Spring is finally in the air in these parts and I’ve already started to do a bit of off-roading locally and down at Shawnee State Forest. Some of my posts on Instagram have received several questions about what tools I keep on the bike for local and long trips, so I figured I’d compile a list and offer a few comments about why I have this or that.
The Daily Grind
Since I commute to work most days, I have to have some place to stash my lunch. In virtually every photo of the Rosie the Scrambler, and even the Speedmaster, you’ve probably noticed my Saddlemen tail bag. At 21 liters, the tail bag has enough room for my dress clothes, lunch box, and space for thermals or extra gloves if I need them. Along with the daily necessities, in the side pockets I typically keep the following items:
- Micro-fiber towel
- A spritz bottle of S100 special surfaces cleaner
- Spanner for Hagon rear shocks
- 6mm hex key (came with the bike)
- Side stand pucks
The S100 and towel are obviously to clean the bug guts off my visor, and occasionally water spots off the mirrors and speedo (I’m obsessive-compulsive about that…). I don’t adjust the shocks a whole lot, but if I’m riding anywhere sporty I like to bump them up a notch, so it’s just easier to have the spanner on hand. Same goes for the Hex Key, most of the important bits on a Triumph can be removed with a hex key (like the seat). Anyone who’s ridden off-road with me will also attest to the fact I have a clown car full of side-stand pucks. I’ve collected them over several years at motorcycle events and I’ve just never taken them out of that pocket. In my riding jacket I also carry a set of ear plugs in a pill bottle key chain, and typically a tire pressure gauge in a waterproof pocket.
The Tool Kit
For long trips, or virtually any time I’m riding off-road, I load up a tool kit to handle a flat tire or other random failure that I might encounter. There are a number of tool kit recommendations out there; the Iron Butt Association (IBA), used to have a really lengthy recommended list, and I’m sure I’ve seen an even more in depth list on ADVrider.com at some point. I arrived at this list after identifying all of tools that I use when performing the 6,000 mile interval services on the bike, along with any tools I need to fix a flat tire in a jam.
- Leather tool roll
- Tire irons/spoons x2
- Rim protectors
- Valve core tool
- Tube patch kit
- 12 volt air compressor
- 3/8” drive ratchet
- 1/2” drive ratchet
- Channel locks
- Adjustable wrench (up to 1”)
- Combination box wrenches (8, 10, & 12 mm)
- Wire cutters
- Combination screw driver
- Metric hex key set (1.5-6 mm)
- 3/8″ drive hex key sockets (5, 6, & 8 mm)
- 3/8” drive sockets (8, 10, 12, 19 mm, & ½”)
- 3/8” drive deep well sockets (10, 12, 14, & 18 mm)
- 3/8” drive extension bar
- 1/2” drive sockets (15/16”)
- 3/8” to 1/2” drive adapter
- “Midget” combination wrenches set (4-11 mm)
- Torx sockets (T27 & T30)
I will admit that this is actually a pretty Spartan list. There are some small redundancies with various sockets, but that’s mostly because you cannot reach certain bolts on the bike with or without an extension bar, at which point the deep well sockets are needed. I will typically throw in a bag of zip ties, electrical tape, a flashlight, my Leatherman multi-tool, and potentially spare inner tubes depending on how long the trip will be (like the Dragon Raid). On the same note, I will also switch out the daily tail bag for my Saddlemen BR3400 tail bag for the long trips; I also expect to see my new Biltwell EXFIL-80 in action later this year. I also use a Battery Tender 12V adapter in my tank bag that plugs into my SAE pig tail. The 12V adapter powers my Garmin GPS, charges my cell phone, or will run the air compressor if needed.
This list also has some deficiencies that I need to remedy in the near future, namely a more convenient bag; the leather tool roll is heavy and a bit old-school. It’s also a good idea to bring along a few extra fuses, a length of automotive wire (especially if you have an 80’s UJM…), spare headlight bulb(s), an oil filter wrench (strap or chain), and a pair of vice-grips.
As I mentioned to a buddy of mine in conversation recently, you can easily go nuts with a tool kit and prepare for every apocalyptic calamity imaginable. I’ve heard guys say they bring along spare brake and clutch levers, spare clutch cables, spare shift levers, along with the rest of the kitchen sink. That said, when you’re east of the Mississippi, access to a phone is typically only a few miles away, or in my case, I usually only need to limp the bike five to 10 miles down a dirt road to get close enough to civilization so I can flag down a passing vehicle. On the other hand, if you’re trekking up the Dalton Highway, yeah, you need to be prepared to repair a clutch basket right then and there.
Like I said, this is not the most comprehensive list, so what else is in your tool kit?