Modern motorcycles rarely, if ever, get supplied with a toolkit as standard. With vintage and classic motorcycles, you’re going to need one sooner or later. Over time almost all older machines lose their toolkits; owners lose them and use them for other things. If you’re incredibly lucky, you might just come across one.
Here’s an example of the sort of thing you might find…chances are this is simply an old tool roll for which the owner has collected the right tools. Note the spoon type tyre levers, King Dick adjustable spanner and Tecalemit grease gun. This kit does actually contain much of what you’ll need, but many manufacturers such as AJS and Matchless, created special tools which were designed for their machines. Many had more than one purpose and were lightweight so they could fit in the limited space available on a motorcycle for tools.
Remember, at one time, motorcycles came with an owners manual that told you how to change tyres, dismantle the engine and gearbox, remove the wheels to repair the brakes and bearings…before putting it all back together ready to ride to work on Monday morning. Modern manuals simply tell you in twenty different languages not to drink the oil or put your bare hands on the engine and exhaust…quite sad really.
I use AMC Classic Spares quite a bit for parts, and Steve has had many of the original multipurpose tools re-manufactured. They look laser cut to me and they’re designed to be carried on the bike. He supplies King Dick spanners, made in England, but you will have to find your own pliers, adjustable spanner, screwdriver and grease gun etc. You’ll find these on eBay and at auto jumbles. When I asked Steve what the tools looked like, he sent me a photo of them, arranged in a manner similar to the layout in the 1950s owners manuals. I’ve added the part numbers to the image so you can easily order what you need from him. He has more tools under the ‘Miscellaneous‘ heading on his website.
Steve also has a tool bag which is similar in style, but better quality than the original. If you look in the AJS and Matchless manuals from the 1950s, the selection of tools does change somewhat. Personally I’d rather have too many than too few, but with modern compounds, removing a tyre to repair a puncture and then reinflating the tyre, is something I’m unlikely to do. Tyres were originally much thinner in construction when compared to the modern ones.
Here’s a page from the 1954 owners manual which shows a selection of tools provided with the motorcycle when you bought it.
The tyre inflators are being re-manufactured too and cost a little under £50 at the time of writing. Original, used ones, are normally £30 or less. If you buy one, it will make your machine look authentic, but I’d advise you to secure it with black tie-wraps as the scallies have a penchant for stealing them. The good ones are again, made in England.
Finally, when assembling your toolkit to keep with you on the bike, remember to wipe each tool thoroughly with an oily rag…or one impregnated with something like ACF-50.