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    The Toolbox - What To Carry?Every motorcyclist's nightmare is being stuck on the side of the road, needing only some little thing you should have brought along holding you up, possibly even forcing you to leave your very expensive baby behind while you go to seek help, hoping it'll still be there when you return.

    Thus this little discussion of what your author has found to be Good Things To Have Along. Of course, a complete mechanical and parts shop would be nice, but we have to face the restriction of what will fit in and on the motorcycle. Basically, in the toolbox. Here goes: 

    * Expendables: I always keep at least two fuses on/with my bike. One sits on top of the battery, under the strap. Another is taped to one of the battery wires. And there's usually at least one more in the toolbox, in the film canister with small parts, such as a spare clutch caliper pivot screw, a rear chain master link, a taillight bulb, and a headlight bulb. A roll of electrician's tape, and a few spare nuts and bolts can't hurt, either. For ideas on sizes, just look around the bike for some nuts you'd like never to have to be without. And a little roll of mechanic's/baling wire. A foot or so is good. 25cm. And a SPARK PLUG! New and known-good. Sealed with tape or plastic cap against dirt and moisture. And don't forget to replace it when you use it! And a Throttle Cable - the only one you can't do without. A clutch cable might be nice, too, but if you keep yours lubricated, and checked, it'll last forever. And you can ride without one. But a throttle cable? No way! So I always carry a spare.

    * 2. Tools: first, a 6'/2M length of 14 ga. automotive wire. Stripped on the ends insulated wire. Handy for test jumping and using with your circuit tester as a trouble light.

    * A circuit tester. Mine is a half-burnt out taillight bulb with two short pieces of wire soldered to it. Painted red with nail-polish (not mine! - Honest!) so it can double in a pinch as a taillight. Yours might be a hardware-store screwdriver-style circuit tester. Bulb in the handle, wire with alligator clip hanging out (ground), and you use the tip to probe looking for power. And finally, actual tools. Since space is limited, you need to be small and effective.

    * 1. A good screwdriver. There used to be some dual-bit screw drivers around, one side Philips, the other Slot. Some even included in the factory tools. I'm not sure what the Enfield toolbox provides, but make sure it isn't something that will fall apart the first time you use it. If it's there, and it's sturdy, fine. I carry a Real stubby Philips, and a Long Slot (good for prying, etc. as well) in my toolkit.

    * 2. Pliers. A pair of slip-joint "gas" pliers. The very best can still be found in flea markets in these parts, they were supplied in believe it or not Model T Ford Tool kits. Just a bit shorter than your hand, and strong steel. Wire cutters after a fact as well, although not very good. Quality is important. Look for Japanese or US/Canadian.

    * 3. A knife. A slide-type razor knife, at least. A multi-purpose knife, such as Swiss Army(TM) is much better, but avoid cheap imitations. And eschew the corkscrew for the Philips Head Screwdriver. I try to carry one in my pocket all the time, but sometimes I forget, so my bike toolbox has a hardback razor blade in it, too. Needed for stripping wire, cutting tape, everything up to slitting wrists in truly desperate situations.

    * 4. An Adjustable Wrench/Spanner. The ever-popular US/Canadian-Made Crescent(TM) is still the one of choice - I buy every one I find in yard sales and such. 8" size handles most fasteners. Do Not settle for an el cheapo imitation. Most are awkward, heavy, and slip at the most critical times. A good Crescent(TM) will hold on nuts from wrist-watch sized to the largest it'll fit. (Yes, we used to have a Canadian tool industry, too! Pre-NAFTA/GATT, of course. Now, as is everyone, we're at the mercy of le fromage du chine.)

    * 5. A few One-Size wrench/spanners. A bicycle-style "dogbone" (stamped-out box end) model of the proper size can be invaluable for the rear wheel/chain adjustments. They're short, but usually work if stood upon. There isn't one in the Enfield toolset - they may have included a tube spanner/tommy bar combo, good for fishing weight and throwing at small children. I carry one from (I think) an old Yamaha toolset - or maybe Triumph. It's a good thing to look around for in yard sales, 2nd-hand stores, trunks of old Brit cars at auto wreckers (ah, those were the days), etc. Mine is Not For Sale. If you're lucky enough to find something that embraces your wheel nuts, it's still best to loosen them at home with real tools, then re-tighten with dogbone/standing, so you're always ready.

    * 6. ALLEN WRENCHES - also known as Allen Keys. And keys they are, to success in a nasty place if you find yourself stuck without one. My complaint with the Instruments of The Devil that Allen Screws can be is that, no matter how many Allen wrenches you have, you rarely have the one you need. This doesn't have to be true, if you carefully go over your bike, and ensure that you have a GOOD QUALITY Allen wrench for ever Allen screw you can envision needing for most possibilities.

    * 7. Finally, some open-end or combination wrench/spanners of the common sizes. 10/11 mm, and 12/13, for example. Just envision (see below).

    * 8. A PENLIGHT! With batteries checked regularly. In these days of LED penlights, it's nuts not to have one in your toolbox. I try to carry one in all my fall/winter/spring jackets. Fixing by braille don't cut it!

    * 9. Maybe a Wiring Schematic. With a wiring problem, a map of the universe can be a godsend (not that I just promoted myself, or anything!). So why not print one out? Fold it up and stash it in the casquette. Don't forget to left-click on it when it comes up to make it large, before you hit ctl-P to print. And while you're at it, why not one of the EMS on the other side?

    * 10. The Final Solution. When all else fails, a mobile phone is often the answer. (aka The Yuppie's Choice). But even then, you'll need a charged phone, 3 bars (or whatever it is) and a number to call. A friend (or two) with a pickup truck is good, or a dealership equivalent - open in your time of need. Worst-case scenario is a towing company - the things some of them do with motorcycles you don't want to think about. Still, it IS the last resort - for some!


    This is an imagination game. The idea is to spend some time just staring at your bike, and imagining all the possibilities you can of something going wrong.envision having to deal with on the road - in a nasty, dark, wet place on a day you should have stayed home. 

    For instance, your clutch cable breaks. Big deal, you can learn to ride without one. Start bike, push it along to speed, jump on, punch into 1st, coordinate rpms with roadspeed on changes, it's possible. Broken throttle cable, you're going nowhere. So a throttle cable. And what do you need to change it? Go through the steps. Do you have a screw driver/allen wrench for the twist grip? Is there an intermediate nipple between cable and twist grip. What if it fell out when the cable broke? Maybe you need one of those, too! (This is not to say that it will hurt to have a clutch cable along, as well!)

    No, you can't be prepared for catastrophic big end failure, or God treating you to a look at your piston from the outside, but most nasty situations are in fact just opportunities to exercise your initiative - providing you've done a little bit of PRE-paration. These little bits of preparation can convert disaster into Interesting Experience. How about Headlight goes on a dark night on a lonely road. Got a headlight bulb? What tools would you need to change it? What if it's a wiring failure? Got a test wire to jump?Got a circuit tester? Got a light to see what you're doing? A bit of ingenuity can get you through a lot of bad situations - if you just have that piece of wire/bulb/tape. - And a flashlight/pocket torch.

    Everything stops. No lights, no nada. A simple fuse replacement can save the day. Got a spare? Got more than one? Maybe it'll take two or three to get home.

    Your drive chain breaks. You come to a stop, figure out the problem,walk back down the road, and are actually lucky enough to find it. (9 times out of 10, it just peels off and waits on the road for you.) Got a spare master link? Got the pliers and slot screwdriver necessary to put it back on? Got a piece of wire to feed it through the countershaft sprocket? Got the wrenches necessary to pull the chainguard so you can get at it? (or did you pull your chainguard and put it away like I did the first time this happened to me?)

    You get the picture. A little imagination on the prep side can save you a ton of time, trouble, and grief on the do side. Envision. And prepare. Baden-Powell was right!

    You can check out Pete's great products at his website

    - by Pete Snidal 

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