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Packing Tools for a Motorcycle Tour

Deciding what tools to take with you when you go motorcycle touring can be a complicated process. On the one hand, if something goes wrong at the side of the road, you'd like to have every tool you own and many you don't but you won't likely be able to pack all that stuff with you. The tool kit your bike comes with may not be sufficient or convenient to use. You'll likely end up selecting something in between all your tools and none of your tools. I started carrying a few extra tools in my first season, and I've been reorganizing my tool roll ever since. I've added stuff as I learn more about what's likely to go wrong on tour, and I think I've worked out a good balance of enough tools without taking up too much space.

About packing tools - Tool packing list - First-aid Kit packing list

Motorcycle Touring - Tool Packing List

Motorcycle Touring tool roll, closed up for travel Often tools come in hard plastic cases that are great for keeping them sorted and organized in your garage, but are too bulky to pack with you when touring. A tool roll is a great solution, it can be formed into a flat square or an roundish oblong to fit into different sized spaces when packed, and when it's unrolled and the flap is opened up it provides easy access to all your tools and a small work surface to put stuff on while you're working on your bike. If you have to take off more than three fasteners while you're working in the grass, it's nice to have a place to put them so you don't spend longer hunting for the parts to reassemble than you did fixing the problem in the first place. This tool-roll is crafted from sturdy hemp denim and made with velcro pockets for sockets and other small items. It's gone mouldy after extended wet weather riding, but nothing has ever fallen out of it, and after fifteen years of wear, I'm pretty confident it's indestructible. It also keeps tools safely contained and prevents them from damaging other packed items, a problem I've observed with other riders tool packing arrangements.

Motorcycle Touring tool roll, opened to show tools Along with tools I carry a supply of spares, useful extras etc. Zip ties in all sizes are useful, for everything from zipper repairs on gear and luggage to strapping the misc. bits onto broken parts when spares are not available. I have soft (copper) wire and strong (steel) wire and velcro ties too. I have a length of strapping with a slip-through buckle, and it's been useful for strapping on extra purchases when my bungees are maxed out, holding together luggage after the zipper teeth uncoiled, and it's done double duty as a belt too. I have a selection of fuses, the 10 amp and 30 amp fuses my bike takes and some spares of other denominations, so to speak. I have a small selection of spare bolts and nuts, mostly for bodywork and exhaust parts that have shaken their fasteners loose in the past. I'd like to carry space tail-light and turn-signal bulbs, but I haven't found a way of packaging them so that the spares last long enough to be useful. So far I've found the filaments vibrate until they break,(much sooner on the spares than on the installed bulbs) even if the glass part of the bulb survives.

The most basic tools you'll need include a tire pressure guage (I've found the 'cheap' I've tested are mostly accurate to within a pound, close enough for checking street-bike tires) a set of pliers (I find needle nose useful) a wire-cutter (I prefer an end-cutter, but a side-cutter works well too) and an adjustable wrench. A ratcheting tool-handle with assorted tool-tips to fit the various racketing on your bike is a good choice, fitting a wide range of tools into a moderately portable package. Vise-grips are usually found in most motorcyclists tool-rolls, but mine ended up in my welding tool-box and never made it back into my tool-roll, and I haven't missed them. I also have a set of 'Crayola' kiddie safety scissors, and I've probably used them more often than almost anything else in my tool-roll, they are sturdy enough to cut wire and zip ties and tangled tarp-lines and they are a regular part of both my tool-roll and my big tool-box. A flashlight (Mag light' is one of the only ones I've found that can withstand the vibration of motorcycle touring) is another indispensable item, and so is a pen.

I'm exceptionally fond of ratcheting tools, so my tool roll include more than most people would find useful, including a 3/8 inch driver, a 1/4 inch driver, a mini-1/4-inch driver and a locking/ratcheting tool handle with a 1/4 inch driver. As I said, likely more than I need... I could probably do without the mini-set, but it has come in useful for hard-to-reach places, and it's just so cute, the little tiny ticking sound it makes when it ratchets is just adorable. But you can definitely do without one. Along with all these ratcheting tools, I carry an assortment of sockets for both the 1/4 and 3/8 drivers, and a wide range of tool-tips (philips, roberson, hex, torque, slot, at least three sizes of each) too. For the odd occasion I need a non-ratcheting tool, I usually carry 8mm, 10mm, 12mm and 14mm dogbone wrenches (one open end, one closed end).

Motorcycle Touring Tool Roll

Andrea's Tool List

Note: includes several items not pictured above

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Vise grips
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Circlip pliers
  • Side cutters or end cutters
  • 3/8 inch ratchet
  • 1/4 inch ratchet
  • Dog-bone wrenches, 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 14mm (or sizes your bike needs)
  • Sockets for both drivers: 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 14mm (or sizes your bike needs)
  • Ratchting and locking tool handle
  • Tool tips (or bits) for the fasteners on your bike - Philips, Robertson, Hex, Torque, Slot or whatever your holding your bike together with.
  • Scissors and/or a multi-tool pocket knife
  • Flashlight
  • Zip ties - small, medium and large, several of each
  • wire pieces
  • velcro cable ties (sold in computer stores for organizing computer cables)
  • Extra fuses and a fuse pulling tool
  • spare fasteners
  • Strapping with buckle
  • Pen or permanent marker

And don't forget your first aid kit!

  • Bandaids
  • Gauze pads, sterile (large)
  • Gauze dressing (roll)
  • large fabric bandage
  • 'Second Skin' sterile gel burn dressing
  • Antiseptic ointment
  • Alcohol disinfectant hand cleaner
  • Shock blanket (silver plastic foil blanket)
  • CPR barrier mask and surgical gloves
  • Asprin, Advil
  • Antihistamine
  • Diarrhea remedy
  • Extra inhaler if you're asthmatic
  • Extra contact lenses if you need them to ride
  • Epi-pen if you're allergic to bees or other stings
  • Remember to check the expiry dates on your drugs each season

You should never remove the helmet of a fallen rider who is unconscious unless it becomes necessary to perform CPR. Find a motorcycle safety first aid course to learn how and when to remove a fallen riders' helmet, and other aspects of first aid relevant to motorcycling.

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