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BMW Motorcycles:

(primarily for Airheads)


Copyright, 2014, R. Fleischer



Before we get into the meat of this article, Here an alphabetical list of terminology.

You can skip this first section if you have no sense of humor right now because you just broke something.......


A machine with various uses, including collecting water from outside air & attempting to mix it with paint.   Some say that it is a machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant hundreds of miles away & transforms that into compressed air, that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench, that grips rusty bolts last tightened 50 years ago by someone, someplace .....and rounds them off nicely.   Air compressors are often used with an Air Wrench (see next item). Compressors are used nowadays with a hand-nozzle to blow small parts into corner areas where they can not be found. This is always accompanied at the same time with a loud expression of Oh Jesus, matter if a Christian....or not.

Air Wrench: 
Tool used with the above item, often used to seriously cross-thread fasteners; to wake up your neighbors;  and to test bolt material strength in a non-laboratory setting.

Allen screw:  
A usually female hex head screw that is designed to frustrate you because it is never marked as to size, nor if Metric or American. Rounding one off does not make for a good day.   A very special female head version with a raised post/tit in the center is especially designed to frustrate your attempts at doing anything but stare at it, for reasons I am unable to describe on a family-type website. See BRISTOL wrench, below.

A device that produces an electrical short that allows 'welding rods' to be stuck to the surface until they glow red. The operator wears a hood he cannot see out of.  An additional feature is that stuck welding rods cause the welding machine to hum tunes.


A device used to destroy circular shaped metal bands that have teeth on one side.

A handy tool for transferring sulfuric acid from an old-fashioned flooded (slosh) battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.  It does double duty for bleaching & destroying blue jeans in small spots. Some are made with glass that are designed to easily break.  Many were specifically made with paper printed charts glued to the float, designed to last only a few years, at which point the chart unrolls, the float sticks, and you need to purchase a new tester.

BRISTOL wrench and BRISTOL screw: 
Bristol wrenches fit Bristol screw heads, for which a exceptionally brief glance seems to appear to be of the Allen type. Those with slightly longer brief glances may even think it is a Torx, or some other new-fangled screw head. The real Bristol screw is designed to PURPOSELY frustrate you.   No auto-parts store clerk or hardware store clerk under the age of 75 has ever heard of the name Bristol Wrench, nor has seen the screw, except some may confuse the name with some woman (perhaps a Wench) or someplace in England. Clerks will look at you weirdly if you ask for a Bristol screw or Bristol wrench.  Asking for a Bristol Allen Wrench is slightly less confounding, but only to those between 80 and 90.  BMW has wisely declined to put Bristol parts on its motorcycles, in favor of a popular (in Germany) method of annoying you.  The only more confounding item are Whitworth nuts, bolts and tools, which are fully understood by those who grew up when England was called Great Britain, a nomenclature that disappeared when the Country decided being nice was nicer.

Bungee cord:
A sort of stretchy thick round rubbery tool, often spectacularly colored, designed to hold pricey Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads on the rear of your motorcycle, where they can be lost, never to be found again except by wild animals. Occasionally used to suddenly stop a motorcycle quickly & spectacularly.   Come in a variety of colors and combination colors, even stripes, which makes them especially noticeable when wrapped-up in spinning wheels.  They have been known to smack someone indiscriminately as they disconnect.


One of the most commonly lost tools. You never know what type & size to purchase after you lose one, & don't understand the numbering system anyway, & neither does the clerk at the store who thinks you are looking for Chuck's keys.

CORDLESS (anything cordless):
Developed to enhance the profit & loss statements of the battery industry.

A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest & flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that fender, fuel tank, etc., that is drying, that you meticulously prepared & painted today.

DRYWALL SCREW:  a very sharp pointed screw specially designed to be left on roadways to puncture tire sidewalls.

Used for levering a motorcycle upward off a hydraulic jack. 


Normally used for spinning steel pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but also is great for drilling mounting holes in fenders just above the brake line that goes to the wheel; if no brake line, well, there is always the tire.

Exhaust finned nut wrench: 
Used with lots of hand-force to destroy exhaust port threads on BMW Airhead Motorcycles.

A common tool of many types that snaps off on angles so that they can't be center-punched for drilling & removing & anyway it is ten times harder than any known drill bit.  It's primary purpose is break itself off in bolts already broken.  Rumors are that these tools are designed & sold by companies who also manufacture cheap poorly-made torque wrenches.

A containment vessel for leaking batteries.

Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise or mustard.  Used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot. All scrapers should be inspected before making sandwiches.

One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked unpredictable motion. The more you attempt to influence it's course, the more dismal your work becomes.

Originally employed as a weapon of war & later in the Greek Olympics, the hammer now-a-days is used as a kind of divining rod to re-locate expensive parts far from the object we are trying to hit with the hammer.  Some say that the real purpose is to discolor your thumb on the hand NOT wielding the hammer, thereby creating new loud phrases. There are many ways of thinking about hammers, here are a few more:
If you can't fix it with a hammer, get a bigger hammer.
If you can't fix it with a hammer, it's an electrical problem.
If you can't fix it with a hammer, it ain't worth fixing.
If it ain't broke, fix it till it is.
If it ain't broke, you're not trying.
If you believe everything you read, you shouldn't read.

Harbor Freight:
A seller of Chinese-made tools & accessories with Americanized names, that may, or may not, fit whatever you hope they will, & that you hope will last for even as many as three uses.  Enticing you are daily, if not hourly, advertisements,  especially tabloid-sized, folded-over, snail-mail sent, 'brochures', and back pages in your spouse's magazines.  These advertisements all have prices that can vary for the SAME specific item...depending on WHERE you got the brochure or advertisement from.  You are not supposed to know about that.   Serious "Harbor-Freighters" save those coupons for what they are, or may be, interested in, & often collect enough for the SAME item, to enable selecting the lowest price for any one item, since the prices are often different depending on where you see the advertising.  Sometimes this pays off mightily...such as for motorcycle lifts...and FREE STUFF!  HF is good for tools you seldom need or do not mind losing.  Serious Wrencher's own something from Harbor Freight that has, mysteriously, held-up over time & use.   A specialty of Harbor Freight is a line of hard-to-read & sometimes INaccurate torque wrenches; so difficult to read that major $$$$ mistakes are possible in their use. Harbor Freight has not missed-the-boat, because they also sell items to fix problems caused by those torque wrenches. Harbor Freight has red cased digital multimeters that are strangely accurate and surprisingly useful, that they often give away, if you purchase ANYthing.   They may offer similar 'deals' on such as scissors, LED lights, etc...all of which can be surprisingly usable items....and all of which are certainly worth their FREE cost to you (unless you must travel to get to the store, or, you purchase something, or many 'somethings').

A tool used to cut hoses 1/2 inch too short.

Used for lowering a motorcycle to the ground after you have installed your new front disc brake setup, trapping the jack handle firmly.  Sometimes used to break fins off oil pans and to crush feet from whatever it is you are lowering.


An ingenious
& substantial round metal device with a hidden internal cam and a square 3/8" drive; used for loosening tight/frozen fasteners, especially on old Japanese motorcycles, or any with phillips or similar looking heads, by using the natural muscle spasm of the operator holding the tool, when his hand, at the webbing between thumb and forefinger, is struck by the hammer in his other hand.  Known to be accompanied by loud screams, often occurring during the brief period of time just after using this tool to remove frozen Bing Carburetor dome screws, during which "he" has broken the ear off the carburetor, due to failure to put a substantial block of metal under that ear.  Not only is the carburetor ear offended, but so are the ears of bystanders.   These bystanders are often female humans.  Motorcycle technicians who are older than the hills, and spent their youth working on the earliest Japanese motorcycles, have permanent and prominent marks on their hands from this tool, facilitated by the small sledge-hammer used in the shop where he learned how numerous swear words can be.

Used to open & slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing seats & motorcycle jackets; has been known to cause visits to places that stitch up wounds.

Items with a name, TORCH, which certain 'foreigners' think means 'flashlight', which confuses them, which goes right along with their confusion about Americans anyway. 
Used extensively for setting various flammable objects in your garage on fire. Handy for igniting the grease inside a brake drum you're trying to get the bearing race out of.  Some use it to heat brake calipers pre-loaded with brake cleaner liquid, which creates PHOSGENE, which will put you in the hospital in a very sick status, but you get time off from work. Don't plan on resuming your cigarette habit afterwards.


A re-named tool since battery powered ones were invented, the original name was telephone.  That was when you could 'tell' it was a phone...and TELL by listening, who it was you might be talking to, or listening to.... or something.  Really early telephones sort-of looked like candlesticks, so the style was named that.  Modern portable versions are used extensively for such as calling your neighbor to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack; or, could he come by and get YOURS off YOU.  At least, you WOULD be calling him....but you left your phone in your car, parked out in the street.  A more important use for modern phones is for testing the Cell Phone System on a rainy night in nowhere's-ville, with a bike that won't start because your battery is older than the hills ...and; your special passenger, never having been on a long ride before, and who you are trying to impress (and is wondering if motorcycling is REALLY fun)....and, you are wondering about the tent & sleeping bag you did not bring along (which would have made the situation tolerable, and even allow a Fun Time, possibly).  (Note:  The cell phone tower is too far away, so the phone wouldn't work anyway).  

For the UNknowing:  A cell phone tower is a tall structure made to look like an off-color lousy-leafed-and-branched tree, that grabs the signal from YOUR cell phone and refuses to pass it constantly or sometimes never, to anyone.   A new type of battery operated phone appeared a few years ago, called a Smart Phone.  The purpose of a Smart Phone is to increase profits tremendously of telephone companies who can't make money on reliable old land-lines.   The method used to extract lots of your money from your wallet is called a Data Plan.  Most Smart Phone users have worn tips on index fingers, have lost their phone on occasion, and have spent, over the years, about half of their retirement money for their Data Plan and/or Roaming features. A few have replaced the special glass screen after testing it against hard objects.  Smart Phone manufacturer's love their customers, because they always want one that is the newest, greatest, does more 'stuff', and costs enough to enrichen the stock owners.

Used to round off bolt heads.   If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

Posi-driv screw; also known as Pozi, and by unmentionable names.  Unique screw that is often tightened or loosened with a Phillips screwdriver (that normally will slip before proper torque can be applied and will damage the screw).  If you have a genuine non-slipping Posi-driv screwdriver, you may consider yourself either a nerd or 'informed'.  If you have a SupaDriv screwdriver, and know the difference from a PoziDriv, you are an Advanced Nerd.  If you know what a Reed & Prince screwdriver is, you ARE a REAL nerd.  If you know what a Frearson screwdriver is, you are so old that you already have ordered a headstone and have a pre-paid funeral contract.  

A tool used to crumple the $$ metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

Razor Blade:
A sharp tool specially designed to create nicks in aluminum castings & associated parts, so that annoying oil leaks will wake you up in the middle of the night from a sound sleep, trying to figure out how to fix them.

Screwdriver, standard flat blade type:
A very versatile tool.  Used for opening paint cans & splashing paint everywhere.  It is normally used on American single slot screws that some idiot used on your metric motorcycle, but also has one really practical use....with a heated red-tip to remove the plastic oil level sight-glass on BMW K-bikes and Oilheads, etc.    Secondary purpose is to check the color of your blood when left in a rear jeans pocket.

Screwdriver, Phillips type:
Specially designed to cam-out when you are removing a screw, and thus you round-out the screw, which never again can have proper torque applied, same as when you just tried.    Many Bing carburetors are equipped with these screws, but most had either one slot screws (very early carburetors), or, have something that only Bing knows the truth about, but might be Pozi-Driv screws, which are NOT Phillips.  Use of a Phillips screwdriver will damage PoziDriv screws.  No one understand tip sizes for ANY of these. Phillips screwdrivers are an abomination, foisted upon the world to confuse & increase the sales of screw removing tools, which mostly do not work well; thus increases the sales of most anything. 
 Available high quality steel models are available at prices designed to make you stop breathing, at least momentarily, by Snap-On, a company that sells products from converted lunch wagons (usually called Roach Coaches).  Snap-On is in the business of selling/accepting long term contractual mortgage payments for its products. Most common use of the Phillips screwdriver is to stab the lids of old-style oil cans and splash oil on your shirt. 

Screwdriver, BMW red-plastic-handle type, found in Airhead tool trays:
Occasionally found in the original two pieces, often found with the reversible metal portion missing.  Slips or cracks when trying to tighten or remove any type of screw.  Does not properly fit Posi-Driv carburetor screws, which is almost the only screw on your motorcycle, except the ones on your instrument pod, which it does not fit correctly anyway.  Is exceptionally good in destroying heads & threads in plastic parts.  Mercedes Benz uses the same Heyco screwdriver in its tool kits that came with its cars.  Some believe that this tool is incorporated into BMW and Mercedes Benz vehicle tool kits as a practical joke........bordering on a private pun, that no one understands anyway.

A manufacturer/distributor of high-quality chrome-plated or polished tools of vast numbers of types, that cost enough to have you visit a loan officer at the bank (or, you may take 'advantage' of Snap-On's "forever" financing).....that are mostly nice to display on the wall to impress visitors to your garage with your status in life; whilst your real working set are actually Sears Craftsman (or; if you are a wannabe, Harbor Freight).  

Even the poorest mechanics always have a FEW Snap-On types used for show-off, at any and all occasions where wannabe Wrenches grovel at your feet, awaiting pearls of wisdom.  

Those that are in the top 30% of income in their Country....or are not married, have no children and live in a hovel...may have a vast collection of Snap-On tools, displayed on Pearl-White vertical boards covering their workroom walls.  These are designed to "WOW" onlookers, unless they belong to the same Country Club.

Ordinary mechanics who own more than a few Snap-On tools are hard-working honest folks actually trying to rise up in their profession and appreciate the best tools money (lots of it) can buy. Folks who own hundreds of Snap-On tools are either retired, or nearly; probably forced to from bankruptcy proceedings; or, in a few more rare instances, have inherited Dad's repair business.  Snap-ON is actually in a strange business... a shiny overpriced product that dazzles wannabees and serious Wrenches alike, and can be sold mostly due to Snap-On's pay-weekly policy; said policy was developed at Harvard Business School by Yale students who failed at being proper humans, a specialty of Yale.  Snap-On sales people show up in their converted Roach Coaches just before or during lunch-time, which is a carefully formulated plot, worked out by many psychologists and psychiatrists.  The Wonderment Of The Age is how one Snap-On man can be at every business in his County, at exactly noon, on the same day.  Rumors that they are clones is seemingly the only answer.    Snap-On also sells rollaway tool chests, the price of even one of which is equal to a modest fraction of the National Debt.  Snap-on tools are of unquestioned quality.    Rumors have it that some Wrench, someplace, actually owns nothing but Snap-On tools, and actually gets away with charging customers 3 times the going labor rate....his tools are prominently displayed through a large window in the Waiting Room (which contains a large flat screen TV, plays only soap operas...or, at least there is no remote control is really hiding in the cashiers desk....).

A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease & grunge buildup on rotating machinery.


A place to store tools that you never need, except for glass battery testers.  Very large tool boxes are for placing in beds of pickups, so as to be more easily lost when you leave the tailgate open. It is helpful to NOT have a sticky rubber bottom pickup bed, and to leave oily greasy residue in the bed.  Master Mechanic Tool Boxes are a very special variant, these are often slangly called Roll-a-ways, because once they are full of Snap-On tools, they have been known to roll-a-way, in the middle of the night, never to be seen (by you) again.  These types are made in many varieties, with the best brands having roller bearings, pricey slides, & large roller feet that might even swivel, usually in the wrong direction, you cannot move the roll-a-way in any sort of straight line once it contains all your tools....that means you will covet and maybe purchase another...eventually....after the USA government pays off the National Debt to China.


Often equipped with strange characters engraved or printed on it, used to test the strength of various fasteners and threaded joints.  Sales 'engineers' spend a lot of time designing these torque wrenches, so that you can more easily WRONGLY interpret engraved or printed figures, on shiny reflective impossible to read metal barrels, and thereby help the other side of their company's business, which is making and selling broken stud removers and other threaded fastener removal items.   Harbor Freight products are particularly good at cause and effect sales.


Mysteriously designed tools used to install or remove like-named mysterious fasteners. These are slowly being phased out as newer mystery fasteners are developed.   There are several types of mystery fasteners that at first glance look like Torx parts, such as your Airhead's rod bolts, but turn out to be a different type (after you ruin the bolt which is a BMW-only part, and never in stock at a BMW dealership).   A special Torx screw has been designed with a raised tit in the middle, purposely to keep your grubby hands out of various electronics products in your home.   The people who designed the Torx security screw are the same ones that ceaselessly design one-way screws of various new types, often tested on men's and woman's public restroom stall doors.  These screw designers all belong to the International Torx S & M Club.

Designed by lamp manufacturer's, and sometimes called a drop light, designed with a handle that seems to be perfect, but becomes extremely slippery with the slightest grease on your hands, so that when you drop it, the lamp breaks. Mostly it is used to support the continuing manufacture of 100 watt incandescent lamps (ooopps...I mean 95 watt, it being illegal to make 100 watt lamps and sell them in the USA).   It may be a source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin", which is not otherwise found under motorcycles at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume light bulbs of whatever type you have installed in it. More often dark than light, its name is some-what misleading, due to a typographical error when originally naming it, the comma between the two words was inadvertently left out.  Many folks can be found shaking these tools as the light goes on and off.   Some folks, including the writer of this drivel, have used it to burn or otherwise damage small but visible places on $$$ motorcycle seats; and have switched to coily-CFL lamps that do not get as hot, but can release mercury into the air, when broken, as they WILL be.


These come in various designs with the main purpose being to bend a perfectly good piece of tubing into various shapes that are good for absolutely nothing, in which you find you now cannot remove the Tubing Bender, and thus must purchase another. 

Indispensable item for removing microscopic whiskers of metal that jumped into your fingers.  Often used with pins from spouses sewing kit, which always has a trigger mechanism to allow the contents to fall onto your greasy garage floor, enabling another cup of coffee and several doughnuts to be consumed before they are all picked up by you.

A handy tool for testing the strength of ground straps & brake lines you forgot to disconnect.

A piece of paper with printing on it, listing complicated methods (typically costing more than the tool originally sold for, including YOUR paying for return shipping) for coping with a tool's insane guarantee.  No one keeps the Warranty paper since it is indecipherable about what it really means & everyone hopes that their tool will last forever.   A Warranty card MAY not necessary with SOME Sears Roebuck (now owned as part of that bastion of quality, K-Mart) tools, providing you can read the smallest print and can interpret the Sears "Warranty Change of the Day" and can understand the difference between the 6235+ makers of Craftsmen products, which might be spelled Craftsman or anything else. I think it now means CRAFTYman's.  There are notable exceptions to Warranties, notable because they are hardly ever noted.   Some manufacturer's have talented Warranty Writers on staff, and some of those have been promoted to top management levels due to their ability to write warranties that either mean nothing, or that have special features that allow the product (already designed to fail at a very certain point of time) to be used as a trade-in, for another similar product, with pricing factored into the original Warranty.  This is cleverly done by the best Writers, so that customers will purchase the same product, at an increasing price, forever.  The very best of these Writers learned at the feet of a vehicle Battery manufacturer salesman, whose brother was the battery production design engineer, & whose cousin was the battery product developer.   They have recently come up with a lighter battery, named for an aunt of one manufacturer, Lillian, which resulted in the battery name of Lithium. These batteries are wonderful, because, at least for the manufacturer, they can be sold for 3 times any other battery type, and can be destroyed by discharging them even once; or using them on 'wrong' chargers.,....which they also own stock well as owning their own chargers (to get you coming and going...).

Once used for older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating the 9/16 or 1/2 inch socket or wrench you've been searching for the last 15 minutes; occasionally they are used to impress people with your background working on unreliable British machinery.   No one outside of old age homes in an ancient country called Great Britain understands the numbers, or how they are used, on ANY Whitworth item.

Cleans rust off old bolts & then throws them somewhere under the workbench at the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls & hard-earned guitar calluses from your fingers in about the time it takes you to say "Ouch....".   Thrown wires have been known to remove eyesight permanently.

A large motor mount & other prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposing the handle.


OK, let's get serious........

You may be thinking of 'jumping in' and purchasing a lot of pricey tools from such as Snap-on. Even if you are planning to be a professional, I do NOT recommend that.

If you do not already have a fair collection of good usable tools, then you COULD go to CostCo or similar and purchase one of the large tool sets for about $100-$150 if you want to make a fast entry into tool ownership.  You will STILL have to purchase some tools.
After purchasing such a big set of tools, OR, DEPENDING ON WHAT YOU ALREADY OWN, I suggest you purchase only what you need at any one time to augment what BMW originally provided in the bike's tool tray items. NOTE that some of the tool tray BMW tools are not needed, or not what you should have.  Purchase tools, from whatever source, that you are SURE you need, perhaps for right now work, and then add to your collection slowly, as your needs and wants change over the years. 

You WILL need at least one torque wrench.   A Sears Craftsman will do fine; a Snap-On is better, but much more expensive.  There are other good brands.   Consider your first torque wrench as a LIFETIME tool, and buy accordingly, even if a Sears Craftsman (many of us have those).  It should read in foot-pounds (perhaps 75 max) and also is nice if it also reads in Nm. To help avoid errors, the type with two little windows is best; and worst is a tubular clicker that has engraving on the shiny barrel, that are confusing and hard to read and understand!   Your torque wrench can be 3/8 or 1/2 inch drive. Consider selecting the drive size based on sockets you already own, if extensive.   I use my 3/8" square drive torque wrench, with max reading about 75 ftlbs, more than any other. You will need two or three extensions, perhaps one a few inches, one 6, one 12 inches.  While it is perfectly OK to purchase used tools if in good basic condition at yard sales, You should NOT do that for the torque wrench.  I advise buying your torque wrench ONLY as brand-new, because you have no good way of determining how much abuse or accuracy it has, & a torque wrench is a CRITICAL tool.  I suggest you put off getting an inch-ounce or inch-pound wrench until it is really going to be needed. You do NOT need expensive tools, except that I would not skimp on the torque wrench, get a decent one. Harbor Freight is NOT the place to purchase a torque wrench.

Both beam and dial and clicker torque wrenches are OK, but do not get a poorly made cheap one.  You need accuracy for some jobs.

Many tools at yard sales are worn-out, but sometimes you find tools that are poor-looking because they are somewhat rusty...and a bit of work with a wire brush will make them very usable.  These may be available very cheaply with a bit of bargaining. 

Initially, be sure you have basic screwdrivers, basic wrenches, a digital multimeter (even the cheapest or free ones from Harbor Freight are quite adequate), a timing light (You do not need the dial adjustable type), feeler gauges,.... and Allen wrenches in metric sizes.   If you intend to open a shop or work for a dealership, you will need more tools.  If working for a dealership, you will find the dealership stocks BMW special tools.

MANY of the BMW-sold tools are NOT expensive....especially the open end and box end type of wrenches....and may be cheaper than even Sears, although not as cheap as Harbor Freight.   BMW tools are made of GOOD HARD METAL.  However, the basic big set from such as CostCo will be better in some respects.  I do think that you should have the NEEDED BMW-sold basic tools to carry on the bike, & a decent set of basic tools at home.  You can skimp by reducing home tools and using standard tool kit BMW bike tools in many, if not most instances. 

To do a good job use the right tool. 

Your BMW Airhead came from the factory with a GOOD, made of high quality metals, tool kit....with ONLY A FEW, probably just two, exceptions.
   This was especially so for the earlier models. 

Here are those exceptions:

(1) The red-plastic-handle-screwdriver with the reversible Phillips/conventional tip, was almost cheap junk...but usable...unless overly torque'd. Keep it if you want to.  LOTS better screwdrivers available.   Note that most of the carburetor top screws are
NOT really true phillips.  See 71-11-1-103-086  well below for deeper discussion.

(2) The BMW provided pliers should be discarded in favor of one more useful and easier to use (the stock one is also typically way too stiffly assembled).

Description of BMW original tool kits as shipped with the motorcycles:

There was a Master Tool Kit, possibly you may have heard it called a PRO tool kit, or Super Tool Kit... part 71-11-1-237-840, that had extra items, & some slightly different versions of the standard tools.   This kit would hardly, in its roll bag, fit your bike's tool tray. DON'T bother purchasing this kit unless you either can't help yourself, or it is amazingly cheap.  SOME of the tools in the Master Kit had different COMBINATIONS of SIZES at each end.  Some of those tools later became the standard for the bike's kits as shipped. In a number of instances some of the original standard tools ordering numbers were superseded by the Master ("super tool kit") part numbers.    Basically, either of those tool kits, regular or Master, are quite adequate for most or at least many needs. The Master Tool Kit contains too many little-to-be-used items, and is really not worth purchasing new. Sometimes there was no visible, or hardly, any difference in the 2 tools that look alike...THAT typically comes up but rarely, & usually it is in the instance of the 27/36 mm dogbone tool. One of the things not so well-known, is that the Master Tool Kit Professionals' tool set had sockets, a test lamp, etc. You are UNlikely to really need or want those particular ones.

BMW included (in the original owners tools) a BMW name & logo printed rag.  Also included was a small open end (both ends) wrench. There were TWO versions of this particular wrench. One version was 7 x 9 mm; the other was 7 x 8 mm.  I STILL, after all these years, do not have full information on why. BMW did have BOTH of those wrenches in a few tool kits; but usually just one or the other.   BMW did the same sort of thing with one other wrench: 10/11 mm & 8/10 mm.  BMW never included any 9 mm socket in the PRO version.  There were some throttle cables with locking nuts with 9, not 10 mm size, & some manufactured very slightly over 10 mm, strangely.  I think the difference came about from what company made the various control cables for BMW.

To properly maintain your Airhead, you won't need but a modest collection of other tools.  You need NOT go overboard on these.   Get tools when needed!

This article lists various tools, and BMW part numbers where I happen to know them.  This article ALSO lists some specialty tools. SOME of these tools really SHOULD be in your bike's tool kit.  NOTE that I have made few attempts recently to check the part numbers against possible later number changes.  Your BMW dealer will do that automatically.    The owners set varied over the years.  Perhaps you already know that a FEW of the tools were changed a bit, or eliminated. For instance, the /5 had a 'rod' used in adjusting the steering head, which was later dropped because the later steering heads used an improved adjustment method.

The points and valves tool assembly was dropped, after an interim period where it was first modified (with a tool being part of it that adjusted the ATE master cylinder piston stroke).   This points  valves and master cylinder tool-in-one is rather neat and takes up very little room in the bike's tool tray.   THERE ARE TWO PHOTOS AND FURTHER DESCRIPTION LATER IN THIS TOOLS ARTICLE.   see:  71-11-9-090-154, below, and paragraph following it too.  That tool is still available, even aftermarket.

Part I: Some tools you can consider, some you WILL want...and some that are a waste of money. Some are NOT needed.   Discussion at various places here on things to know. 

This is NOT a complete & total list of the tools that came with your bike kit.  Pick & choose as needed.   Some tools will NOT be applicable to YOUR bike.    It is a very good idea to inspect your own Airhead & determine just what tools you need at home, & what tools you need on the bike, & in some FEW instances you need two of one size (I have some notes later herein about that sort of thing).   Note that if you mix American and Metric fittings, which is not a good idea for your bike for several reasons, you may have to carry more tools.

BMW has made hardware changes that WILL, or could, affect what tools you carry.  BMW has not announced this as a special SI.  In instances you are purchasing nuts & bolts from BMW, be sure that your new nuts & bolts have the SAME WRENCH SIZE HEADS as your originals.  BMW has made changes to SOME head sizes, USUALLY using the same part number.  As an example, 18 mm heads, instead of the original 19 mm; 16 mm heads, instead of the original 17.   If you find this situation at the dealership, ASK if they have any original 19 or 17 mm; they may be in the same box, as they may have same part number!  There is no good reason you should have to carry both 18 mm & 16 mm wrenches besides the normally carried 19 mm and 17 mm, if you knew about this....and, now you do!  Just be sure to check YOUR BIKE, to be sure you have all the sizes of wrenches (and different types, A/R) as needed.

It is BEST to look at catalogs, including on-line dealer fiche, or see at your dealers screen or the actual tools; or, whatever you have available to you that shows drawings or pictures of any tools, before you go purchasing any.  Again, check the sizes of the tools YOU need, and how many of each.

71-11-1-232-356   This wee wrench is three in one, with a 7 mm & 8 mm at end & middle, respectively, & an open 9 mm at one end.  Not very useful in actual practice, except on earliest airheads somewhat.

71-11-1-237-858   Hook wrench.  You may or may not need/want this one.

71-11-9-090-129   Tubular two ended wrench used at the valve cover acorn nut, & a few other places. There are much better tools.  This tool fits sloppily, but usably, at the acorn nut.  You MAY like to have it in the bike tool tray.  I think this wrench is 15 mm and a sloppy 19 mm.

Five Allen wrenches follow.  You certainly do not need BMW's own, but they are pretty tough.

07-11-9-906-032   8 mm allen wrench; 71-11-1-237-849

07-11-9-906-026   6 mm allen wrench; 71-11-1-237-850

07-11-9-906-020   5 mm allen wrench; 71-11-1-237-851

07-11-9-906-014   4 mm allen....was erroneously sometimes -914 (?),  replaced by 71-11-1-237-852

07-11-9-906-008   3 mm allen wrench;  07-11-1-237-853

71-11-1-230-684   Special two-ended wrench (often called a Dogbone wrench from its appearance).  Fits early 36 mm fork top caps, early fork top center acorn nut, 27 mm headlight ear 'nuts', & 27 mm swing arm lock nuts.  Originally 71-11-1-230-684.  Replaced by 71-11-1-237-857, basically the SAME tool.   Keep reading...there is another size too.  I believe you should own one of these dogbone tools, and if a very late model Airhead, you might need both sizes, explained below.   Modify your tool in accordance with my information, if applicable to your bike.

Very tough metal in the flat portion, can be used with a substantial hammer A/R if using the 36 or 41 mm ends.  The 27 mm end is for emergency use at the swing arm nuts, although OK at the headlight ears.   The 27 mm end may not fit FULLY into MOST swing arm lock nut cavities, which MAY have, upon close inspection, TWO different internal ridge diameters.  Grind or sand, FLATLY & SQUARELY, the outside of the 27 mm end of your tool so it fits fully onto the swing arm thin locknut. Any internal taper just inside the end of this tubular wrench should be GONE when you are finished grinding or sanding.  I NORMALLY DO NOT use the 27 mm end for the swing-arm nuts, as these nuts need about ~72 foot-pounds, a level these dogbone tools will usually not allow before distorting the tubular 27 mm end. At home or in the shop I use a modified 27 mm or 1-1/16" socket for the swing arm pivot locking nuts...see later in this article for photos & comments on the needed modifications to the socket.  Note:  some folks use sockets on the fork tube top nuts.  Be cautious, as sockets are made such that the inside of the working end have a relief taper.  I suggest you sand or use a lathe or grind off SOME of the socket end, so it is FLAT & SQUARE, and there is NO inside taper at the end.  Failure to do this can let the socket slip altogether too easily on the nuts, and round the nut corners, and also cause bruised fingers/hands.

ONE OTHER modification to the dog bone wrench could be considered:

Grind the flat part of the 36 mm end of the wrench for perhaps 90 or 120 degrees circularly across the top, so that the end of this 36 mm end is somewhat thinner; this allows the tool to fit over the top acorn nut withOUT having to remove NOR LOOSEN the handlebars.  See the crudely drawn circled area on the photo below, with the line and arrow showing the direction of grinding thinner.

BMW also sells this style of dogbone wrench with a 41 mm flat end (but same 27 mm tubular hex at other end).  Used on some later Airhead models and for the Earles fork old models.   71-11-2-303-517. 

This photo is of an UNmodified dogbone wrench.....but I've identified the area for thinning the wrench, which I suggest be done on only ONE SIDE of the wrench, best the TOP as shown in the photo.  Bikes vary some, & you don't likely need very much thinning.  Check YOUR bike, to see how much thinning works for you.  This wrench happens to be a 41/27 mm type, but the 36/27 looks the same except the flat end is 36 mm and is stamped 36, not 41.

NOTE!    Some very late model Airheads needed BOTH of these dogbone wrenches.  These particular bikes needed 41 mm for the two forks tops; and 36 mm for the central locking nut at the steering stem.  Be sure you have what you may need.   You do not have to carry any of these dogbone wrenches in the on-bike tool kit.

See part II, below, item #26, for the SOCKET you should have, to fit the 27 mm swing arm nuts, to keep in your home garage tool it is vastly better than the above dog-bone tool...FOR THAT PARTICULAR PURPOSE. 

71-11-9-090-139   Old exhaust pipe hook wrench used for early models through /6 with holes in the nuts.  Don't purchase unless you have the need. You do NOT likely need THAT wrench!   I highly suggest you use an aftermarket wrench if you have finned nuts!  Various exhaust finned nut tools are available.  The best wrench to remove a finned exhaust pipe nut is an AFTERMARKET type.  For emergencies you can purchase a common Strap Wrench at autoparts or tools stores, but these CAN cause damage to the fins although that that can be minimized with a bit of old tin can or part/piece of your leather waist belt.  Some carry some form of exhaust pipe finned nut wrench in the tool tray on the bike.  I NEVER DO, unless taking it along for a TechDay.   DO NOT FAIL TO OWN ONE OF THE AFTERMARKET WRENCHES.  I show three good types below.  YOU WILL use one these tools at least once a year, as YEARLY unfastening, cleaning, & applying fresh antiseize compound is a MUST for the exhaust port finned nuts.

The first photo is of a small tool-tray-sized version of a finned wrench, available from aftermarket suppliers.  It is used with a square drive socket wrench, so you have to carry that tool too.   I did see an Airhead owner who had welded a square nub onto another tool he carried, making it a dual-purpose tool.   If  you actually wanted to measure the torque you are applying, this tool can do that with appropriate calculations....but, so can most other exhaust port finned nut tools!   I do not measure the torque, I tighten by feel.   I use LESS torque than BMW specifies...I believe BMW's spec is too high. To contact cycleworks, use   You MAY want to see the contact information in this article, way below, at #20.


Here is an interesting version made by Guy Hendersen; a good tool. 


Below is what I personally own & use.  Check with your BMW dealership & other sources, as to where to get one like this.  They are substantially-made of cast or forged aluminum. I have seen a version of this tool that had FEWER contacting surfaces, and don't like it all that much.  The one displayed, below, is mine, and contacts MORE fins than most other types, spreading the load better.  For the anal types, you can use a small thin file to make them fit more perfectly, although not absolutely necessary.   These work nicely with a big hammer or small sledgehammer or piece of 2 x 4 lumber or a nearby rock, when you have the extra force need.  I do NOT carry this, nor any other, on my bike.  NOTE that it is certainly possible to put a 3/8" or 1/2" square hole in the handle, and then use a torque wrench; calculations are easy.  I never do, I always tighten by feel, at less torque than BMW says!


71-11-1-237-855    SHORT tire iron, was replaced by -871 which is the longer one.   I prefer my on-bike tool kit, if I have tube type tires, or simply carry things to help others with, have TWO short & ONE long.  BMW discontinued the -855 short irons.  In that instance, I'd purchase and carry THREE BMW long ones, -871.   There are aftermarket tire irons available that are quite good.   Most are much longer, and may not fit your tool tray on the motorcycle.

Tire repair kit:   Type depends on whether or not you have tubes in your tires.  It also depends on if you carry parts to repair other folks 'problems'.  While you WILL want to carry a tire repair kit, I recommend against CO 2  bottles (ANY size).  I HATE those high pressure cylinders; seldom enough of them with you; and a very small 12 volt compressor, see below, is VASTLY better.

Important is something to de-bead the tube-type tire.
  I have made such tools from C-clamps with welded pieces on the anvils, & there are commercial types available of strong light plastic that are cleverly designed.  Others are metal and/or massive.  There are some complete kits...well, almost, of tire irons, patches/plugs, glue, whatever.....available.  These may include a cylinder (via spark plug hole) operated air compressor & they work fine.  You can purchase, very cheaply, under $20, a very small 12 volt electric compressor, these are all made in China.  Remove the innards including the fan, make a plug for it to fit your auxiliary jack....or alligator clips to go directly to the battery.   BOTH of these types of compressors...spark plug hole...or electric... are FAR better to have than the near-worthless BMW hand pump that fits onto pegs for it on the upper left rear frame.  The electric compressors are also available for nearly $80, mounted in a modest sized can/box; I think them a waste of money.   You can purchase small low-cost compressors at such as WalMart, & then remove & toss the case.   WalMart also likely has really small cased versions that need no modifications except the correct BMW accessory plug (if you want that).  Coleman also sells a small compressor that does not need the case removed.   For some other ideas on tire repairs....see:    StopnGo plugs don't work as well with steel corded tires, but if you ream the hole really well on those tires, you can use them, but be prepared to replace the plugs if on a long trip.

Be sure that if you use the cylinder spark plug hole style of compressor, the compressor hose is long enough.  Do NOT forget a bead-breaker.....unless you are confident of using your foot (never good for me, I weigh 150)....or one side of the center-stand or the side-stand, etc.  Be SURE you have practiced!    There are quite a few types of bead-breakers on the market.  I carry my homemade one, made from a very large C-clamp, with some added curved pieces welded to the anvils, ....same shape as the wheel rim it fits the tire right next to the rim.  I really do NOT ADVISE you making one like mine.   I suggest you get yours from bestrestproducts link just below....they have the tire tools you might want or need.

Recommended tire repair tools are also located here:          

71-11-1-230-752   The stock standard on-bike tool bag itself.   This is the one to get if you want one.   The larger bag for the master tool kit was 71-11-1-237-870; and is NLA.

71-11-1-103-092  Pliers w/side cutter.   71-11-1-237-861 is a side cutter only tool.  $$$.   For both, there are better ones from most hardware stores, even Harbor Freight!, and MUCH cheaper  I prefer a good heavier-duty side cutter pliers & a good old-fashioned pump-slip-joint-pliers.  Consider having a side cutter PLUS slip-joint type called a Channel-Lock. BMW's version of the Channel-Lock is 71-11-1-237-862, which replaced 71-11-1-179-522; but probably only the -179-522 is actually available, $$$$, and there are much better available, at much less cost.   

71-11-9-090-154  Feeler gauge & ATE master cylinder adjustment gauge set.  This is a small riveted-together multi-tool item, of good quality.  You don't have to have this tool but these are nice AND SMALL.  NO LONGER AVAILABLE FROM BMW; but possibly are elsewhere's.   Particularly convenient if you have have ignition POINTS where you have little room to work in. For adjusting the valves, a common set of feeler gauges, in 'go, no-go', is nicer. You CAN use this BMW tool for the valves. MANY FOLKS PREFER THIS BMW TOOL!   Minimalists carry just the BMW small standard feeler blades tool. You could also just disassemble any common feeler-gauge set & carry just the minimum.  Sizes you would want are  ~.017" (if you have points), .004" or .005" and one of .008" or .009" for setting valves.  A gauge for spark plugs is part of the -154 tool (but that is for brand-new plugs ONLY, and is NOT the best tool for the job, which requires a wires-type...that is shown below after the -154 tool.  I personally prefer this round circle type of spark plug tool, which has graduated hard wires, they include a bending tool.  Those ARE better, wires do a much more accurate job on worn spark plugs as the grounding electrode gets concaved as the spark plug gap wears.   This is a moot point, because I highly recommend you do NOT EVER change the gap of USED spark plugs.  Even if used just once.  Once a spark plug is run, the ground electrode metal undergoes a metallurgical change; if you try to bend it, you may weaken it; there have been quite rare instances of electrodes breaking off & doing internal engine damage.
A later version of this -154 BMW tool had a gauge for the ATE master cylinder that is under the fuel tank.  
ATE Master Cylinders require an adjustment, which was done with a special U-shaped flat metal tool, that BMW provided in the owner's tools.  This tool sets the master cylinder piston FOR THE FREE PLAY AT THE BARS LEVER. HOWEVER, the real purpose of the tool is to be sure the piston in the master cylinder sticks outwards JUST the correct amount, so the bleed-back hole in the MC is not 'covered'.   The handlebars lever free play, which is not critical, is to be 0.16" to 0.24", as measured where the lever end contacts the casting. When the lever is not under hand pressure, the BARS lever end CONTACTS the bars casting; just to make this measured point clear in your mind.  To set this bar lever free-play, by some published methods, you must remove the fuel tank, insert the special tool (pry off the rubber cover) into the master cylinder after loosening the cable adjuster locknut located at the MC.  There is a groove in the MC piston for this gauge.  Adjust so the tool is JUST free to move, then tighten the locknut. There is nothing OVERLY critical about this tool, but it should be flat, smooth, & the thickness fairly close to the original.  I measured an original one, in case you want to duplicate it:  The thickness of the metal is fairly important, the original one was 0.046"THICK.   The tool length is not important, the original was about 2".  The width of the tool was 0.592".  The slot in the tool's long end was to a depth of 0.642" with a full radius at the bottom; the slot width was 0.363".  It is certainly possible to do the adjustment without the tool.  You can also make the tool of different dimensions, just keep the THICKNESS.  NOTE that you can adjust the master cylinder so the bars lever has more free play, for smaller or less muscular hands.

Here are two types of wire type spark plug tools.  THESE are the type to use for the spark plug.  The one on the left is a bit larger, easier to use, has mm equivalents stamped on the reverse side, is NOT expensive.  The one on the right is an antique of mine.   Photos of spark plug adapter tools for synchronizing carburetors will be found here:

Greg Feeler makes a round cylindrical tool for help in setting the pre-1979 points.  Nice goody, not absolutely necessary, but loved by many. The photo, below, is of a similar points tool, this one came from Northwoods Airheads.  It includes the points gap feeler gauge.  The dimensions of the tools has varied a bit between who made them.   They need to fit smoothly and not excessively tight...nor too loose.  Typically the tool is 0.472" OD and 0.344" ID.  I've seen the ID be up to perhaps 0.352".  Got a lathe? Make one.




Below is a photo of the original & still-made tool by Paul Tavenier, shown on website, but made by Paul. REALLY NICE!

71-11-1-234-860   The classic BMW tire pump that fit on the frame.  You will find this strictly a nostalgia item, as it is a hassle to use...can take an hour to pump up a tire & you risk bending the valve stem.   Preferable is the spark plug adapter type of pump, or, especially, the $12 WalMart or other 12 volt Chinese-made compressors, as noted well above.
Don't bother.

51-25-1-238-375   Cable lock.  Fits in the frame tube under the tank.  Plenty of choices on the market.  Your Airhead's steering head neck has a lock.

71-11-1-103-086   Screwdriver.  Phillips and standard single slot, the single shank reverses for this.  BMW's red-plastic-handled screwdriver that is in the BMW on-bike tool kit, with the reversible insert, probably Heyco, Germany brand, IS FLIMSY, BREAKS, often NOT THE CORRECT TOOL for the carburetor tops!!!....this tool is, instead, a common Phillips!!    Mercedes uses this same worthless tool.  I consider it not my choice; but, read-on:

The cross-point tip is NOT a quality Phillips...nor is it a Pozidriv nor a Reed & Prince tip.  The Reed & Prince, AKA Frearson, has a 75 angle, & thus can be used with all types of matching screw sizes. 

Screwdrivers....for Bing CV carbs:
(well...maybe some additional information....some "teach'n")

BMW supplies a screwdriver 71-11-1-103-086  in the on-bike tool kit, mentioned above.    "Phillips" & standard flat blade ends, reversible.  The 'Phillips' end is NOT a good Phillips, nor is it a PosiDrive nor is it a Reed & Prince tip.  There are better choices, stronger, longer lasting, but it is not always easy to find a screwdriver that is small, and has both phillips and slot ends, and fits your tools bag for the on-bike kit.  Some folks purchase one of the SnapOn types, with assorted hardened magnetic tips that fit inside the handle.  If you have the room and budget, the Snap-On is a QUALITY tool, that almost never wears out the tips.  Snap-On and others have these in a shorty version too. Be sure you have the proper size tips.  The proper Phillips size is #2 for the carburetor top screws WHEN they are Phillips screws.   

BMW carb top " phillips" screws are not always really Phillips screws, they just look that way at a quick first glance. They could be Phillips, OR could be 'PoziDriv' type'...I suppose they could even be other shapes.   The ancient aircraft tip screwdriver called Reed & Prince (Frearson) works relatively nicely on the PoziDriv, of course, does the real Pozi-Driv.   The PoziDriv tip is EXCELLENT for REMOVING the Phillips type, if the Phillips is way tight.   Generally install a real Phillips type with a Phillips screwdriver, but the other types of screwdrivers DO work better.   If the screws are frozen, you can try a variety of ideas.  The Phillips type of screw was DESIGNED to not slip as much as others of its time...but, also designed so the TOOL WILL SLIP after a certain torque is reached.  This is why removing a stuck Phillips screw is so annoying...especially after some wear on the screw or screwdriver.  Methods of adding friction for easier removal includes valve grinding compound for a better grip.   For egregious instances, I use a substantial steel block underneath and an Impakt Driver with the PROPER TIP.   Tips for interchangeable-tip type tools are available from a variety of sources, including Snap-On, whose tips are hardened nicely.  The PoziDriv tip IS available.    Some have installed Allen head screws at the carburetor tops.  They are OK, but don't over-tighten, as many of these have a very small allen & can round-out more easily.   NO MATTER WHAT SCREW YOU INSTALL, put a tiny dab of anti-seize compound on the threads and on the taper.  Some early carburetors had common slot screws.   BMW & Bing may be, and have, shipped EITHER PoziDrive or Phillips sure that your 'screwdriver' fits them.    Remove the screws one at a time, coat the threads...and under head taper...with antiseize....and replace the screws without too much torque; will appreciate these hints much later on.  BMW's red plastic-handled screwdriver that is in the BMW on-bike tool kit, the one with the reversible insert, probably Heyco Germany brand, is NOT NECESSARILY THE CORRECT TOOL for the carburetor tops....this tool is a common Phillips, and not a good one.     The PosiDrive screws generally have some radiating lines to indicate they are not Phillips type.   Note, again, that the Pozi type screwdriver will usually work well on Phillips screws.
Bottom line:  Try to use a screwdriver that, upon close inspection, really fits the screw, wiggle it a bit in the screw...fits?

Here are photos of the Posi-Drive screw, and the matching screwdriver tip.  Note the differences from a Phillips....the nearly flat bottom in the screw and the corresponding flat top of the screwdriver; note also the angles and the extra (lesser) 'splines' in-between the major splines.  If the screw looks the same, and no tick marks, it may be a SupaDriv.

A bit more 'education':
The Frearson (Reed & Prince) screws used a screwdriver with a sharp tip, and a wider angle, thus the screwdrivers could be used on a wide range of screw head sizes.  These are a very old (now) design, not really used since the seventies. The typical use was marine hardware. The Phillips had a more rounded and tapered shape. There is another name, often used with or similar to the PoziDriv (AND, note that this screw is actually NOT POZIDRIVE...there is NO E on the end), and that is SupaDriv.  They seem the same, but while their respective screwdrivers will work with each other, not quite perfectly.  The SupaDrive allows a bit higher torque than the Pozidriv, and the screwdriver can have a modest ANGLE to the screw....thus is nice for overhead use. The POZIDRIV has, tick marks, see photo above.  USE OF A PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER ON THESE SCREWS WILL DAMAGE THE SCREW.

Japanese  JIS B 1012:   These are different, but look like Phillips screws, & CAN be used with a Phillips screwdriver.  These screws are
identified by a single dot or a tiny x, on the head.

The Pozidriv screw and driver combination is unique, and superior to the Phillips. The tip of the driver is blunt, which helps it to seat better into the recess in the screw, unlike the Phillips which comes to a somewhat sharper (but NOT SHARP) point.  This becomes a problem as the tooling that forges the recess in the head of the screws begins to show signs of wear. The recess becomes more and more shallow, which means the driver will bottom-out too soon and will cause the driver to cam-out.   The second unique feature is the large blades on the driver have parallel faces, where the Phillips  blades are tapered. The straight sides of the driver allow additional torque to be exerted without fear of cam-out. A Phillips driver will have problems driving a screw with a Pozi-recess, as a Pozi-driver-screwdriver would have little luck driving a Phillips head screw. It is possible to drive Pozi-drive screws with a Phillips driver, but you will need to grind down the tip slightly, and expect some slipping to occur.

For a much more complete treatment of these, AND various other screw heads:

71-11-1-237-854 PIN (also called a drift).   You need one of these for the holes in your tubular wrenches, and miscl. uses.   Some folks have sharpened one end to a point, other end to a sharp chisel-scraper, having three tools in one. I don't, as I like to use the drift as a drift.  You can use a fat screwdriver blade instead, for turning your tubular wrenches.

71-11-1-237-856  two-ended socket (tubular) wrench, also see 71-11-9-090-105

71-11-1-237-859  point contacts file.  Don't bother owning this.   Filing points is an emergency fix, and I do NOT recommend it except for that emergency use. 

71-11-1-237-860  tire gauge, pencil type.  Don't bother with the BMW tool.   Are better choices.

71-11-1-237-863  Test lamp, called a Control Lamp by BMW.  Don't bother getting the BMW tool.   You can get a simple test lamp with alligator clip on the long lead & a sharp point on the end, from any autoparts store (or Harbor Freight for free or cheap).  Don't get the test lamp type that contains a battery, you will find almost no use for it.   CARRY the non-battery-containing type of test lamp tool on the bike & LEARN HOW TO USE IT!  This is a very simple but VERY USEFUL tool.  It is OFTEN vastly faster & easier to use when tracing an electrical problem.  Shown below are two types, either is fine. 







You don't absolutely need a multi-meter (digital volt-ohm-ammeter-diode tester, etc) to carry on the bike.  If you want one for the bike, get one that is small.    Get a DIGITAL type, not mechanical (analog). You can get a digital type, perhaps for free, from Harbor Freight.  SEE my article  which has all the details. Below photo is of the Harbor Freight freebie, still packaged.  There are two or three versions of these, and all are GOOD.  This particular one has the OFF-ON slider switch.  DO own at least one of these types of tools.

71-11-1-230-000  This thin round rod was used on the OLD /5 style steering head clamp arrangement, to hold the collar. You don't need this and COULD substitute an allen wrench already in the kit.   The /5 parts can be replaced by the /6 type parts, and the steering head is then easier to adjust.   That modification IS recommended by me.

71-11-1-237-872   15 mm x 17 mm fork ring wrench

71-11-1-237-864 through -869:   These are a ratchet handle drive, sockets and extension, and there is NO good reason to purchase them nor to carry them in your bike tool kit.  You probably have similar or better tools from other manufacturer's anyway.  The sockets were, in mm sizes:  13, 12, 10, 6.  That makes them of little use anyway.

71-11-1-237-841   7 mm x 8 mm open end wrench

71-11-1-237-842   10 mm x 11 mm open end wrench

71-11-1-237-843   12 mm x 13 mm open end wrench

07-11-9-999-119   12 mm x 14 mm open end wrench

NOTE that you need TWO wrenches, at the same time, to set the valve clearances:
71-11-1-237-844   14 mm x 17 mm wrench.  GET TWO, carry both.

71-11-1-237-845   17 mm x 19 mm wrench.  GET TWO, carry both.

71-11-1-237-846   24 mm wrench, you only need one.

71-11-1-237-847   10 x 12 box end wrench, which replaces 71-11-1-230-579.  ONE is enough.   

71-11-1-237-848   19 x 22 box end wrench.  You MIGHT want two.

Alternator rotor removal tool for the BMW Bosch Alternators:  ALWAYS carry this alternator rotor removal tool. 
Either get the official BMW tool,  88-88-6-123-600, or get a good substitute from the aftermarket.  DO NOT!!....use the homemade tool as in the photo below, unless you are SURE, absolutely SURE, it will work properly & not bend, NOR COCK SIDEWAYS INSIDE THE ROTOR.   The photo below shows three types of these tools.  The factory tool is similar to the left two types shown. Those are grade 8.8 hardened, and so marked on the heads.  The right-most tool is simply a hardened bolt in grade 8.8 & a hardened roller bearing, used as a spacer pin.  Use of the tool on the right, shown as Not Approved is for absolute emergencies, as there can be a VERY serious problem if dimensions are wrong for the top portion, in either or all the diameter & length & end taper. If you INSIST on making this tool, it must be of grade 8.8 steel or better.  DO NOT use an old drill shank for the upper piece...they can be brittle.  If you have an aftermarket alternator, get the tool that fits properly

If you do NOT use a hardened tool, or in some instances the home-made 2-piece typeas shown in the photo, it may BEND inside of the rotor, & then you are in DEEP trouble.  Besides the stock Bosch rotor, where I recommend you do not use two piece tools as shown...ALSO DO NOT use any such two piece tools in aftermarket rotors, such as the  EnDuraLast Alternator or the Omega Alternator. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!











Part II: Tools you MIGHT want, not necessarily in your on-bike toolkit...but SOME see text.

1.  8 mm SMALL wrench, combination type (that means a 8 mm box end on one end...preferably a 12 point, but harder to find?), and a 8 mm open end on the other end.   You MAY want to BEND this wrench with an oxyacetylene torch.   Use for the diode board nuts and inside the case nuts (if present).     BUT, see item 2, below....

2.  SpinTite (or equivalent brand) TUBULAR wrench, 8 mm hex size 'female socket' on end of the barrel, usually with a wood or plastic handle but METAL handle is better than the plastic handled type that does not have the shank strongly mounted in the plastic.   You might be able to substitute SOME types of 1/4" drive 8 mm sockets, or modify such.   I modify the working end of my tubular  wrenches, so there is NO internal taper that would prevent use on a very thin nuts.  I also grind the outside diameter down a fair amount because I use these tool in tight quarters.   Check your diode board nuts to be sure your tool does or does not require modifications.  This tool is useful not only for the diode board outer (forward) nuts, but in removing other nuts. This type of tool is quite useful for the alternator brush holder, for instance.   A T-handle type is fine but does not fit in the tool tray as nicely.  In the photo below, is a notation on thinning the outside diameter, if need-be, usually to properly fit the diode board nuts.  CHECK your tubular wrench fit at that place.  IF the END of your tubular wrench has a slight INside taper, you might consider sanding it, keeping the end FLAT.   In the below photo, this is one of my 8 mm types, which I KNOW has a good construction INside.

3.  36 mm socket, SQUARED-OFF at the working end as shown below, eliminating the internal taper at that end.  Do this on a lathe, unless you are good at grinding or sanding, as the end MUST BE FLAT AND SQUARE.  See notes on photo.  The comment about pressuring is because the fork springs are often under pressure during installation of the top cap, and hard to push down. You do not have to have the wood piece.   Note that the Dogbone wrench does a good job of loosening and tightening the fork tops, so this socket tool is something for home use, IF you want one. Not a must.

4.  88-88-6-002-560 or equivalent BMW tool to allow a torque wrench to properly fit the driveshaft bolts at the transmission output flange. USUALLY a home tool.   The BMW-sold tool consists of a 3/8" square drive female part with a slit in the side.  Pressed & brazed into that slit is a 12 point 10 mm off-set box end wrench.   That box end wrench was simply a double ended wrench of some sort, cut to be shorter, one end discarded.  When using this tool, typical is to use it straight-out with the torque wrench, not at any angle to the torque wrench. The center-to-center distance of the working ends of this tool, compared mathematically to the distance between the working center of the torque wrench square drive & the center of pressure of the torque wrench handle, will determine the setting THAT WILL BE LOWER  than the torque wrench setting.  The official maximum torque amount is 29 footpounds.  In ALL instances except use at 90, the torque wrench will be set to LESS than 29 ftlbs.  If the tool is at 90 to the tubular torque wrench, there is NO correction needed.    I am fine with using 1 drop of Loctite BLUE on the clean & relatively free of oil threads, then 25 ftlbs.

NOTE:  Old Airheads used a split washer under the bolt head. If you have them, remove the bolts & washers & get new BMW shorter bolts & do NOT use any washer.  Details on this website:

Here's a HINT!....if you don't want to purchase a -560 tool, or a Snap-On adapter, or adaptor of some sort such as shown below, here is how to get by for ZERO cost:    Dig into your tool drawer for a combination 10 mm wrench.  That means it has a 10 mm 12 point box end and the other end is an open wrench.   If you are lucky, you have a more rare wrench, that is 10 mm box at one end and 11 mm box at the other end. That is a preferred wrench for this hint:  The 10 mm 12 point box end fits the driveshaft bolts.  If the other end is a 10 mm open end, simply use that with the 3/8" drive of the torque wrench, and do not let it slip out while in use.  If you use this wrench as an adaptor with your torque-wrench, straight out, you must reduce the torque wrench setting, in accordance with the method shown in my torque wrench article (with notes on being sure).  If you use the wrench as an adaptor with your torque wrench but at 90 degrees to the torque wrench, you need NOT do calculations, just read the value off the torque wrench (29 ftlbs max. for U-joint bolts at the transmission output flange on Airheads).  If you have the rare 10mm/11mm dual box end, the 11 mm BOX end fits the 3/8" square drive of the torque wrench!  I prefer either of the two tools below, or its home-made equivalent.   You CAN use the dual box-end wrench in the on-bike tool tray, with a rag to protect your hand and a GOOD GRUNT, with or without a torque wrench.  Using a known good torque wrench setup IS BEST. Three photos here of the -560 type offset wrench & are the actual factory tools.   The 4th photo, of the flat tool is a small & simple tool, available from cycleworks.NET, that will work well for you. You may have to use a fine file on the square hole to have it fit YOUR wrench perfectly.  It is 1.5 inches center to center, and hardened metal, which I think is laser-cut.

You really don't need to carry these tools in you tool tray on the bike.


There have been rare instances in which someone has questioned just what BMW means by its torque figures.  This question arises now & then for other areas of the bike, not just the output driveshaft bolts.  Using a torque wrench at a limited clearance area of such as the driveshaft U-joint flange bolts requires an adaptor, see above 4 photos, which can add to the working-length of the torque wrench, INcreasing the torque value from that set on the torque wrench, ......unless the adaptor is used at 90.  My torque wrench article describes using extensions more precisely...but, here I  will add brief commentary.  When this question comes up, it almost always is in regards to the tightening method for the 4 driveshaft bolts, that hold the U-joint flange to the transmission output flange.   BMW's torque figures are the value on the bolt itself, whether or not you use an adaptor from the torque wrench to the bolt.  This is standard for industry, & applies unless specifically noted to be different by the manufacturer.  BMW never made this clear & BMW's own wording can be wrongly interpreted.  The factory specified torque is what IS to be applied to the BOLT, & you MUST calculate the adjustment factor for the torque wrench if the adaptor is not used at 90.  In every instance, where the adaptor extends the working distance of the torque wrench, the torque wrench will need to be set to a value LESS than the value of the actual torque you want applied to the bolt head.   I highly suggest that if you use the adaptor, you use it at 90; or, straight-out.  Any angle besides those requires trigonometry calculations.  To make this 100% clear,  if you use the adapter straight out from the torque wrench, you MUST do calculations, but NO trigonometry is needed.

5.   6 mm and 8 mm male Allen Wrenches with 3/8" square drives. The 6mm one is used for adjusting the swing arm with your torque wrench.  The 8 mm one is used at the lower triple clamp bolts.  Home tools.  

6.  Piston ring compressors:   One of the ways of installing pistons is to insert them into the cylinders so only the hole for the piston pin is showing, then install the pin and its locks.  Another method is to leave the piston on the rod when a cylinder is R/R.   You need strong fingernails to compress the rings, and must do so carefully in any do not want to break the fragile rings or damage a piston.   Many prefer a ring compressor tool.  If you are likely to almost never need a ring compressor more than once, and are a cheapskate (perfectly OK in my book), then you can make one from a strip you cut from a metal coffee can; or, use a very large band clamp, etc.    If you want a real ring compressing tool, I suggest you get one that allows it to be used even when the cylinder is partly onto the studs.  That means a compressor with detachable bands.   A nice tool is made by KD Tools, their model 850, a set of bands and handle with excellent adjustability.   About $50-$60 when an internet search.  Whether or not to own such a tool is debatable, unless you do a lot of piston installations.

7.  Torque wrenches.  For your first one, get a GOOD QUALITY tubular 'clicker'. Don't skimp on need this wrench to be reliable, accurate and to last a lifetime.  Snap-On's is lovely, but very pricey.  Craftsman from Sears/K-mart is OK.  Bottom reading is going to be maybe 5 to 8 foot-pounds, top reading of  75 ftlbs.   If you go to 100 or more ftlbs the lower end will be less usable and less accurate.  I recommend EITHER a half inch drive, & obtain a 1/2 to 3/8 inch square drive adapter; or, a 3/8 drive torque wrench, with a 3/8 to 1/2 adapter.  Consider your socket set you already own. You will also want a 6 inch and a 12 inch extension (male-female) in the same drive size as the torque wrench. This allows you to space the torque wrench outward if you need to....even if you already have deep-well sockets.   If you already have an BEAM type torque wrench, of the type that twists a pointer, that is fine but if not a good pricey DIAL-beam type, you should NOT use it for critical things like head nuts; ... SO...if you have a Professional beam type with a round DIAL, that is great.   You can use just about any type of torque wrench for such as the 27 mm swing arm locking nuts as the      setting is not critical.  There ARE places on the motorcycle where a torque considerably over 100 ftlbs is needed, such as at the transmission output flange large nut, and rear drive, but you are unlikely to need it more than once or a few times in your lifetime. 

Some tubular clicker wrenches are hard to read; best to get one with TWO WINDOWS in ftlbs, one in Nm.  SOME have awful faint clicks at low settings.  Do NOT trust tubular clicker wrenches at the lower end of the adjustment  range....that means under about 8% of the maximum setting.

I DISlike the ones with chromed & lightly engraved or stamped tubes that are hard to read;.... you do NOT want to make a mistake in reading YOUR WRENCH!   STORE your torque wrench at a LOW setting, but not below on-scale.   Three articles are on this website on torque wrenches and torque settings:   #71A, 71B, 71C. 

Some folks use a torque wrench at places I use hand-feel.  But, I DO use a more sensitive wrench, such as a inch-pound wrench for some things.  I suggest you tighten pan bolts & ignition ATU nuts with a torque wrench, at least until you develop a fine feel for torque.   Don't use a 8+- to 75 footpound torque wrench, but, instead, use one that was clearly in its range for 72 INCHpounds, for example for pan bolts.  Thus, while you really must have a 75 ftlb maximum torque wrench, whether or not you own a small lower range wrench is up to you. 

Torque wrenches are a primary tool for the home mechanic and the professional.

8A.  Tool to hold crankshaft from moving forward.  If you remove your flywheel for any reason, be sure to set the engine to OT (top dead center, Oberer Totpunkt) first and be sure that OT is STILL in the timing window when replacing the flywheel.   It is a MUST to mechanically block the crankshaft from moving forward before removing a flywheel.  This can be done in several ways, I recommend you do NOT use a towel or stuffed-rag in the timing chest!    A neat method (I invented this one) is to just make a tool out of a piece of 6 mm Allen wrench material, and weld a 1" (or so) steel disc or 'fender washer', maybe 1/16" thick, onto one side, making the length such that its Allen end fits into the alternator bolt, and the disc end presses against the outer timing chest cover.  Usually 3/4 inch overall...>BUT>>  The length should be such that some light pressure can applied by the cover, the cover being screwed back onto the engine LIGHTLY, and the cover can't quite fully be brought back to the engine surface due to this tool's length.   This is for your home tools, ...but....since so small, you could carry it in the tool tray on the bike, but you are UNlikely to ever need it while touring unless to help someone else with a major problem.   Weld it squarely to the straight piece of 6 mm Allen wrench.    The last time I made one of these, I made it to fit my 1983 and 1984 R100RT bikes, and the OVERALL length actually was 3/4". There is a cautionary article on this website, dealing just with the crankshaft problem, with additional details in case you accidentally (?) goof-up.   Go to: article #81, here is a direct clickable link:

   This is the tool I invented and made for myself and a few others.

Don't want to make that tool?   Just use a 8 mm bolt, screw it into the rotor; leave enough of the bolt sticking out of the rotor, so that the front cover will bear on it.  Be sure the bolt is slightly pressured by the outer cover all the time the flywheel is being removed and is removed, and during re-assembly of the flywheel to the crankshaft.  NOTE that the only trouble with using the bolt method is if you rotate the flywheel....the bolt might also rotate, and unscrew enough to allow the flywheel to then move forward...a big NO NO!

8B.  Flywheel holding tool.  Easily made.  This tool allows you to unscrew, or tighten, the 5 flywheel bolts.

See item 24 for more clutch and flywheel tools.

9.    This is a tool that is very simple, solves a real problem, that you may never need, never use.  On the FAIRED models,
BMW uses a tubular (hollow) rivet, to fasten a black plastic trim piece (that contains a clock & voltmeter) to the fairing.   You need a tool to replace rivets or tighten loose rivets for various reasons, such as fairing repairs & installations, loose dash pieces that can cause difficult to find noises, installation of Parabellum windshields that use an additional black plastic cover piece that fastens to two centered BMW rivets, ETC.  The BMW hollow rivets need to be fairly tightly fastened to the fairing, but do not over-tighten.  The problem is how to tighten them.  The secret is very simple!   You obtain a drywall screw.  The proper size is just a wee bit too large in the diameter of the threaded area.  Carefully grind (do not overheat the screw which is very tough unless overheated) the threaded area as in the photo, so that the threaded area will just smoothly enter the 'chuck' of a common pop-rivet installer hand lever tool, using the 3/16" hole diameter chuck.  To use, insert the screw from underneath via fingers or forceps, use the pop-rivet tool on the outside.  The reason to not use over a 1-1/2" screw is so it is easier to insert from underneath.   IF the outside of the rivet does not flatten properly (the inside will be cup-shaped), reverse the screw for the final moderate tightening.   Do all the rivets, there are eight of them.  

HINT:   If installing a Parabellum windscreen, be sure the black plastic cover piece from Parabellum does NOT interfere with the top of the gauges, if it does, sand or file or grind it a bit, otherwise it will make squeaking noises while riding.

10.  You won't find much need for this tool, but when you need it you will cuss without it.  This tool called an impact driver.  The brand I have is named IMPAKDRIVER, made by the H.K. Porter company.  This neat gadget is hit with a metal hammer, while you hold selectable rotational direction (CW or CCW) pressure on the tool.  The hammer blow pushes the tool tip (lots of tips available) into the screw or whatever, and the internal hidden CAM of the tool causes rotation.  This tool was a MUST with old Japanese bikes, using it with CCW force for LOOSENING.  With a few assorted bits you will find it valuable when needed.   Use this one VERY CAUTIOUSLY on such as carburetor top screws (don't break the carburetor!  support the area!).  Good for nuts & bolts, not just screws.   I get this tool out BEFORE I round out a screw head.    This tool has a 3/8" square drive, thus can be used with your sockets, etc!     Just know about this tool.

11.  T-handled Allen wrenches with fairly long Allen shanks.  Get a small assortment of these, you won't need any larger than 6 mm.  Do NOT get the cheap plastic handled ones unless the metal extends, and cross-wise at the handle end.   DO get the METAL handled types.  Most plastic handled ones are not good and will eventually slip. BUY QUALITY.  You will have these for a lifetime and WILL find these valuable.  It is up to you if the tips are the ball type Allen or regular Allen. The ball type can be more versatile but I am not pleased with some for strength and toughness.  I DO use the ball type for the screws at the oil filter cover, when they are not hexhead.   T-handled tools are for your home shop.  SOME folks carry one of these, and a shortened L allen wrench, when on long tours, needed when changing the oil filter.  You can drill the RT fairing for one of those screws if it is hard to get to.  T-handled tools are also made with socket ends, turning them into tubular wrenches.  Be sure the inside depth is good enough, and square the socket ends.

12.  Jumper wires (2).  Keep in your bike tool tray.  You need two types.  The first type is used to bypass the voltage regulator.  It can be 4 or 5 inches of insulated stranded copper conductor wire, 18 ga is OK, nothing critical about wire size.  At each end put a MALE standard 1/4" spade connector.  The second jumper wire is a test lead jumper.  Make this with a standard medium size alligator clip at each end (rubber boot insulator covered).  Maybe 3 feet to 6 feet long.

13.  HINT:  when trying to clean off old gasket from aluminum parts, spray WD40 on the old gasket remnants, or a gasket remover solvent (autoparts stores), and use a plastic scraper, not metal, unless you are very careful.   Plastic blades are available from many sources, including your local auto-parts store.  Remember, it is easy to nick an aluminum surface with a metal razor blade or metal scraper....and those nicks can often be places for oil leaks.

14.  You can substitute certain sizes of tools, SOMETIMES.  Especially since many tools are not perfectly sized. Here are ones to try.    I've even seen folks purposely modify extra wrenches they had....and grind the number off the wrench, and etch the new size onto the wrench.   Remember that this also works with your sockets!
8 mm, which is .315";  try 5/16" which is .3125"
11 mm, which is .433";  try 7/16" which is .4375"
13 mm, which is .512";  try 1/2" which is 0.500"
14 mm, which is .551";  try 9/16" which is .5625"
16 mm, which is .630";  try 5/8" which is .625"
17 mm, which is .669";  try 11/16" which is .6875"
19 mm, which is .748";  try 3/4 inch which is .750" 
27 mm, which is 1.06";  try 1-1/16" which is 1.0625"
30 mm, which is 1.81";  try 1-3/16" which is 1.875"

15.  A credit card & a phone card; maybe a cell phone. Any old cell-phone, whether you have a cell-phone paid service OR NOT, can be used to dial 911 for emergencies.  Emergencies are not that you need gasoline or have a flat tire; although these have been used for that purpose.   Old cell phones for such uses are often available free.  They don't work unless you keep them charged!!

16.  Spark plug shorting tools.  Information AND PHOTO on those, utilized when synchronizing carburetors, will be found here:  Some keep them in the tool tray on the bike.   Here is a source if you don't want to make them:

17.  You may have reason to remove & replace a pin contact in one of BMW's connectors.  BMW has a tool for this:  88-88-6-611-132.   -131 and -133 are also pin removal tools.  These tools are $$.    If you are careful, you can use something like a very thin Jeweler's screwdriver or modified very thin finishing nail.  Push the very thin tool in from the wire end, release the wee tab that sticks out & locks the pins into position to a corresponding notch in the inner body of the connector. The -132 tool, the only one I have specs for, has a 3.75 mm plunger diameter and a 3.9 mm ID barrel...that is 3.9 mm x 4.4 mm OD.  I do not own this tool.  I use a thin jewelers screwdriver. 

18.  Making a CHEAP and useful hydraulic bottle jack modification:

19.  Engine Cooling Fan:  Go to one or more local home heating contractors, until you find a cooperative one ("sure, you can have an old squirrel cage motor, for free").   Heating/cooling contractors are always removing old home heaters & installing new heaters.  MOST of these old heaters contain a perfectly good motor, that has its shaft coming out both ends, and the shafts have mounted to them squirrel-cage type rotary blade fans.   There is a surrounding metal shrouding that you also is all one assembly, and most often that assembly is inside the old heater sheet metal case, which you will have to remove.   Most of these motors are substantial capacitor-start types, with plug tap selection for speeds.   Adapt a power cord.  If needed, make up some sort of simple wood piece to keep your new ENGINE COOLING FAN from rolling about on your garage floor (especially at start-up) & maybe to aim the air output slightly upward.  You now have a powerful adjustable output high volume fan.   Put some chicken wire over the intake ends of the fan, held by sheet metal screws, to prevent things in your shop, like rags, or your dog/cat, from flying into the fans.   The lowest speed setting is usually the correct one.   This type of fan is VERY useful during synchronizing carburetors and for cooling your bike off rapidly for other work.

20. Cylinder stud thread repair:
Ed Korn previously did business as Cycle Works, in Oregon (the town name is Oregon in the State of Wisconsin). He did machine work, designed & made LOTS of tools (& some parts) for everything from the Isetta cars through the /2 era & for all Airheads.  Some were VERY cleverly designed, & he had instructions, videos, ... all sorts of stuff.   Doing a run-through of the website was informative to many folks.  Ed sold the business to Dan Neiner, who runs it as Cycle Works LLC, located at 5805 Haskins Street, Shawnee, KS, 66216   (913) 871-6740. ((NOT .com!!)). The url is:   ((NOT .com!!))      Dan Neiner will sell.....or loan-out.... his version of the cylinder stud hole thread repair TOOL & Helicoil items for $45.   I suggest you review what is on that website. There are a LOT OF TOOLS FOR AIRHEADS, and other BMW bikes. See other areas of my website about Ed.  Also see #22 below.

High Precision Devices (HPD) of Boulder, Colorado, has its own version of the thread repair tool.  Very nice it is too, and uses proprietary inserts.    (303) 447-2558      Costly.  Quality!
Jeff Trapp
There is further information in my REFERENCES article on Jeff.  He will sell tooling, but he also has available a complete "loaner" kit...for repairing bad cylinder stud hole threads. 

NOTE:   ALL these particular thread repair tools (Ed Korn's AND Jeff's) were probably originally inspired by one's made by John Chay.  The background of the cylinder stud thread repair tools goes back to around the year 2000.  Oak (Orlando Okleshen, THE airhead GURU in the USA) and Oak's precision-machinist friend, John, made a very precise tooling/jig for this job.  This tooling became the basis for the ones made by EdKorn and Jeff Trapp.

I had my own crude version in the seventies, made from a bad cylinder & hardened drill guides. The stock cylinder base holes are not precisely-enough located, IMO, & it really is almost better to make a base from scratch.  I have made tooling to repair bad threads at the cases, where the 4 cylinder studs fasten.  You can make your own if you have the machinery.  If you wish to use an old cylinder, use a lathe to cut off the major portion of the cylinder, & some of the spigot.  Then get some long commercial hardened drill guides ($$), drill & ream the base holes, which might be required to be slightly off-centered to be perfect, as required. NOTE that the existing cylinder base holes are not perfect, and while you probably can get away with just center-drilling; better is to index & measure the dimensions, drill & ream them to fit the purchased hardened $$ guides.  Do your machining for these holes precisely, and at exactly 90 degrees. You really need to do all this very precisely on such as a Mill.  Stud centers are 93 mm x 72 mm, & I suggest you leave some of the spigot, note that there are early sizes of 97 mm, and all later ones are 99 mm. Unless you have the machinery to make things in a precise manner, and wish to spend the money on the hardened guides, you are best advised to see the above sources, to purchase or rent, if you need to repair 'pulled studs'.            

WARNING!   There have been instances of badly damaged motors from failure to remove all chips from drilling and tapping operations from the engine block, ...and from the oil pan!  Remove pan and clean out; clean the threaded holes from inside not just outside.  I often use compressed air to do it.

21.  Tool for the conrod bolts:   This is a 10 mm triple-fluted tool, which looks something like a Torx.  One description of this tool, the one NAPA uses, is "10 mm, 12 point, fluted wrench".   You will use this tool with a 13 mm or 1/2" socket.  The NAPA part number for the tool is #2305.  The tool is also available from Cycleworks, see above.

22.  SEALS & BEARING PULLERS:  On later wheels to 1984, outer races are removed mechanically & hubs are NOT heated for this, although modest heat is not injurious.  An exception is the 1978 REAR DRUM BRAKE SNOWFLAKE WHEEL.  ALL earlier wheels MUST be heated. Contact cycleworks, see #20 above, for a clever tool for removing wheel bearing outer races (also works for swing arm bearing outer races); or, have a mechanic with the correct puller; even a dealership; do it for you.   For those with larger wallets, get the Kukko puller, which works well in such blind holes, where the inner edge of the outer race is not easily grippable...usually due to it having the same diameter as the surrounding supporting metal.  The Kukko needed is #21/5, used with the #22/2 'bridge'.  With a 21/6 puller, same bridge, you can do the steering head bearings.    NOTE that some axles, such as your front axle, may be very useful!

You may have occasion to remove a seal; or a bearing, etc.   The Kukko tools, above, are nice, but if your wallet is small, you might be interested in cheaper items.   Harbor Freight also has an inexpensive equivalent for the above BLIND HOLE puller.   I do not know if they sell kits with attachments that are large enough.... adapters?.....  to fit such as the outer races in the wheels.

For SEALS, such as for the crankshaft seal, transmission input shaft seal, & many others, you may be able to use a small punched or drilled hole in the metal seal, & screw-in a drywall or sheet metal type screw, & pry on it.  Often some HEAT helps.   For some situations you might want to purchase a cheap seal puller, like the Lisle 58430, check the Internet for that cheap tool.   Harbor Freight does have an inexpensive seal puller, like the Lisle.  Here is a photo of that SEAL puller:

23.  Various types of rubber tipped tools are available for greasing the swing arm, via greasing into the Allen wrench hex recess of the adjustor pin.   See chainsaw dealers for a chain saw greasing tool. Napa sells a rubber tipped air blow gun nozzle #90-583.  Napa also has a replacement tip 715-1201 which is for the 715-1217.  They carry a couple other types of tip tools, one of which can use the 715-1217.  These are actually greasing tool items.

24.  There is a factory tool to help line up the clutch disc.  You don't have to have one, as your eyeball is possibly good enough. CycleWorks probably has one available.   You can also get them from other sources. has several versions.   If you want to make this type of tool, here is MY version (see the RIGHT MOST item in the photo, below:  

The tool, overall, is roughly 133 mm long. Starting at the taper tip:   The non-tapered portion of the tip is 8.2 mm diameter and 5 mm long. The taper is a simple rounding, or, just do a 90 tip, not sharp though.  So, with taper, the tip is a tad longer than 5mm...maybe 8 or 10 or whatever.   Back of the tip is the second section:   29 mm long by 20.7 mm in diameter. The 'handle' portion is 95 mm long and 22 mm in diameter.   
Hyperlink to a drawing/sketch of that tool, for your machinist (or?): TOOL.pdf

Here is a photo of some of the factory clutch/flywheel release/removal tools, AND, of that clutch disc alignment tool.  Clutch release tools are not needed for the 1981+ type clutches.


See also 8A and 8B, above


25.  Homemade universal shock absorber tool.   Simple adapters to fit the coils are not shown here. You do NOT have to have this tool.  YOU CAN make a quite adequate one from TWO round "Floor Flanges" which you can get from any plumbing or hardware store.  With two pieces of all-thread; some nuts and washers, that is all you need.  For some shocks, you bore/drill out the center hole in the floor flanges some.  You do NOT need the mounting eye holder & the plate, marked in red in the below photo, which is in MY slightly more fancy tool.  You will save a lot of effort by just buying the floor flanges.  I happened to have metal, & machinery to make what is below, you do NOT NEED TO!  If you want the cat's meow tool, get an Ohlins shock absorber tool.  In the below photo of a quickly-made tool I made, the top plate is flat, not counter-bored below.  I did not have a lathe nor mill available to me at the time.  By making the underside of the plate have a milled area that is of approximately the diameter of the spring diameter, yet that lathe made or milled area is on the underside ONLY, then the top plate will not 'walk' from the spring moving sideways, which is a Pain In The Ass using my tool without it.   Make the top plate of rather thick material, aluminum is OK, half-inch or more is a good thickness, and add the underside counterbore will be GLAD you did.  If making another top plate today, I'd use my lathe, probably make it 3/4" thick aluminum, and with a goodly deep counterbore area.

26.  27 mm or 1-1/16" socket 1/2" square drive.  Modified.  Home tool.  This is for the swing arm nuts and you MUST modify the socket OD (to enable fitting all the swing arm cavities), and square the end (eliminates the internal taper).  12 point is FAR the outer walls are much stronger after modifications. Use a lathe, or grind, sand, etc., the open 12 point end, so that there is NO internal taper at the very end, in other words, flatten/square that end off.  BE SURE that it is SQUARE to the main don't want it fitting poorly onto the thin nut of the swing arm. Do this step first.  MUCH neater if you do it on a lathe.    THEN: Use a lathe, or grinding wheel, etc., and make the O.D. 1.35"  for a distance of ~11/16" from the 12 point end.  This is not critical, but the diameter must be small enough to allow the socket to fit into your airhead swing arm frame cavity...past the TWO diameters there (on most).   This is a FAR better tool than trying to use the 27 mm tubular end of the dogbone wrench!  A 1-1/16th inch socket will also fit properly, if modified in the same way as in the photo below.  NOTE:  You do not have to use a 1/2" square drive, you CAN use a 3/8" square drive, if that is what your sockets & wrench already are.  Cycle works has this and MANY other tools for sale.


28.  I am sometimes asked about how to deal with the /7 type fork lowers, with the 13 mm nut with the Allen wrench hex in the middle.  If you try to loosen the nut, the allen bolt rotates.    I have two solutions.  One is to modify a deep socket for a slot along the side, into which you can insert the short end of a common Allen wrench.  The other is to purchase an offset socket wrench.  McMaster-Carr has one, item 7247A52.

29.  Type of broken screw/bolt extractor that I use.  Don't know the name of this type, but they are often called stud removal tools, and my set in the photo came from Bridgestone Tools, a very long time ago.  They do not break as easy as an EZ-OUT brand (long removing tool) does.  SNAP-ON has SIMILAR extractors.   Ask me about proper usage of these types of tools; when to use a Dremel, or when to use an Electric Discharge Machining (EDM).  I have used EZ-OUTS, & many others, successfully.  You can too, if you are LUCKY and CAREFUL.  OVER torqueing these causes headaches.

30.   11-42-1-335-394   special 23 mm bolt for filling the thermostat/cooler during oil changes when you ARE changing the oil filter, or have, for whatever reason, disconnected and drained the cooler.   Using this tool will prevent the rare damage to a cooler radiator from high impulse pressures at engine startup when the oil is very cold....this is a really rare occurrence, and probably occurs more when someone blips the throttle excessively (higher than 1500 rpm??) during quite cold startup with an empty radiator.
****Do NOT use if longer than 23 mm!!!  MUST have a goodly radius nose!

In the below photo, the short PROPER bolt, marked 23 mm in the photo, actually measured, from under the head to the tip, 0.918".   The longer, WRONG bolt, measured 1.184" from under the head to the tip.   THE LONGER ONES WERE ALSO MADE BY BMW AND ARE NOT TO BE USED!   Both bolts are shown with the noses rounded (radius'd), and this is necessary.  THE NOSE MUST NOT BE SHARP edged nor pointy sharp, not even close to that! 
I like the nose (tip area) slightly more rounded than as shown below; and I polish mine.  



1.  Another source for tools:   Limited number of items, but includes a seat hinge fix; some specialty wrenches and sockets, etc.  ....I do SUGGEST you look; and his prices are quite reasonable.

32.  When adjusting the valves on pre-1985 models, it can be helpful, when adjusting rocker end play, to have a couple of very simple washer tools made up.  A photo of these, and how to use them, is in the article.  I suggest you read the article, then decide whether or not to make these simple washers.

33.  Tools for emergency shifting of the 5 speed transmission when the pawl spring breaks.
This is a tool I MIGHT recommend for riders that are world adventure travelers.

34.   A tool rarely needed, is a mandrel for installing pushrod tubes.  Seibenrock makes a pushrod tube mandrel...I have NOT inspected one of these.  A front axle may work for you.

35.   Degree wheels and piston stops:   You may never have a need for these.  If you do, you will find description and photos, here:,OT,S,Z.htm

36.  Clutch disc centering tool.  Not truly absolutely necessary:

37.  Adjustment tool for use in setting rocker end play, see

NOTE:  Very special tools are used for certain jobs.  Generally speaking, if there is an article on my website needing a very specific tool, the tool is in that article.   Sometimes you can borrow a tool that you need perhaps once or twice in a lifetime.  Rental of the tools/jigs to fix cylinder stud stripped holes are listed well above in this article.  There are very special tools required to do certain jobs, such as shimming transmissions and rear drives, and maybe a dozen total specialty jobs in all that require special tools.

updated all to 03/01/2006, minor clarifications...and add #22 entirely.
04/22/2006:  add #23.
04/23/2006:  add emphasis note on screwdrivers for the Bing tops
04/24/2006:  modify that note
08/15/2006:  Edit #20
09/24/2006:  minor clarifications
04/17/2007:  add #24
05/08/2007:  Add photo to #24 and add #25 (3 photos)
05/11/2007:  Add hyperlink in #8, clarify some minor details here and there.
08/14/2007:  Joe's Tools hyperlink/url obtained, item 20
01/19/2008:   Update 20, 22
10/08/2008:   edit article for clarity, add #26, etc.  NO errors in the article, just clarifications needed.
12/30/2008:   Add information about Jeff Trapp
04/19/2009:   Add 27
05/01/2009:   Add pdf drawing to item 24
05/21/2009:  Clarify number and use for the 41 x 27 mm dogbone
03/09/2010:  add information on Jeff Trapp's loaning of cylinder stud threads fix kit.
03/12/2010:  add information on Dan Neiner's offer to loan the cylinder stud tool
03/13/2010:  Update item 20 in depth; move one item to new #29
04/25/2010:  Add photos of Posi-Drive screwdriver tip and screw
07/03/2010:  41 mm dogbone wrench part #.  Add 36 mm socket photo.  Clarify details on socket and dogbone wrenches.
02/27/2011:   fix HPD url
03/17/2011:  add note to #28, and some minor updates elsewhere's.
09/03/2011:  add photo of the impact driver, which was not hyperlinked originally either
03/28/2012:  add info to #24
04/26/2012:  Remove photo of dogbone tool, spoke tool, Schrader valve tool, rear drive ring tool. Re-arrange numerous items, add individual photos on some of these items; add more commentary on what to get and NOT what to get.
04/28/2012:  Finish cleaning up article
07/10/2012:  Add 32
07/15/2012:  Add 33
08/08/2012:  Add photos of exhaust finned nut tools and some commentary and links; re-arrange some items, and generally do a lot of cleanup.
08/24/2012:  re-arrange top part of article, and add a few things
10/02/2012:  Add photos and text regarding the BMW feeler gauge tool; add QR code, add language button, update Google code
11/15/2012:  Clean up article.  Minor improvements; numerous clarity improvements; change article width so better works with smaller screens.   Repair unclosed html tags, etc.
01/16/2013:   Expand 25
03/08/2013:   Add Esoteric section
11/16 & 22, 2013:   All for item 22:  Add more on pullers; including seal puller photo, clean up wording.
11/29/2013:  add notes on making the shock spring compressor better.
Sometime in 2013:  remove language button, as the javascript was causing problems with some browsers.
04/01/2014:  Improve clarity in a few areas.
05/04/2014:  Add #34, which was noted in my head assembly article but erroneously not put in the tools article.
05/21/2014:   Add#35
07/08/2014:  Add warning note on removing chips, etc., to item #20.
08/11/2014:  Add Cen-Tech photo.
09/30/2014:  Clean up article
10/25/2014:  add note to #4, in Part II.
02/12/2015:  Modify photo of rotor tools to include NOT APPROVED.  Edit associated text.
02/17/2015:  #13 had been blank.
02/28/2015:  Clarify use of torque wrench adaptors.
06/19/2015:  Add note for tire repair article
06/22/2015:  Add torque wrench adaptor info and photo
08/10/2015:  Fix hyperlinks for cylinder stud repairs items
08/16/2015:  MINOR clarifications and a final cleanup on 09/15/2015
10/04/2015:  Add hyperlink for spark plug shorting tool source:
11/01/2015:  Add #9, which had been previously deleted/moved.
12/24/2015:  Meta codes; clean up entire article, clarify some details, improve for smaller screens.
01/06/2016:  Meta-codes updated. Fonts increased.  Left side justification mode intensified, horizontal lines characteristics changed....and, some clarifications and updating.
03/27/2016:  Add #37
04/12/2016:  Completely updated.  Metacodes, colors, layout, fonts, clarifications, dogbone photo annotated, etc.
11/26/2016:  Add .gif of screw heads.

Copyright, 2014, R. Fleischer

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Last check/edit: Saturday, November 26, 2016