There’s the old pub debate: do you really need expensive tools?
Some would argue the best toolset is a cheap one and you just replace the bits that break. Others swear by a premium set.
The truth? Well it’s quite easy.
Do you want to round off all your nuts, slip and gouge your fairing or skin your knuckles? If so, buy a really cheap socket set. Nothing will quite fit and you’ll round off your bolts knowing you saved a few quid on your new socket set.
If you want a set of tools that won’t wreck your bike and your patience, then go for a quality set.
Quality doesn’t have to mean expensive. A socket set can help save your money and ensure you make simple tasks like replacing brake pads or fitting a luggage rack that much easier.
Compact sets are handy enough to use around the garage but small enough to take with you if you’re off touring.
If you’re really into working on your bike, then you’ll probably want a more comprehensive set, but if you just want the basics to carry out the odd task, then a toolkit like this is perfect.
Motorcycle Socket Set Buying Guide
- Spark plug sockets: Motorbikes use lots of different size spark plugs so a wide range of sockets is always handy. Some will have a rubber insert to cushion the spark plug's ceramic housing in order to minimise the chances of it cracking.
- Sockets: Modern bikes use metric sizes (mm) and the sockets you'll need will be hex or bi-hex (12-sided). If your set covers sizes from 6 to 22mm then you should be covered for almost everything. The only things that you might need bigger sockets for (and a bigger ratchet) are the wheel spindles, which are usually 27m but single-sided swingarms will be much larger, often 45mm
- Universal joint: A handy way to get into tight spaces. As bikes get smaller those tight spaces become more common.
- Extension bar: The nut you need to get to will be the ones that requires an extension bar, so make sure your kit has one of these.
- Ratchet: All will be reversible but the quality of the ratchet is one of the main differences between a cheap and pricier set. If you'll be using your kit a fair bit, it pays to get a quality ratchet.
- Case: While every socket set will come with a case, some a far better than others. If yours has markings for where each part goes and a foam insert, you'll improve the chances of your sockets being in the place you left them when you next open your set.
- Hex bits: It's always handy if you have a hex bit holder and a quality set of hex bits as it massively extends the use of the toolset, especially if you're touring - it means you don't have to bring separate Allen keys or screwdrivers.
Ideal for most tasks
For only £12, this socket set comes in a robust carry case which makes it ideal for keeping in your workshop or garage without taking up too much space. Containing 10 sockets ranging from 4mm – 13mm and 10 AF sockets, you’ll have everything you need to hand. Accessories included are a ¼” drive bit adaptor, ¼” drive extension bar (75mm), ¼” drive boxer ratchet, ¼” drive spinner handle and 6 ¼” drive shank bits (3 philips and 3 slotted).
Comprehensive set, great price
For just over £30, Bahco have this 34 piece ¼” and ⅜” square socket set. Made from chrome vanadium with a matt chrome-plated finish, this socket set is robust and up to any task. The hexagon and double hexagon sockets are designed to protect the nuts, screws and tools from unnecessary damage by removing pressure from the nut and screw corners and distributing the load more evenly. Coming in a protective, hard plastic case for protection and easy storage.
The portable choice
Wera offer this 38 piece set for £56.00 that’s so small and compact, it’s perfect for taking with you on the bike. The set comes with a practical clip so you can attach it to a belt if you want to take it elsewhere or just to have on hand. The drop-forged, full-steel design and pitched mechanism with 60 teeth allow a small return angle of 6 degrees for precise working. Suitable for ¼” bit and socket take up.
A workshop in a box
At a higher price of £129.95, Facom have this ¼” set which is suitable for a wide range of applications. Compact and portable, the included carry case will fit neatly away when stored. Suitable for left and right handed people, the easy to switch handle of the drive makes light work in the tightest of spaces in any rotation direction. Containing 10 ¼” hex sockets from 5.5mm – 14mm, 7 ¼” hex torx bits plus extension bars and extras, you have everything you need to hand and with the easy to read pictogrammes, you can identify the bit you need without slowing down your work.
Underseat Socket Set
Your bike should come with a toolkit stashed under the seat but even the best ones are pretty basic.
If you’re off touring you might benefit from a more comprehensive set of tools but you might not want o cart all that extra weight around. Never fear! We have a solution.
Pictured above is the Bosch Mini Ratchet Set, which I think is a brilliant bit of kit for bikers. It comes with 6, 7, 8, 10 and 13mm sockets – ideal for nipping up brake caliper bolts, seat retaining bolts, 19 screwdriver bits (for almost everything you can think of) and a cool mini ratcheting spanner and magnetic extension bit. All in a handy cary case. The best bit? It’s ridiculously cheap!
Socket Set FAQs
What size is the rear socket on my Ducati?
The rear axle socket size on most modern Ducatis like the 1098, 1198, 1199 Panigale, 1098 Streetfighter, Multistrada 1200 and Diavel all with a single-sided swingarm is 55mm and the fronts are 30mm. You’ll need a larger ratchet than the one that comes in a small socket set as this will most likely be a 1/4″ drive and you’ll need a 1/2″ drive, not to mention a torque wrench to tighen it back up!
Can I get an imperial and metric socket set?
Yes, some of the larger sets are majority metric but with a smaller set of imperial-sized sockets.
Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this small socket sets guide.