Chicago Region BMW Owners Association boasts over 250 members... the largest and most active BMW Motorcycle Club in the region. Meeting on the SECOND Thursday monthly, 7:30 pm 'til 9 pm at Elmhurst Elks Lodge, 711 W. St. Charles Rd, Elmhurst, IL 60126.
When I started my Pan American adventure several years ago, I loaded up tools for most everything I could think might need repair. I was on an ‘08 R1200GS, and had a socket kit with every torx and reverse torx bolt or screw on the bike, plus a set of metric sockets for the hex bolts, an axle wrench, various screwdrivers, Crescent wrenches, pliers, Leatherman tool, and everything needed to fix a flat, including three heavy tire irons and a small bicycle pump. I also brought a bunch of zip ties, duct tape, JB Weld, and some tape that you can use to wrap around a leaky hose and create a temporary fix. I also had some 2”-wide Velcro straps in various lengths. I didn’t bring along any extra parts except for a spare H7 headlamp bulb and two new tires.
I really didn’t need the new tires. When my old ones were ready to be swapped in Ecuador, new TKC-80s in the sizes I had lugged down were widely available. I had a shop put mine on and thus didn’t need my tools. I also had my oil changed while the bike was on the lift. I had previously gotten a 6,000-mile service done in a shop in Medellin, Colombia, and later in Santiago and in Mendoza on the way north. BMW shops or mechanics who work on them are widely available in Latin America.
When I got to Santiago, Chile, and parked the bike before flying home to take a break, I took a bunch of the tools home with me. I never used any of them and thankfully, not even the tire repair stuff. When I got back, I was traveling much lighter.
I still had all of my torx bits and sockets with me and tire repair plug kit. Didn’t use any of it, but of course I would have needed most of it if I didn’t bring it all along. I donated a couple of Velcro straps to some German travelers who crashed in the deep gravel while traveling southbound on Ruta 40 about a day north of Ushuaia. Their bike had plastic BMW Vario cases whose mounts broke in the crash. The Velcro straps held the cases on tight and away they went.
My EDC (“Everyday Carry”) tool kit consists of a tire plug kit, compressed air inflator and small bicycle pump, tire gauge, some zip ties those Velcro straps and some JB Weld. I can fix a flat roadside easy. Anything else that goes wrong with my bike, given my mechanical ability, is going to require a cell phone and a credit card.
Oh, the JB Weld. Coolest roadside repair I ever saw was when a friend went down in Mexico on an older GS. The resulting slide ground a hole in one of his valve covers. In the middle of nowhere, he cleaned up the oil, and JB Welded a Mexican coin over the hole. It held solid until the end of the trip.
Due to the virus, how about some virtual discussion on tool kit fun?
The recent breakdown presentation generated some curiosity about what tools would be nice to have for the momentous event. ADVRider has a nice 280 page thread running on the topic. Enjoy that as you can.
Some of us have cavernous cases and load up as we like. Some have tight capacity. And, yes, some of us are perfectly happy with a credit card and a cell phone. But some of us feel the need to be more self contained and to be masters of our universe to some degree before having to summon aid. I prefer to muddle along and do for myself until reduced to sniveling for my mommy. A rider must know his/her limits. Tool kits will help define those limits.
General rules of the game of preparing a tool kit are: keep it light, keep it compact, keep it inexpensive, and keep it handy. Having an easily retrieved checklist allows a rider to make sure everything is still available before a big trip. It is possible to have a bit of duct tape on the bike for so long that it dries out and doesn't stick when it is desperately needed. Checking the tool kit on an annual basis could be a good idea.
Some of up who are divers or cavers or some such have no problem doubling/tripling/multi-units up on certain things. Because LED lights are so cheap, small, and reliable having a bunch is great and e-z. Being able to make fire is comforting and having several disposable lighters in different places seems an automatic to me. I no longer leave town w/o a bottle of water. More than one credit card in case the main trips a security program and sorting it is not convenient.
To get us started, we need some sort of bag/container to keep the tools in. One of my best biker budds is a master of the tool kit. Has one in/on every vehicle which is why when he needs one, it is not on the other vehicle. He doesn't have a lot of space on his ancient V-45 Magna. But he doesn't carry passengers. His kit is stuffed into an inexpensive backpack and strapped to the passenger seat/grab rail. Recently he acquired some salvaged throw-over leather bags. No idea what he has in them but his tail kit is still in place. He has a tank bag too but I don't know what he keeps there. I have Jesse cans and a top box and a tank bag. My kit is spread out thru all of that. But the home of the tool bags/kit is mostly in the bottom of a Jesse can. Managing all this stuff is part of the learning process and it might be part of the fun too. By the way, the women have to pack their cosmetics in see-thru bags and some of those bags are sturdy enough to use as tool bags. Being able to easily spot the desired tool in the bag is a great thing. having a rag/towel in the bag upon which dumping the contents for easy grasp works well for me too.
Harkening back to my yoot when I was an active boy scout, the scout manual had packing suggestions that have served me well for 60 years when I remembered to apply them. The idea was to pack one's stuff in distinct groupings using smaller bags within the larger bag. Taking this to heart, my 'puncture kit' is all in one bag. The first time I had a puncture and had to fish thru every container on my bike to assemble all the tools needed for the task convinced me that there had to be a better way. The average rider might think that a puncture kit would be fairly easy? And it is if the puncture happens when it is convenient to the rider.
My puncture/flat kit looks like this. Electrical inflate pump from Slime when it was on sale. I bought 2 and one failed right away. Buy the 'lifetime $50 one if you like or my a $10 big box 'stripper'. I like gummy worms and carry about 30. 30 seems to be the right amount to keep flats for happening. I like to have a fresh/new large tube of patch cement for every big trip. Done, right? Maybe. My kit has a small, cheap, LED flashlight and a small container of bug dope. Depending on one preference, a small pair of pliers might be great for pulling the offensive object from the tire. Some like a needle nose with a wire cutter to trim the gummy worm and some like an ignition pliers with one of those little key chain mini pocket knives to trim the worm. If your bike has tubes, tire irons may be necessary and a spare tube could be handy even if the spare has been patched several times. A bit of tire bead lube might ease the job. If a rider is going into the wild, a smallish manual back-up air pump could be a life saver. Do you need a tiny pill container with spare valve inserts and the little tool to get them in/out? If you have ever had a valve stem fail, packing that spare and installation tool may not take up much room. But changing out the stems for all-metal ones that are extremely unlikely to fail in the first place might be the hot set-up? The puncture kit could be stored at the bottom of a container as long as everything on top of it is easily unpacked and re-packed. Some riders like the fix-a-flat cans and CO2 cartridges. If those things work for you, so be it.
Another small bag could be labeled 'insta-kit' and kept in the tank bag or right at the easiest corner to access in the top box or in the lid of a pannier. This is the tool bag that allows of instant repairs of easy common stuff. The bag may not be much biker than the size of the family toothpaste tube. Contents might be: Swiss Army Knife (SAK) of a model that has a cross head screw driver where the cork screw might otherwise be. 4" vise grips w/ wire cutter. Small LED flashlight. Fuses, 2-3, if your bike uses them. I have 30 fuses on my bike as that is about how many it takes to ward off a series of blown fuses. The little eye glass repair kit doesn't have to be in this bag because one's eyeglass screws were removed and blue loc-tite'd in there. The kit still has to be carried somewhere on the bike (med kit?) because not to is inviting evil into one's life. A cuppla band-aids are good. Fresh ones if it has been a while. How about bug dope? That special tool required to adjust tension on a Ram ball clamp? Spare bike key taped or tethered to the inside of the bag?
to be edited as time to post permits.
Last edit: 2 days 9 hours ago by fran kokes. Reason: .