Travel Tools for Roadside Motorcycle Repair
I used to be that guy, the one who carried enough tools on the bike for a roadside engine tear-down that would never actually happen. I’ve changed my ways, ditched a lot of the unneeded tools and put together a small kit that fits under the pillion seat on the R1200R but has what I’d need to fix the things that actually happen and do not require a shop.
Modern bikes are far more reliable than motorcycles in the past. If you do need major repairs it’ll require more than some hand-tools on the side of the road. The reality is that you only need to carry a few tools for real world roadside repairs.
The trick to downsizing your travel tools is to realize what you can and can’t fix on the side of the road, campsite or parking lot. The majority of issues are going to be things like tightening a loose nut, maybe a bad electrical connection for a farkle or a loose battery terminal. My most common fix these days seems to be tire punctures. If you have a big problem you should be equipped to do a temporary repair to get you to where you can get help or call for a tow.
I’m working on reducing this further but here’s what I carry on my bike. Most fits under the seat, freeing up valuable pannier space on trips.
The “Do Everything” Tool
My main tool and multitasker is a MotionPro Multi-purpose Metric Tool. This thing is fantastic. It’s not a very elegant tool but can handle a lot of different tasks and fits in the palm of your hand. With some additions like a few 1/4″ sockets, a bit holder socket and various bits this really can be a very versatile tool. I’ve added a few sizes of Torx bits to mine to cover all the common BMW fasteners as well as short and long extensions that can also double as a t-handled wrench/breaker. I also have a tiny Wera bit holder that fits in the same case, unnecessary but handy at times.
I have an old Gerber MP400 MultiTool on the bike to cover anything I’d need pliers for as well as cutting. This one is pretty self-explanatory, at a bare minimum everyone should keep a multitool under their seat. Pick whichever flavor of these you prefer, there are many good options. I also have a small set of Vise-grips in the kit but might replace those and the Gerber both with a single locking-plier multitool.
I currently carry a set of MotionPro Titanium Wrenches on the bike. These are compact, lightweight and just cool but I’m finding them overkill and could be replaced with a single 8″ adjustable or a couple combo open ended wrenches to save space. Really only used where I can’t comfortably fit a socket or for holding a nut while using a socket to turn the bolt.
Adjustable wrenches are tools of the devil and I prefer good box-end wrenches over all else when I am in the workshop but on the road I’m ok with using an adjustable wrench to get me out of a jam.
Consumable items I keep on the bike are a small roll of duct tape, a small roll of Rescue Tape, various zip ties and Posilocks for electrical repairs. Duct tape and zip ties both have 1001 uses and I won’t go into details but basically if you need to stick or tie things together this has you covered. The silicone fusing Rescue Tape can be used for a temporary patch on a leaky hose Posilocks and some small lengths of wire can be used to repair some electrical issues in a pinch, like a broken wire on an accessory.
For punctures I use a Nearly Mini Tire Repair kit, reviewed here, digital pressure gauge, and an Aerostich pump. I’ve modified my pump with an on/off switch and a Powerlet plug adapter. Any puncture that can’t be fixed with these won’t be repairable and will probably require a new tire. I fit both of these into the Aerostich pump bag. Although it’s small this is the one thing that doesn’t fit under my seat and lives in my pannier.
The most important thing to reduce the likelyhood of having a breakdown in the first place is to keep up on your maintenance and service your bike before long trips. If you do these two things you won’t need to take a ton of tools on the bike. I also have roadside and keep the number on the bike and in my phone in case there is a major issue on the road.