “better” weight distribution (for example, in panniers on different sides of the bike), they are in two separate pouches. One pouch weighs in at 3 lbs. 12 oz while the other weighs in at 3 lb.
Perhaps what I like the most about SBV’s tools are their multi-purpose and innovative uses. SBV has 6 patents on its tools and it’s clear to me that SBV has thought a lot about how the tools will be used and how to ensure that they can perform more than one purpose. It seems that it’s the way that SBV keeps the physical size and weight of its toolkits rather svelte. The video below will show you how some of the tools can be used together to make a different tool.
For example, all of SBV’s sockets are MIT capable. If you are not familiar, MIT is short for Metric / Inch / Torx. MIT sockets have a unique design that allows them to be used on various types of fasteners using different size conventions.
Due to the specially designed internal toothing, the sockets fit on different bolts and nuts in metric, SAE (inch), or Torx dimensions. So if you have machines that use different configuration fasteners, there’s no need to swap out sockets for the corresponding machine.
Also helping keep the toolkits size and weight down are some rather innovative tools. One of my favorite tools is a rather nondescript one that looks more like a pen than a motorcycle tool.
It’s actually a steel rod inside of a sleeve that allows the rod to spin freely. On one end is a locking socket holder. On the other end is a six-sided insert with a ball-bearing mechanism.
That six-sided end mates to a smallish 5-inch long ratchet and viola’ you have a steel T-handle wrench that spins freely inside the metal sleeve. You can attach many different sockets, bits, and the like for easy removal and tightening of fasteners. Even better, the end of the sleeve is magnetized, so your bits and sockets stay in place until you want to remove them.
There are also several adapters and extensions that allow you to convert tools from 1/4″ to 3/8″ and 1/2″ sizes. That means fewer tools to carry and less weight.
And if you are worried about how much strength small ratchet tools would have to drive or loosen larger fasteners, you needn’t worry. Depending on their sizes, SBV says some of their gear wrenches can generate up to 184 lb-ft (250nm) of torque.
More than tools
Even outside the tools themselves, SBV seems to be thinking about what a rider could need to make repairs in the field. When I first opened the tool pouch, I was surprised to see several tie wraps stowed in the pouch.
To me, that shows that SBV is thinking about what riders really need, not just a smattering of tools. That said, there was one thing that I would like to have found in the kit. That’s a pair of tire spoons. Although many ADV bikes are moving to tubeless tires, it would be nice to have some spoons as standard in the kit.
The Pro Mechanic toolset reviewed here retails for €329 (~$400). That’s not cheap but it’s in line with other high-quality tools. In tools, like many other things, you get what you pay for. And, in my mind, these SBV tools are well worth the expense.
However, SBV has other tool kits that are less expensive and just as capable. The basic motorcycle set goes for €159 (~$192). For some additional capability, you can move up to the Basic Adventure Motorcycle set for €199 (~$242).
You can also order many SBV tools ala carte’ so if you want, you can add certain tools that are not in your chosen set.
All SBV tools come with a lifetime warranty. That’s becoming more and more unusual in the tool industry and it’s nice to see that SBV is stepping up with an excellent warranty.
So when all is said and done, what do I think about SBV Tools? I think they are well thought out, innovative, and capable. They are packaged very well to keep the tools where you want them and end up reducing the number of tools and thus the weight you are carrying.
Frankly, I really, really like these tools. And as such, I’m not sending them back, I am keeping them. I’m afraid that my leather tool pouch and miscellaneous tools I currently have are done traveling and are headed to my workshop toolbox. Sometimes it’s nice to be me.
List of Tools in the “Pro Mechanic Motorcycle Tool Set #SBV 52530
- 3 in 1 Multi-Tool (130mmL): T-handle – 1/4″ Dr. Hex bit ratchet (75Nm) – 11mm ratchet (100Nm)
- 1/4″ hex bits lock extension with aluminum Turbo sleeve 135mmL
- 1/4″ to 1/4″ adapter
- 1/4″ 25mmL Bits/6.35mm (T8, T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, T40, T45, T50, T55, Slot5.5)
- 1/4″ 25mmL Bits/6.35mm (H1.5, H2, H2.5, H3, H4, H5, H5.5, H6, H7, H8, H10, PH2)
- 1/4″ Dr. MIT socket – 6mm (1/4, E8)
- 1/4″ Dr. MIT socket – 8mm (5/16, E10)
- 1/4″ Dr. MIT socket – 10mm (3/8, E12)
- 1/4″ Dr. MIT socket – 11mm (7/16, E14)
- 1/4″ Dr. MIT socket – 12mm (15/32, -)
- 1/4″ Dr. MIT socket- 13mm (1/2, E16)
- 1/4″ Dr. MIT socket- 14mm (9/16, E18)
- 3/8″ Dr. MIT socket- 15mm (19/32, -)
- 3/8″ Dr. MIT socket – 17mm (11/16, -)
- 3/8″ Dr. 14 & 16mm Spark Plug Sockets with outer HEX 16mm
- 3/8″ Dr. 125mmL Poplock® extension with outer HEX 16mm
- 8mm open-end ring spanner, MIT on ringside – 8mm (5/16, E10)
- 10mm open-end ring spanner, MIT on ringside – 10mm (3/8, E12)
- 12mm open-end ring spanner, MIT on ringside – 12mm (15/32, -)
- 13mm open-end RATCHET spanner, MIT on ringside – 13mm (1/2, E16)
- 14mm open-end ring spanner, MIT on ringside – 14mm (9/16, E18)
- 16mm open-end ring spanner, MIT on ringside -16mm (5/8, E20)
- 3/8″ socket adapter with a locking system for 13mm open-end spanner
- Small tire pressure gauge 0.4 to 3.5Kg & 5 to 50Psi
- Plier cutting long nose Vise-Grip 169mmL
- Cable ties x 10 pcs, 100mmL
- Socket holder 7 x 1/4″ & 2 x 3/8″
- 600 Den Double-layer Tetoron™ pouch Bag with SBV Tools tiger head logo
Add on Pouch All Motorcycle, 52535
- 3/8” Dr. Aluminum Hex axle tool 17-22mm/24-19mm, max 120Nm (52257)
- Coil & Oil cap removal tool for BMW motorcycle in Aluminum (52463)
- 3/8″ Dr. 72-Tooth Super Light Matt Finishing Ratchet, 304Nm (52451)
- 3/8″ Dr. T55 Torx/Star bit socket 50mmL (52258)
- 3/8″(F) to 1/2”(M) Low profile socket adapter with detent ball (52464)
- 3/8″ Dr. MIT socket- 22mm (7/8, -) (52457)
- 3/8″ Dr. MIT socket – 24mm (15/16, E30) (52249)
- 1/2″ Dr. MIT socket- 27mm (1-1/16, -) (52458)
- 1/2″ Dr. MIT socket- 32mm (1-1/4, -) (52459)
- 3/8″ Dr. Locking holder for 1/4” bits, 80Nm (52445)
- 3/8″ Dr. 14mm stubby Hex bit socket (52452)
- 17mm combination spanner, MIT on ringside- 17mm (11/16, -) (52267)
- 19mm combination spanner, MIT on ringside – 19mm (3/4, E24) (52268)
- 600 Den Double-layer Tetoron™ Add on pouch Bag (52528)
- 210 Den water-resistant nylon bag (19 x 38cm) (7.4” x 15”)
All photo credit: Mike Botan