One of the best ways to save money and get the most out of the joy of owning a motorcycle is wrenching on it yourself! But unless you’re an experienced mechanic, it might be tough to know what tools you’ll need. That’s why we put together this list of our picks for must-have motorcycle accessories every rider should have in their garage, to help you make the best investments possible!
1) Tire Pressure Gauge
This might not seem like a “tool” in the traditional sense, but tires are such a critical part of your motorcycle, and running proper tire pressure is so important, we think having a good quality tire pressure gauge should be at the top of your list. We do tires better than anyone else in the industry, and we see a lot of problems occur from both underinflation and overinflation, but preventing them is easy by monitoring your tire pressures with this tool. Defintely a must have for every rider.
The Motion Pro Digital Tire Pressure Gauge (0-60psi)
These are probably the most basic hand tools on the planet, and pretty much a requirement for even the simplest of jobs on your bike. You have a couple of options here – you can go with a set of screwdrivers of different sizes and split up between Philips and flat-head, or you can get a screwdriver with interchangeable tips. If you go this route, you might want to get one that has a few hex-head tips as well – that one tool will be super portable, and serve a lot of purposes on your bike!
The BikeMaster 14-in-1 Screwdriver
3) Wrench Set
A wrench set is another must-have item for just about any work you’ll be doing on your bike, because you’ll need them you loosen and re-tighten most of your fasteners. You have a few options here too – you can go with a bigger, sturdier set to keep in your garage, or for a lighter, more minimalist set to take on the road with you (and it might not be a bad idea to do both!) Tip: if you’re on a budget, determine if your bike uses metric or standard fasteners, and just buy the corresponding set (most bikes use metric.)
The Motion Pro Ti Prolight Wrench Set
4) Ratchet and Socket Set
For any serious jobs, a ratchet and socket set will be some of your most used tools. You can go a lot of directions here though: you can buy a cheap set with one handle and a dozen or so sockets, or a huge mechanics set with hundreds of sockets of every conceivable size and shape. If you’re on a budget, we recommend going with something basic at first in either standard or metric (whichever your bike uses) and adding sockets individually as you need them.
Tip: most basic sets will have sockets in sizes between roughly 4mm and 20mm or so, but you’ll find you may need some unusually large sockets to do things like removing your rear wheel. Determine what sockets you’ll need for those big fasteners, and buy them individually – you’ll save a bunch of money that way!
The MSR Gear Drive Ultra Lite Metric Socket Set
5) Hex Keys (AKA Allen wrenches) or Hex Head Sockets
A lot of motorcycles, especially Japanese models, use hex head fasteners all over the place, so you’ll need some hex keys or sockets to remove them. You can go with a simple set of hex keys (also known as Allen wrenches), but you may find that they don’t let you get enough torque to remove the bigger ones – a set of hex head sockets for your ratchet might be easier to use.
The Cruz Tools Socket Bit Set
When you need to get a grip on something on your bike, you’re going to be frustrated really quickly trying to get at it with your fingernails! When working on a motorcycle, you’ll find that pliers are an essential tool with a lot of random uses for jobs all over your bike. Pick up a couple pliers to get started – a set of slip-joint pliers and a set of needlenoses will cover most of your needs – and maybe add a set of locking pliers later when you need them.
We know what you’re thinking: “what on earth do I need a hammer for, I’d never hit my bike!” But trust us, you need one in your tool kit. Not a big framing hammer, just something you can use to drive your impact wrench, tap on stubborn fasteners, and generally just “work” things into place. Professional mechanics use hammers way more than you think (or even want to know!) Tip: while you may need the impact power of a hammer to get things into place, you never want to make metal-to-metal contact; use a wood block or dowel to soften the impact.
8) Impact Driver
Sometimes a fastener just wont budge with your hand tools, and you may even notice yourself starting to strip the heads on a fastener when it’s in really on there. When this happens, you can use an impact driver to help you. An impact driver will “shock” the fastener loose without applying the massive twisting force that something a breaker bar would (which could shear the fastener and force you to drill it out – not a good situation to be in!)
The BikeMaster 3/8″ Drive Impact Driver
9) Torque Wrench
A torque wrench might seem like an “advanced” tool that only a serious mechanic would need at first, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, every fastener you remove will need to be put back on, and if you’re not using a torque wrench to determine how tight to fasten it, you’re really just guessing. Guesswork doesn’t go well with fasteners – too loose and they could rattle off during a ride, and too tight and they could strip. Neither is a situation you want to be in!
Tip: instead of buying an entire torque wrench, check out a digital torque wrench adapter, a compact torque measuring device that snaps onto a normal ratchet when you need it!
The Bikemaster Digital Torque Wrench Adapter
10) Motorcycle Stands
Motorcycle stand might not seem like an “essential tool” – but that’s only until you use them and realize how useful they really are! Motorcycle stands have a bunch of uses, like holding the bike straight up and down so you can easily access both sides (instead of the kickstand side pointing down at the ground), letting you easily clean and maintain your chain, and even remove your wheels for easy tire swaps.
There are several different types of stands, so you have a few options. For street bikes, you can go with a front wheel chock-type stand, which will hold your bike upright but won’t allow wheel removal, or if you have a sport bike, you can go with paddock stands, which will allow you to hold the bike up by the swingarm and forks and remove the wheels. If you have a dirt bike, you’ll use a dirt bike stand, which holds the bike up from the center by the engine case instead.
Whatever you choose, you’ll find that these come in very handy, and you wont want to work on a bike without them afterwards!
The MSR HP Pro Lift Stand
The Powerstands Max Rear Lift Stand
And don’t forget…an Owner’s Manual!
Also, before doing any work on your bike, get an owner’s manual. Seriously, get one for each bike you own and keep it in the garage or toolbox. You’ll refer to it for almost any job you do. Even simple jobs usually require some measurements or specs. Knowledge is the most important tool you can have!
For more recommendations on useful motorcycle tools, check out our full Buyer’s Guide to Motorcycle Tools, where we help you put together a full motorcycle tool kit that will cover almost everything you’ll need to do just about any job on your bike.