The $100 Life Saver
WORDS: JEFF G. HOLT
PHOTO: JEFF G. HOLT
No matter how new your bikes is, when road debris gets in your way or slow speed parking lot accidents happen. If you require a small adjustment or major roadside mechanics are needed, being left stranded because you don’t have anything to fix you or another rider’s machine with is inexcusable. The bottom line is the right tool for the job is in fact having tools to do the job with.
Time and time again I hear “those tools are too expensive” when pertaining to motorcycle specialty tools, and while I personally think you can’t spend too much on tools or a helmet, but some people are just cheap and wont cut loose with the dough to keep themselves out of harms way.
That’s why I challenged myself to take a crisp $100 bill to my local Harbor Freight Tools store and set my sites on compiling the essential bagger roadside tool kit.
After about an hour of perusing the isles and thinking about motorcycle disaster scenarios ranging from brake failure to hitting a buffalo, I gathered what I believe could be a life-saving collection of quality tools at an astronomically low price. Here’s what I picked out and why.
There you have it. A ton of tools at a great price to keep you from having to call the tow truck or sleep in the weeds. All for under $100 and it even fits perfectly into a saddlebag with room to spare.
Two of the cheapest and most essential tools are electrical tape and bailing wire. Amazing things can be done with just these two items alone.
An adjustable wrench can also take the place of half a toolbox full of tools. We especially like this “wide mouth” version from Pittsburg. It can fit around any nut or bolt on a bagger and it still has a compact size.
What good are having tools if you do not have any sort of way to see what you are doing? By having two flashlights one can be used in a stationery location and the other can be hand held. Two are always better than one
Assorted small pliers and wire cutters are great for retrieving broken cables or holding nuts. This came as a six-piece set, but we may only carry a few of them in our kit to save space.
A single pair of Vise Grip pliers can take the place of more than a few tools. They can also crimp a leaking brake for fuel line and get you out of harms way.
Torx Bits are everywhere on motorcycles made in the last 20 years. Don’t even try to work on a bike without these. We got a 6-piece socket set of them and cut down the plastic edges of the holder to save space.
Hex wrenches are also rampant on our bikes. These compact wrenches were under $5 for the pair and had every conceivable size we could need if broken down.
Being that most bikes made now a days are a mixture of SAE and metric as well as six and twelve-point, a socket set that possess both is always good to carry. We also “modified” the plastic tool holder with a hacksaw to get it as compact as possible.
Proper-fitting open-end wrenches are a must for getting in tight spaces and not stripping nuts and bolts. This set from Pittsburg was of good quality and under $10.
Assorted sizes of screwdrivers are essential to do the job right. Plus you can always use them as pry bars or chisels if need be.
Since our bikes now have more wiring than ever, a set of multi-purpose wire strippers and cutters were added to our list of must-have tools. You never know when a splice and dice session could be the one thing needed to get you back on the road.
Having the right tool for the job is a must, but what if parts fail or fall off while on the road? Harbor Freight makes great small packs of nuts and bolts and assorted hose clamps amongst other things. They even have one with emergency electrical supplies such as shrinkwrap, butt connectors, and cable ties.
We also purchased a box full of fuses so we would be prepared if one of the stock units failed.
Not needing to carry four separate containers of hundreds of items, we condensed many of the parts into one handy container as to lighten the load and conserve space in the saddlebag.
Harbor Freight even had a compact canvas tool bag in which to carry our new life-saving collection of essential tools.
HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS