What tools do you carry?
The following information was gathered from a thread from the Long Distance Riders Listserv. These are the people who ride halfway across the country for a piece of Pinto Bean Pie (and did April 4, 1997) and participate in events like the Ironbutt Rally. Naturally, if they're in the middle of a competitive event, and you have a mechanical problem, you want to fix it quickly and get back on the road. (Rallies like the IBR are competitive but are not races - you don't necessarily win just because you get to the finish first).
So here's a fairly comprehensive list of tools that you'll find in the
toolkits of some of the best long distance riders in the world. Granted, this list looks into the toolkits of quite a few riders so you won't find every tool in one persons' kit - although Ironbutt Rally Winner, Ron Major, has most of them in his.
It makes sense to try to organize these by category.
- Premium quality 10" adjustable (hardware store brands will let you down. Pay the extra bucks so you're not bleeding and cussing)
- Premium quality 6" adjustable
- 3/8" ratchet wrench
- 6 point metric sockets (your bolts aren't 12 point - why risk rounding them over?)
- 6 pc Hex Bit (allen wrenches) Set Metric (Sears Craftsman - fits 3/8" ratchet wrench - 4 thru 8, 10mm).
- 3" and 6" extension
- Sparkplug socket
- M 10 X M 11 box end wrench
- M 12 X M 14 box end wrench
- M 17 X M 19 box end wrench
- VACO # 32460, or similar, to replace the dinky screwdriver. This type has reversible ends so that you have a good #2 Phillips, #1 Phillips, and two sizes of flat tip screwdriver. With the screwdriver tip removed, you have a 5/16" (8mm) socket.
- "Robo pliers" (Sears) on the occasion when you don't have the right tool or can't reach into a spot & say "oh s*** - if only I had...."
- 10 in. Channelock pliers
- 6 in. needle nose Vice-Grip pliers
- a spare headlight bulb
- and taillight bulb (pack it in a film canister for protection)
- and turn signal bulb (pack it in a film canister forprotection)
- "Pocket Digital Multimeter", Radio Shack part number 22-179A. This slick unit is an auto-range digital multimeter that combines a voltmeter (AC & DC, a range of +/- 400 volts), an ohmmeter, and an audible continuity check feature (this last feature is wonderful because it allows you to keep your eyes on where you need to put the test. leads, and not have to even look at the meter!). It also has a built-in test. (BIT) feature. The test. lead wires are 19 inches long, and neatly housed in the fold-out lid. When not folded out or in use, the entire unit measures a compact 4" x 2" x 3/4", and weighs probably 3-4 ounces, and retails for only $24.99.
- Black electrical tape
- Jumper cables - can be made out of monster speaker wire and clips purchased at Radio Shack for a fraction of the price of the motobotiques
- Porta-Sol butane powered soldering iron and small dispenser of rosin-core solder, but in my experience, you can "get by" with a crimp-on in most cases.
- Crimp-on electrical connectors and wire nuts
- about 15-20 feet of #16 stranded wire
- An in-line fuse holder with a small assortment of fuses. Often it is easier to re-wire something direct than try to trace out a break or short.
- 5 in. flush cutting wire cutters
A word from Randell Hendricks on the brands of tools:
- Duct Tape - good for fixing that sudden tear in the seat cover, and 1001 other things.
- a dozen or so zip-ties
- a set of spare keys stashed somewhere on the bike
- JB Weld for fixing that freshly busted part
- a piece of semi-stiff wire about "-24" long with a small doughnut shape magnet (or tiny rare-earth magnet) which could be fastened to the end of the wire could be terribly handy for dropped nuts and screws while in the field. [Keep in mind that some of the commercially available magnetic reachers are not worth the shrink wrap they come in - Ed]
- Tire plug kit
- Progressive Suspension tire kit
- Air pressure gauge
- Gerber Pocket-Tool, or the Leatherman equivalent, with needle-nosed tips. A well-made multi-purpose tool, useful when working with fuel lines or reaching in a tight place to hold a wire. Has a useful file, good (though awkward) screwdriver tips, and of course, knife blades. The Gerber tool can be used to crimp wire connectors on, and also has wire cutters.
- About 3.5 feet of fuel line, with 4 hose clamps. Works fine as a siphoning hose, if needed.
- Small can of spray oil. Currently using Liquid Wrench, but I use whatever brand I can find on sale in the little sample can that won't take up much room. After a full day in the rain sometimes a clutch pivot or side-stand bolt gets sticky. Also, if a spark plug lead starts to arc from being wet, this will help keep it from arcing.
- 6 in. locking surgical forceps
- 6 Straight edge razor blades
- 6 cc tube of Locktite
- 6 oz. tube of RTV clear silicone sealer
- Two Tube 5 Minute Epoxy
- Small tube of Anti-Seize Compound
- 12 Pre-Packaged alcohol wipes, for general clean-up
- 6 Pre-packaged "Handy-Towels" for your hands, etc.
- clean up towels, terrycloth
- 1/4 in. Nylon rope, 15 feet long
- AA cell Maglight flashlight
- spare batteries for flashlights, intercoms, etc.
- Eye glass repair kit
- Sewing kit
- 6 Safety pins - assorted sizes
- Magnifying glass
- Small mirror (preferably polished metal)
- Swiss Army Knife
- 2 mechanical pencils
- 2 ball point pens
- 2 sharpie markers
- several business cards and index cards in zip-lock bag
- First Aid Kit
- Cellular phone with adapted power cable
- major credit card (not maxed out)
- 4 oz. ball-peen hammer, with handle shortened to 7 in.
- micro point tweezers
I personally use Snap-On tools and only Snap-On. Well, maybe a couple of Mac and Matco thrown in, but 99.5% are Snap-On. I know, Craftsman makes the same thing for less. This is true if you use your tools on a part time basis. For the guy like me who makes his living with tools there are several reasons to not use the other brands.
- Sears NEVER drives up to the shop to sell tools or replace broken ones Free.
- Have you ever walked into Sears to get a "Lifetime" tool replaced and had some pimple faced kid tell you "WOW DUDE... I gotta get the manager for that"
- Snap-On dealer says "take it... pay me a little a week"
- Now the real reason... have you ever looked at a Snap-On wrench? Notice the absense of sharp edges and corners? I get enough callouses, scrapes, cuts and dings on my hands without the tools adding to it.
- Look at the screw driver handles... I'll take out ANY screw you put in with your screwdriver... can you take mine out?
- The toolkits mentioned are for hopefully occasional use and this does not apply. The point is choose a quality tool to REPLACE the tools that come in your YamakawahondazukiBMWidson tool kit. When you do regular maintenance on you bike... Pull that tool kit out and use it. If you can't do your every day stuff you won't be able to do the emergency stuff.