Buying your first dirt bike is an exciting time. You have poured over numerous articles and watched countless videos. The debate as to whether you should go two-stroke or four-stroke is still raging on. Then, there is the unspoken question nobody likes to ask out loud; Do I look better in KTM orange or Kawasaki green? You have been googling motocross gear so often that every website you visit now populates your browser with adverts for dirt bike boots, helmets, and gloves. However, there is one thing left to sort out. Your dirt bike tool kit.
Once you are out riding, you must have the necessary basics to help you get back up and running should you suffer a mechanical. Your best choice is to buy an empty toolbox and populate it with carefully selected tools. In this article, we will list our essential top twelve off-road tools. We will also give you a few handy tips on what you should be looking for when purchasing.
Top 12 Tools for Motocross and Off-Road Riders.
- Adjustable Wrench
- Allen Key/T handle set
- Cable ties
- Chain De-Linking tool
- LED torch or strip light
- Pit Stand
- Pliers (short nose, long nose, locking)
- Spark Plug Wrench
- Spanner set
- Tire Pump
- Tire Levers
- Valve removers
When choosing an adjustable wrench for dirt bike riding, look for narrow profile jaws. This design will allow access to smaller spaces than wrenches which have wide jaws and serrated grips. An eight-inch, high-quality chrome vanadium steel wrench, will last you for many years. A padded handle will add extra comfort. Expect to pay $25 and over for the best of the bunch.
Allen Key or T-Handle Set
There are three types of hexagon keys on the market. The traditional L-shaped Allen key, and the more recent T-handle design, or P-handle hex tools. There is a choice of flat ends, or ball ends, although ball ends can slip, and suffer from reduced torque.
The advantage of L-Shape keys is their higher torsion over T-handles. T handles offer more comfort than a traditional L-shape key. The ideal choice is a set of P-handle wrenches, which will give you both comfort and torque. Expect to pay between $20 and $70 per set.
Cable, (or zip) ties are the dirt bike riders’ best friend. They have so many applications, including securing loose wires, emergency paneling repairs and even getting you back to your pit garage after a blowout. Should you catch a flat, broader width cable ties will keep a tire in place on the rim and help you to limp home. There are two simple rules with cable ties. Buy lots, (assorted sizes), and buy black. The black material has better UV resistance and therefore, will last longer. White ties will go brittle and snap.
LED torch or strip light
When you are fiddling around in the harder to reach areas, a good flashlight or striplight is essential. In darker conditions, the benefit of a 200+ lumen light will be appreciated. A strip light can be used to flood your working area, and a torch can even be used to illuminate the track ahead if you get caught out late. $7 plus for quality products.
A snapped chain is always going to throw up a challenge. A quality chain breaker (link remover) will allow you to knock out the offending pins and links, and snap a new one into place. Without this tool, it is a long push home! Pay between $20 and $70
Dirt bikes are generally not supplied with a side stand. Centre stands are a big no. What happens when you need to work on your bike? A pit stand will provide you with a sturdy base on which you can balance your dirt bike. The better designs include an oil drip tray. You can buy a good stand for around $25 plus
There are three types of pliers that you will regularly use when working on your dirt bike. Most jobs will be catered for with standard long and short nose pliers. Some situations favor locking pliers, (or mole grips). Rubberized handles will add comfort. Look for chrome vanadium or other high-quality steel alloys. A set of three can be as low as $30.00.
Chrome vanadium or other high quality hardened steel alloys are your best choice. A good set of spanners will be with you for life, (or until you lend them to someone). Whether you choose to buy an additional ratchet set or not is a budgetary decision. You can always add a ratchet set later. Ratchet sets will work with a torque wrench.
Spark Plug Wrench
You will need to remove and clean or replace plugs. Without the correct tool, a spark plug issue can mean an early shower. Spark plug wrenches are not expensive. They do come in varying sizes, so check your manufacturer manual to ensure you are buying the right one.
Whatever type of pump you prefer, make sure you never leave home without one. Foot pumps, compressed air pumps or stirrup pumps are all available. Prices vary as each pump is very different. Remember that dirt bike tires require a lot of lower pressure than traditional tires. A stirrup or foot pump is likely to be enough for your first-time purchase. Most models will include an air pressure gauge, which is why we have not included air pressure gauges on our list.
If you have ever tried getting a bicycle tire off of a wheel rim with a fork handle from your mum’s best cutlery set, then you will know why you need these. Tires require a substantial amount of leverage to get on and off. A collection of good quality tire levers will save the day when you need to replace a tire while out on your dirt bike. Multi-piece sets start at around $15.00
Tire Valve Removal Tool
While we are on the subject of tires, one of the more irritating problems is a faulty tire valve. If air is leaking out of the valve, you don’t want to have to replace the whole tube. A vale removal tool will allow you to swap out the stem inside the valve quickly and efficiently. Always have one handy.
Build your first tool kit with these items, and enjoy your first ride with total peace of mind.
Martin is the author and founder of Motocross Advice – the guide for the best dirt bike gear and dirt bike parts. Over the past 22 years of motocross riding, Martin has developed a unique set of skills and knowledge about dirt bikes and its gear and he is now sharing the best tips with all of the amateur motocross riders out there.