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10 Essential Tools to Handle Nearly Any Trailside Repair

Be prepared for almost any situation with light, compact, multi-purpose tools.

Published on 09.07.2016

6. 1/4″ T-handle and Sockets

Motion Pro Tri-Drive Mini T-handle – $13.49

Essential Tools: Motion Pro Tri Drive T-Handle

You could pack a ratchet and sockets, but T-handles are lighter and generally faster when it comes to removing and replacing nuts and bolts. This 1/4″ drive T-handle kit from Motion Pro is compact, light, and includes 8, 10, 12 and 13 mm sockets. You can also purchase a variety of bits to make it a handy screwdriver or hex-bit driver.

7. Chain Tool


Tusk Chain Press Tool – $6.99, Motion Pro PBR Chain Tool – $78.29

Essential Tools: Chain breaker chain tool

Chain repair is a case of knowing your bike so you have the right tools for the job. Most larger adventure bikes (and some dual sports) use endless chains, while dirt bikes often use clip-style chains. You’ll need a breaker tool for both, but if you have an endless chain you’ll also need a tool to press on a new side plate and stake the pins once everything is back together. Tusk’s chain breaker is simple, compact and inexpensive. Throw a compact Tusk chain press tool in your kit with it and you have everything you need for clip-style chains, and two-thirds of what you need for endless chains. It is possible to stake a rivet with a ball peen hammer, but why chance ruining an expensive chain? And why would you be carrying a ball peen hammer in the first place? Doing the job properly requires a riveting tool. Motion Pro’s PBR (press, break, rivet) chain tool is a high-quality, compact option for repairing endless chains. It’ll do everything you need, and it comes in a case that is small enough to carry.

8. Recovery System/Tow Rope

Best Rest “Heavy Duty” Motorcycle Recovery System – $230

Essential Tools: bestrest motorcycle recovery system

Say you’re out in the wild solo on your fully loaded adventure bike and, for whatever reason, you end up in a steep ditch or stuck in a mud bog. What’s your plan for getting 700-plus pounds of machine back on the road? If you have a Best Rest MRS, it’s simple. Attach one end of this innovative pulley system to your bike and the other to an anchor point, and drag the stuck machine out via the magic of mechanical advantage. The Best Rest MRS comes in 3-to-1 (for smaller dual sports) and 5-to-1 (for larger adventure bikes) versions. That means a person weighing 200 pounds could lift 600 or 1,000 pounds, respectively. The kits are compact enough to easily fit in your luggage and weigh around 3 pounds. Motorcycle Recovery Systems can also be used for towing a bike and have a built-in easy release safety mechanism.

9. Headlamp

Black Diamond Revolt – $43.08

Essential Tools: Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp

Flashlights are a must for adventurers, and headlamps are a great way to free up your hands when performing trailside repairs. We like the Black Diamond Revolt for two reasons: 1) It is both rechargeable and runs on AAA batteries, which gives you options when you’re out in the middle of nowhere; and 2) Black Diamond has an excellent reputation for durability among outdoors enthusiasts. It has proximity settings for close-up work or seeing long distances, can be dialed down to improve battery life, and has a night-vision preserving red light option. It’s also very bright, rated at 130 lumens on its max setting.

10. Miscellaneous Items

Gorilla Tape – $7.98, Heavy Duty Zip Ties – $9.99, J-B KwikWeld – $3.27

Essential Tools: Zip ties, J-B Weld and Gorilla Tape

These are the items no toolkit should be without. Gorilla Tape is like duct tape, only stronger and more waterproof. It’s got double-thick adhesive and sticks to almost anything. Wrap it around a wrench handle for carrying on the bike so you don’t have to carry the entire roll. Heavy Duty Zip Ties, the long versions (15 inches ought to do it), can help secure a blown tire to a wheel, temporarily reattach broken luggage straps, keep dangling parts in place, etc. Carry a range of different sized zip ties for smaller jobs as well. J-B Weld is great for fixing holed engine cases, plugging a gas tank puncture, repairing foot pegs, etc. J-B KwikWeld is the faster curing version of the famous two-part epoxy. It sets in six minutes and fully cures in four to six hours. Regular J-B Weld takes up to six hours to set and 24 hours to cure.

Note: Although not technically tools, don’t forget to bring your spares (tubes, bolts, levers, spark plugs, etc.).

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

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Author: Bob Whitby

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11 thoughts on “10 Essential Tools to Handle Nearly Any Trailside Repair

  1. I think one important thing should be include in the list: A jumper cable or a micro-starter battery. I don’t think we can push start a 500+ motorcycle : )

    • In 2017 a friend and I rented motorcycles and took a week long trip around Northern California, Oregon, Nevada. I had a 2017 Ducati multistrada and my friend had a BMW gs 1200. When I got the bike from the rental agency it had 500 miles on the odometer, on day three of the trip we had to bump start the Ducati in the parking lot of the hotel we stayed in. Not as big a fan of Ducati after the trip but it is possible to push start big bikes!

  2. Pingback: 6 Off-Road Riding Tips You Don't Need to Learn the Hard Way - ADV Pulse

  3. great list….although this list covers most of the essentials, hope you write a part 2 soon as you might have missed some items…….which may not be so much essential or might be to some.

    ……valve stem tool, some stem locks and cores, better chain repair kit/guide, starter batteries/cables, small roll of wiring replacement, tie wires/strings, plug socket, some radiator stopleak, fuel hose, Quiksteel, a cig lighter…..cheers!!

  4. Few days ago I was in trouble on a Trailside. After that I was looking for a list will help me. I found you and I am impressed at you. I was thinking something like you. Hope this tool list will help to all.

  5. Pingback: Quick Tips: How To Avoid Wire-Spoke Wheel Disasters - ADV Pulse

  6. Excellent list, I carry a short piece of fuel line, clamps, and short piece of SS tube to make a temporary repair. Lesson learned after having a line rupture in the sticks on a FI bike.


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