Top 10 Touring Toolkit Essentials!
Published May 30, 2016
What are you packing under your seat? Sure, modern motorcycles are more reliable than ever, and bike-optimized road side recovery is definitely better than it’s ever been but even so, there are a few things that you might want to consider always traveling with. We’ve put together a handy list of essential equipment – now, “essential” isn’t really the right word, but if you’re thinking of heading out on to roads less traveled, or into a cell phone dead zone, having a few of these might make your life a little bit easier.
We asked a few of our “hardened tourer” friends what they couldn’t live with when they’re off on a long ride, and we weren’t surprised by a lot of their suggestions. We did mention that the vast majority of our readers were sports bike riders, and with such a limited storage area, it seems like these tools are the best you can carry in that tiny, under the seat recess. Naturally, we haven’t included the obvious “spark plug socket” – because that should go without saying!
Again, these suggestions are there to help bodge a repair, they’re not there for fine tuning. But that doesn’t mean that carrying a few of them isn’t a good idea…
A Puncture Repair Kit
The days of inner tubes may be well behind us, but suffering a puncture on your tubeless can be a real ball ache. Whether you’re more a fan of the plug method, or puncture sealant, is irrelevant – as long as you’ve got the means to get the bike back on the road, it doesn’t really matter. Most modern puncture kits come with compressed air canisters, and they fit under the seat just fine.
A Pocket Knife
The mighty pocket knife is also a great tool to have with you. You can use it for a number of things, from prying things from your tires, to rounding off all of your screw heads (!) but if you haven’t got anything better, it’s a good thing to have. Also, you shouldn’t head out into the unknown without a knife, and almost any survival guru will to you why.
Better than a penknife, is a multi-tool – but make sure it’s a high quality one. It’s true and often said that something like a Leatherman is the wrong tool for a million jobs, but when space is at a premium, and you’re having bike troubles, you’ll be glad you packed it. Most multi-tools come with a variety of screw drivers, files, blades and other useful stuff – some even come with a small socket set! They also come with pliers, but when it comes to decent leverage, you’ll want a genuine pair of them instead of the flimsy multi-tool ones…
As useful as multi-tools are, there really is no replacement for a good set of pliers. Whether you want standard, needle nose, or going for more exotic vice grips, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’ve got something that feels comfortable in hand. There really is nothing worse than struggling with multi-tool pliers while you’re trying to squeeze onto something. If you can’t fit them under the saddle, then suffer the multi-tool variety – but anything is better than nothing.
Hex keys, Allen keys, whatever you want to call them: for modern bikes, they’re fairly essential. Almost all fastenings on modern sports bikes are octagonal, so having a set of them is a pretty wise idea. Luckily, a full set is pretty small, but if you’re trying to shave down your tool kit, just remove the sizes you don’t need, or will be least likely to use on the side of the road…
An Adjustable Wrench
If you’ve got the space, then pack one of these. I know, they’re also terrible tools and we’ve all sheared more nuts with them than we’d like to admit – but as a space saver, they’re the best alternative. Unless you’ve got a socket set with your multi-tool, but even then, would you have the leverage? In a bind, these things are damn handy.
When it comes to electrics, I’m fairly useless but I know the value of a spare length of wire. Having a strip to bypass a fuse, repair a damaged wire or just simply to lash something to something else…It takes up next to no space, and it’s another weapon in your side of the road arsenal. Better to travel with than without, for sure. If you can fit fuses and bulbs into your under seat space, even better…
Duct tape – yeah, it’s another pain in the ass to fit under the seat but if you can get a roll of it under, then do it. Chances are, you won’t be able to fit it under, but a few lengths of it folded over itself will definitely fit, and it could get you out of a nightmare situation until a proper fix comes along. Electrical tape is also useful for sealing those aforementioned electrical problems, but thanks to our disregard for the environment, a plastic bag is never too far away, and you can make do with a length of that, sealed around the breaks with the careful application of heat from a lighter.
What do you need cable ties for? Well, anything you can think of, really. I even used them the other day after a day of off-roading – I broke the switchgear on the throttle, and every time you gave it some throttle, the whole thing spun ‘round on the bars. Enter the cable tie…A few of these, carefully placed to match up with the cracked plastic, held the thing in place enough for us to limp back to civilization. You see, the cable tie is a near essential: cheap, useful, and space saving.
This one should really go without saying, but there’s a reason it’s in the number one position: it’s the most essential thing you need. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, there’s always a time you need a torch. You might have the tools, but without light, those repairs are going nowhere. Sure, most phones come with lights these days, but nothing beats a good torch. If you’re not carrying something that can project a light, the rest of the list is more or less irrelevant!
So, that’s what we’re calling “essential” – do you agree? If we’ve forgotten anything, let us know in comments!