Cars may be getting more difficult to work on, but at least for now, if you have a motorcycle, doing your own maintenance and repairs is still pretty accessible. Some jobs are better left to the professionals, but for the most part, you can handle the basics with a little direction and some common sense. With most parts more easily accessible than they are in cars, even beginners can do a surprising amount of work on their own.
Getting the job done is a lot easier if you already have the necessary tools on hand. Whether you’re replacing a battery or doing some major modifications, having the plenty of basic tools available will make the whole process go more smoothly. To help you figure out what you should start with, Motorcycle.com has a list of 10 tools every motorcycle rider should own.
1. Oil Drain Pan
Changing your motorcycle’s oil is usually a simple and straightforward process. As far as bike maintenance goes, it’s also the most common thing for people to do by themselves. Properly disposing of old oil requires you to take it to an auto parts store or recycling center though, so you need a way to transport it. An oil catch pan allows you to do just that.
2. Cable Luber
In order to keep your engine running smoothly, it needs to stay lubricated. The same is also true for your bike’s throttle and clutch cables. It’s certainly possible to lubricate cables manually, but it’s much easier to use a tool to do the job for you. Just remember to wrap a rag around the bottom to avoid getting excess cable lube on your garage floor.
You can’t know for sure what you’re going to need to do to your bike, but you can definitely assume that you’ll eventually need a pair of pliers to get the job done. Regular pliers are great, but depending on what you’re trying to do, different pairs are going to be better suited. Even if you end up not using a particular pair, it’s better to buy several different types and to have them if you need them.
4. Bike Stand
Side stands are fine for parking your motorcycle, but if you’re going to work on your motorcycle, a having a center stand will make it much easier. Older bikes have their own, but good luck finding a new bike that comes with one. If your bike only comes with a side stand, go ahead and buy one to use anyways.
Much like with pliers, you’ll need wrenches for all kinds of different maintenance and repair jobs on your bike. Buy a full set so have a variety of sizes, but it’s also wise to buy redundant wrenches that are different lengths. You never know when you’ll need a longer one, a shorter one, or two of the same size.
There are all kinds of different multi-meters out there at different price points, but even the cheapest versions will be able to measure voltage, current, and resistance. Buying one will let you check your battery, find a short, and even check the condition of your ignition coils. Even a cheap one can save you a lot of money when it comes to diagnosing electrical problems.
7. Chain Breaker and Riveter
Replacing your own chain and sprockets is a pretty long ways away from changing your oil, but it’s certainly not impossible for an amateur mechanic to do at home. If you’re going to replace your own chain, you definitely want a quality chain breaker and riveter. It will help you press that master link into place in just a few minutes. If your bike has a belt or a drive shaft, however, you can just go ahead and ignore this one.
You may be surprised by how useful having a wide variety of sockets ends up being. Buy a full set in 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch varieties. Then buy some deep sockets and a set of hex keys for a 3/8 inch ratchet. If you ever end up needing them, you’ll also appreciate having universal joint sockets as well. The more choices you give yourself, the easier it will be to find the perfect one for the job.
9. Torque Wrench
Any time you tighten a bolt, you want to make sure it’s tight enough not to come loose, but you also want to make sure it’s not so tight that you strip it. To get it right, you need to use a torque wrench. Even if an OEM manual doesn’t specify a torque value, there are standards for each size bolt. If you’re trying to loosen a fastener that’s stuck though, make sure you use a breaker bar instead of a torque wrench.
10. Service Manual
YouTube is an amazing source of puppy videos, but it’s also great for finding an instructional video for how to do nearly any repair or maintenance job you can think of. Even with all the resources available on the Internet, though, you still can’t beat a service manual for the amount of information it puts right at your finger tips. Nearly everything you could possibly need to know is going to be in the service manual, so save yourself the hassle of combing forums for help, and go ahead and pick one up.