Trail Riding Toolkit Essentials - A Beginner's Guide

If you intend to start trail riding, you are going to need a toolkit packed with all the essentials. If you ride a road bike, you may be vaguely aware that languishing under your bike’s seat is an OEM toolkit. But because modern bikes are so damn reliable, these kits rarely get used, and are destined for a life gradually developing a dusty white covering as the metal oxidises. And that’s no bad thing – OEM toolkits are usually cheap and fairly nasty, so not using them is just fine.

But trail riding is different to road riding in three definite ways :-

  1.  You will fall off
  2.  You will break bits of the bike
  3.  Those bits may need mending to carry on

Faced with these inevitabilities, it’s your responsibility to carry a decent enough toolkit to sort out any problems you might have out on the trail. Don’t rely on others having tools – that’s just bad etiquette as it’s not others responsibility to sort your problems. OK so if they are your mates, they will chip in and help, but usually with mickey-taking and laughter rather than actual practical help …


Faced with these inevitabilities, it’s your responsibility to carry a decent enough toolkit to sort out any problems you might have out on the trail. Don’t rely on others having tools – that’s just bad etiquette as it’s not others responsibility to sort your problems. OK so if they are your mates, they will chip in and help, but usually with mickey-taking and laughter rather than actual practical help …


The picture above shows the toolkit carried by our man Julian. He’s been riding dirt bikes since primary school, and can be found most weekends bashing the trails with the other members of the Bristol Trail Riders Fellowship, or as this week, taking part in the arduous Welsh 2 Day enduro, 320 miles in what is rapidly looking like monsoon rain.

OK so at first glance, the kit seems large, but in reality it all packs down into the 5 litre add on bag that mounts to his Kreiga backpack . And the beauty of maintaining your bike before you start riding and riding within safe limits, mean most of the kit is rarely used. But the point is it’s there if needed.

So lets look into the detail. Starting with the big bits, one of the main things you need is a first aid kit. Bikes can be mended; you might not be so lucky, so it’s best to carry a patch-up kit. Of course, we carry much more extensive medical kits on our motorcycle expeditions, but for a day out on the trails a generic first aid kit bought from a hiking shop would suffice. You are not looking to perform surgery on the side of the trail, just stick yourself and others together until you get home, and a basic first aid kit will cover everything from an exhaust burn to a bramble cut.  You are up to date on Tetanus jabs aren’t you ???

OK next on the list is the bolt bag – a selection of the bolts that hold your bike together, hose clips, split links, spare plug, washers, grommets – all the usual suspects. KTM do a fantastic aftermarket bolt kit, so if you ride orange get one.

Third up is a set of latex gloves in a bag. If you need to do trail-side mechanics, put them on beforehand as this prevents the inside of your riding gloves becoming lined with grease when the job is complete. Once done, invert them and put them back in the bag to seal away the muck. Simple

Number four on this picture is a towrope or strap. If your bike is terminally ill, you may need a tow to safety. We’ll do another blog on how to tow, but as a quick guide it’s right foot peg on the towing bike to left foot peg on the towed bike. Use a loop on the towing bike but just wrap the strap around the peg of the towed bike and hold it on by standing on it – do not tie it!

The strap we use is one of KTMs packing crate straps – your local dealer will have hundreds of these as every new KTM comes with these holding down the bike, so ask him if he could spare one.

Last in this image is the humble electrical insulation tape – a cure all from mending electrical wires to preventing riding blisters and holding your waterproofs in place around your ankles.  A trail must.


Now into picture two of our trail riding toolkit, and first off are the ubiquitous cable ties. These are useful in so many instances it’s impossible to name them all, but trail riding runs on cable ties and gaffer tape, so get some.

Below this we have spare levers, both brake and clutch, and a spare gear lever. If you run bark busters, lever breaks are relatively rare, but can still happen, so taking spares is smart. Gear levers are always vulnerable, so a spare or old one is worth packing. The two orange items are from the KTM toolkit, a set of simple pliers and a T-bar that holds the KTM sockets, both essential and both useful even if you don’t ride a Katoosh.

OK, on the left we have a spare throttle cable, as you are not going anywhere without one of these, and below that is emery paper for plug cleaning. Completing the picture is a wide elastic band, swiped from the local swimming pool and a small set of Allen keys. Job done.

Last off is the tool roll. It’s good to keep all these together in a roll to prevent them putting holes in your rucksack. From top to bottom we have:

You may have noticed there’s no hand pump of spare tube – that’s because Julian runs mousses in his tyres – if you’re using tubes you will of course need a 21″ tube (can also be used in the rear to get you out of trouble), a hand pump and a small bottle of talc (not essential, but prolongs the life of the tube).

While by no means the definitive toolkit, the above will do most things you are going to need to do on a day out on the trails. We will write another blog soon covering a more extensive toolkit and spares list for the adventure rider traveling far away from home.




So do you take anything else in your trail riding toolkit? Please comment below if you think we’re missing something or if you have any questions for us. Oh, and more thing –  be sure to check out our main website for info on the motorcycle expeditions we operate around the world… we carry all the tools for you on these trips so you don’t need to worry!

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20 comments on “Trail Riding Toolkit Essentials – A Beginner’s Guide

  1. Maybe;
    JB Weld – Radiator Leaks / Cracked engine case repairs
    Chain Breaker/O-Ring Press-together tool (eg. Ballards) and Join Link (as well as your King Link)
    Para Cord makes a great Tow Rope (takes next to no space)
    600mL Water Drink Bottle (Can be used for Fuel, Radiator Water)
    Have a long Fuel Hose breather (Can be used for transferring Fuel)
    Cigarette Lighter (Want to keep warm if broken down, if it ends up a long cold night)
    Compass / Mobile Phone / 2 Way Radio
    Bit of Coat Hanger Wire (for bolts you dont have)
    Bit of Electrical Wire / Fuse
    Headlight Globe (wrapped in Rag)
    Anti Inflammatory Tablets – Can help reduce crash sprain pain (Nurofen)

    for long trips you may want to consider…
    Motion Pro Bead Buddy 2 (helps tube change a lot)
    Clutch Plate/s (incase you wrap cook them on a muddy ride)
    Wheel Bearings
    Carb Pilot Jet (to replace a blocked one)
    Spare Air Filter (incase bike gets drowned)
    Gaffa Tape – Repair ripped seat cover / cracked guard after an off
    Front Chain Sprocket
    Spare Radiator Hoses
    Handle Bar Clamps

    1. All good additions, but don’t forget this was a beginners list Dieter – we don’t want to frighten people off!

  2. Hi there good write up on what to carry, I carry a small multi meter or test light for any electrical faults a small length of wire an assortment of crimp lugs and a few spare fuses to suit. Can you tell me what’s the elastic band for is it for holding your tool together. Cheers Shain

  3. Thanks Shain – good suggestions. The elastic band is for whatever you need – from a broken kickstart return spring to a time-card holder on an enduro.

    1. Now Laurie it’s beer after the ride not during. Ok, so maybe a cheeky one lunchtime if you force us!

      Julian – Ride Expeditions

    1. Sounds like a good addition Bradley – I think that must be what we call Mole Grips in the UK?

      Julian – Ride Expeditions

  4. At least 2-3feet of double sided Velcro 1 inch diameter
    Very light and strong, low cost
    Longer piece can use as tow rope, arm sling, bag mount, you name it endless uses


  5. Blimey I hope your all riding a GS to carry all that gear !
    Keep it simple , levers a must
    One thing no one mentions these days and a real must (unless it’s hydraulic ) are solder less nipples , saved many a day

    1. Bugsy – all this fits into the add-on bag for Kreiga backpack so is not very large at all if packed properly. It allows for all day riding with the chance to make repairs. As regards cables, on a KTM the only cable is the throttle and we carry a spare cable – everything else is hydraulic, but if you run a cable clutch, just stick a spare cable in your airbox.


  6. my emergency kit : israeli army bandage and quickclot or any hemostatic agent…
    And a water to go bottle (you can even drink total shitty water with it 😉 but clear water is tempting and often the most dangerous )..

    I still don’t get it.. Why having a spark plug? This is maybe the only part that never fails…. IMHO and eperience…. for flooding by fuel, irridum my friends… 😉

  7. A pipe cut to the right length or better yet an adjustable section of pipe can facilitate front or rear wheel lifts in case you need to remove either wheel or perform maintenance on chain drive , but only works if you’ve already got a kickstand

    1. Yes – it’s a good one that many people use a cut down aluminium crutch for light weight and adjustability



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