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Motorcycle overlanders need more than the average emergency tool kit. Travelling far and long, under tough conditions, and often far away from competent mechanics and available parts, often means that we will not only experience the most frequently encountered issues, but also those less frequently encountered. It also often means having to be self reliant in dealing with those issues. Further, travelling far and long also means that the different service intervals have to be carried out enroute, and as many of us opt to do this ourselves, we need the tools for the job. For those of us that also ride unreliable bikes, this may translate into a very comprehensive tool kit. I just weighed mine jesterday, and including all the consumables, bolts, nuts, etc., it came close to ten kg (not including spares)!
My question is the following. What are the best way to store your tools? How do you store yours? How do you secure it from theft? Other comments?
Some of my thoughts on this issue:
The most frequently used tools should be kept on the outside of the bike or in a separate compartment. Storing your tool kit in your panniers usually means that over time it works its way to the bottom, meaning you have to unpack everything to get to it (on the side of a muddy road in the pooring rain).
Tool kit should be divided into several sub kits
A separate pouch/box holding your less frequently used tools such as your multimeter, etc.
A separate pouch/box for your most frequently used tools, such as your spanners, etc.
A separate pouch/box for all your consumables such as electrical wire, tape, glue, patent band, nuts and bolts, etc.
All compartments should be waterproof, and if kept on the outside of the bike, also secured from theft.
Rolls with pockets, with a place for everything, and everything in its place, is not for me. I'm simply not that tidy. I need something which I can stuff everything into and still have some sort of control.
I am considering using a large piece of soft durable leather for my tools. It needs to be large enough so that I can spread my tools accross it and still have enough material left over on the top and bottom to be able to completely fold the material atleast half way over with a small overlap (to keep water out), and with enough material left over to complete a roll. I would then roll it and compress it with some ties/belts/buckles and secure it to my bike. I'm thinking that when folded out, this large piece of leather will double as an excellent work surface on the ground, to set down parts etc. It would also give greater overview of the tools than tools stuffed into a bag.
Any comments on any of these issues would be greatly appreciated.
I'd use cordura nylon instead of leather - more compact, adequately durable, and waterproof - which means that it will protect the tools instead of providing the damp, takes-forever-to-dry environment of leather.
I also DO like pockets - even if a pocket is crammed with 2, 3 or more things - it's easy to spot if something is missing/lost in the dirt, whereas when loose, it's impossible. A large work area created by a large sheet of cordura nylon is excellent though. I use two roll pouches with pockets and a large top flap for a work surface, plus a couple of plastic boxes for bits and pieces that are rarely used, and spares. You don't need a big super fancy multimeter - the one I use is very basic, and is only 75mm x 40 x 8, complete with leads.
Grant, that is some great advice. I never considered the issues you mentioned of leather, nor the cordura. Also, I think I'll actually make some larger pockets for each category of tools (one forspanners, one for screwdrivers, one for ratchets, one for wrenches, one for sockets, etc.). Then I can mark each pocket with a magic marker with the number of items that belongs there and the tool category (making it easy to count over). When I brake it down, there are not too many tool categories, and not too many within each category.
I guess this is an ok compromise between a separate place for everything and a complete mess?
I have had some tool rolls made by an upholsterer from remnants of canvas and nylon boat cover material .They work well in so much as each tool has a pocket and I can tell at a glance if something is missing when I come to roll them up again .Also they don't rattle and vibrate the tools .
Plastic welding rod holders can be used to hold tool rolls , they are waterproof and can be fitted anywhere on the bike that you choose .
An alternative would be to use a piece of aluminium electrical conduit [tubing] with threaded or welded end caps and a tab welded on for locking them .
" I'm the only Norton rider in the village "
I know of someone who carries a FULL 3/8" socket set! and a FULL set of spanners WHY? I asked him if ALL the sizes were used on his bike and he had no idea. The standard tool kit gives you a clue. Most bikes only have a few different size fasteners so you only need tools for that size. I do carry a small 1/4" ratchet and a set of sockets I NEED and a set of Allen key sockets that I NEED. Combination spanners in the used sizes complete the main basis of my kit.
Dont carry sockets and spanners in sizes you will never need.
Another thing I saw at the Colorado riders meeting was a small plastic tarp that someone spread out before they started working. That way any small parts that drop hopefully will be easier to find. And if something leaks you at least have a chance of containing the oil slick, there was this time in montreal changing oil at the curb where the police were called......
I've cut back to only the spanners and sockets that are used on my bike, but this bike is covered with just about every size fastener ever made, even M7's and M9s (impossible to find)! But, as the bike vibrates itself to pieces, making wheels come off and what not, requiering constant maintenance and attention, I need a lot of tools close at hand. Another unfortunate thing about my bike is that the service intervals are real short as it is an old air cooled, two stroke, one cylindered bike, using premixed oil (2000 km for decarbonisation of the piston for instance). The specialized tools that are used rarely, are few, small, and light weight, so little is to be saved by putting these tools separate from the others. Also, the bike is "Italian quality"..., meaning I even need to bring items such as a spare cylinder. In fact, my spare parts weigh about 13 kg, and I expect to use quite a few of them! I can comfort myself that we will be riding two identical bikes so the loads will be split.
I may leave the ball point hammer though, but I do use it frequently (you wouldn't believe the things that can be remedied by banging the crap out of this vehicle). I also have a foot pump I may swap for a small bicycle hand pump. But, the tiny 10" wheels on my bike puncture much more frequently than your average motorcycle tyres... and pumping tyres with a tiny bicycle pump in the heat of Africa? There are also few other compromises I can make, but very few, as I need a LOT of tools. I might be able to cut back another two kilos. Even though I may peel back my tool kit a bit further, I will be using the tools frequently, and as tools being half the job so to speak, I'm bringing a bit more than the bare minimum. I must note that tools such as the air pump, etc, is part of my initial weight asessment, and will naturally be kept separate from the wrenching stuff.
Maybe I should go for the BMW F650GS Dakar after all? But what would be the fun and challenge in that??? We are after all "only" talking about a trans Africa trip here ... Nah, the bimmer is for my next trip...
Sorry folks, I've aided in bringing this thread a bit off topic here, but felt that the questions raised needed answers. Let's bring it back on track? This topic will not only prove informative and useful to me, but to others as well as the issues of tool storage is universal, regardless of what type of bike one rides.
Other comments about ideal ways and places to store different tools? One of the issues that concern me the most for instance, is that I want to store my tools on the outside of the bike, but I don't want them stolen, lost or damaged. The pipe idea is a good tip, I'll look into that. For this ride, I may just opt to put all the tools inside the glove box, though I'd really want to reserve that space for my day gear/stuff.
I got some neat but expensive ally boxes from KTM that bolted to the bash plate of my BMW GS for the heavier, less regularly needed tools. Pretty good security as they can only be open with a spanner and once covered in crud look part of the bike.
like all bike problems I believe the solution lies in duck-tape and cable ties! I have all my heavy/irregular tools covered in duck tape and zip-tied (in the UK we call these cable ties, but I think in the states they are called zip-ties - can someone confirm?) onto bits of the frame/bash plate any random gap. Works really well for things like tyre levers, but once used you have to score more duck-tape and cable ties..... I probably have over a kilo of spares and tools attached very low in this way
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