Toolkits for Touring and Trips
Most modern bikes come with very limited toolkits on-board, not enough even to deal with minor difficulties such as a loose mirror. This article has a look at the toolkits available and reviews the CruzTOOLS kit in more detail.
Older BMWs came with a toolkit to enable you to (amongst other things)
- remove and replace the wheels
- remove and replace spark plugs
- adjust the suspension
Here is what you got in a BMW K100RT toolkit 30 years ago:
My 2009 R1200GS came with a much more limited toolkit containing a key for the oil filler cap, a couple of spanners, screwdriver and a few star keys:
Looking on the web, I have found three toolkits available at the moment
- BMW toolkit at £119 from https://www.bmw-motorrad-bohling.com/uk/
This contains a fairly restricted set of tools intended for the F800 series bikes, and would not be of much use to me with an R1200GS.
- Motohansa toolkit at £175 from https://www.adventurebikeshop.co.uk/
This is a very comprehensive set of tools, suitable for wheel removal, spark plug removal and routine servicing.
- CruzTOOLS toolkit at £119 from https://www.bahnstormer.co.uk/
This is a comprehensive set of tools, with adapter for removing the front wheel, but recommends a beefier star wrench (not in the kit) for removing the rear wheel.
In the end I chose the CruzTOOLS RoadTech B1 toolkit because it should cover most of the tasks that are likely to arise on a trip, or at least the trips I am likely to make.
The CruzTOOLS all have the look and feel of high quality tools. The tools are chosen to suit recent BMW motorcycles, but not a specific model. There is a good range of hex and star keys, and combination spanners plus one for male star screws. There is an adjustable spanner opening up to 25mm and a set of vice-grip pliers. A tyre pressure gauge (both PSI and bar) is useful, but you might have one already with your puncture repair kit. A screwdriver with four different bits (Phillips and straight) is provided along with various consumables, such as insulation tape, cable ties, wire and Loctite.
The T50 star key fits the screws on the rear wheel of my bike, but I would struggle to undo them with a small key. CruzTOOLS recommend a larger T50 key for the job, which I can find on the US website but not a UK supplier . The front wheel should be easier, and there is an adapter for removing the front axle.
In the CruzTOOLS kit there is a very neat small socket set (1/4″ drive) with three metric and one star socket. The handle is quite short at 80mm, and you might find it difficult to apply sufficient torque to the 13mm socket. There is an extension piece, but this clips into the socket rather than the handle. In fact it might be easier to use the 13 mm spanner which has an effective length of 165mm.
The Motohansa toolkit has a much larger socket set (3/8″ drive) with an ingenious telescopic extending handle, and positive socket retention. It also has a bit driver handle which converts from conventional screwdriver to T-bar form. It has everything needed for wheel and spark plug removal. Some useful bits and pieces are missing, such as wire, tyre pressure gauge and Loctite, but they can easily be added. There are no hex or star keys, which may be a disadvantage since sometimes bit drivers are too bulky to get access to the screw head.
Perhaps the best toolkit is one you put together yourself, but this requires a lot of thought, and you may find you need to buy additional tools anyway (a 1/2″ socket set is not the smallest of items to tuck into the pannier). Also you need to be very careful to identify all the likely scenarios where you will need tools and make sure you have a list of all the tools to take with you.
Don’t forget there are other related items you will need apart from just tools, and some these may overlap with the toolkit: puncture repair kit, spare bulbs and fuses (if any), duct tape, wire, cable ties (of various sizes), and superglue for example.
Why choose the Cruz? Because it is a qood quality toolkit and you are unlikely to need the things it can’t do. Unless I am servicing it, I can’t remember having to take a spark plug out of a modern bike, for example. Similarly with tubeless tyres, repairs can normally be carried out without removing the wheel, assuming the tyre can actually be repaired. When travelling, size and weight are important considerations, and the Motohansa is bigger and about 50% heavier. With the Cruz I will certainly be more prepared than I have been before.