Our Sister Sites:

Bikernet Trikes Bikernet Baggers Bikernet Blog
Ride Forever - Bikernet.com
Saturday Edition

AMAZING! The Smallest (yet complete) Tool Kit Ever

Just in Time for the Smoke Out 2017

By Commander Edge, Smoke Out Sanitation Engineer

Share this story:

The Smoke Out is three weeks away and people all over this great US of A are preparing to ride to Rockingham, NC for the festivities June 16-17, 2017. The gravitational pull of the Smoke Out as the epicenter of the chopper universe has chopper jockeys everywhere preparing for the ride.

I thought I would take a minute and share the tool kit I use for epic adventure.

I’ll just admit right now that I can be obsessive. The smallest detail can send me on a two-day binge of Internet research. It can be kind of a curse actually. I have kept a file, for twenty years, full of pictures and notes about what should be in my tool kit. I will tell you right up front you should probably buy a CruzTools kit and forget about it until you need it.

Stop reading now. 

I have spent more time and money on this question than is justified. Don’t be like me. Seriously. 

My tool kit has evolved radically through the years. I first listed the contents of my tool kit for the Horse readership about fifteen years ago. I received emails, for example, telling me I need this or that for when I would need to take a transmission apart. I started to add all kinds of tools until it occurred to me that this kit is only to handle road emergencies within the capability of my mechanical expertise and my willingness to fix something in a parking lot.

I know professional mechanics who have said, if anything happens to their bike it’s getting hauled to a garage. Their tool kit is a Visa card. I’m somewhere in the middle. I won’t be taking a transmission apart, but I certainly can handle some road side fixes to keep my trip on track. I’ve adjusted headlights, clutches, primary chains, chains and belts. I’ve changed cables, swapped coils, tightened loose things (a lot), and even handled service work, like tune-ups and oil changes on some long trips (on my bike and friends’ bikes).

Bottom line: The first question I had to answer is, “What do I expect to fix on the road?”

There are a couple more things to mention. I don’t have hard bags. So my tool kit gets carried in whatever bag I am carrying everyday. It gets carried into every hotel, every night. Somehow, years ago, I got on this quest of trying to build the most minimalistic, physically small, and high quality kit I could.

I also wanted American made tools. Honestly, if I had a dresser and I could leave my kit in the bottom of a cavernous hard bag a couple extra un-needed tools would not be an issue. Well, they would be for me probably; buy only because, like I said, I can be obsessive.

I have a box of just “tool poaches” I have collected for years, from yard sales. It also contains discarded items or other tool kits I have tried and dismissed. Some are almost the same size but not quite. I would try something for six months and then go with something else that was just a half-inch different.

Twenty years ago I carried a couple screwdrivers, which were replaced by one screwdriver with interchangeable bits. Then I had to try several different models of screwdrivers with interchangeable bits, each one smaller than the last. Now I don’t carry any screwdriver, per se. I carried a 3/8-inch drive socket set until I realized I could get a really small ¼-inch socket set to do everything I needed.

I tried several sets of Allen and Torx wrenches until I got a bit driver and just carried the bits. You get the idea. I really don’t want to know how much time and money I have spent on pieces for this tool kit that didn’t make the final cut. It’s kind of a sickness.

However, I have to say, I am happy with my tool kit now. It’s really small and it has come through for me and my brothers time after time.

This kit is my answer, for me.

It’s a two-part kit. One is everyday riding and shorter overnight trips. The second part is an augmentation for longer trips.

The biggest game changer was that I eventually stumbled on Chapman Manufacturing. Their little mini-ratchet and bits became the heart of my daily carry tool kit. Imagine heavy clouds with one hole in the clouds, where one ray of bright sunlight illuminates a small yellow pouch on a motorcycle seat. This is how I see my Chapman tools.

The problem at the time was they didn’t have the collection of bits I wanted in one kit or a good way to carry them. I contacted Chapman and we worked together to build what I think is just an amazingly small, and useful bit set. Just so you know I don’t make anything when Chapman sells these sets. It’s just a cool little company that has been around a long time and it was a fun project. Now you can order the American Motorcycle Set 1903H Pack.

This kit has a cool little Chapman midget ratchet and an extension. It comes with a thing they call a “spinner” which allows you to use the bits with the extension as if you had an entire screwdriver handle. It doesn’t look like a screwdriver but it works well. The LowBrow version of the Chapman kit has:

Allen Hex bits: 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, ¼ and 5/16-inch
Slotted screwdriver bits: ¼ and 3/8-inch
Phillips screwdriver bits: #1, #2, #4
Star bits (fit torx screws) T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, T40
and a ¼-inch Drive socket adapter
It’s packed in a heavy-duty yellow vinyl case that to me is kind of nostalgic cool.

My daily carry kit also has:

- A long ¼-inch box end wrench, which I use as a “breaker bar” with the Chapman bits, rather than put so much stress on the tiny Chapman ratchet.
- 10mm wrench
- 3/8 x 7/16-inch (open end) wrench
- ½ x 9/16-inch (open end) wrench
- Roll of mini duct tap
- Bailing Wire
- Four 14-inch zip ties
- “AAA” flashlight
- 6-inch Vice grips
(I keep my tire pressure gauge out.)

I use a shop rag to pad the contents and keep the wrenches from banging together. The fuse box on my bike has an empty slot for two extra fuses, which I fill with spares. I always have something on me to cut zip-ties but if you don’t you should probably add something for that (a sharp knife, side cutters, or even nail clippers are good). I keep a tire gauge outside the kit to make it easier to use. That’s it but you will be amazed how much you can do with such a compact kit.

In a separate pouch for longer trips, I also bring:

-A ¼-inch drive socket set with a ¼-inch drive ratchet, 2-inch extension, 3-inch extension, ¼-inch drive breaker bar (to keep from putting so much torque on such a small ratchet), and Sockets - ¼, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, ½, 9/16 and 5/8-inch.

I have SK Tools, which are way nicer and more expensive than I need. This whole set is really small, as you can see in the picture. I do not remember ever seeing a ¼-inch drive set with a 5/8-inch socket (and some don’t have 9/16-inch). You need to order them separately from Amazon or somewhere but they are available.

Throw in: Electrical Wire, a continuity tester, a Crescent Wrench, pliers, and one use - WD 40 and Locktight samples and you’re golden.

If you use this kit for a while email me and let me know what you think. (Edge.42@mac.com) Enjoy the wild ride!

See you at the Smoke Out 2017! Bandit punked out this year. I don’t get it? Something about a Redhead and Rye Whiskey he found in the desert. There is no forgiving the bastard… We will eat more white-lightening marinated Marachino cherries, but don’t tell anyone

--Commander Edge

Did he mention a feeler gauge?—Bandit

Click for Action.
Click for Action.

Share this story:

Back to Tech

Your thoughts on this article

Your Name
Anti-Spam Question:
Please enter the words you see in the box, in order and separated by a space. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this service.