Nothing on your calendar but work? The Internet is a rich source of how-tos that guide average riders through simple maintenance jobs. Set aside time, watch some videos, and invest in these tools to nurture your inner mechanic.
1) Screwdrivers, wrenches, and Allen keys
You won’t get far with maintenance (or taking your bike apart) without any of these three, so get a quality set of each. Choose screwdrivers made of chrome vanadium steel (durable and rust-resistant). Pick up metric wrenches (combination and socket) between 8mm and 19mm—the most common size range for motorcycles. And throw in any compact or folding set of allen keys.
2) Lubricants, aerosols, and fluids
Unless you have an electric motorcycle, a lot of fluids and grease go into your bike to keep it lubricated and running. Over time, those same things will get cooked, caked, or washed away.
Stock up on these items for your budding home garage:
- Brake cleaner and brake fluid
- Contact cleaner
- Chain lube
- Cleaner and degreaser
- Recommended engine oil
- WD40 or penetrating oil
Tip: Try to get biodegradable cleaners and degreasers, so you don’t have to worry about disposal or pollution.
3) Tire pressure gauge
As long as their bike’s tires keep rolling, riders tend to forget about them. Investing in an accurate tire pressure gauge allows you to check your their pressure regularly. A dial gauge is compact and can easily fit in a top case or backpack. Make it a habit to check before every ride to make your tires last longer and wear more evenly.
4) Tire levers and air pump
Ready for tire changes? A sturdy pair of levers and an air pump are invaluable tools for the job. Shop around for tire levers between 10 and 14 inches long, since those will be small enough to carry with you on a long trip. As for air pumps, a portable bicycle pump is good enough for quick top-ups on both tubed and tubeless tires.
Seating the beads on tubeless tires requires more power. If you’re not ready to invest in an air compressor, mount your tires yourself and take them to a vulcanizing shop for seating.
If your bike doesn’t have a kick starter, a dead battery can leave you stranded on the side of the road. A multimeter allows you to check your battery’s voltage once in a while, so scenarios like that can be prevented.
Splurge for a digital multimeter, since they’re more accurate. Hook one up to your battery to check. A reading of 12 volts or less means your battery is as good as dead. 12.1 to 12.6 volts means you need to charge, and 12.7 or higher means it’s time to ride.
When it comes to motorcycle maintenance, “out of sight, out of mind” is not a motto to live by. As you check your bike, shine a flashlight into its dark corners and crevices. Do this, and you’ll catch small problems before they get expensive.
We like a strong LED flashlight, even in well-lit areas. Training a beam on one area helps us inspect a bike more thoroughly.
7) Torque wrench
Motorcycles are held together by an impressive number of nuts, bolts, and screws. They all have to be tightened to spec so they won’t vibrate loose. A torque wrench helps you keep every fastener snug without breaking any parts. Use one together with your owner’s manual and tighten with confidence, avoiding loose threads along the way.
At certain points of your wrenching, brute force will be necessary. Enter the hammer, ideal for tapping out stubborn wheel axles, cracking nuts loose with a wrench, and tapping bearings in.
Chances are you already have a claw hammer. Get another kind with a plastic or rubber head.
9) Needle-nose pliers
Great for cutting wires, pulling nails from tires, and turning nuts with a rag, needl-enose pliers are an all-around tool. The longer the nose is, the better. This lets you get into tight spaces and offers more leverage.
10) Bike stand
A must for bikes with no center stand, a bike stand lifts at least one of the bike’s wheels off the ground, which relieves pressure from the suspension and lowers the chances of getting flat spots on your tire. A stand also lets you inspect your tires, lube the chain, and take off wheels without worrying about proper frame support.
Brushes of various softness and sizes are welcome in any garage. Toothbrushes are great for working solvents into small parts. Stiff brushes remove surface rust and clean excess grime and mud off metal parts.
Soft nylon brushes can be used on wheels and the engine without scratching up the finish. Get two of each: one for the initial cleanup, and another for the final touches.
12) Clean rags
Complete your arsenal with microfiber cloths and stacks of paper towels. Motorcycle maintenance gets grimy fast. These rags will help you soak up spills and make the cleanup process easier
Do you have a few more motorcycle repair tools to add to this list? Share your must-haves in the comments section.