Top 10 Essential Tools for DIY Motorcycle Maintenance - SUV VEHICLE

Top 10 Essential Tools for DIY Motorcycle Maintenance 



  • Motorcycles require frequent maintenance; clean chain every other weekend to avoid oil stains.
  • Start with basic tools for DIY maintenance before investing in a more advanced setup.
  • Key tools to have include a bike’s shop manual, mechanic tool set, torque wrench, stand, and chain cleaning kit.

Motorcycles are high-maintenance machines; even something as reliable as the Kawasaki KLR650 requires some sort of maintenance every 500 miles. Heck, you’ll be cleaning the chain every other weekend unless you have a shaft-driven bike. Your bike will turn you into a grease monkey, and oil-stained pants will become your fashion statement. (Pro tip: baking soda can help you get the oil stains off your clothes!)

If that’s something you like doing, it’s wise to invest in tools for DIY motorcycle maintenance. After all, how long will your biker friends lend them theirs? Remember the adage, if you borrow a tool more than twice, you should buy it. And it applies to motorcycles more than anything else. So, where should you start? There’s no need to drop a thousand dollars on a full mechanic setup just yet. You can start with the basics that will cover most routine maintenance, like oil changes, deep cleaning, and regular adjustments. Here’s a list of these essentials.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from personal experiences and other authoritative sources, including Motorcycle News, Motorcyclist Magazine, Revzilla, ChrisFix, and Motorcycle Online.

Always Service These Components On Your Motorcycle

Use this motorcycle maintenance checklist if you want to keep your motorcycle running smoothly

1 Your Bike’s Shop Manual

The first thing you need before wrenching away on your motorcycle is your bike’s shop manual — the holy grail of motorcycle maintenance. The manual will contain all the instructions and information you need to work on your motorcycle, including torque specs for various bolts. Mind you, the shop manual may not make a lot of sense initially. These books are written for trained techies, so give yourself some time to get acquainted with them. Also, pick aftermarket shop manuals from publishers like Haynes, which are written for DIYers if you find manufacturer manuals confusing.

Best Motorcycle Repair Books

  • Haynes shop manuals
  • Manufacturer shop manuals
  • The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance by Mark Zimmerman (basic but useful)
  • Motorcycle Basic Techbook by John Haynes

Stanley Socket Wrench Set

Alright, this is a rabbit hole, but easy to start with. While working on your motorcycle, you’ll be taking apart and putting things back together. And you need tools for that. Remember, every bike is different, so you need to get tools for your motorcycle. An easy place to start is a mechanic’s tool set with regular items.

You’ll come across a couple of options here: imperial and metric. Unless you’re working on Harley, you don’t need imperial tools. Instead, look for metric tools, especially for European motorcycles. For Japanese motorcycles, you’ll need JIS drivers instead of Phillips ones; they look similar, but the former has a blunt tip.

Tools To Look For In A Basic Set

  • Socket wrenches (ideally, ¾ in)
  • Rachets
  • Screwdrivers
  • Combination spanners
  • T-handle allen keys
  • Specialty bits as per your bike

Avoid cheap Chinese tools; high-quality ones can last you a lifetime.

3 Torque Wrench

When you start using manufacturer guidelines for making repairs, you’ll come across torque specs. These specs refer to the specific foot-pounds of torque required to tighten bolts on the motorcycle. Apply more torque and the bolt might snap; apply less, and they will come loose.

To apply the right torque on bolts, you need a torque wrench. Many DIY users skip this one but be different from them. A good torque wrench takes the guesswork out of the process and ensures the bolts are properly tightened. Even a basic click torque wrench should suffice for most owners.

Best Torque Wrenches

  • CDI (Snap-On) 1503MFRPH 1/2 Drive Adjustable Micrometer Torque Wrench
  • GearWrench 85077 1/2-inch Digital Torque Wrench
  • TEKTON 1/2 Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
  • eTORK Click-Style Torque Wrench (3/8-Inch Drive)

4 Paddock Stand

Suter MMX 500
Suter USA

Whether you are storing the bike, adjusting the chain, or bleeding the brakes, you need to hold the bike upright. This is where motorcycle stands (aka paddock stands) come in handy. By default, you need a rear stand — you’ll use this most often. Over time, you can also invest in a triple tree paddock stand and even floor jacks for more advanced maintenance tasks.

  • Oxford Premium Paddock Stand
  • Abba Superbike Stand
  • Oxford Zero-G Dolly Stands (front and rear)
  • Renntec Moovamoto

5 Chain Cleaning Kit

2024 KTM 1390 DUKE close-up shot of the chain
Francesc Montero via KTM

Once you have all the tools and a bike stand, the first thing you’ll probably do is clean the chain. For this, you need a dedicated chain cleaning kit. Here, start with a de-greaser to get the grime off; dedicated chain cleaners are the best, but even kerosene/diesel can work wonders here. Then, you need rags, a workshop mat, a chain cleaning brush, and a toothbrush. Round off the list with an o/x-ring compatible chain lube.

  • ProHonda Chain Lube and Cleaner
  • Maxima Chain Wax
  • Motul C2 Chain Lube and Cleaner
  • DuPont Teflon Chain Spray
  • Putoline Drytec
  • LiquiMoly lube and chain cleaner
  • Kerosene and transmission oil (cheap but effective)

The Most Important Motorcycle Maintenance Tasks You Need to Know About

Taking care of your bike with regular maintenance is a must if you want your bike to last. Follow these tips to take care of your bike

6 Brake Bleeder Kit

2024 Yamaha MT-09 SP Brembo Stylema

You don’t have to stick a transparent hose in a water bottle and sacrifice 40 minutes cleaning a chain. Brake bleeder kits have become much more accessible, and they do a much better job at helping you bleed the brakes. They are quick to use and help you better get the bubbles out of your bike’s braking system. You’ll be bleeding your brakes more often than you think once you understand how good it makes the stopping performance, so don’t skip this.

Best Brake Bleeder Kits

  • OEMTools One-Man Brake Bleeder and Vacuum Pump Kit
  • HTOMT 2-in-1 Brake Bleeder Kit
  • Mityvac Hydraulic Brake and Clutch Pressure Bleeding System
  • Orion Motor Tech Brake Pressure Bleeder Kit

7 Oil Drain Pan

Harley-Davidson Low Profile Oil Drain Pan

One of the most underrated tools for motorcycle maintenance is an oil drain pan. Sure, you might initially think an old tray or cut-up jar works. But wait till you spill oil in your garage. It’s a mess to clean, and an oil drain pan ensures that doesn’t happen. A short 4-inch pan can store around 5 quarts of oil, which is more than enough for motorcycles.

  • Matrix Concepts Oil Drain Pan
  • BikeMaster Fluid Drain Pan
  • Generic Walmart oil pans
  • Harley-Davidson Low Profile Oil Drain Pan

8 Fluids, Sprays, and Chemicals

2024 BMW M 1000 XR

It’s time to get dirty with fluids and chemicals you’ll need in your garage. Ideally, you need a degreaser, specialized grease, lubes, anti-seize, rust remover, et al. The list is endless; we even know bikers who keep nail polish in their garage! So, start working on your motorcycle and soon enough, you’ll realize what fluids and sprays you need to keep handy. Nonetheless, here’s a good starting point.

  • WD40 or similar multi-purpose lube and degreaser
  • Waterproof grease, especially for calipers and bearings
  • Silicone lube (comes in handy to stop riding boots squeak, too)
  • Fuel injection and valve cleaners
  • Brake oil (DOT 4 or 5.1)
  • Locktite (the stick one)
  • Nail polish (to mark screw orientation)
  • JB Weld
  • Bike shampoo
  • Extra coolant

9 Extras To Always Keep Handy

Motorcycle Maintenance
Graham Hellewell via Flickr

We’ve most of the bases covered, and now it’s time to get your hands on useful extras that make a huge difference. Pay attention, this is garnish. This can be anything that makes maintenance tasks easier to do, whether it is a magnetic LED light, a multimeter, or just duct tape. Don’t forget zip ties and bungee cords, too!

  • Duck tape
  • Zip ties
  • Extra screws and bolts
  • Multimeter
  • Magnetic LED light
  • Multitool
  • Blade
  • Magnetic parts tray
  • Magnet-on-a-stick

10 Dos and Don’ts For Motorcycle Maintenance

Motorcycle maintenance can be easy, fulfilling, and preserves the value of your pride and joy.

10 Nitrile Or Mechanic Gloves

Muc Off Mechanics Gloves
Muc Off

Finally, get your hands in nitrile or mechanic gloves when wrenching away on your motorcycles. Nitrile gloves are nothing but surgical gloves, and there’s a reason even professional techs wear them every day. It’s more than a matter of keeping your hands clean; they protect your hands from nasty fluids (like brake fluid), which can sometimes be toxic. If you don’t mind splurging, you can even get dedicated mechanic gloves. You’ll look like a pro, too!

11 BONUS: A Friend

Get a seasoned friend to join you in the garage; you’ll have four hands and double the vision working on your motorcycle. They’ll lend a hand, offer guidance along the way, and make the process a lot more enjoyable. That’s what friends are for, right? Don’t forget to sweeten the deal with a six-pack, though; it’s the ultimate bait to lure friends in.


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