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Tool Recommendations

I don't sell tools, but I get asked for my recommendations. So I'd like to share a few thoughts about tools, and then tell you what I carry.

Basic philosophy

Carry everything I need and nothing I don't.
  • I do all garage work with the tools I carry, to make sure I've got what I need.
  • I carry good quality tools. Failure in the field is not an option. Some specific comments:
    • You can get good wrenches at Ace hardware.
    • A T-wrench can be used with sockets, screwdriver tips and even to drive out stuck axles.
    • carries some great tools.
  • I don't carry redundant tools. For example, I carry a 13mm wrench, and don't carry a 13mm socket. There's nothing on the bike that I can't get to with a 13mm wrench - at least nothing that I would touch in the field.
  • I keep a list that I check a couple of times every riding season, just to make sure I haven't lost anything.

My Circumstances

I ride in the Rocky Mountains. A typical ride is 50+ miles, and I'm sometimesas much as 25 trail or road miles from my truck, and perhaps 10 miles from a commonly traveled road. And I frequently ride alone. So I'm pretty much self-contained. Your circumstances probably differ. Adjust as necessary.

Fender Bag or Fanny Pack Contents

Basic Tools

  • 1/4" T-wrench with sockets - carry sockets for everything on the bike, unless you can get a wrench (see below) on it; carry screwdriver tips, then you don't need a separate screwdriver.
  • combo wrenches - for things that you can't get a socket on, such as the chain adjustment bolt & nut.
  • allen wrenches - for anything on the bike - skid plate, crossbar, ...
  • KTM or Fredette axle and spark plug wrench. The Fredette wrench is available for most Japanese bikes and will remove front and rear axles nuts, and the spark plug too.
  • needle nose vice grips - grab and hold, even usable as an emergency shift lever.
  • cloth rag.
  • emory paper - to clean spark plug (I've never fouled one while riding though).
  • quickSteel - repair on metal cases and other stuff.

Spare and Repair Parts

  • 1 plug (2 if your jetting isn't worked out).
  • miscellaneous bolts in various length (I carry about 6 of these).
  • 1' electrical wire.
  • 1' utility wire (useful for strapping broken things together).
  • 1' electrical tape.
  • 2' duct tape.
  • 12 18" zip ties.
  • spare clips for the carb needle (in case I lose it while fooling with jetting).
  • masterlink to fit MY chain, not some generic that may not fit.

Tire Tools

Lots of guys do without a spare tube and tools, but I think that is foolish, unless you are always fairly close to a road. There are a couple of options:

  • carry long zip ties (I think around 30") to allow you to hold the tire on the rim, while you ride it out slowly.
  • carry tire irons and flat repair stuff. If so you'll need:
    • 2 tire irons minimum. I carry 3. You can also get some very cool (and $) tools from (or your dealer) that combine the tire iron with an axle or other sized wrench.
    • flat kit - get from a bicycle shop. Check the glue at the beginning of every riding season - it seems to dry out in a year.
    • pump or CO2 cartridges with CO2 head. Some go one way, some another, I have no hard and fast recommendation.


  • 15' 1/2" flat webbing for use as a tow rope or to pull a bike out of a ravine. I keep this in a zippered bag, ziptied to my front fork.
  • 2' gas line (I'm not sure why I carry this).
  • driver's license (so the body can be ID'd.
  • credit card, $20 in small bills, 2 in change (telephone).

ALL THE ABOVE fits in my 8x5x3 regular fender bag easily and should fit in your fanny pack.

Camelbak - I use a HAWG which holds 100 oz of water. I also carry in it
  • coffee filter - emergency drinking water or replace boiled radiator fluid.
  • tp.
  • space blanket (survival item).
  • bandana - covering my bald head if I have to stop a long time or walk out.
  • iodine tablets - emergency water (survival item).

Number Plate Bag

I use one of my number plate bags to carry my spare tube, a rain jacket, and maybe a fleece vest.

Carrying a spare tube - Use a 21" tube and you can put it in front or back. You can carry it several ways. I make a good spare tube bag that straps on to front fender. Cycoactive makes one also, and Moose/MSR/everybody else stole the design - classy. Their design may fall off - mine won't.

Other stuff

  • I carry a GPS when I'm going in unfamiliar territory. I can barely use it (!) but it will give me longitude and latitude and that's all I need to find my way on a map.
  • I don't carry a first aid kit. I've never seen one that I could use that would solve a really serious problem such as a broken leg. And I don't bleed much so i don't see the point.
  • Most places I ride a cell phone is useless, so I rarely carry. That is not true in most of the nation.
  • If you ride with a group you can split up the heavy stuff like tire repair things. Note that this only works if other people are reliable, and you'll only learn that when it could be a real problem.
  • Remember my special circumstances and that your needs may vary wildly. For most the basic tool kit and the spares would do it.

Hope this helps.