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How to Carry Tools

How to Carry Tools


Tube swap in the desert

If you have been riding for a while now, you already know that it can relieve all of your stress, bring tons of excitement and joy, and help you create some of your favorite memories. Most days it's easy. Start the bike up, twist the throttle, and you are off on an adventure.

It would be wonderful if that was the case every time we ride. However, it is inevitable: your bike will have an issue at some point.

Most of us maintain our bikes very well, which is a major part of keeping them going. The other side of the coin is that there are many factors out of your control that can cause your bike to flop over dead. With a bit of practice and planning, many of these issues can be fixed right on the side of the road or trail, allowing to travel as far as you'd like without the fear of a bike failure.

What you decide to bring with you will be determined on what type of ride, how far you are going, terrain you'll be on, or your willingness to keep riding instead of getting your bike hauled back home.

KTM 500 on a day dual sport ride, with a Fatty Tool Roll attached to the grab handle.

The Alvord, on a multi-day ADV trip.

First and foremost, you'll need hand tools to work on your bike. So how do you determine what tools you need to carry?

Each bike and setup will have different needs and tools required to work on it. Different size and types of hardware, specialty tools for removing certain things, funny angles, the list goes on.

Our biggest tip we love to share with our members when we take them on a group ride event, is to get a tool bag/pouch/etc, then ONLY use that while working on your bike. Even when you are in your garage. That way, if you are working on your bike with your mobile tool kit and realize there is a tool you need to perform a task that is not in your kit, you can add it at that moment. Eventually, you'll find that your custom tool kit is the only thing you need to perform almost every maintenance and repair task on your bike. Don't overlook things like using your garage air compressor, instead of a hand or electric air pump.

Taking it one step further, you can figure out what tools in your kit can be multi-purpose. This way you can eliminate redundancies and pack a whole lot less.

Mid-trip oil change after hitting the service interval of a bike.

Next on our list is supplies. This category is everything useful for temporary repairs, liquids and putties, spare hardware, and more.

Bike repairs are not always as simple as just turning a couple screwdrivers. Sometimes plastics need zip-tied back on, engine cases need sealed up after cracking, wheel bearings need replaced, tubes get pinched, the list goes on. However, you'll also need basic maintenance things such as chain lube, engine oil, and whatever else your bike may require after a certain number of miles.

Getting your tool kit prepared with these sort of things can be tricky, and usually comes from experience. Ride with any experienced motorcycle traveler, and you'll probably hear a very unique problem and repair they once had to do. Our advice is to just be as prepared as you think you need to be, and go ride. You'll learn so much from experience, and eventually will be prepared for any situation.

Cracked water pump housing on a CRF250L in need of quick setting metal sealant.

A quick tire pressure adjustment with a tire pressure gauge for changes in terrain.

What you decide to bring on your ride depends on whether or not a mid-ride repair, adjustment, or maintenance is necessary to you. You may end up in an area where your only choice is to fix the bike and ride out, because of lack of support like cell service or people available to assist. Other times, it may be easier to just tow the bike back to the truck or get picked up by a friend, if you are just on a trail ride and don't want to pack the weight. We never recommend being "that guy", and relying on others to bail you out, so it's best to just be prepared. The more you ride, the better of an idea of what to bring and when will fall into place for you.

Our group ride events are the perfect opportunity to learn more about how to be prepared for a trip. We have many experienced riders join us with their personal tool kits and knowledge, including the PNWDS team. Usually, a few issues arise, and it turns into a training session for newer riders. These events are also the perfect situation if you aren't quite sure if you have all the things you need, since we are always in a large group and can always find a solution.

A PNWDS team member instructing how to change a damaged tube for a brand new rider.

Our favorite tool carrying solution is the Mosko Moto Fatty Tool Roll. It features a very user-friendly design, thoughtful compartments, it's own strap, and a waterproof shell.


Jesse Felker

PNW Dual Sport