I have yet to come across a service manual for a car, truck or motorcycle which includes a comprehensive list of tools required for each maintenance or repair procedure. The manuals will most definitely include Special Service Tools (SST), but when it comes to listing whether the case cover bolts require a 1/4″ ratchet and 8 mm socket, you are left on your own to determine this fact. I can easily see why technical writers and publishers would have to draw this line when creating a service manual, as it may be assumed that the manual is being read in a workshop fully stocked with all the generic tools one would hope a mechanic would have, but what if you are adventure touring on a motorbike, or privateering in the Dakar rally? Without a truck bed, trunk, or a mobile workshop following you, it’s absolutely necessary to know which tools you need specifically for the kind of maintenance and repair you plan (or don’t plan) on performing.

I’ve only been riding 4 and a half years, but I quickly had to redefine what it meant to be mechanically prepared. I had once been used to heaving a large, heavy toolbox in the back of the Land Cruiser, prepared for just about anything happening (and enjoying that nothing ever did). Then with my first Yamaha dual-sport, a small 350 cc, lacking any form of storage besides an 8″ x 6″ x 2″ tail bag, I had to learn how to pack minimally and hope for only the most basic problems to occur, if any. Riding with friends helps, when some coordination is made ahead of time to split the tools amongst each other, but it’s not always guaranteed that the tools required to remove the carburetor on one bike would allow for the same thing to be done on another bike.

This is where many people simply draw a line for themselves and sign up for roadside assistance, carry cash for a tow, or are one of those types who touch their seat, grips and footpegs and simply sell it the moment something else requires touching.

Who actually goes to this length, to determine precisely what type of tools they require, if say, a tire tube is punctured, or a spark plug needs to be removed, or the valve clearances need to be adjusted? Who has actually performed all the repairs on their bike and made note of which tools are needed for which tasks?