Modular Tool Kit Ideas
Back to the Library
After I re-did my tool kit with an eye toward modular parts, I had a few people ask me about it, so here is what I'm using.
The main thing I wanted to accomplish was to make as many driver ends interchange with a good variety of handles. The more times I've done roadside or campside repairs or lent assistance to same, the more I discover there is always a hard thing to reach, a hard angle to get leverage on, etc. To that end I started looking at various handles that would allow me different kinds of access and leverage. This is the result at present, though it is always a work in progress.
As long as I'm cataloguing this I thought I'd go over the whole kit in the hopes that it might offer ideas to anyone else out there building or tweaking a toolkit. Links provided along the way.
So here it is:
In this itteration of the kit I needed a zippered pocket to take care of all the little adapters and other little bits I wanted to keep in the kit. The best option I found for my needs is the Kriega Tool Roll, which while a little more expensive than I'd like for an empty roll, is really soundly made and durable.
I later found this very nice roll available with or without tools from TrailToolz, when I undertook to make a second kit like this for my homie Juno. The TrailToolz roll aalso has a zippered pocket, though not quite as big as the Kriega pocket.
It unfolds thusly:
My basic non modular tools are pretty standard:
You'll notice the majority of my tools all have an orange electrical tape wrap on them. This helps with two things:
1) Most tools are black. Most roads and most parking lots are black. It's much easier to not lose things when they are easy to see.
2) Most tools look a like. When a bunch of people are helping, the tools come flying out. Its hard to know you got your stuff back, or who's is who's, but not as hard if your tools all have orange tape on them. But you should pick your own color, cause orange is mine, you copy cat.
There are some other non-standard things I keep in there too.
Now onto the modular tools.
The first is not fancy at all. Your standard screwdriver.
But of course you want to get one with a bunch of bits stored in it. There are a million varieties.
Next the modular handles that share bits
The first is a wee racheting handle, from Neiko which takes hex bits right in the drive opening, thought its rare to be able to get away with such a short depth on bike parts. With the addition of a 1/4"-hex extender you can get better reach with the screw driver bits.
Swap the hex extender for a 1/4" to 1/4" socket drive, you're ready to turn nuts
Add the 1/4" to 3/8" adapter on there, and you can tackle larger bolts, use your friends sockets, or if you need something from a hardware store, you can buy the seemingly more common 3/8" drive kind.
Next up is the palm ratchet, which you often see in hardware store check out lines, and I might never have looked twice at if I hadn't seen one in action tighting a hose clamp on a replacement fuel filter that was otherwise hard to reach, next to a campsite on the Columbia river. I'm a fan now. They're awesome. They give you just enough to grab, and ratchet action in those tight places. 1/4" drive on it for sockets.
Or use the 1/4" to hex adapter for allen heads and screws.
I first saw a collapsable T-handle at a maintenence class, and I thought it was a great idea for getting maximum leverage in a small form factor. Mine is one piece, and folds up into two parallel bars for storage as shown above. It has a 1/4" drive, and came with a handful of 1/4" drive metric sockets. Comes from Motion Pro.
Here we see the options for the T-Handle with bit driver:
And of course you've intuited by now that it also works with the sockets that it came with, and the 3/8" adapter for larger sockets too.
TrailToolz also makes a nice 1/4" drive T-handle with sockets, though it comes apart into two seperate pieces instead of a hinged connection.
The TrailToolz version comes with more sockets, including screw driver bits, which would obviate the need for a bit adapter, but each one is larger since it has its own 1/4" socket base built in. I find these to be bulky and space wasters for this small kit
The newest of this same style that I've seen is from Aerostitch, the VersaTool. The VersaTool doesn't come with sockets but it does come with a good selection of basic driver bits.
Anyway, get a T-handle, they're great
Strangely enough, the hardest components of this kit design to find are a good set of allen/hex head bits in 1/4" hex drive. Allen wrenches mounted on 1/4" square sockets seem far more popular at the hardware stores, but as mentioned I find them too bulky for a moto-tool pack. Luckily I found a decent set that goes up to 8mm, and if you chuck all the useless Torx bits, leaves enough space in the little holder to put a selection of slotted and phillips point screw driver bits in too. Luckily those are easy to find in this form factor
Incidentally if you want a really nice set, and don't mind paying for the quality, I've found that Wiha makes a nice little kit.
The only other thing I'm missing that I usually have, is some heat shrink tubing, but I've used mine up and need to replenish. I should probably have more electrical repair bits in there too, but since I hardly know what I'm doing when it comes to bike electrics, I don't think there are many roadside failures I could fix anyway. .. the knowledge would limit me more than lack of tools. Ask Iko if you want more ideas, as I believe he packs some cruimpers and wires, and whatnot. If it goes beyond a spare fuse, I'm cluesless.