If you’re reading this site, it’s because you’re interested in keeping the maintenance of your motorcycle up to date. Hooray!
When getting started doing this, you quickly become aware that you’re going to need some speficic motorcycle tools to make that maintenance easier — on top of general tools that you’ll be able to use in a wider variety of situations.
It’s fun buying stuff, and it’s tempting to just go on Amazon and buy everything you need. But the truth is that you don’t need to buy all the motorcycle tools you can find if you’re just doing everyday maintenance.
You don’t also need the fanciest tools. I’m a big believer in bang for the buck, especially when that brings you portability.
Someone might say “you need a lift”; most people don’t. You might think “I should get a front stand AND a rear stand” whereas a rear stand will be what you use nearly all the time.
Now, some motorcycle tools and supplies are specific to some motorcycles. Where that’s true, I’ll create a separate page for it, or mention it in the post for that motorcycle. For example, if you have a single-sided swing arm, you will need a special tool to adjust the chain length and tension.
And if you’re building up your workbench from scratch, then there’s a lot of basic tools you might need — see my post on basic workshop tools for working on motorcycles.
There’s a chance you’ll need brand-specific motorcycle tools, e.g. for adjusting the chain tension on a single-sided swingarm.
By and large, most tools are the same across most brands. I know this from personal experience having owned one or two motorcycles from nearly every major brand. (But still not enough. More!)
OK, onwards. Here are the tools you need, in (roughly) descending order of importance.
By the way, this post contains affiliate links. If you buy from them, I get a commission from Amazon. It doesn’t make what you buy more expensive, and there’s no way you can save the money (e.g. I can’t get discounts). I’d appreciate it if you use the links to support this site and the really time-consuming archive work I’m doing.
Motorcycle Tools — A Summary
Below is a quick reference for all the tools you might need for motorcycle maintenance.
Some (actually most) of these are good for general vehicle maintenance too, and some might even be useful on bicycles.
More detail below.
Rear Paddock Stand — generally makes life easier
A rear paddock stand helps with
- Maintaining your chain — cleaning it and lubricating it
- Changing brake pads — gives you better access
- Cleaning or servicing your motorcycle — it can be surprisingly a lot harder to access the side of the bike that’s leaned over
- Storing your motorcycle, particularly in tight spaces, or for long term (when it leans over it takes up more space; and also, kickstands DO fail sometimes)
Firstly, unless you already have a centre-stand (which is awesome, but rare… although surprisingly common on very cheap bikes!), you need a paddock stand. It’s definitely the first motorcycle tool (or workshop accessory) you should buy.
If you have a centre stand and/or if you have a shaft or belt drive, this is less critical. But in nearly every motorcycle I’ve owned, this has been a great thing to own.
Note — if you have a motorcycle with a single-sided swing-arm (like a Ducati superbike or a BMW R nineT), then you’ll either need a pole to sit in the axle, or a special centerstand. The pole is much cheaper!
Oil filter wrench — To change the oil filter
Oil filters are often impossible to remove with a normal wrench set (unless they’re K&N or HifloFiltro filters). Some companies like to say “buy our fancy branded tool” but that’s not really necessary.
My personal preference is to replace the first oil filter with one from HifloFiltro that has a nut on the end of it. That way, you never need an oil filter wrench again after the first time — unless you get another bike…
Oil drain pan with cap — To make disposing of oil easy
When you change the oil of a motorcycle, you don’t just have to collect the oil somewhere… you have to dispose of it, too.
An oil drain pan with a cap makes it easy to take the oil away so that you can take it to a mechanic or to garbage disposal to dispose of it safely.
Our water systems aren’t designed to process oil dumping. Look up “fatbergs” for what happens when people dump stuff down the drain.
It’s a bit inconvenient, but finding a local mechanic and asking them to take it off your hands (they dispose of it safely) is pretty easy. They might charge you $5, but I’d pay $5 to preserve our beautiful rivers. (And in my experience they’ve never charged me.)
Brake bleeder valve — For one-person brake bleeding
Bleeding a brake is a bit annoying on a motorcycle, just as it is on a car. Pump, loosen, tighten, pump, loosen, tighten… and you have to be careful to get it all in the right order or you can ruin all your work.
Using a one-way valve makes it easier. And using a one-way valve with a collecting bottle like this one makes it easier still.
Motorcycle Chain Care it — Get your chain sparkling clean!
It’s really easy to recommend this chain care kit because it comes with so much you need — chain cleaner, gloves, the brush, and lube. And it’s from a reputable brand.
(A motorcycle chain brush is like a a toothbrush for your chain. You can get it SHINY really quickly!)
Often when selling a motorcycle, I give the chain a really good scrub before I sell it for some photos. I take care of the chain, but a clean chain just makes it look immaculate.
People sometimes ask me if it’s a new chain! (I tell them the truth, but they’re just happy it’s clean.)
Magnetic parts tray — Stop losing screws/bolts
I always thought it looked so cool to have a magnetic bowl to collect my parts in… until I realised how incredibly cheap they are.
That Titan one linked is one I’ve bought three times — two for me, one for my brother. It’s simple, strong, and works well.
Magnetic telescoping pick-up tool — Retrieve bolts that drop
I won’t lie to you, I think magnets are cool.
But this is a genuinely useful tool (otherwise I’d just be recommending cool stuff, like lasers, and toy helicopters).
Every time I drop a nut or something deep into the fairing of a motorbike of a car I swear profusely. This magnetic tool doesn’t just have a strong magnet — it also has a LIGHT so you can see where you’re going. Awesome.
The magnetic tool makes retrieval possible without having to remove the fairing. It’s amazing. Also, it’s a magnet!!!
Siphon — To Empty the Tank
This is another of those infrequently-used motorcycle tools that you’re really happy to have when you need it.
If you need to fully remove the tank then you might have to drain the tank first.
There are two ways of draining the tank: a) riding a few hundred kilometres/a couple of hundred miles, and b) draining it into a gas can.
If your bike is broken, then riding for a few hours is out of the question. So use this dead simple siphon and drain the tank.
And of course, you’ll need a gas can into which to drain it…
Gas can — To empty the tank
If you’re draining the tank, then you need something to drain it into!
This is why the gas canister is such an important motorcycle tool.
On top of that, if you ever get stuck on the side of the road because you ran out of gas and it turns out your low fuel indicator was broken (damn you, Ducati!), then this is what your partner or roommate will come and rescue you with.
3/4 Inch Breaker Bar — To Adjust Chain Tension
A breaker bar is really important to have for when you have to open a really sticky nut.
This is a tool of general use, but I found I could get by without one in most situations — until working on a car or motorcycle.
Probably the most common time I use a breaker bar is to undo the bolt(s) on the rear axle of a motorcycle to tighten/loosen the chain.
Note — If you have a motorcycle with a single-sided swing arm, you’ll need different tools to adjust chain length and tension.
Oh that reminds me, you also need torque wrenches.
Torque wrenches (Three, for the whole range)
It’s really hard to have just one torque wrench. Really, you need two: one for small bolts and nuts, and one for big things like the steering column and the axle.
This Tekton 1/4 inch torque wrench works well, and will fit the sockets in your socket set you bought above.
The range for this one is:
- 20-200 in-lb
- 1.7-17 ft-lb
- 2.3-23 Nm
Note — you might need a socket adaptor set for it to fit your sockets
The second torque wrench I’d buy would be this big 1/2 inch one from Tekton:
Because it’s a 1/2 inch drive, make sure you have an adaptor nut for whatever you’re using it for — or some giant half-inch sockets for things like your axle nuts. It varies on motorcycles, ranging from 18mm-34mm (from my memory anyway). Check yours.
Finally, I’d get this 3/8 inch torque wrench from Tekton, too. Just $40 more. It’ll allow for more precision work for a lot of common torque elements on the motorcycle.