Adventure Motorcycle Riding Tool Kit Essentials

We share our must-have tools when adventure-touring.

It sucks to have a mechanical issue when riding. It sucks even more when you don't have the tools to fix that issue. And it absolutely sucks when you are in the middle of nowhere with both of these problems. Today on MC Garage, we talk adventure motorcycle tool kit essentials.

Breaking down on a motorcycle shouldn’t happen too often, especially on the street with a well-maintained motorcycle. But when you get off the road and into the dirt, the chances of things going wrong increase significantly. Not only are there more obstacles and hazards such as sharp rocks and sturdy trees waiting to twist and damage parts, but there is always the possibility of a tip-over or crash waiting around every loose and slippery bend. Being prepared for the eventuality of a mechanical, whether it’s your fault or not, will give you the peace of mind to get out there and explore further and enjoy the ride.

This weekend is Bonnier Motorcycle Group's SoCal High Pipe Festival, and my Australian cattle dog, Gracie, and I will be attending on a Ural Gear Up. Ural has included just about everything you need for a trailside repair in the trunk, but what about when the space is limited? I have a solid setup that I have refined over the years and take with me on every dual sport and adventure ride. This kit has me covered for nearly every issue I've encountered. And believe me I've had some issues—usually caused by me throwing myself and the bike to the ground at speed. All of this kit will fit in a large hydration pack, and will add only 15 pounds of weight onto your back. Or shove it all in your saddlebags if you've got the room.

First the basics: Before you can fix your bike or your friend’s bike you may have to fix a rider. Always carry a first-aid kit. Smaller motorcycle kits have just enough to render basic first aid. The goal is to first stop serious bleeding, tend to broken bones, and take care of burns, then worry about how you are getting home.

Also carrying some sort of satellite communication device is a solid plan if you are out of cellular range—which you should be if you are adventuring properly. There are a multitude of options out there from Spot and Garmin, but I’ve been using the Somewear Global Hotspot lately. With 100 percent global coverage, it works everywhere that you can see the sky, and allows you to send out text messages and pin your location, and most importantly has a 24/7 SOS monitoring. With the $50 per month unlimited plan I can send text messages from anywhere in the world.

Justin Dawes and dog in garage sharing must-have tool kit essentials.
We share our must-have tool kit essentials when we’re off in the boonies riding adventure-touring bikes.Bert Beltran

Now that safety is covered, let’s get down to fixing that busted bike. The most common trailside repair is a flat tire. I carry a plug kit for tubeless tires, but sometimes a plug can’t fix the leak. So I also bring a tube. In a pinch, a 21-inch tube will work on smaller sized wheels, so that’s what I recommend. I like CO2 cartridges to replace the air, and a cheap air gauge to check pressure. Electric pumps are nice to have when you’ve got the room, but with a one backpack goal in mind, smaller is better.

Tools are the next must-have, and this is where I am a serial overpacker. But this is because I ride a wide variety of bikes. To assemble your own tool kit, check all the nuts and bolts on your bike and put the tool required to do this in your tool roll. I like a 1/4-inch drive ratchet and socket set as it’s smaller and more compact; just don’t forget an adapter to 3/8-inch sockets for larger-diameter nuts and bolts. Make sure you have the proper wrench and sockets for removing the wheels for flat repairs. At least have a crescent wrench if nothing else. Also, make sure you have tire irons.

What about the essentials for repairing busted parts? Duct tape is your friend. I make my own smaller roll as you don’t need an entire roll. Safety wire or bailing wire is a must and can reattach broken exhausts, bodywork, and more. I once finished a desert race after using bailing wire and zip-ties to hold the handlebars and clamps to the top triple clamp after a big crash. It took every bit I had in my pack, but I got to the finish line.

J-B Weld is handy and can save the day when you pop a hole in your crankcase or side covers. I also make sure I have a selection of change in my bag to fill in a big hole along with the J-B Weld if needed. Toss in a few common sized nuts and bolts with the change just in case something rattles loose.

I also keep a pair of work gloves in my bag; you don’t want to be riding in gloves covered in oil, brake fluid, coolant, or gasoline. Gloves like those from Gorilla Grip have a nonslip palm and keep fluids off your hands. A couple pairs of nitrile gloves are a solid addition too.

And of course don’t forget a multi-tool!