If you are planning to do any work on your Harley (or other motorcycle),
you need to make sure you have good quality, basic tools and equipment. I’m not
talking about outfitting your garage like a professional bike shop, but enough
to allow you to tackle most owner projects.
And…you can never have too many tools in your shop, right?
You can work on your bike while its setting on its side
stand or a good option is a hydraulic lift that looks kind of like a jack and
fits under the center of the bike and lifts against the frame rails. Stability is the key, make sure if you use
the small jack style lift you have the bike supported by additional hands and
tie down straps.
If you have the room, a complete “ride on” bike lift is
handy. Harbor Freight sells a manually operated hydraulic lift for motorcycles
up to 1,000 pounds for around $300, on sale.
With the ride on lift you still need tie downs to make sure the bike is
Everyone has a tool preference and whether it is Snap-on,
Matco, Craftsman or whatever, make sure they feel right. It is hard to imagine that a wrench isn’t a
wrench, but they aren’t. Even in the
same brand, there are different designs.
You need to try out the tools and see how they feel in your hand. If you
buy the low end they often have sharper edges and are uncomfortable to put much
pressure on. If you can’t grip them
comfortably, they are a waste of money, what ever you paid. Cheap tools are also prone to rounding and
slipping on nuts and bolts. Usually good
quality tools have a good warranty, often lifetime. Breaks or becomes damaged,
take it back for a replacement. Bad
tools end up being dangerous and more expensive than buying the better quality
right from the beginning.
Here is a short list of tools that should be in your
shop. Everyone you talk to will have
more, less and a different opinion, but this is a start. And you’ll need both metric and SAE. Both
will be on your bike. Sometimes you can
buy most of what you need in one complete set, on sale for a very reasonable
price. Again, make sure the tools are
comfortable to grip. If you get a
chance, take a look at Chicago Brand’s new open end ratcheting wrench. They make a very handy tool for tight spaces!
Screwdriver set (straight and Phillips)
Combination (box and open end) wrench set up to ¾ inch to
Socket and ratchet set, 3/8 inch drive
TORX driver set metric and SAE
(get the anti-theft versions with the hollow centers)
Hex wrench set (Allen wrench) in metric and SAE.
Hex drives that fit the 3/8 ratchet
Locking pliers (Vice Grips)
Medium sized ball peen hammer
Adjustable wrenches (Crescent wrench) six and ten inch.
Magnetic parts tray (sticks to the lift or tool box and
holds the small parts you take off)
Good quality safety glasses,
Shop lights (adjustable stand with a couple of halogen
lights is nice)
Rolling tool tray or stand
Drip tray to catch oil etc.
Tank and fender protective pads (or clean soft cloths)
The list can go on and on, but to do most owner repairs and
maintenance you don’t need a lot. Check
your tool box you probably have most of what you need already.
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