Riding light – Toolkit
Adventure enduro is a holistic discipline. It revolves through the same cycles of preparation, riding and planning the next adventure. Throughout the process, the bike, riding gear and other equipment are continuously perfected. Each day of riding gives more insight; equipment either works or it needs to be rethought. High quality gear, that performs reliably under extreme conditions, is of paramount importance in running successful expeditions.
THE BARE NECESSITIES
Toolkits are as varied as the riders who carry them. Looking into the matter a few years back, the scale stretched from an adventure enduro dude cutting and welding spanners together to a RTW guy insisting on carrying all tools for a full engine rebuild. Needless to say my views are closer to the former gentleman and that the latter fellow probably needs a reality check, a more reliable bike or both.
My philosophy with all gear is to ride as light as possible and bring only the bare necessities. The real question, however, is how to define “necessities”. Unsurprisingly the answers are as diverse as the riders. For me, a necessity is a piece of equipment that needs to be onboard to ensure the continuation of the ride in the event of a failure. This applies rigidly to all tools and spare parts. So a spare fuel pump, throttle cables and e.g. a shifter pedal are necessities, but a spare headlight bulb or a brake pedal aren’t. However the likelihood of a specific catastrophic malfunction also plays into the equation of defining a necessity. The probability of a fuel pump failure crosses the line but a cracked cylinder head doesn’t, so only the former is carried. The definition of necessities affects what spare parts are carried, which in turns specifies what tools are needed.
Another thing to consider is what work you should actually be prepared to do in the field. To continue riding, a toasted clutch will have to be replaced and a flat tire fixed on the field. On the the hand, normal scheduled and non-critical service such as valve adjustment, oil changes and replacing wheel bearings are better left for friendlier environments, where you can find bigger and perhaps more special tools and avoid having to carry them. This streamlines the toolkit and also reduces the risk of potentially harmful engine contamination by airborne debris. On the 500 EXC a good example is valve adjustment; the valve cover needs to be off for a while and the breather hose clamp is a right bitch to get back on without a large flat head screwdriver or the official clamp pliers. Both tools are large, heavy and needed for one thing only, so I don’t carry them. Instead I do that kind of work at roadside garages, which are plentiful in most parts of the world and in most cases welcome foreigners on adventure enduro bikes with open arms.
THE TOOL ROLL
The toolkit is absolutely essential for continuing the ride in the event of a failure, and without it spare parts are useless. Therefore the toolkit must never be put into a position where it can be lost during the ride. Storing it into a pannier is less risky than say a bolt-on tool tube on the frame of the bike.
All my stuff currently rides in a cheap tool roll I found on eBay and modified to carry what I need. Basically I just opened up the stitches between some of the slots to make room for my electronic multimeter and chain tool. I also made some Cordura pouches to organize and carry tool bits, 1/4″ and 3/8″ sockets and adapters. They have velcro closures and another velcro to secure them onto the tool roll while giving easy access to the tools. The tool roll came quipped with ridiculously long and dodgy webbing for closing it. I replaced them with heavy duty bungee cords to secure the tool roll when it’s closed. I find the smallest irritations can snowball into monsters on the trail, so it’s better to snip them in the bud if you can. In this case it meant running some extra stitching across the tool slots to have them sit at the correct height and thus avoid ever having to fish for the tools in the field.
I’ve been very strict with never carrying any fluids inside my panniers. With the ultralight setup I decided to break this rule; the tool roll contains thread locker, grease, adhesive, tyre powder etc. They are nasty substances and carry a risk of contaminating camping gear if there is damage to the containers. The way I see it though is that in the field it’s better to have all necessary tools and consumables in one place and easily accessible, instead of several locations around the bike. It’s a real nuisance and risk having to dig around your panniers for a puncture kit when the bike is propped up on a dodgy pile of rocks and the rear wheel is already off. Anyhow, all fluids and powders are double bagged in 90 μm heavy duty zip lock bags and are inside the zippered compartment of the tool roll, which rides at a 45 degree angle at the bottom of my left hand side 15 litre pannier. So in the unlikely event of a container bursting and the liquid running through two plastic barriers and the tool roll, it should end up in the bottom of the pannier without contaminating anything. As a precaution though, I’ve made ultralight waterproof pouches for all my camping gear and will do so also for the tool roll.
Anyhow, the tool roll is not pretty, but it’s functional and very affordable. The life of a tool roll is rather grueling as it spends its time either laid out on dirt or mud or suffers from constant abrasion, greasy tools and oily hands. So I don’t mind the ghetto look. The biggest issue I have with the tool roll is its weight; 382 g including the pouches when empty. That is a lot for a minimalist and I’m currently looking into making an ultralight version with light materials on the inside and maybe just a thin waterproof Cordura on the back.
WHAT’S IN THE ROLL
- Bead buddy Trail, 1 pcs, 18 g
- Bit, hex 3 mm, 1 pcs, 4 g
- Bit, hex 4 mm, 1 pcs, 5 g
- Bit, hex 5 mm, 1 pcs, 6 g
- Bit, hex 6 mm, 1 pcs, 7 g
- Bit, Screwdriver, Flat 5.5 mm, 1 pcs, 5 g
- Bit, Screwdriver, Philips, 1 pcs, 5 g
- Bit, Torx 10 drilled, 1 pcs, 3 g
- Bit, Torx 15, 1 pcs, 4 g
- Bit, Torx 20, 1 pcs, 5 g
- Bit, Torx 25, 1 pcs, 6 g
- Bit, Torx 30, 1 pcs, 8 g
- Chain breaker tool, 1 pcs, 294 g
- Electric multimeter, 1 pcs, 126 g
- Feeler gauges 0.05 -0.35, 1 set, 8 g
- Fork seal doctor, 1 pcs, 16 g
- Fuel tank hose connector plugs, 1 pcs, 6 g
- Leatherman SuperTool, 1 pcs, 286 g
- Magnet, 1 pcs, 36 g
- Pressure stick, 1 pcs, 16 g
- Pump, MTB Handle, 1 pcs, 168 g
- Socket, 1/2” 17 mm, 1 pcs, 64 g
- Socket, 1/2” 19 mm, 1 pcs, 76 g
- Socket, 1/4” 06 mm, 1 pcs, 10 g
- Socket, 1/4” 07 mm, 1 pcs, 12 g
- Socket, 1/4” 08 mm, 1 pcs, 12 g
- Socket, 1/4” 10 mm, 1 pcs, 16 g
- Socket, 1/4” 11 mm, 1 pcs, 20 g
- Socket, 1/4” 12 mm, 1 pcs, 22 g
- Socket, 1/4” 13 mm, 1 pcs, 26 g
- Socket, 1/4” Bit adapter, Bahco, 1 pcs, 16 g
- Socket, 1/4” Hex 8 mm, 1 pcs, 20 g
- Socket, 1/4” T45, 1 pcs, 18 g
- Socket adapter, 3/8” Motion Pro, 1 pcs, 33 g
- Socket adpater, 3/8” => 1/2”, 1 pcs, 44 g
- Socket adpater, 3/8” => 1/4”, 1 pcs, 20 g
- Socket, spark plug KTM 500, 1 pcs, 30 g
- Spanner, 10/13 KTM, 1 pcs, 52 g
- Spanner, 6/10 KTM, 1 pcs, 48 g
- Spanner, ratchet, Bahco 1/4” , 1 pcs, 136 g
- Spanner, ratchet extender, Bahco 1/4” , 1 pcs, 44 g
- Spanner, tyre spoon Motion Pro T-6 27 mm, 1 pcs, 90 g
- Spanner, tyre spoon Motion Pro T-6 32 mm, 1 pcs, 82 g
- Tool roll and tool bags, 1 pcs, 382 g
- Cable ties, 1 pcs, 16 g
- Electrical wire, 1 pcs, 58 g
- Grease, 1 pcs, 32 g
- Loctite, blue 243, 5 ml, 1 pcs, 14 g
- Loctite, green 2701, 10 ml, 1 pcs, 18 g
- Needle, thread and safety pins, 1 pcs, 4 g
- Puncture kit, 1 pcs, 44 g
- Silicone grease, 1 pcs, 20 g
- Tape, electrical, 1 pcs, 28 g
- Tape, gaffer, 1 pcs, 36 g
- Tyre powder 50 ml, 1 pcs, 44 g
- Fuse 10 A, 1 pcs, 3 g
- Fuse 7.5 A, 1 pcs, 3 g
Total weight 2.63 kg
The contents may leave a bit of questions and some may scoff at the extensive lineup being called minimal. The obvious thing is the monstrously large and heavy Leatherman SuperTool, but the thing is that it actually lives in my CamelBak, rather than inside the toolkit. It’s actually pretty handy since it negates the necessity to carry a file, needle nose pliers and a blade, and it’s also quickly accessible for the small odd jobs one needs to deal with every now and then. Another one is the the fact that I carry 1/2″ sockets instead of 3/8″ which would fit directly on the MotionPro T-6 3/8″ socket adapter. The reason is that adding the 3/8″-1/2″ adapter between the socket and the spanner gives just enough clearance to comfortably work on the front sprocket bolt. Additionally the point of carrying the 3/8″ to 1/4″ adapter is to have a little bit of redundancy in case the 1/4″ ratchet breaks or if something needs a bit more leverage to open.
As stated earlier, equipment is a journey of continuous improvement, and this toolkit is far from perfect. For one it’s too heavy, both in terms of the containers and certain tools. The chain tool is very heavy for what it does and I’m looking into replacing it with a Motion Pro Light Weight Chain Breaker and Chain Press Tool, which will also work for pressing the slide plates on the chain links.
One thing I’m sometimes missing is locking adjustable pliers, but so far I have not been able to justify the added weight. An option would be to sacrifice the Leatherman SuperTool for the pliers, but I’d then need to add a few more tools to make up for the gap, and the weight might eventually go up. Ideally I’d like to get the toolkit and consumables to below 2 kg.
All comments, suggestions and criticism is most welcome. Conversation and debate, even heated, will improve us all.