If you’re a motorcycle rider, then more than likely you work on your ride. Some guys do it out of a rusty, old two-drawer toolbox inherited from Dad, a mismatch of metric and SAE sockets with a rusty crescent wrench to the rescue in the tough times all in a tin can of a dirt-floored outdoor shed to match. But there’s nothing sweeter than having the right tools, the right space and the proper setup to make an official zone for bike chores, the man corner in your moto world.Since we work on our bikes here at Dirt Rider, we wanted to have the best setup possible. In reality, we started with just an open warehouse floor, interrupted only by some overhead storage shelving. Since the bays were exactly eight feet wide, this made getting prefabricated benches to slide in a simple task.We turned to RB Components. Through its Spec Alloy division, it manufactures over 200 standardized aluminum and stainless cabinets that come in most desirable combinations. We picked out one base cabinet with a toolbox insert and three standard base units that include adjustable internal shelves, and all fit between our bays perfectly.Next came lighting, and it was a simple task of wiring in some hanging fluorescent lights and switching them on. Think about the lighting and electrical requirements that you might need when building a shop, because before building out is a better time to be getting at the walls and wires than after. We also had access to a compressor line, which we plumbed into our bench area for pneumatic devices and filling tires with air.Above the benches we hung Spec Alloy’s 16-inch overhead cabinets. The trick gas-shock doors are standard and swing vertically to allow for easy storage access. They were simple to install directly into the wall and gave us additional storage overhead while leaving valuable bench space. Take it from us, with four fully filled upper cabinets, you can never have enough storage space (or enough motor oil, chain lube, filter oil, etc.).When it came time for the tools, we hooked up with Mac Tools. With more than 70 years in the tool-making business, Mac makes equipment that is professional grade and its 2000-distributor base reaches automotive shops in mobile tool trucks around the world. We were super impressed with Mac’s roller carts, since we’d be working on multiple projects in different locations in the shop; this way the tools come to us. We built up separate SAE and metric boxes with a full complement of wrenches, sockets and drivers, screwdrivers, pliers and a few high-quality gizmos like snap-ring pliers, punches and torque wrenches. After only a few months of using the tools, we are impressed at how nice it is to use high-quality stuff; they make wrenching much easier and less stressful. Yes, good tools make wrenching fun, tough jobs easy and increase your macho factor almost as much as big tires on your truck. And good tools seem to have an addictive quality as well, as we’re already jonesing for more tools even though we pretty much have all of our basic needs covered. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! Mac Tools should come with a caution label. And having full sets, all the sizes, makes you a powerful mechanic capable of any job. Thanks to your new tools you’ll make new friends and meet interesting people; just check them at the door for anything they might have “forgotten” to take out of their pocket on the way out.Motorcycle applications require a lot of unique, specialized and time-saving tools. There was one sure place to turn for these. Motion Pro has all of the tools that answer the question, “How do I get that off?” From tire irons to blind bearing pullers to seal savers to chain breakers, the company pretty much offers it all-more of those special tools you’d ever imagine or know even existed until you totally need one. Some of the stuff is plain genius, almost magical at replacing the pry-bar, hammer and destruction that usually accompanies parts that don’t want to come apart. Motion Pro also makes T-handles, which are like cheating on the easy-to-get-at fasteners, one step below the golden nuggets of battery-powered tools. Mmm, batteries!
To round out our kit and have a lot of power, we got ahold of Makita’s 18-volt LXT lithium-ion six-tool cordless combo kit. It includes 44 pounds of tools-18-volt 1/2-inch LXT hammer driver/drill, 18-volt 61/2-inch LXT circular saw, 18-volt LXT recipro saw, 18-volt LXT impact driver, 18-volt LXT 41/2-inch cut-off/angle grinder, 18-volt LXT flashlight, two LXT lithium-ion 3.0-amp-hour batteries, a 30-minute rapid charger and a contractor bag (with wheels and telescoping handle)-that will pretty much make you a man with the power-tool-induced baggage. This kit allows one to pretty much drill, cut, grind, put on or take off all you’d ever want to this side of having some pretty specialized stuff. All are 18-volt battery-powered, making them 100 percent mobile; with long-lasting life cycles, these tools grow on you pretty quickly. Trust us when we say that once you begin using them, especially the LXT impact driver, which Karel Kramer coined the “Love Tool” for its ability to quickly and effortlessly remove fasteners. You’ll wonder why you didn’t start using this stuff sooner. And hate the day when you don’t have them to work on your bike. Yes, some of us are even carrying the impact driver to the track with us; love that portability!Our shop was rounded out with the typical day-to-day stuff that we need like funnels, rags, zip-ties, various tubes of silicone, gasket maker, glue, safety wire and all the lubricants we’d ever need. All stocked to stop that mid-job trip to the store that derails a project and kills time. Yet one thing that makes time in the shop more enjoyable is the addition of our Kicker iK500-designed to be the loudest digital portable system available with five-inch woofers and 40-watt stereo amplifiers, it can turn a standard air filter job into a rave with the push a button-the volume one.Jealous? Sure you are. You should be. We’ve basically assembled the dream garage for the motohead, and we love it. Now we’re fighting to get out in the shop and work on our rides rather than dreading it. Great tools and excellent working conditions do that sort of thing to us. And remember, good tools, quality garage time and working on dirt bikes comprise great man time, no matter how cold your dinner is getting.”Karel once said: ‘You’d have a nice garage if it were cleaned up.’ That if is a big part of why you can never have enough space. As it’s cluttered with 25 years’ worth of gear, bikes, tools and a killer set of Randy Skinner cabinets and work benches, I just push one unfinished project aside to make room for the next. Or move one bike out of the way for another. Need gaskets for a 1991 KTM 125? I have them in stock someplace.” -Jimmy“My garage is like public land: shared. I have two roommates who love their golf clubs almost as much as I love my dirt bikes. I keep my stuff off the ground and out of the way on shelves, ceiling racks or in nifty cabinets that actually came with the house. My toolbox is modest and doubles as my track box. I have an old stereo receiver ready to wire up for surround sound, and I’m bidding on motorcycle movie posters on eBay to fancy up the walls. With all the shuffling of stuff, I’m basically the Bureau of Garage Management. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for three years now, and this is the first time I’ve had a garage. It’s not cheap, though. If I told you how much rent was, like me you’d happily wrench next to golf clubs, too.” -Jesse Ziegler“I share a garage with my throttle-happy landlord, ‘Big Air’ Tod Sciacqua. While the space by itself isn’t anything fancy, the abundance of toys inside more than makes up for the lack of dcor. I invaded half of the garage for my bikes and random boxes of bent parts that I’m too cheap to throw away, while Tod’s side of the garage is full of loaners from the ‘other’ magazines for which he tests. We also share some of the space with material for Tod’s motion picture sign shop. The bikes themselves come and go, but we’ve got a pretty constant rotation of motocross bikes, pitbikes, a freestyle bike, mountain bikes, EnduroCross bikes, John Dowd’s race bike and the omnipresent unicycle. It’s pretty much the garage that I always wanted as a kid.” -Chris Denison“I’m lucky to have a pretty great garage. Our house came with a four-car garage (same size as the house, but a lot newer) that’s divided in half. My wife not only lets me have half, but she understands that, for a man, Sears is where you shop. My rollaway, air compressor and polished wrenches were all Christmas and birthday presents. Having contractor buddies who ride is critical. Rob Waite donated the cabinets and mounted the work bench, Tom Wolf painted them and Billy Oulette and Rob made sure I could see what was in them. In addition to regular tools (including a set of cheap stuff for the track), I have the bike bench made on a pattern a reader sent as a tech tip, a parts washer, welding stuff and a small lathe/mill from my father-in-law. It isn’t very pretty, but I can get work done here. But as my buddy Marve says, and like Jimmy’s garage, the law of entropy holds sway here.” -Karel Kramer“My garage is my house, and my tool shed is my garage. When the Dirt Rider offices moved to Anaheim and the Ultimate Garage was just a dream, I knew my plan: Move close to the office and use DR’s bike station creation as my own personal Batcave. I found a converted garage with a loft cheap and close to the office where there’s some shed space to house any commuter dual-sport bikes I’m ‘testing.’ I keep my personal MX bike hidden amid the huge DR Test Fleet at the office.” -Pete Peterson