What Should You Keep in Your Emergency Motorcycle Tool Kit?

Whether you ride your bike through the winter chill or let it sleep, no one wants to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow. And while proper maintenance definitely helps, it can’t prevent, say, getting a nail stuck in your tire. That’s why, as with cars, it’s a good idea to bring an emergency tool kit with you on your motorcycle trips. And the good news is it doesn’t take much work to make your own.

What tools should you regularly carry in your motorcycle tool kit?

A selection of tools on a motorcycle foot board
A selection of tools on a motorcycle | Tekton Tools via Unsplash

Since space is at a premium on motorcycles, even with bags and other forms of luggage, emergency tool kits can’t be terribly extensive. So, you won’t be bringing along your entire home toolbox.

However, that’s not this type of kit’s main purpose. Rather, it’s supposed to provide enough tools to address common problems that arise during typical motorcycle journeys. Think flat tires, shaky levers, loose mirrors, and so on. Almost every rider has experienced these minor issues at some point, and while they won’t end a ride on their own, they are inconvenient. But with an ‘everyday carry’ (EDC) motorcycle tool kit, you can easily address the issue and keep riding.

Fortunately, a basic emergency roadside motorcycle tool kit doesn’t need many contents. And there are pre-made ones available for reasonable prices. Still, consider the following tools a general minimum:

  • Pliers or vice-grips
  • Hex/Allen keys or a multi-tool
  • Bit driver/screwdriver
  • At least two wrenches
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Flashlight/headlight
  • Puncture repair kit
  • CO2 cartridges/bicycle pump
  • Zip ties/safety wire
  • Duct tape and/or electrical tape
  • Spare fuses
  • Extra nuts and bolts

In addition, although motorcycle gloves do protect your hands, consider putting some dedicated work gloves in your tool kit. And with how often I’ve had to wipe insect guts and water off my visor, I pack wipes and rags in my backpack when I ride. It’s also not a bad idea to bring along a first-aid kit if you have room, Roadshow adds. Speaking of which, make sure you have a bag or roll to store your motorcycle tool kit.

Don’t be afraid to modify your emergency motorcycle tool kit or your tools as needed

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Keep in mind, the motorcycle tool kit described above is meant for everyday commuting. So, if you’re planning a long-distance ride, or want to go overlanding or off-roading, it likely won’t be sufficient. And again, as with cars, winter and/or extreme weather conditions also require a gear re-think.

For example, if you’re going off-road, a tire repair kit won’t be enough. You’ll also want to bring along a spare tube, extra clutch and brake levers, spare cables and fuel lines, and maybe even a tow strap. A compact jump starter isn’t a bad idea, either. Also, besides duct tape and zip ties, RevZilla recommends putting some JB Weld or epoxy into your motorcycle tool kit. And you might want to supplement the multi-tool, bit driver, and wrenches with a ratchet wrench and sockets.

If this sounds like a lot of tools to pack into a backpack or motorcycle tank bag, there is a solution. Rather than storing your tape separately, for instance, you can wrap it around a wrench. I carry CO2 cartridges on my bicycle rather than a pump because they’re smaller and lighter. And if you don’t want to cut down on the number of tools, you can cut them down to size instead. Literally, shave away parts of handles. Not so much that the tools don’t work, but that they’ll fit in your motorcycle’s available space.

Before you bring tools on your bike, know how to use them

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As noted earlier, you can buy pre-made motorcycle tool kits. And some OEMs even ship motorcycles with tools included. However, these kits aren’t always as comprehensive as they could be. So, before you start riding, go through the kit. Also, make sure that whatever wrenches, sockets, Allen keys, etc., you bring along fit your bike’s various nuts and bolts.

In the same vein as that last piece of advice, make sure you know how to use your motorcycle tool kit. That means practicing finding tire leaks and repairing them, knowing how to adjust clutch and throttle cables, how to jump-start the battery, and so on. It doesn’t matter how good your tools are if you don’t know how they work.

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