I'm looking to do more of my motorcycle maintenance myself, and am wondering what I should be investing in, when it comes to tools/devices. What are the basic tools that I'd need when starting to do more of my own maintenance on my motorcycle?
If you buy a 3rd party maintenance manual for your bike (Clymer, Haynes) it will include a list of tools. They usually have a general list and a specific list.
Don't go out and buy them all at once. Before you begin a new procedure, read through it carefully. Clean your workspace and gather the tools you will need. Plan a shopping trip for what you're missing. Be prepared for a second (and third!) trip when you realize something else you need. Having a way to get to the tool store without your motorcycle is a must. (I had a second motorcycle. But it was often in pieces, so then there was the third bike...)
There are two questions only you can answer for yourself:
- Which tools are you willing to do without vs. which helpful-but-not-strictly-necessary tools will you buy?
For example, you can do a lot with an adjustable crescent wrench, but a good set of combination wrenches will be easier to work with and is gentler on the machine.
- Which tools will you spend extra on to get high quality vs. which tools can be junky.
Snap-on vs Harbor Freight?
Working with a good quality tool is a joy, and having the right tool for the job makes things go more smoothly. But a large toolset is also a burden, as you have to organize, sort through, and maintain all those tools.
A 3rd related question is about your threshold for doing work yourself vs. taking it to a pro. Start with something simple, like an oil and filter change.
In order to skip the obvious I'll just say that you will want all of the standard tools. Sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
That being said, I think there are some of the common tools that you may want to a little better than average.
- Hex keys or Allen wrenches. Get them with handles on them. If you have any kind of bodywork, you'll need to take it off regularly. Most manufacturers use Allen heads.
- I've owned lots of Honda's and Suzuki's. They have a common them as do most Kawasaki and Yamaha models. Most of the bolts are 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 17mm. Get purpose tools for a few of those sizes. For instance. I didn't buy a set of these years ago, I just got 8, 10 and 12mm. They proved to be a bit handier user certain circumstances.
- A spanner wrench to tighten your steering head nuts. As a part of maintenance you will want to ensure you steering head doesn't have any play, this wrench works on special spanner nuts. As well you uses these to adjust spring preload on most modern rear shocks. Find the right sizes for your bike.
- If you want to change your own chains you will need a chain press to compress the links together.
- If you have cables on your bike you will want to be able to lubricate them without getting the lubricant everywhere. you can get one of these. Just Google "motorcycle cable lubricant tool" I don't know the name of it.
- Bike Stand. It can make all the difference. There's nothing like working on the left side of a motorcycle while it's on a kickstand. Their typically on the left. This would allow you to change a rear wheel. There are many types of stands. I used to use smaller pit stands for the front and the rear.
You can go deeper, if you want. There will be an assortment of special tools for you bike to pull a rotor or line up your engine in your frame. It's really endless. There are special tools to remove shims from heads or valve guides. These here are some simple and important tools to add to your kit. If I think of a few more I'll add as an edit.
As a kit to carry on the bike I would recommend the following as a starting point: A set of double open ended wrenches from 10mm up to at least 17mm. You want something big enough to do your rear axle if you have a flat or need to adjust your chain. In addition a small multimeter or small electrical test lights; a set of tire irons and a patch kit (for inner tubes) or plug kit for tubeless tires; a couple feet of bailing wire and a few large zip ties; a four in one screwdriver; a few of metric hex keys or torx keys as needed for the handlebars and or bodyworks; a sparkplug socket that can be turned with either one of the open end wrenches or the screwdriver; a set of pliers or a cheapie Leatherman type tool. A set of emergency cable ends for your clutch and throttle cable ends. A small flashlight of some kind