Percussive maintenance is a thing. You never know what you’re going to need a hammer for, and one with a face that will not mar the surface of whatever you’re whacking is pretty priceless. When you’re reinstalling your front wheel and you have all your spacers lined up just so, but you need to get that axle back through everything? Dead blow hammer. Somewhere between a tap and a whack, you’ll get a feel for wielding a good hammer and whether the thing you’re hitting is seated or stuck. You’ll find uses for all of these, trust me. It’s so good to have a variety of hammers.
This is one of those must-haves. If you don’t own a torque wrench you’re probably over-tightening everything. Did you know your oil drain bolt has a torque spec? It does, and it’s probably way lower than you are reefing on it, my man. Every bolt on your bike has a specification for the torque it should be tightened to, and getting used to using a torque wrench on reassembly is good for your bike’s fasteners, will mean fewer broken and stripped bolts, and will give you peace of mind.
Never use your torque wrench to loosen anything; that can throw it out of calibration. Breaker bar loosens, torque tightens. Use the correct tool for the job in these situations, always.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to use a torque wrench at the very edges of its capabilities, so keep a ⅜” drive and a ½” drive around. The ⅜” will bring you from 10-100ft-lbs, and the ½” from 35-250 ft-lbs, so you will be covered in nearly every situation. If you’re regularly tightening things to 15 ft-lbs or less, consider a ¼” drive torque wrench. If something needs more than 250, well, how the heck did you get it off in the first place? Oh, a pneumatic impact wrench? Ok, ok…
This thing can be Excalibur. Mjolnir. The magic that Archimedes used to move the world. It can also, if you do not make sure the tool is seated and at 90 degrees to movement, round off your fastener faster than you can say… any of the variety of words that’ll make you say. With great power comes great responsibility. Use your breaker bar wisely. Do not use it to tighten fasteners; that is what your torque wrench and spec sheet is for. But use it to loosen your rear axle bolt (righty-tighty! lefty-loosey!) and you’ll feel like Thor himself. Young Thor, not fat Thor.
Stop making that noise. Adjustable wrenches, too, are often the Wrong Tool For the Job, but that doesn’t mean they won’t help you out. The key to these things is patience: make sure the tool is seated against the fastener correctly every time. That may mean loosening and re-tightening for every small movement. It’s still better than no tool at all, and will keep your job from grinding to a dead halt for lack of the specific size wrench you need but don't have at 11PM the night before your trip. Yeah, we see you.
That countershaft nut that’s holding your front sprocket on is a real bear, isn’t it? And maybe you’ve got an electric impact wrench that will make short work of it, but did you know that there are specific impact sockets made to work with impact wrenches (electric or pneumatic), that are much stronger than conventional sockets? They’re thicker too, so you may have clearance issues, but as a rule, if you’re using an impact tool, you’ll want impact sockets to use with it. You’ve probably turned a cheap socket into a cracked, lopsided flower just by reefing on it yourself, right? Imagine the force of an impact tool grenading that cheapo socket and sending pieces of it flying, possibly into your soft and squishy parts. No fun. Tool for the job, man.
Magnet on a Stick
Oh, now you’ve done it. You dropped that fastener into the bowels of your motorcycle. Where did it go? What wouldn't you give to be able to pick the bike up and shake it? You’ve dug out your trusty shop flashlight and you don’t see it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t root around in there with a magnet and hope. Because sometimes, and it’s more often than you might think, that magnet on a stick will find the fastener you dropped when your eyes can’t. Whew, there it is.
These are key when you’re doing things like bleeding your brakes, or replacing your suspension, or swapping out your chain and sprockets. Chain spoo gets all over everything, and it is thick, heavy, filthy stuff. Road grime gets on everything. It’s not pretty. It’ll stick to you, too, and it won’t come out of your nails or ingerprints. Do you want to go to work with filthy hands tomorrow? No? Put some gloves on. It’ll keep (some of) the hazardous chemicals you’re working with from soaking into your skin, too.
Screw Extractor Pliers
But Kate, I hear you say, I already have some pliers, and they’re always the wrong tool for the job, but I use them anyway. I know! Pliers really are almost always the wrong tool for the job, but when they’re right, nothing replaces them. So, yes, keep pliers around. These pliers are special, though. They have opened up carburetors for me when the very old Philips-head screws that are made of cheese have long-since stripped out. The jaws on these specific pliers are incredibly well made, and will get that damn screw out when nothing else has. I keep a set in my on-board bike tool roll, because they’ve gotten me out of so many jams.
Yeah, I know I said that you already own one of these. We all do. But these things are just so useful, you know? Maybe you brought one into the house to hang a picture, or take apart that shifty doorbell to fix it, or pry open a paint can. Did it ever make it back into your tool set? Nope, it sure didn’t. Make peace with the fact that you’re going to be buying a set of these every few years, and you’ll be happier with life.
More and more bikes these days are just lousy with Torx fasteners. BMW specifically loves them, and their new bikes use a ton. If your newish European bike is loaded with Torx fasteners, it behooves you to get a good, broad set of Torx bits for home use (there should be a few drivers in your on-board tool kit, right? Of course there are, you’ve checked.
Anti Seize and Loctite
These are like two sides of the same coin, and they’re both gifts you give your future self. When your shop manual, or the instructions that came with your latest accessory, specify that you use blue loctite on the fasteners, do you? I’ve linked to the glue-stick form factor of blue loctite because while it’s more expensive this way, it’s so much more convenient, you use less, and it won’t spill. It’s great for travel, too. Blue loctite means the fasteners you’re torquing to the correct spec (that has taken the loctite into account) won’t back out until you want them to. Anti-seize goes on anything that will be exposed to road salt, or high heat. Your exhaust bolts and your swingarm’s chain adjuster bolt should all get treated with copious amounts of anti-seize.
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