Ultimate Adventure Motorcycle Toolkit
Some tool sizes are specific to the DRZ400, but this is a good launching point for any bike. After market parts (racks, crash guards, bash plates etc) often require weird sizes of sockets and wrenches and maybe even specialty tools, so be sure to check all those. It’s a good idea to assemble your tool kit and then run through all maintenance maneuvers only using those tools. Particularly hard to reach spots on the DRZ are the bolts on the top of the engine case and the bolts which hold on the cam chain tensioner. Make sure the tools you carry can reach them and turn! (You’ll need to undo both for a valve adjustment)
This is a total tool kit for doing all your own bike work to support yourself on a major trip. If you’re just doing day rides, you can definitely par back and focus on tire repair, emergency fixes and a small collection of wrenches, driver bits and sockets. And a Multi-Tool.
Unless you are already mechanically brilliant, get a Clymer Manual! Yeah it’s a big heavy book, but when you are in Baja and some wannabe mechanic is trying to tell you to set your valves really tight, you can show him the specs and save yourself a total engine overhaul later (this really happened). The directions are clear and simple and there are photos and diagrams when you need them. I walked myself through my first valve adjustment with it and it went smoothly.
First off, you’ll want to whip yourself up a cane jack stand. Here’s a great how-to: LINK Ours isn’t even that fancy, we just have cane feet on both sides instead of the U shaped holder. Do some experimenting and see what works best for you. Either way it’s pretty cheap and easy and works surprisingly well.
I use this great Tusk Fender Pack, which includes two small tire irons, to hold everything we need for patching a tube. It is best to remove it when riding at night, because it does block some of the light from your headlight (for the stock DRZ 400 light at least)
Do a practice change with the stubby irons and if it’s too hard for your model of bike or you just need more leverage, you may need to make room in your pack for one or two Large Tire Irons
This Slime Compressor is compact and lightweight. It fits easily into the above pack. It can take a while to inflate, but is still waaaaay better than a hand pump or air cartridges.
Make sure you wire in a way to run your compressor! And make sure it’s waterproof! This 12V Waterproof Plug comes with a nice handlebar mount so you don’t have to have it zip-tied like mine!
You can put these Valve Core Remover Caps on your bike, but people WILL steal them (for real), so I recommend regular caps -on- your bike and a few of these guys stashed in your fender bag. They are the smallest, easiest valve core removers. The plastic ones are crap.
If you haven’t used a Patch Kit before, make sure you include the directions in your kit! If you don’t abrade the tube thoroughly or let the cement dry the right amount, the patches will not stick and you’ll find yourself flat again in minutes. Also, the included abraders (in all patch kits it seems) leave much to be desired. A rolled up strip of the roughest sandpaper you can find will do much better. You won’t need to carry this whole pack, just a good assortment with a few of the larger ones in case of big tears (you’ll want to fix those at the first vulcanizadora you can find, but this can at least limp you out to one). Carry both tubes of rubber cement so you’ll have a backup if one dries out.
You’ll need a Plug Kit instead if you run tubeless tires
Sometimes your tire is just too messed up to fix and you conclude you’re going to have to ride it out flat. This isn’t recommended because you will likely ding up your rims and possibly (especially on rocky roads) seriously damage them. But in some situations that’s what must be done and if you have to do it, at least throw on a dozen Heavy Duty Zip Ties to secure the tire to the rim before limping slowly out. (You don’t need to carry a full pack, a dozen or so will do…and they can come in handy for all kinds of other things too.
South of the border most people don’t seem to lube the axle when doing tire changes or repairs. If you ask them to, they’ll usually just slather some used engine oil on there. I like to keep my stuff spinning smoothly, so I carry my own Axle Grease.
A Spoke Truing Tool isn’t a bad thing to have. Tap it along your spokes and they should all make a nice clear “Ting!”, if they sound flat, tighten them til they sing like the others.
My bike sports an awesome PVC Tool Tube across from my exhaust pipe. I highly recommend installing one because it is easy, reasonably cheap, waterproof and gives you a nice out of the way place to stash your tools. My previous pre-fab tool tube busted right off, but this one is still holding strong. Someone else wrote a good step by step HERE
I actually recommend getting this cheap-o Tool Rollover a high quality one. It rolls up much smaller because of the thinner material. The material is still strong enough to work well and hold up to a lot of use. It has a nice velcro pouch on one end to throw all your sockets in. Distribute your tools with some handles in the middle and some on each side so it rolls up smaller! Make sure you cut your tool tube long enough to accommodate it! 🙂
We keep all the frequently used tools in the roll, since it’s easy to access. Spares and lesser used tools are sorted into these awesome heavy duty Klein Tool Bags. They are color coded and we also labeled them with a sharpie. We use them for our first aid kit and toiletries as well. They are extremely sturdy.
Drivers, Ratchets & Sockets
Listen up! Have you wondered why it seems impossible not to strip your carburetor bolts? That’s because they have a slightly different angle and it’s called the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS). So carry a special driver or plan to take them out with Vise-Grips (and a lot of cursing) later!
You need a Small Phillips Driver for the radiator cap screw, but also for electronics and random odds and ends.
Instead of carrying around a bag of drivers, I recommend a nice Multi-tip Screwdriver. Depending on your bike, you may just want the #1, #2 & #3 Phillips and Slotted bits and then swap out the others for some of these Allen Screwdriver Bit Tips.
Since most tip holders are 1/4″ drive, you will likely want a Bit Tip Adapter so you can attach any of the tips to a 3/8″ drive ratchet.
If you go with the above plan, you’ll still need a 10mm Allen Socket for the DRZ. In all you’ll want the following in either allen bit tips or allen sockets: 10mm, 8mm, 6mm, 5mm, 4mm if you go with Allen Sockets, they will only fit on your 3/8″ drive ratchet and not the 1/4″ driver. I like the 8mm and 10mm in allen sockets though because you need those sizes for valve checks and you have to crank down on them pretty hard. A bit tip in an adapter can have a bit of wiggle which can make it harder to torque down on.
I left on this trip with a cheap Stanley ratchet and the dang thing just fell apart, rattled to death by the roads. Good quality tools are worthwhile. I’ve replaced it with this Neiko 3/8″ Drive Extendable Ratchet, which is a bit bulky, but comfortable to use and the extending neck is great for when you need the leverage (like when changing out the front sprocket).
A Universal Joint will for sure come in handy for getting your ratchet in at hard to reach angles (like removing the spark plug). Use a 3″ Extension to add reach to short sockets so you don’t need to carry a whole mess of deep wells.
This Socket list is very specific to the DRZ, but sizes are similar for the DR and a good starting point for a lot of others. It’s often cheaper to buy a set with more than you need than just the ones you need separately. You will need: 17mm, 14mm, 12mm, 10mm and 8mm, unless you have the stock spark plug tool, you’ll need a 5/8″ Deep Well for that.
You will also need a 30mm Socket if you plan to remove the front sprocket for any reason. But it is a pretty large and ridiculous thing to carry if you think you’ll make your trip on one set of sprockets. Also, because it is so large, it’s only available in 1/2″ drive, so you need a 3/8″ Drive to 1/2″ Adapter to make it work. We carry it because we like to be prepared and we have been shocked at how few tools many small town mechanics have.
You will need: 24mm, 22mm, 14mm, 12mm, 10mm, 8mm and a Crescent Wrench. If you have the funds, Ratcheting Wrenches are AWESOMELY luxurious.
Annoying as it may seem to carry both, some places you just can’t get to with ratchets or drivers and you -need- the little right angle of the Allen Keys. This short set doesn’t add too much space or weight.
Pliers and Cutters
Andrea insists that all of these pliers are SUPER important because they all have different grip angles. You should not get cheap pliers! (Ideally you should not get cheap anything, but if anyone understands the plight of the budget adventurer, it’s us!) But it especially matters with pliers because you need to grip stuff tightly and cheap ones will fail when you need them most. We have older Craftsman stuff, but it’s now made in China and the quality has plummeted. 🙁 DeWalt stuff has always done us well and this set is pretty reasonable and has everything you need: Pliers, Needle Nosed Pliers, Expanding Pliers and Wire Cutters. If you have a multi-tool with pliers, then you can ditch the full sized version.
Vise-Grips are a necessity! I promise you one day the head of some screw or bolt will strip and you will be glad you have them!
For most people, a Mini Multimeter is all you need. You can check anything in parallel (battery level, stator). If you want to check things in series (like how much your heated vest is pulling), you’ll need the larger Compact Multimeter with more options (And you’ll need to know how to use it!)
You’ll definitely want some Electrical Tape, but a whole roll is pretty excessive. You can cut it in half, which will take up much less space and also have it chopped into nice sized strips. Another option is wrapping it around a pen onto itself until you get a good travel sized roll.
A little Fuse Kit is a good plan. It’s good to make a list of all the fuses your bike, tools (like multimeter) and accessories you have and make sure you carry a spare or two for each type/size.
At least 10′ of extra Electrical Wire is a VERY good idea.
You probably want to practice a bit with Solder before you head right for your bike wires, but it’s not too hard. A Torch Lighter will melt it quickly (and it’s a handy tool for fire starting as well). Yes you can just twist your wires together and tape them, but when you solder, you don’t leave a gap for corrosion to form. Corrosion severely increases resistance, reducing the flow of current. Soldering makes the best possible connection.
When you order a chain, get a couple Spare Emergency Master Links so you can hook your chain back together in a bind. Make sure you get the same brand/style as your chain!
Carry a Plastic Brush for cleaning your chain, as wire brushes can be damaging to O-rings. The brass brush is good for cleaning threads on bolts and spark plugs. I love these small Renthal bottles of Chain Lube because there’s no wasted space like with aerosol cans. A good Chain Breaker is a necessity.
When stuff goes bad, you better be armed with J-B Weld and QuikSteel! I really like carrying both, because they are good for different things. JB Weld is like thick paint and Quicksteel is a firm putty.
A small roll of Baling Wire can limp you out of some bad situations. Once on a ride we did an emergency tailpipe reattachment using baling wire and a stick!
A roll of Double-Sided Velcro comes in handy whenever you need to secure stuff impermanently.
Zip Ties can be real life savers and it’s smart to carry a bundle of assorted sizes.
A spare length of Fuel Line is good to have on hand. They dry out and crack after a while and can tear from frequent removal and replacement.
Loctite is a must, along with a good Assortment of Nuts, Bolts and Washers. I promise you on a long trip, stuff will rattle out and be lost to the road. Secure permanent bolts with LOCTITE Red and anything you need to remove again with LOCTITE Blue.
Gorilla Tape is stickier than duct tape!
Odds and ends
You know that moment when you drop a bolt into your open engine and hear it clink way down out of sight? Instead of breaking down into tears and taking your whole engine apart, you can whip out a Telescoping Magnet and hunt it down! Another tool which has been invaluable for all kinds of random tasks is a Dental Pick. Great for cleaning grit out of bolt heads and pushing and prying in hard to reach places as well as fishing out the o-ring and washer from the pilot mixture screw when you clean your carb.
Feeler Gauges are handy for checking valves and spark plug gaps.
Unless you have a pair on your multi-tool, I’d buy a small pair of Folding Scissors. Ours has come in handy many times.
We hope this list was helpful! If you plan to buy any of these items from Amazon, please use our links as we get kickbacks that help fund our trip! Yay! 😀
I dont know if you intended them to be amazon referrer links or not but the links to the specific tools in the article don’t work, they’re just showing as bolded text. only the links to the forums howtos are clickable.
I just had them as bolded links, but you are right, they should be clickable! Fixed them now. 🙂
I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do
it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would
like to know where u got this from. appreciate it
Gracias! It’s actually a free wordpress theme. 🙂
Just bought a bunch of your recommended stuff and other stuff on amazon. I really appreciate you making the lists. Perhaps you could make more lists?
This is a very good list of tools. I moved from riding a Harley, to dual sport (what a difference in riding style, which I am still learning). I purchased a KLX250 (w/ 351 big bore kit) a few months ago, but I upgraded to a 2013 DRZ yesterday. I am glad I found your videos and subsequently this blog. Very good information. You guys are also very entertaining.
Just came across your videos – quite good and you both enjoy life – it seemed like the videos stopped in Bolivia – did you go onto Chile? why no videos?
We are back to video updates and covering Chile now! Thank you for your patience and sorry for the delay!