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If you own a motorcycle or hope to own one soon, it’s a good idea to have a few tools ready for the times you need to do some maintenance. If you’re rebuilding a motorcycle, you will inevitably need these tools to complete your project.
I’ve been restoring motorcycles for years and have found these tools to be reliable and the best candidates to get the job done.
The five main tools I recommend for motorcycle owners and motorcycle rebuilds are:
- This socket/ratchet and wrench set on Amazon.com. This will pretty much be your go-to tool set for most fixes on your motorcycle. I rely heavily on these tools not just for my motorcycles, but for a wide variety of other household repairs.
- This vise grip wire stripper and cutter on Amazon.com. At some point in your motorcycle riding life, you will need to deal with the wiring. These grips are an all-in-one package and will be able to take care of most, if not all, of your wire needs.
- This angle grinder from Amazon.com. This is a tool you won’t use as often as the others, but if you plan on doing any sort of customizing on your motorcycle, this will be your best tool to do so.
- These channel lock pliers on Amazon.com. Out of all of my tools, I use these ones the most. They’re perfect for random and hard-to-fix problems and have proved to be reliable.
- This motorcycle lift on Discountramps.com. Having a motorcycle lift is incredibly convenient and makes maintaining and fixing your motorcycle so much easier. It’s easier on your back and neck, too which will save you physical problems down the road.
- Your motorcycle specific manual found here on emanualonline.com. Basic maintenance on a motorcycle really starts with having access to the information the manual offers.
Socket/Ratchet and Wrench Set
If you have a budget and can’t buy many tools, make this socket/ratchet and wrench set (link to Amazon.com) your first priority. You will use these frequently on random things throughout the house and especially on your motorcycle. The reason I recommend the Craftsman brand is because it is the highest quality of the cheaper brands. Essentially, it’s the biggest bang for your buck. And trust me, I’ve gone through a lot of sockets and wrenches and have been able to get a good idea about which ones are the best.
One great perk about getting this set is that it comes in English and Metric unit sizes. Most american motorcycles will require English unit size tools and most Japanese motorcycles require Metric size tools. I’ve worked on a variety of both types of motorcycles and it has been so convenient having all the tools I need in one place.
Vise Grip Wire Stripper and Cutter
Wiring is an important component to a motorcycle. And without taking good care of the wiring, you run a lot of risks that can be detrimental to the life of your motorcycle. I recommend the vise grip wire stripper and cutter (link to Amazon.com) to handle almost all of your wiring needs and fixes.
This particular set of wire strippers have been so useful during my motorcycle restorations. Most other brands of strippers will fray the wires or won’t cut off all the plastic completely and leaves you guessing how much pressure you need to correctly strip the wires.
If you use this tool right, this wire stripper does the calculations for you. These make your wiring needs faster and cleaner.
As I mentioned before, if you plan on making any custom changes to your motorcycle, this angle grinder (link to Amazon.com) will be your best friend. This does an excellent job at cutting metal where I need to make the exact custom look I want. I usually use this to cut off the rear seat part of the frame to weld in a hoop to get a more cafe racer look.
There are other uses of the angle grinder besides cutting metal. You can also buy attachments such as sanding disks or wire wheels to get tough rust areas. I’ll occasionally use a drill and it’s attachments for jobs like this, but a grinder is more versatile and does a better job.
Channel Lock Pliers
These channel lock pliers are my go-to’s when I have to get creative while fixing something on my motorcycle. And let’s face it, you’ll always stumble upon a fix where you need to get creative to fix it.
These channel locks (link to Amazon.com) are easily adjustable, have an amazing grip, and have a strong mechanism/gears that’ll last you forever. My wife gave me a pair of these years ago for Christmas and they’re still going strong despite the heavy use they’ve been through.
Most think they can go without a motorcycle lift like this one (link to Discountramps.com). And some may be able to get away with it but will end up having back problems as well as further mechanical problems on their motorcycle because they didn’t have much accessibility in the first place.
The first few motorcycles I restored I didn’t have a motorcycle lift. I feel like that may have advanced my aging because I have occasional back problems now. You can easily notice the toll when you work on a motorcycle and how much your body aches after crouching down or kneeling for hours.
Another perk to having a motorcycle lift such as this one is the accessibility to your wheels. I often get new tires with my motorcycle restorations and find it much easier to just take the wheels off the motorcycle completely and take them in to get the new tires mounted. Having your motorcycle on a lift makes this task so much easier.
Repair Manual Specific To Your Motorcycle
Often times people underestimate the power the repair manual has when it comes to the basic maintenance and longevity of their motorcycle. As a motorcycle gets passed down and resold, it’s unlikely that manual gets passed down, too.
Luckily, emanualonline.com is an excellent resource to check out if you’re stuck without your repair manual. It’s an easy and affordable resource that will provide you with instant downloadable access to your motorcycle specific manual. I used this for my latest rebuild, a 1978 Honda CB750, and it gave me vital information to help me complete this project.