This is a list of motorcycle tools that are a) important for common motorcycle maintenance, b) affordable (nothing fancy), and c) usable on lots of different bikes.
When getting started on motorcycle maintenance, you quickly become aware that you’re going to need some specific 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.
You probably already have allen keys, wrenches, and so on. But on top of those, unless you already work a lot on cars, you will also need some tools specifically for maintaining motorcycles.
Luckily, 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.
Someone might say “you need a lift”; but I’ve done nearly all my jobs on a paddock stand (and sometimes just a kickstand). 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.
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.
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Motorcycle Tools — A Summary
Below is a quick reference for all the tools you might need for motorcycle maintenance.
I’ve chosen a bunch of affordable but decent quality (not the cheapest generic stuff, but not the priciest either) that should serve you a long time, as it has me.
|Tool||Photo||Why you’ll need it||Price|
|Rear paddock stand||Makes all maintenance jobs easier with a more stable work environment, and makes the left hand side just as accessible as the right. Note: Less critical if you have a centre stand.||Check on Amazon|
|Oil filter wrench||For undoing an oil filter. You change the oil filter every 1-2 oil changes, and it’s almost impossible to grip without it.||Check on Amazon|
|Oil drain pan with cap||For catching the oil and sealing it so you can take it to the dump or to a mechanic to dispose of it.||Check on Amazon|
|Brake bleeder valve||For bleeding the brake fluid yourself after you flush it. You need to change brake or clutch fluid every 2 years according to nearly every manual||Check on Amazon|
|Motorcycle chain care kit||If you have a chain drive (not a shaft or belt drive), then you need to clean and lube it often. This kit has all your essentials.||Check on Amazon|
|Magnetic parts tray||I love this tray almost as much as my telescopic magnet wand (see next). Never lose nuts again (unless they’re aluminum…)||Check on Amazon|
|Magnetic telescoping tool||For picking screws up from those areas where you dropped them. Even happens on naked bikes.||Check on Amazon|
|Fuel siphon||To remove the gas before removing the gas tank or siphoning it up. (Or go for a ride…)||Check on Amazon|
|Fuel storage canister||To store the fuel after you’ve taken it out of the tank.||Check on Amazon|
|Breaker bar||Use this to break open very strong nuts, like those on the wheel when you’re adjusting chain tension.||Check on Amazon|
|Torque wrenches||You need two torque wrenches to cover the whole range.||Check on Amazon|
Rear Paddock Stand — generally makes life easier
A rear paddock should be one of the first motorcycle tools (or really a workshop device) you buy.
A 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
You have to change your oil filter every time you change the oil, or sometimes every two intervals. That’s why one of the most important motorcycle tools is an oil filter wrench.
Some companies like to say “buy our fancy branded tool” but that’s not really necessary.
If you replace your oil filter with a HifloFiltro one with a nut on the end, you’ll only have to use this wrench with new motorcycles, and only once.
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
You have to change the oil very often — some manuals recommend every six months, or in very short distances (like on the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 EFI).
The reason the oil catch pan with a cap is one of the most important motorcycle tools is it lets you both collect the oil and dispose of it conveniently — just seal the lid up and get going.
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 they never charged me, and I’d pay $5 to preserve our beautiful rivers.
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.
I use these motorcycle tools only every couple of years but I’m grateful every time (provided I find it… it’s always stored away.)
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. But it’s still cool!
That Titan one linked is one of those motorcycle tools 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 one of the most useful motorcycle tools (otherwise I’d just be recommending cool stuff, like lasers, and toy helicopters). Of course, it’s also useful for work on cars.
Every time I drop a nut or something deep into the fairing of a motorbike (or even on a naked bike) I swear profusely.
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 motorcycle tools to adjust chain length and tension.
Torque wrenches x 2 (for the whole range)
Torque wrenches are very important motorcycle tools for general maintenance.
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.
The first torque wrench I’d buy would be a low-range torque wrench. For small bolts, I’m more worried about stripping than usual. It’s hard to judge 5-10 Nm until you’ve done it a hundred times.
The second torque wrench to buy would be a mid-range torque wrench. This will deal get you up to the 150 ft-lb or 200 Nm level, which is enough for most major things, including wheels.
- 20-200 in-lb
- 1.7-17 ft-lb
- 2.3-23 Nm
- 10-150 ft-lb
- 14-204 Nm
- 20-200 in-lb
- 1.7-17 ft-lb
- 2.3-23 Nm
- 10-150 ft-lb
- 14-204 Nm
Between those two torque wrenches, you should be covered for just about every job.
Note — you might need a socket adaptor set for your torque wrench to fit your sockets.