Breakdown preparedness begins before the trip, as outlined in "Pro Advice on Pre-Adventure Prep," in which we cover getting your bike prepared as best as possible before even leaving home. Even with the perfect preparation however, the reality is that off-road riding is very hard on machine and the rider, so if you do enough of it, parts will begin to fail or wear out. The risk of crashing is also much larger and more frequent compared to street riding, and while off-road and adventure bikes are built very tough with that in mind, they can still get damaged.
The longer you stay away from home, the more spares and tools you will need to bring, but even just for day trips, here is what I would consider the absolute essentials:
- Tire and tube tool kit
- Chain repair kit
- Socket set with driver
- Wrench set
- Allen + Torx keys (where applicable), Philips + slotted screwdrivers
- Pliers and cutting tool
- Electrical troubleshooting kit
- Some consumables
Let’s break it down and look at the specific choices I have made for the above tools, and why.
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Tire/Tube Tool Kit
I carry three tire levers, one has a hex at the end that will fit both my axle nuts (available from Blue Ridge Racing or T6 combo levers from Motion Pro), the other two together serve as a bead breaker for stiff tires (Motion Pro BeadPro) and work much better than the old side-stand trick. All are aluminum, very lightweight, and short enough to force you to use correct technique for changing tires, with no risk of damaging the bead. For inflation, I use a small electrical pump (Slime Tire Top Off) that runs off my bike, and have a manual mini MTB hand-pump as a backup. I generally avoid patching tubes whenever possible, although I will keep the damaged ones until I can replace them with new spares. Both my valve stems have caps with built-in valve core removers.
If your bike doesn't have a center stand, I highly recommend getting the Enduro Star TS3 Trail Stand as a very light, cheap and functional tool to prop up either end of your bike. I have mine fastened to my luggage racks with velcro zip ties, so it doesn't take up any extra space and is easily accessible.
I love the Motion Pro Tri-Drive t-bar handle with 8/10/12/13/14 sockets, and a tiny ¼” ratchet wrench. The Tri-Drive gives lots of leverage on the long side and is very quick to spin on the short side, and the small ratchet works great if there is not a lot of room around the bolt head. I have found that ¼” drive tools save lots of space and weight, and will suffice for most work, short of removing the engine or linkage on most bikes. If you need 3/8” for a special application, get the 3/8” drive adapter from Motion Pro for the above T6 combo tire lever instead of carrying a heavy ratchet.
Hex and Torx Bits
I save a lot of weight and bulk by simply having these as bits, which will fit my Tri-Drive and ¼” ratchet with the help of a 5/16” to ¼” drive adapter. Much more versatile than fixed keys as well.
Set of Wrenches
Depending on the application, you could need an open or closed end, so I like combination wrenches. I carry 8/10/12/13/14, for anything bigger I use:
- Knipex plier wrench: This is by far my favorite tool, because of its versatility and usefulness. It has totally smooth jaws and a 10:1 transmission with parallel arms, so you can exert tremendous force on anything you hold with it. I use the compact 180 size, which replaces any sockets or wrenches up to 35mm. I have also used it as a spring puller, to straighten bent metal, to press on chain links, to turn fittings and shafts I didn’t want to get marred, to seal off tubes by pinching them and wrapping a Velcro band around the pliers, and a million of other things. I have nicknamed mine the Magic Pliers and everybody who has seen them in action agreed and ended up getting a set as well.
- Electrical Troubleshooting and Repair Kit: The basis of this kit is a multimeter with basic functionality, such as measuring AC and DC voltage, resistance, and a continuity tester with a buzzer (I love the compact 22 range model from Radioshack if you can find one). In order to do repairs, having a small soldering iron plus flux core wire (mine is powered by lighter gas), a wire stripper/cable cutter, and an assortment of wire, heat shrink and spare connectors is very helpful.
- Multitool: Should at least contain a knife, saw, file, needle-nose pliers and scissors. The Leatherman Wave has been working perfectly for me.
Consumables: Zip-ties and duct tape are well known to be the mechanic’s best friend, but there are a few other items you should bring. Medium- and high-strength threadlocker can be hard to find abroad—Loctite sticks are best to use in my experience, get the oil resistant versions 248 and 268. A spare hose clamp or two in your largest needed diameter, some Motion Pro Nitro tape, and an assortment of bolts, nuts and washers will go a long way in getting your repairs done.
Make sure that you adapt the above list to your specific bike, as some of the sizes and requirements will certainly be different. It’s a very good idea to only use your on-board-toolkit when you are preparing the bike for your trip; this way you will see what works, what doesn’t, and what is missing or not needed.
And whatever you include, make sure that the key items of your toolkit are always easily and quickly accessible, without having to open your luggage, etc. This way you are much more likely to give the bike a once over every day and you can address any little issues right away.
Since May 2014, Lukas Matzinger (@LukasM) has been riding a KTM 690 around the world, covering more than 55,000 miles through 30 countries on three continents so far. Passionate about off-road riding, he avoids the tarmac and sticks to backcountry dirt roads, 4x4 tracks and sometimes even single-track trails. You can follow his journey via Around the World with LukasM on Facebook or on Instagram @lukas.matzinger
Suggested vendor: Enduristan
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Enduristan engineers and distributes first class motorcycle luggage. For us, off road traveling has been a fixed part of our life's for years. All our new developments are based on this rich pool of experience. The results are products with high functionality, innovative details and best quality - exactly as they are needed for a ride through Enduristan. Enduristan was founded in 2008 by Christoph von Ow, Isabel Jenni and David Jenni. The company aims to design and produce innovative, high quality products for individualists for the touring markets.