A complete or comprehensive tool kit
I confess: I’m a fool for tools. I like tools, and I buy a fair number of them. However, I won’t presume that you feel the same way. Perhaps you never have had a profound need to use tools before. So here’s the deal. Rather than giving the reader a long list of hand tools to buy, usually at a prohibitive price, I’m going to list the tools needed to perform a specific job when I describe that job.
If you’d prefer to buy a complete tool kit, I’ve listed the basic required tools in the following articles. You’ll find that as your interest and appreciation of mechanics increases so will the weight of your toolbox. If you’re already a tool junkie then you probably own most of the basic hand tools required to work on your motorcycle, although you may want to fill in a few gaps here and there.
If you’re completely new to this then you’ll need to give serious thought to acquiring a comprehensive tool kit. You may be tempted to try to get by with the factory-supplied tool kit. If you’ve just bought a new BMW you may be able to do just that. With rare exceptions, most of the tools supplied with new motorcycles have all the structural integrity of Swiss cheese. Besides, the kits themselves are far from complete.
Go for a reliable set of tools
Tools can be good and moderately priced, good and very expensive, or cheap and probably not so good. Stay away from cheap bargain- basement tools. They don’t fit the fasteners very well, which tends to round off the fasteners’ edges, making them difficult to remove.
Most of them feel awkward in your hand, and they seem to break at inopportune times, allowing your knuckles to crash into something solid. It’s much easier to stay away from no-name tools than it will be to repair the damage to your bike and body caused when one slips or breaks.
If money is no object, then seek out the local Snap-On, MAC, or Matco tool truck and spend away. If you plan on buying everything you need in one fell swoop, you can probably get them to drive to your house for a private viewing. Sort of like your own little chrome-plated fashion show.
Childhood state of mind
When I was a kid I was on a first-name basis with the local Snap-On dealer. I think I pretty much put his kid through medical school. Now I’m a little, not much, just a little, wiser. I buy most of my common tools through Sears Craftsman or the local home-improvement chains. Craftsman, Husky, SK, BlackHawk, and Proto are a few of the more reasonably priced tool lines available.
All are excellent tools, carry a lifetime, full-replacement guarantees, and are readily available seven days a week. For the price of one Snap-On ratchet, you can purchase a whole set of Craftsman sockets and ratchets, leaving that much more dough to spend on the bike (or more tools). So, my recommendation is this: if tool status is your thing, buy Snap-On tools, which honestly are probably the best tools in the world from a standpoint of comfort, durability, and appearance.
What you won’t really need doesn’t matter
But, and I say this after 35 years of twisting wrenches, a Craftsman wrench is just as functional, just as durable, and costs less. In addition to a set of common hand tools, the avid motorcyclist will require a few special tools. How many depends on how involved you plan to become with the mechanical end of motorcycling.
By special tools, I mean ones dedicated strictly to motorcycle maintenance tasks, such as chain breakers and clutch hub holders, as well as ones designed specifically for working on your particular motorcycle. These are available through your local motorcycle shop. I want to note that there are a lot of tools not listed: files for instance, and things like extendable magnets, flare-nut wrenches, and other semi-specialized tools. I figure if you need a file or whatever for a particular job, you’ll be smart enough to go get what you need.