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-   -   Spenners and ratches - your thoughts (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/equipment-reviews/spenners-and-ratches-your-thoughts-66704)

Wheelie 11 Oct 2012 18:52

Spenners and ratches - your thoughts
Space, weight and usability compromises... diificult decisions.

What are your thoughts, experiences, choices, etc. when it comes to spanners (wrenches) and rathces in your tool kit?

-double open, double boxe vs open/box combo?
-long vs short?
-Steel vs aluminium
-Rathet type spanners vs regular ratchet?

For my f650gs Dakar I carry:

a 24mm aluminium MotionPro box-end / tire lever combo, saving me carrying an extra tool, plus the weight savings from aluminium vs steel

8, 10 and 14 mm Short open/box-end combo with rathet (chrome vanadium)

19 mm short open/box-end combo with ratchet and flexible/hinged elbow joint for better access (chrome vanadium)

22 mm long (for torque) open/box-end combo with ratchet (chrome vanadium)

24 mm box Motion Pro with spoon tire lever (Aluminium) - super cool

Adapters for sockets that fit the ratchet type spanners. Saves me carrying separate ratchets

A sliding t-handle with socket adapter

A ratchet extension that doubles as a screw driver handle. Combine it with the t-handle for large torque

A socket for bits, saving me having to carry screw drivers (except for the smallest where bits won't access tight spaces)

A vice grip

On my old tempramental bikes, where serious brake downs in the middle of no where happens very frequently, I will carry a very large and practical tool kit. But with my newly aquired, and hopefully reliable Dakar, I am aiming to make large compromises in favor of space/weight over practicality. Even if it would be more cumbersome to do a close to tear down, as long as it gets the job done - then fine. Hopfully a mechanic won't be too far away if I need to do a big job.

I am yet to test the kit above to give you a review, but I plan to do a very large service this winter, using only the kit on the bike. Hopefully I will remember to repost my findings with any adjustments i have made to the selection of spanners and ratchets.

Your thoughts are very welcome in the pursuit of the ultimate tool kit (adressing spanners and rathcets only in this post)

Possible improvements to the kit?

Replacing all the combo levers for double open end spanners to reduce the number of spanners (except the light weight motion pro that is allready a combo tool)?

No ratchet - solely the sliding t-handle and extension with adapters for sockets and bits?

Aluminium spanners instead of heacy chrome vanadium?


colebatch 30 Oct 2012 16:09

Along with tools that do everything you need, I take a couple of tools in my jacket pocket that are ready to use in seconds. The convenience of not having to dig into a tool box is great ... double ended swivel socket spanners ... get an 8-10mm - along with a cheap multi-tool that allows you to fit a few screwdriver bits, 3, 4, 5, 6 mm allen keys and a few torx bits, they will be your most useful tools.

I would also recommend a 7mm open spanner. They come in handy where you least expect them. BMWs always have a few of them tucked away where you least expect them, and they also open hose clamps (jubilee clips). A BMW will have 12 and 13mm heads on it too (12mm for your tyre valve nuts if nothing else) ... but not sure if there are any 14s ... thats a size used by Chinese and Japanese manufacturers AFAIK,.

Threewheelbonnie 30 Oct 2012 18:38

Depends on the where and what. This is me for UK and Europe with a newish bike, it all fits under the seat:


Nothing except the standard tool kit (which I've checked is usable) and some additions to deal with electrical issues, punctures and things like a clutch cable.

When running round the top end of the place in the snow on a six year old Bonneville outfit I had a enough tools to replace the starter motor (which I almost did in a hotel carpark, but actually did back at home with the same tool kit) and such lumps as a spare coil.

I'd avoid the aluminium tools, they are meant for low torque things like air and fuel fittings not stopping oil coming out of the engine.

I've always looked at likely jobs, picked a big pile of tools that'd let me do them, then thinned down before going back and seeing if I could do the work with the smaller kit. As a result I was carrying the open ended spanner I'd ground down to get in the gap by that starter motor albiet at the risk it'd break if I used it on another bolt. The result is a mix of types with some repartition of sizes. This also means you don't carry tools for jobs you don't actually know how to do.

Don't forget the weird bike specific items. There is nothing like a can of coke to get a seized stroker home for a rebore!

You can certainly take it too far both ways. I once met a chap on a BMW who was carrying a spare drive shaft. His tool kit was a full socket set including the Imperial sockets! At least the blokes with nothing but a credit card have a logical plan.


Warin 30 Oct 2012 21:30


Safety ! Do NOT carry tools in pockets :nono: They can and do brake bones in a fall. If you want them handy ... then in the tank bag or at the top of your other luggage.


If you need your tools frequently then consider replacing whatever it is that needs that frequent servicing with something else that does not need that frequent a service.

Tools -
For weight savings - you don't need ratchets ...
Open end and ring spanners should be all you need?

Possibly some tube spanners for recessed nuts/bolts if required (lighter than ratchets). However for those recessed bolts consider replacing them with allen headed bolts or putting spacers under the bolt head so they are not recessed ..... Some are difficult - lock nuts on tappets spring to mind. Some manufactures make special tools for specific tasks.

colebatch 31 Oct 2012 06:09


Originally Posted by Warin (Post 398570)

Safety ! Do NOT carry tools in pockets :nono: They can and do brake bones in a fall.

Isnt that everyones individual call?

Personally, I will take convenience over risk. I have had hundreds of falls, and always have one or two tools in my pocket. So I can deduce that so far the empirical evidence seems to indicate a very very very low risk. Your iphone in your pocket can break your ribs in a fall. Your pen in your pocket can stab you in a fall. A bunch of coins in your pocket could break bones. There is some degree of risk associated with every single thing you do, or you wear..... and some degree of risk with every single thing that you put in your jacket.

If I didnt want any risk I wouldnt be riding motorcycles,

Or riding off road

Or riding in third world countries.

Or using an open face helmet.

Or all of the above together ... bier

Having an 8-10 mm double ended swivel socket spanner in my pocket is a negligible addition to net risk after all that lot.

Its a bit like saying never go adventure motorcycling and listen to music while you ride, as it detracts from your ability to concentrate. Yes its true, yes it adds to risk, but isnt it each persons individual call?

dash 31 Oct 2012 13:58

All pockets are not equal ;)

I'd shy away from stuffing the leg pockets of my riding trousers full of sharp objects, because most times I fall off the side of my leg is probably the first thing to hit the ground, and said pockets are right between the hip and knee armour.

But almost all the pockets on every jacket I've ever had are on the front. Anyone ever had an accident where they land flat on the ground on their stomach (rather than on hands/knees)? Me neither.

I have, however suffered several bashes to the plums from having tools in a bag on the tank while crossing rough ground. :oops2: Sufficiently painful that I try to avoid tankbags on dirt bikes.

Magnon 31 Oct 2012 14:03

I also like the tool kit to be finely tuned to suit the bike and have different kits for day to day use and longer trips. For local use I only take enough stuff to deal with beakdowns that stop you from getting home (punctures, broken chains etc.) or accidental damage (broken levers etc.). For longer trips I take everything for more major repairs and servicing which would include a ratchet with the appropriate sockets for the bike. I avoid open ended spanners where possible but you do need them to adjust the chain on a KTM.

Motion Pro tyre levers with spanner ends are great but generally would be wary of aluminium tools

Three universal tools I always carry, on the bike but easily accessible, are:

Leatherman Wave.

Articulated 1/4" ratchet wrench/screwdriver with all the bits and sockets stored in the handle (not very strong but handy for small fixes/adjustments).

Double ended ratchet ring spanner giving 8,10, 12 and 13mm. I also take it's bigger brother on longer trips.

I agree with Colebatch regarding carrying tools in pockets, it's a matter for the individual using some common sense, however, I tend to stuff my pockets with first aid materials (in plastic bags) and paperwork.

Genghis9021 1 Nov 2012 01:17

Presuming you have a motorcycle made in the last decade and largely engineered in that period (ie, not alot of Japanese bikes that are essentially 80's or 90's bikes with some upgraded electrics) . . .

You don't need tools built for a Cummins diesel. The torque ratings rarely exceed 40Nm with the primary exceptions being wheel axle nuts, countershaft sprockets and . . . primary drive nuts (which is unlikely to be an actual roadside repair).

The Motion Pro levers are fantastic, are rated to 90 ft-lbs (~120 Newton meters) and there's an insert which will permit them to hold 3/8" drive tools including sockets.

I carry a short, 1/4" drive Snap-On ratchet - T72 - that weighs almost nothing, has a fine ratchet (5-degree engagement arc) and can withstand 90 ft-pounds of torque. 1/4" drive tools mean SMALL and light and that compromising about where to carry tools is largely a matter of taste.

A REALLY cheap ($10) compact toolkit that facilitates removing tanks, fairing bolts, etc and one that if pinched, I won't miss, is stowed for fast access.

Short(y) combo wrenches are deemed sufficient due to the lack of torque required, and they can be "chained" to effect a longer lever arm, if necessary.

Vise-Grips seem like a good idea but . . . I don't carry them. Heavy, not very elegant and . . . I've yet to experience a failure that they would help me nurse back to a proper shop. Knipex 7" locking pliers . . . amazing. Pliers are ugly tools . . . not these.

If one inventories there needs (every bolt, nut & fastener size) . . . generally, you find you don't need very much to be "complete".

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