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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never really done anything to my bikes in the past, but I would like to start, instead of sending it to the shop. I would like some suggestions on what tools I can buy. Links would be helpful.

Thanks
 

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If you're in the USA, this copy of a post I wrote about buying tools to cover most basic types of maintenance could be useful:

Rear stand: $210 Pit Bull
Metric Allen wrenches: $11 Bondhus
Metric sockets: $20 for a 3/8-inch drive set
Screwdrivers: $15 for a set of 6
A low-profile oil drain pan: similar to this one; I bought mine at Target or Walmart for $10-15
Oil filter wrench: $12 strap style, $23 plier style, or $10 socket style depending on what works for your bike
Torque wrench: $30 Tekton 3/8-inch drive
A cheap tire pressure gauge: one example, $11

If you want to remove your own wheels, add:

Front stand: $155 Pit Bull, or $60 alternative
Breaker bar: $20 1/2-inch drive breaker bar
Large Sockets: 2 x $10-20/each

Buy these tools and you'll be able to change oil, remove your wheels (so tire swaps are cheaper), lube your chain, rebuild your brake calipers, change fuses, replace brake discs, replace sprockets, etc. Over time you may need to add a few additional tools (brake bleeder, chain breaker, snap ring pliers) to handle special jobs but none of this stuff is terribly expensive.
When I initially wrote this post, in the context of maintenance on cheap Japanese bikes, I included a link to a $60 rear stand for those on a budget. AFAIK, there aren't any cheap single-sided swingarm stands. The best alternative for the Supersport might be a set of rear axle sliders similar to these that could then be used with the $60 stand.

Personally, I like the SpeedyMoto rear axle sliders, but they're around $65. Add in a cheap rear stand for $60 and you'll be at $125. At that point, you're probably better off buying the single-pin Pit Bull stand.
 

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Another post I wrote with tool buying advice:

First of all, stop shopping at Harbor Freight! You can buy tools that are much better for not a whole lot more money. For mechanics tools, I'd look at Craftsman (Sears, Orchard Supply/OSH), Husky (Home Depot), and Kobalt (Lowe's). This stuff isn't Snap-On quality but it's perfectly fine for any home mechanic who isn't an idiot. I think all of these brands still offer lifetime warranties on their hand tools, though I could be wrong about that. I own Craftsman stuff, but that's mostly because I live very close to an OSH.

Your Shopping List

1) 3/8-inch drive, 6-point metric sockets. Get a set that goes from 8mm up to at least 16mm. I like Craftsman's "Easy Read" sockets, but socket sets are all pretty similar. I like 6-point sockets (as opposed to 12-point) because they're less likely to round-off aluminum bolt heads

2) 3/8-inch ratchet handle

3) 3-inch and 6-inch socket extensions. Not an absolute must-have, but owning these can make removing or installing difficult-to-reach fasteners much easier. If you buy a decent socket set you'll end up with everything you need

4) Bondhus metric Allen wrenches. Get the 9-piece set that goes from 1.5mm up to 10mm. There are two options for Allen/hex wrenches: standard end or ball end. Ball-end wrenches can be used at an angle, which is useful for some difficult-to-reach applications. The downside is that they're more likely to round-off the corners of the bolt. I own both types, but use the standard end tools most often

5) Torx wrenches... if your bike needs them. My KTM SuperDuke has Torx-head bolts all over the place, but none of my Japanese bikes ever used them. If your bike has any Torx-head fasteners then you'll need Torx wrenches. There are two options: L-wrenches which look like Allen wrenches or Torx sockets. I use my Torx sockets more than the L-wrenches; nobody seems to make Torx L-wrenches with handles that provide enough leverage to loosen the larger fasteners

6) An adjustable wrench. An ivory tower mechanic would never own one of these... but then they probably have hundreds of dollars invested in 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch drive sockets and ratchets that rarely get used. If you're careful an adjustable wrench can be used to work on bolts and nuts that are too large for your 3/8-inch sockets (ex: the rear axle nut). A 10-inch adjustable wrench is a good general purpose size

7) Screwdrivers. You won't need these often, but it's a good idea to own Philips #0, #1, and #2 as well as 1/8" and 3/16" flat blade screwdrivers. Don't buy a ratcheting screwdriver or one with replaceable bits. The ratcheting ones are all junk and replaceable-bit screwdrivers won't fit into some tight spots as well as a dedicated screwdriver

8) No fucking pliers!
If you're tempted to use pliers on a motorcycle, chances are you're desperate and about to **** something up.

9) A dead-blow hammer. Occasionally useful for coaxing an axle into or out of place. Never use a hammer for anything motorcycle-related! This is the one tool you're allowed to purchase from Harbor Freight

10) A 3/8-inch drive torque wrench. I have to admit I don't use a torque wrench too often these days, but as a n00b you should probably own one. Buy a "clicker" type torque wrench rather than a "beam" type. The clicker-type wrenches are much easier to use and they're accurate enough, provided you take care of them (ex: set the torque to 0 before storing). I recently bought a cheap Tekton 1/2-inch drive torque wrench and was really impressed with the quality! If I needed to buy a 3/8-inch drive torque wrench on a budget I'd be tempted to try their 3/8-inch drive model.

11) A small oil drain pan. Many drain pans designed for cars are too tall to fit under a motorcycle. Your bike probably only holds 4-5 quarts of oil, so you don't need a 16- or 20-quart drain pan anyway. Ideally you want something that will catch the oil and store it until you can recycle it. Bonus points if it has a screen to catch the drain bolt. I bought one similar to this locally for around $10 and it works well.

12) An oil filter wrench. There are at least three different options here: a strap wrench, oil filter pliers, and cap wrenches. Strap wrenches seem to require quite a bit of space; they've never really worked on any of the motorcycles I've owned. Cap-style filter wrenches, which are like a big socket you use with your ratchet handle, have worked well for me but there are different sizes for different oil filters; finding a size that fits can be a pain. You could always cross your fingers and buy a huge set but even then there's no guarantee since the sets are generally focused on automotive usage rather than motorcycle usage.

13) Buy other tools as needed. Don't buy a huge tool set that has a ton of crap you'll never use. This stuff should cover the basics. Add other tools when you have projects that require them.
 

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I have never really done anything to my bikes in the past, but I would like to start, instead of sending it to the shop. I would like some suggestions on what tools I can buy. Links would be helpful.

Thanks
Rule No 1 ..... cheap tools are junk. Rule No 2 .... see rule number 1. And when I mean 'junk' I don't just mean inferior materials, the precision is poor and causes damage e.g. rounded heads on nuts and bolts. A quality 12 point socket will not damage a fastener, a junk one will, especially in the smaller sizes.

You don't need to buy the best and most expensive, but decent quality which will be moderately priced will last a lifetime. I won't hesitate to pay $20-$30 for an individual socket. I wouldn't touch whole sets costing as little as that. The spanners I bought as an apprentice 50 years ago still make up the bulk of my toolbox.

Probably a starter set from a reputable brand is the most economical way to go. Then just add quality extras to that as you identify a need for them. Having said that a small 1/4" set of cheap Chinese sockets (with extension and rackets handle etc) that came in a tin case probably gets used more on motorcycle work than any other tool in the garage.
 

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Regarding 6 or 12 point (hex, bi-hex) sockets, they are designed for different heads, so I wouldn't use the wrong one because you will damage the nut/bolt, especially if it's a high torque. I use snap on, facom, craftsman, I've got a 1/4" drive halfords professional socket set for the bike (UK shop). The old saying buy cheep buy twice applies with tools especially if they are used a lot. I got some Craftsman tools when I was in the USA, good value and good quality.
 

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Regarding 6 or 12 point (hex, bi-hex) sockets, they are designed for different heads, so I wouldn't use the wrong one because you will damage the nut/bolt, especially if it's a high torque.
Quality 12 point sockets and box (ring) spanners have been used by mechanics all over the world since Adam was a boy. Specialized impact sockets, are always 6 point. Small size sockets are generally 6 point because of the small tolerances involved. That's 50+ years as a qualified motor mechanic speaking.

If 12 point was no good or only suitable for certain types of hex heads (I've never heard that one before, all hex heads are identical, a hexagon), why is just about every box (ring) spanner ever made 12 point? A quality 12 point socket and a 12 point box (ring) spanner have identical grip on the nut or head. The only advantage a socket has over a box spanner is the greater leverage a longer socket bar provides. As a generalization, a quality 12 point box spanner is less likely to slip or damage the head than any socket 6 or 12 point socket (assuming ease of access) due to the rigid nature of the tool.

If someone wants to buy quality 12 point sockets buy them, 6 are not superior. The outrageously priced Snap-on general service 1/2" sockets sets appear to be all 12 point. The only reason people experience problems with 12 point (sockets or box spanners) is because the tool is poorly made (sloppy fit).

P.S. US$1,500 worth of 3/4" drive Snap-on 12 point socket set designed for heavy duty use (truck and earth moving equipment). I've had a 6 foot long piece of heavy water pipe on the end of a 3/4" socket bar and applying so much force it has bent the pipe with quality 12 point large sockets, and they haven't damaged the bolt head or socket failed.

 

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@John I'm not going into a my di*ks bigger than yours contest but, I'm a licensed aircraft engineer of 40 years, you don't get a lot of 12 point bolts in the car industry in the aviation industry you do. 12 point is bi-hex not hex there is a difference. Yes I have used bi-hex Impact sockets, and bi-hex sockets 3/16 so you do get specialised impact bi-hex sockets and small size bi-hex nuts/bolts. Most bolts/nuts in aviation are bi-hex and if you use a hex socket on them you WILL fu*k them up, standard first year apprentice mistake. Use the correct tool for the job, I'm not saying you can't use one over the other but only one is correct. Using a bi-hex spanner/socket on a hex head will place the force on the points of the nut/bolt and not on the flats, at higher torque values for the size of nut/bolt will place excessive pressure on the points and may well end up rounding off the nut/bolt.
 

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@John I'm not going into a my di*ks bigger than your contest but, I'm a licensed aircraft engineer of 40 years, you don't get a lot of 12 point bolts in the car industry in the aviation industry you do. 12 point is bi-hex not hex there is a difference. Yes I have used bi-hex Impact sockets, and bi-hex sockets 3/16. Most bolts/nuts in aviation are bi-hex and if you use a hex socket on them you WILL fu*k them up, standard first year apprentice mistake. Use the correct tool for the job, I'm not saying you can't use one over the other but only one is correct.
But that's exactly what you are doing, trying to say your dick is bigger. Even better you are saying you know more than most motor mechanics, and even Snap-on. You haven't answered the very simple question of why all box (ring) spanners are 12 point. You do know that type of spanner? And you haven't answered why Snap-on general service socket sets are 12 point.

Here's a picture of a common box (ring spanner) that is the backbone of EVERY car, heavy vehicle, or motorcycle mechanics tool box, which according to you has no place. And snap-on's tool sets full of 12 point sockets and box spanners aren't fit for a 1st year apprentice .... what a load of rubbish.

 

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But that's exactly what you are doing, trying to say your dick is bigger. Even better you are saying you know more than most motor mechanics, and even Snap-on. You haven't answered the very simple question of why all box (ring) spanners are 12 point. You do know that type of spanner? And you haven't answered why Snap-on general service socket sets are 12 point.

Here's a picture of a common box (ring spanner) that is the backbone of any motor mechanics tool box, according to you it has no place. And snap-on's tool sets full of 12 point sockets and box spanners aren't fit for a 1st year apprentice .... what a load of rubbish.

That's a combination spanner for future reference. The front wheel spindle nut on the SS is hex try using a bi-hex spanner/socket on that, the rear wheel is bi-hex try using a hex spanner/socket on that, after trying you will know the difference. As I said you can use 12 point on hex bolts but you are placing excessive pressure on the points, if you have a tight or seized bolt there is a fair chance you will round it off.
I'm sure if you ask your Snap-on man nicely he will show you a hex ring spanner.
In your 50 years in the car trade you must have come across rounded bolt thanks to a previous person, and what's the betting either the wrong tool, size or otherwise was used.
As for 12 point not being fit for a first year apprentice I never said that, most of my tools are 12 point, I said that using the wrong one is a standard 1st year apprentice mistake until they know better.
 

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From your article by (WhoTF is Harko??)

It seems that 99.9% of the socket sets on the market (including the set that I currently own) drive the corners and look like the socket on the right - commonly call a "Bi Hexagonal Socket". This type of socket drives the corners of nuts/bolts rather than the flat surfaces.

and he is just plain wrong that a quality correct size 12 sided socket or ring spanner will round off the corners of a tight or seized quality bolt or nut. The bolt will sheer off before that happens. I spend a large portion of my working life on earth moving equipment operating in a salt water environment. Everything is seized and corroded.

The only place I use 6 sided sockets (from an impact socket set) is some sump plugs, and soft aluminium fittings e.g. fork caps. Some manufacturers use cheap sump plugs of crap soft metal that have slightly rounded corners when they are manufactured. This, together with over tightening, and people using cheap ill fitting and just plain wrong tools, makes then susceptible to the heads becoming rounding off. A 6 sided socket is the best option in that case, because you only have the flats to get a grip on. Failing that, its a cold chisel on the edge.

12 point hand tools are designed and meant to undo 6 sided steel hex head bolts and nuts, period. They've been doing it without drama for the past 100 years.
 

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From your article by (WhoTF is Harko??)

It seems that 99.9% of the socket sets on the market (including the set that I currently own) drive the corners and look like the socket on the right - commonly call a "Bi Hexagonal Socket". This type of socket drives the corners of nuts/bolts rather than the flat surfaces.

and he is just plain wrong that a quality correct size 12 sided socket or ring spanner will round off the corners of a tight or seized quality bolt or nut. The bolt will sheer off before that happens. I spend a large portion of my working life on earth moving equipment operating in a salt water environment. Everything is seized and corroded.

The only place I use 6 sided sockets (from an impact socket set) is some sump plugs, and soft aluminium fittings e.g. fork caps. Some manufacturers use cheap sump plugs of crap soft metal that have slightly rounded corners when they are manufactured. This, together with over tightening, and people using cheap ill fitting and just plain wrong tools, makes then susceptible to the heads becoming rounding off. A 6 sided socket is the best option in that case, because you only have the flats to get a grip on. Failing that, its a cold chisel on the edge.

12 point hand tools are designed and meant to undo 6 sided steel hex head bolts and nuts, period. They've been doing it without drama for the past 100 years.
I don't know who harko is I just thought it might explain something for you, if your happy with your tools (cold chisel included) that's all that matters.:grin2:
 

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Also - when you buy your sockets and wrenches, buy at least 1 extra 10mm of each, unless you are exceptionally fastidious about where you put your wrenches. Remember though - you need to have full accountability of *all* of your tools before you start the bike up after maintenance.

As a side note - the 3/8" socket was mentioned, but on my motorcycles I find I use my 1/4" set far more often - they are much smaller and fit into the tighter confines of a motorcycle much better. The only exception is when I need to torque anything and have to get out the 3/8" torque wrench.

Buy the best you can afford, with the minimum quality being Craftsman and the ideal quality being SnapOn. You will never regret the expense of higher quality tools later in your life, and they will last much later into your life than you think.
 

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As I said you can use 12 point on hex bolts but you are placing excessive pressure on the points, if you have a tight or seized bolt there is a fair chance you will round it off.
This has certainly been my experience. It doesn't take much torque to round off the cheap aluminum hex bolts that are frequently used on motorcycles and cars these days.

Buy the best you can afford, with the minimum quality being Craftsman and the ideal quality being SnapOn. You will never regret the expense of higher quality tools later in your life, and they will last much later into your life than you think.
A home mechanic does not need tools by Snap-on, Mac or any of the other high-end, high-service brands. They don't need the level of service or guarantee these tools provide so there's no point paying through the nose for it. I have Craftsman mechanics tools that I've been using for 20-25 years without a problem. If one happened to break, I'm perfectly willing to drive to the store to get a replacement. Paying 3X the price so some guy in a tool truck will drive over and hand me a new tool so I don't have to step away from my work is simply overkill.

Buy something stocked locally with a lifetime guarantee. In the U.S., that would be Craftsman (Sears, Orchard Supply Hardware, others), Husky (Home Depot), or Kobalt (Lowe's).
 

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A home mechanic does not need tools by Snap-on, Mac or any of the other high-end, high-service brands. They don't need the level of service or guarantee these tools provide so there's no point paying through the nose for it. I have Craftsman mechanics tools that I've been using for 20-25 years without a problem. If one happened to break, I'm perfectly willing to drive to the store to get a replacement. Paying 3X the price so some guy in a tool truck will drive over and hand me a new tool so I don't have to step away from my work is simply overkill.

Buy something stocked locally with a lifetime guarantee. In the U.S., that would be Craftsman (Sears, Orchard Supply Hardware, others), Husky (Home Depot), or Kobalt (Lowe's).
We can agree to disagree. I have a fairly complete set of Craftsman tools in my home garage that have not failed me in 20+ years of ownership. At work I use a fairly complete set of employer owned SnapOn tools to do high precision equipment and tool maintenance and repair. Using both extensively, I prefer the SnapOn tools for quality of feel and ergonomic/hand comfort.

I'll put it a different way: If someone offered me $2500 only to spend on tools I wouldn't hesitate to replace all of my Craftsman tools with SnapOn (though I might prioritize a benchtop lathe/mill combo). If someone offered me $2500 to spend on anything I choose, replacing my Craftsman tools wouldn't even be worth considering.
 

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I'll put it a different way: If someone offered me $2500 only to spend on tools I wouldn't hesitate to replace all of my Craftsman tools with SnapOn (though I might prioritize a benchtop lathe/mill combo). If someone offered me $2500 to spend on anything I choose, replacing my Craftsman tools wouldn't even be worth considering.
At this point in my life I have the good fortune to be able to afford almost anything I want to buy. I don't own a single Snap-on tool.

Given the choice between owning $2500 worth of Snap-on tools or $500 worth of Craftsman tools and $2000 worth of track time (or tires, or dyno tuning, or upgrade parts, or time with a professional riding coach, etc) I'll take Craftsman every single time. If I were a professional mechanic, I might make different choices but for a home shop I just don't see how you can justify spending 5X more for Snap-on tools. There's no way a home mechanic gets 5X more utility out of them...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
At this point in my life I have the good fortune to be able to afford almost anything I want to buy. I don't own a single Snap-on tool.

Given the choice between owning $2500 worth of Snap-on tools or $500 worth of Craftsman tools and $2000 worth of track time (or tires, or dyno tuning, or upgrade parts, or time with a professional riding coach, etc) I'll take Craftsman every single time. If I were a professional mechanic, I might make different choices but for a home shop I just don't see how you can justify spending 5X more for Snap-on tools. There's no way a home mechanic gets 5X more utility out of them...
Are there some good craftsman tool sets or kits?
 

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Are there some good craftsman tool sets or kits?
If you need a set of combination wrenches, screw drivers, or sockets there are good Craftsman options. There are probably good options from Husky and Kobalt, too. Like I said: buy something local that has a lifetime warranty. That way you know you can get an immediate replacement, on the off chance you ever need it.

BTW, I wouldn't buy a huge (ex: 300-piece) mechanics tool set; it will contain too much stuff that you'll never use if you're just planning to work on motorcycles.
 
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