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How else are you going to fix your motorcycle without tools?
Luckily, you really only need a basic tool set to get started on a motorcycle project. If the project bike you bought still has a toolkit under the seat, you’re halfway there!
Depending on what make of motorcycle you’re working on, you’ll either need metric or standard/imperial tools – be sure to use the right tools for your bike.
To get started, here’s a common list of tools you’ll need when starting a motorcycle project:
- 6-point sockets.
- Metric: 6mm to 19mm
- Standard: 5/32″ to 7/8″
- 1/4″ and 3/8″ drive ratchet & handles.
- Impact driver & driver bits.
- Hammer and rubber mallet.
- Combination wrenches.
- Metric: 6mm to 19mm
- Standard: 5/16″ to 7/8″
- Set of Phillips or JIS (depending on make), and slotted screw drivers.
- Set of allen wrenches (metric or standard).
- A breaker bar/pry bar.
- A large crescent wrench.
- Needle nose pliers.
- Wire cutters.
- A cheater pipe for leverage.
Wrenches, Sockets, and Socket Handles
Wrenches and sockets are some of the most common tools you’ll be using when working on a motorcycle. If your motorcycle’s toolkit is still intact under the seat, you’ve likely already got a decent set of combination wrenches that will come in handy for your project.
For metric bikes, sizes 6mm to 19mm will get you off to a good start.
For standard bolts, sizes 5/32″ to 7/8″ will be good.
It’s often good to have two sets of each size so you’re able to hold one on the bolt head and one on the nut when necessary.
You’ll also need some handles for your sockets. Both T-handles and ratchet handles are useful. You may also need some socket extensions for those hard to reach nuts and bolts. Be sure the drives on your socket handles matches your sockets. 3/8″ drive sockets will likely be the most common drives/sockets you’ll be using.
6-Point vs. 12-Point Sockets
Each socket size will often come in 6-point or 12-point versions.
6-point sockets are typically better for old motorcycle projects because they’re:
- Less likely to slip.
- Able to create more force.
- Made with thicker walls.
- Less likely to break.
Screw drivers can be more useful on a motorcycle project than you think.
You’ll want a set of screwdrivers – both JIS (which look like Phillips heads) and flatheads – for the various sized screw heads you’ll find on your bike’s controls, carbs, airbox, engine cases, etc.
If you’re working on a Japanese motorcycle, you’ll definitely want to learn about the difference between JIS vs Phillips screws.
For old bikes that have been sitting or haven’t been touched in a long time, you’re going to need an impact driver and a hammer.
Over time, bolts will seize into their threads – getting them out by turning them with the force of your hand is often useless. The engine case bolts are the most notorious culprits here.
An impact driver and some penetrating oil will back quick work of the stubborn bolts and screws on your bike. They work with an internal spring, metal cylinder, and ball bearings. All you need to do is find the proper bit to fit into the screw you need to remove, turn or cock the impact driver in the direction the screw needs to turn and whack the end with a hammer.
Pliers, Vice-Grips, and Crescent Wrenches
Whiles there’s not necessarily a specific application for these tools, you’ll find their absolutely necessary for your motorcycle rebuild.
When it comes to holding, griping, or loosening oddly-sized or oversized nuts and bolts, you’ll find these tools invaluable.
Pliers are great for circlips, pins, etc.
Vice-grips are often necessary to get the right grip and hold on something.
Crescent wrenches, while usually not recommended by your traditional mechanic, are very useful for that one-odd nut that happens to be just the size you don’t have in your combination wrench set.
Additional Motorcycle Tools
While the basic tools will get you off to a good start, as you get deeper into a motorcycle project, you’ll find you may need some more advanced and specialty tools to complete your restoration.
- Torque wrenches.
- Chain breaker.
- Tire spoons.
- Feeler gauges.
Before you know it, you’ll be starting your motorcycle and riding off into the sunset.