Getting stranded on the side of the road in a car is a headache, but that goes double when a biker has to deal with a breakdown. You have a limited amount of space to carry spares on your bike, so you need to choose each item carefully. Bike breakdowns are about more than having a small emergency toolkit with you – you need to prepare for situations a car or truck driver would never have to deal with. Some of these tools are only required for longer journeys, but we’d suggest that you take an honest look at what you might need from the items listed below to get you out of any awkward situation you find yourself in.
Most new motorcycles come supplied with a basic toolkit, which should be enough for smaller repair or maintenance jobs. If your bike doesn’t come supplied with a toolkit you can always pick one up in a local bike dealership, or motor accessories shop. The issue with generic toolkits is that they usually lack important items like a tire pressure gauge, wire cutter, needle-nose pliers, sturdy hex/Allen keys, jumper cables, disposable gloves, an impact driver, a LED flashlight, a basic ratchet set and a multi-tool of some kind. Your personalized toolkit will be heavier than the store-bought type, but you’ll also have all the tools you might need.
Getting a puncture on a bike is a headache most bikers can happily live without, but they’re an eventuality for us. Obviously you can’t carry a spare tire around with you, so you need to have the right tools to get you home, or to the nearest mechanic if you get a puncture. You won’t have the option of removing the tire to repair it, so you’ll need to physically plug the hole from the outside. You can get a standard tire plugging kit from most motorcycle dealerships, or online from http://www.stopngo.com/, which includes C02 canisters for reinflating the tire. At very least you should carry a canister of Tyre Weld or Fix-A-Flat because these products allow you to temporarily repair the puncture while refinlating your tire at the same time. Just remember that a repaired tire won’t ever be as reliable, or structurally sound, as a new one, so replace the damaged tire as soon as you can afford to.
At the very minimum you should carry a fully charged cell phone, and an emergency charger for it. At least that way you can call for help if you can’t repair the problem yourself, plus you’ll have access to the Apple or Google Maps systems. Also carry some emergency cash, and a credit card too, if you have one. At very worst you can pay for roadside assistance, even though that might leave a small dent in your pride, and in your bank balance.
First Aid Kit
Carrying a First Aid kit is good habit to get into, especially considering that there will eventually be a legal requirement for all bikers to carry one. Ideally you will never need roadside medical assistance yourself, but you may find yourself in a situation where you can help somebody else involved in an accident. Again, you’ll need to customize your kit slightly, ensuring that it contains saline solution, bandages, a sling, disposable latex gloves, burn lotion, hydrogen peroxide, antiseptic wipes, OTC painkillers, and a small emergency blanket.
It’s important to know where to draw the line when it comes to carrying spare parts and emergency items with you. But if you’re considering a long ride then make sure you have spare fuses, headlight and turn signal bulbs, oil, spark plugs, nuts, bolts, screws and a lock. You’ll always find a use for duct tape, and bungee cords, so carry these too.
Sooner or later you’ll get caught out in severe weather of one kind or another, forcing you to stop at the side of the road. In situations like this you’ll be glad you’re carrying a waterproof poncho, an emergency blanket, and a strobe light. At least then you can stay warm and dry, while also signaling for help, or simply ensuring that other motorists can see you parked at the side of the road.
You can’t be prepared for every single roadside situation you might encounter, but carrying the above items on longer rides will ensure you can deal with most of them. Hopefully you’ll never need any of the tools or spares listed here, but it’s always better to have them strapped to your bike than to find yourself looking for them at 2am on some rural road you’ve never been on.
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