What tools to take and still keep it light and compact.
The one thing men can get carried away with quite easily. Tools are heavy and can easily notch up the kilo’s if not careful.
This is one aspect that must be carefully planned and thought put into what tools are a must and worth taking and what to leave. There is a basic list that must be considered and then the add-ons per bike brand. BMW, for example, use Torx keys and Hex keys and most other brands only use Hex keys and the different combination spanners for each bike.
Tyre repair kit:
- At least 3 Tyre Levers. There is a variety of short and long spanners. BMW made a short lever at one stage which was thinner than the normal short fat spanners in the market. The BMW tyre lever spanners worked much better due to the thinner design. The long tyre lever is just too heavy and not an option to use.
- Bead breaker. You will bend the sidestand and eventually to such an extent that it will break.
- Tubes: We ditched the heavy duty tubes for normal thin tubes. Solely because they are too heavy, takes up way too much space, and cost 4 to 5 times normal tubes. We found it much easier to just replace a tube while on the road and then fix the puncture that evening and store the tube. We carry 2 front and 2 rear tubes. One for each bike.
- Patches and solution. Big tubes of the solution will dry out quite quickly. It is preferable to buy 10 or 20 small little tubes and use it once or twice then throw it away. Patches in different sizes.
- Normal tyre hand pump as back up for the electric compressor. They do fail and dust is their worst enemy!
- Get a damn proper electric compressor and make sure you have an SAE plug to bike connector, not the shitty cigarette or Hellas plugs. Brands like Motopumps will handle dust and abuse of overlanding.
- Tyre Pressure gauge: The pen type is very accurate and is small and weighs nothing. Valve removal key!
- Piano wire or thick gauge fishing line. Use the Leatherman and the wire to sew up a sidewall cut.
- Tip: Leave the CO2 kits for short trips. The little CO2 kits are good for a one time shot of up to around 1bar. If you have pinched the tube putting it back in, or the tubeless tyre plug does not stop the leak, you start again but needing more bombs. Also, they are not really compact or light if you are going to carry a bag full of them. Their only good on a trip is to reseat the bead on a tubeless tyre where you need a high pressure release to get the bead seated.
- Tip: Watch your tools when in a crowd. They tend to disappear very fast.
Fit a normal bicycle pump permanently to the bike as a backup to the electric tire pumps. They will fail you at the worst of times.
Basic tool list:
- Leatherman multitool can stand in for pliers, screwdriver points, etc.
- Cable ties various sizes.
- Duct tape and Insulation tape.
- Steel epoxy, Loctite, Super Glue. Small packages.
- Vice grip and or water pump pliers.
- Spark Plug spanner if not part of the bike OEM toolkit.
- Torx and Hex key set. Remove sizes not needed.
- Small shifting spanner can take the place of a few combination spanners.
- Slimline combination spanners only size related to the bike. Normally 10,12,13,15
- Small punch
- Small socket set optional. But definitely not needed.
- Tie down straps. We use ROK straps as they incorporate the bungee part and do not use metal clips or hooks that can damage the bike. Bungee’s work best as they keep squeezing the luggage whereas normal tie downs go lose with riding especially off-road.
- Q20 / WD40 small cans, and chain lube whatever the preference for oil or spray or wax.
- Tow rope – make sure to pack a decent rope that can be used as a tow rope at least 2m length.
- Inexpensive Volt/Amp meter
- Spare master links to repair the chain
- Get a proper tool roll. They pack easy and fit into most panniers. Keep tools all in one place.
Tool bags & toolkits:
Either spend a fortune on a set of Cruztools or other branded toolkits or make up your own set. It will cost a fraction of a branded set and most people already have tools around the house that can be used a motorcycle tool kit. With a little bit of research, a list can be compiled for a specific bike.
There are no need to tag along with an entire set of open combination spanners or Torx, Allen keys or a socket set, choose carefully what you would need and tools you can leave at home.
Touch wood we have never had the need to use or carry a chain breaker. Reason being that we have planned ahead and made sure we used good quality DID or RK or similar brand chains and had them fitted with the master link or the rivet. In addition, we have never had issues with a rivet when properly secured. I understand when your chain snaps you sit and go nowhere, but it is a toss-up to taking more weight or that one time in a lifetime when the chain snaps.
The question is, do I carry a chain breaker and rivet just for that one time? No, they weigh quite a bit and it is more to pack. Plan ahead and don’t ride a chain until the thing clap hands for you just to say you go x-amount of miles out of it. Or to rub a Penny smooth for that last few more miles.
For Fuel Injection motorcycles this company ww.fuelperformance.co.za sells a fuel pump with a Lifetime Warranty. Most of the times on FI bikes the pump will be the part that leaves you stranded. They are small to carry and easy to replace.
One of the most important products you can add that will save you countless troubles with water and dirt in the fuel is an intank fuel sock. Gugaltech Italy makes for a variety of motorcycles and 4×4’s, easy to clean and a huge benefit not having to struggle cleaning carbs or FI on a trip.
We have a review and write up on in-tank filler neck fuel filter here that can save you a lot of hassles.
We used the HEX Innovate since 2008 sometime for all our BMW’s. It allows you to troubleshoot problems when things go tits-up far away from a BMW dealership. The GS-911 enables you to communicate with the control modules in your motorbike controlled way. It is easy to use with a mobile phone or laptop.
Most of our codes reset and to clear the service on the BMW’s we did with the HEX device.
It’s easy to set up and even easier to use and offers a wealth of information about your bike in seconds.