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 secure.
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 start.
Ratcheting wrench set
Socket and ratchet set, 3/8 inch drive
TORX driver set metric and SAE (get the anti-theft versions with the hollow centers)
TORX screw driver set
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
Plastic or rubber mallet
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)
A few additional items:
Good quality safety glasses,
Shop lights (adjustable stand with a couple of halogen lights is nice)
Mechanic trouble light
Hydraulic roller stool
Rolling tool tray or stand
Drip tray to catch oil etc.
Tank and fender protective pads (or clean soft cloths)
Drill bit set
Hack saw and blades
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.