What do you carry for spare parts?

Although I do all my own maintenance on my FJR, I left the throttle cables to the dealer. My understanding is that the time to do the job is about 3 hours; not something I want to undertake on the road. If I was so unsure about the state of the cables, I would just replace them, not carry spares. I keep my bike well maintained and changed my cables for the first time at about 275,000 Km's.

Most of the other comments above are spot on. Take only the tools that have application to your bike and for jobs that you would undertake if needed. Plus the easy stuff like a bit of electrical tape, fuses, zip ties etc. I also keep my shop manual in PDF form on my phone and tablet.

If your bike is prone to specific issues, know what they are, know the symptoms if they're not obvious, and know how to fix them. For example, I knew that the older FJR's had issues with ignition switches so I read up about the fix and created a PDF document on the procedure to hot wire the ignition to get me home. As it turned out, that exact issue came up in rural Colorado. I was able to patch things nicely until I got home and replaced the switch. The interruption to my ride was no more than an hour or so.
All very good suggestions. I might add this gem I learned from Dick Fish.
He took the the factory tool kit (not all manufacturer's supply one) and replaced each component with one that could either do double duty or was of higher quality. From there, adding tools that were motorcycle specific was his norm.

In that way, he could replace a touring European motorcyclist's KLR "too-hickey," while on the road in northers areas (I"m uncertain if it was Alaska or the Yukon or NWT and was fully capable of replacing the rear drive of his BMW on-the-side-of-the-road.
On my longer rides, I carry the tools that can access all switches and fuses. I also carry electrical tape, gorilla tape, zip ties. and for parts on my Harley I carry spare shift linkage(known week point) spare shift lever. Lastly I carry a tool roll with basic sockets and ratchet. Then I also carry a mexican blanket roll. Never know how long you will wait for help or what you may have to lay on to work on the bike. And if you need any more than that, it is time to call the ride off and just get a tow coming. I carry only the tools that can keep me on track for the ride not rebuild anything major.

On my SS1000, I had installed an LED bar light below my headlight and it caused my headlight to come loose, I rode one 100 mile leg holding the headlight on with my left hand, but was able to use the tape to secure it for the rest of the trip at the next stop. Tape and zip ties can do wonders in a pinch.


Premier Member
IBR Finisher
@fishnjeeps - Welcome to the forum. :D You asked:
So, what spare parts do you guys suggest I carry for long distance trips? or how does one handle more serious breakdowns?
You ride a nice bike. The 92' Kawasaki Vulcan 88 is a pretty reliable, shaft drive, water cooled, carb'd bike with cast wheels/tubeless tires in the cruiser style, (for those unfamiliar with them). For general purposes, the items others have recommended will do well in taking care of minor issues. A flat tire shouldn't be a major issue with tubeless tires. From your forum pic it looks like you added a windscreen, which helps reduce fatigue during longer rides. No doubt helps you commuting too, with the weather you see in IL!

Most riders will not carry major spare parts. But, knowing your bike and what things tend to go wrong goes a long way to understanding what parts to bring and what you can, and are willing to do, by the side of the road. I used to carry extra head gaskets for my '40 HD Knucklehead, for example. But while that took 30-40 minutes to do by the side of the road, it was a simple task that could be done with basic wrenches. And something I had to do now and then on that bike with it's paper head gaskets. Technology marches on.

So, considering your previous failure on the road. What tools and items would have allowed you to do a field repair and continue riding? Would some thick wire and pliers allowed you to wire the exhaust back in place enough to continue? Or would it have gotten you to an auto parts store where you could have gotten some generic materials like muffler wrap that would have allowed you to do a field repair sufficient to continue your ride?

Thinking outside the box and being willing to do a repair that will get you going, with out necessarily being the permanent fix is part attitude, part mechanical ability and part simply a matter of what you have on hand or can find in the next town/gas station, etc.

A rider during the IBR once took his clutch apart by the side of the road and re-assembled it with a piece of metal from a coffee can that he found lying around in order to get his burned up clutch just a bit more friction and allow him to continue. And yes, it worked and he did finish. That rider that carried a spare BMW final drive didn't need it, (actually there have been at least two that did that during IBRs), but had practiced doing it and could do it in about 20 minutes by the side of the road. That was a known failure issue. One IBR, several riders DNF'd for failed final drives, so it was not a choice made lightly.

I crashed once about 800 miles from home, (Ice). I lost both mirrors and my wind screen and bent the controls out of whack. I was able to pull my tools out and adjust the controls back into rideable condition. I should have then ridden to the nearest auto parts store or dollar store and bought some kind of mirror, even a cheesy makeup mirror, and taped it to what was left of one of my mirror stalks. I should have found some cardboard or a piece of plexiglass/lexan at a hardware store and taped that to the front of the bike so I had some form of windscreen. Instead, I rode the 800 miles home that day/night w/o mirrors or a windscreen and I'm sure you can appreciate how cold it got in Jan crossing the mountains. Riding in traffic w/o mirrors made for a lot of head checks!

I carry the tools I need to access general areas of the bike, remove the wheels, (because it's a LOT faster to get a tire replaced at a shop when you carry in a loose wheel, as well as cheaper, and sometimes tire damage can't be safely repaired), a roll of high quality HVAC grade duct tape, (the cheap stuff peels off at highway speeds), a roll of electrical tape, (used as a strip across the top of my helmet visor when riding into low angle sun, as well as repairs when needed), a roll of yellow gas seal tape, (like teflon tape, except gasoline proof and thicker, available at Home Depot and similar stores in the plumbing section), a couple pairs of nitrile gloves, a spare headlight bulb, turn signal bulb, (my brake light is LED or I would carry one of those too), and know how to access the bulbs all over the bike. (yours are mostly just screwdriver tasks) Some cops will make you park the bike and camp by the side of the road if you don't have a headlight or brake/tail light at night or even dusk. A spare key is a good idea too. Sometimes they break, or get lost in unforeseen ways. If you don't have room for an entire roll of duct tape, take a pencil and start wrapping tape around it. 20' or so doesn't take up as much space when there isn't a big center tube. I have helped tape together several sport bikes with damaged plastic using my roll of duct tape, but I have a good place to carry it that doesn't take up extra space.

You can usually find odd things to help with repairs where ever you are. A rock to prop the bike up when you pull the wheel off, for example. The Vulcan doesn't have a center stand, which adds to some of the challenge. This is just a way of saying you don't have to carry every possible thing on the bike. You don't have the room. That said, there are some pretty cool tools for propping up a bike with no center stand and they don't take up much room in the bottom of the saddle bag.

Doing preventive maintenance helps avoid issues. Most LD riders running shaft drive bikes will change their final drive oil a lot more often than recommended, for example. This helps longevity, but also means you catch problems before failures when/if you see lots of metal in the drained oil. It's cheap and easy to do as well. I do it about every other engine oil/filter change. Some do it every oil change. If your wheel bearings are over 100k old, you should consider replacing them before they fail. Japanese bikes tend to go a long time before bearings fail, but it's not a repair that you can easily do by the side of the road, even if you have the bearings. Inspect your brake pads before you go on a long ride. Know how to drain your gas tank in case you get bad fuel. or in a fatigued state, accidentally fill up with diesel, (it happens, even to experienced riders). I'm not of the mindset to replace batteries every two years. I typically get 7-10 years out of a well cared for AGM bike battery. I do ride often and use a battery maintenance charger. Most of the time you get some warning that your battery is getting tired, but more often they die early because they were mistreated, like full discharge.

Read the Archives of Wisdom on the IBA web site. On LD rides, carry water where you can drink while riding. Not as critical in Winter, but very important the rest of the year. Dehydration slows your thinking process down and you make more mistakes. I know the Vulcan is on the minimalist side and you can't carry as much. Not sure if you have the ~3 gal or 4.2 gal tank, but knowing your range and how far you can get on reserve is important and makes it less stressful when you have to turn that petcock over to the R.

This stuff is supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun, there is always another day. Good luck with your riding and Saddle Sore/certificate rides.


Premier Member
Credit cards (plural), basic tools. Tire repair kit and air pump. Bungee cords. Zip ties.
And a couple flashlights with spare batteries.
I once used a bungee to hold up my center stand until I could get to a service station. Ran over a road gator on a nice fresh blacktop road in the middle of the night. At the service station, I bought hose clamps and use them to secure the stand to the exhaust cross over pipe on my Wing.
I bought one of those 12V lights with retractable (wind up) cords that I can plug into a power outlet, which I carry in my trunk.
All pretty good stuff. BUT! The only thing that I might/usually carry is some elec wire and crimp-on fittings. 2 alligator jumper leads (1-long; one-short). While a multi-meter is good, a wiggy (idiot light) might be faster and easier. If your bike uses fuses, carry about 30. You might blow a bunch of them before finding the short. IF you happen to have a bunch of similar screws (fairing panels?) that have to come off to access stuff, carry a few spares so that you can lose a screw if you need to.

For some reason, long rides will loosen fasteners that have never loosened up before. Carefully going over the bike after as long ride might reveal which bolts reliably loosen? (brake caliper mounting bolts and hand lever pivot bolts often come adrift.) I have seen thread lock and lock washers fail too many times. Thus, my bike has safety wire. My safety wire job would not pass a track tech inspection. But it will keep my bolts from falling out. Any kind of cheap steel wire works, picture hanging wire, landscaping wire, ceiling hanging wire. The reduction in anxiety from using safety wire has to be experienced to be believed. I wired all my fluid drains and tethered all my fill caps. Search 'positive bolt locking technique' for ideas not involving wire. Haven't lost anything since using safety wire.

Because you might be doing this by the side of the road, having bug dope at the ready is a good idea. Also, one of those camping headlights worn on the forehead is good to have. The bike has dark places even on sunny days.
I use the suggestions on the Iron Butt page in preparing your bike. The well respected Ron Major had a detailed list of what he carried which helped guide me. Of course I tailored it to my needs. But wire, tape, tire repair, air pump, air gauge, spare bulbs, and jumpers are a good start plus the basic tools.


Premier Member
Head lamp, fuses, Leatherman Wave with bit kit and extension. Factory tool kit, tire plugs and air pump, First Aid Kit.
Good call on bug spray.
More than one credit card, I have had 2 cards declined on the side of the road for fraud and was able to get one turned back on over the cell. That could have turned out poorly.
Emergency cash stashed somewhere on the bike.
Knowledge of your bikes systems and location of fuses, relays and battery. How to check oil and coolant and know what weight oil you need.
Basic tools and a leatherman if you don't know how to use it why carry it?
BMW has the canbus system so no fuzes all bulbs are LED thanks to cyclops no need for spares,
i carry a spare fuel pump controller and a ignition ring antenna known failures (not so much now) even if they have to be paired to the ECM
the fact that i have them can mean a couple of hours in a workshop rather than a couple of days waiting for parts.
puncture repair kit and foot pump no drain on the battery and a bit of exercise will do me more good than harm and breakdown cover.
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The basics of what to carry on the road have been covered quite adequatly. It is the unexpected or unusual that stories are made of. What really is needed sometimes, is some creative thinking. That you can't pack at the last minute. It is a combination of past experiences and playing what if I do this? Some people have it, some do not. To those who don't have it, find a friend that does and have him join you on your ride.

Enjoy the ride.



Premier Member
IBR Finisher
... It is the unexpected or unusual that stories are made of ...
Like my needing a 1 3/8" socket during the 2017 IBR because my charging system quit and I had to replace the stator and regulator during the rally ... At 11pm in Phoenix on July 3rd ...
Using Ron Major's List and paring it down for my needs, I separated my gear into two piles, Stuff that I figured that I would really need and actually use. And the pile containing the stuff that would only get used due to breakdown or other untoward event. Weigh both piles to get a ratio on all the stuff that one would never use when the trip goes perfectly. For example: my 75lb of alaska trip gear had about 25lbs of (crisis/disaster) stuff that I never needed. Yes, I had stuff fail that I could not fix w/o buying something (fuses, a few nuts/bolts, and more duct tape). Nevertheless, I was glad for the gear that I did not need and did not mind hauling it around just for the comfort/peace of mind.

Moment of Silliness: I met a rider doing a presentation on his global ride. I asked about what he had packed that he never used? "Nothing. I never packed anything that I didn't use nearly every day." was the reply. Yet during his presentation, he tells (photos of it on the bike too) of packing a uke with the intent of learning to play. He relays that he never started on it even though he packed it for several thousand miles before it was stolen. If I look carefully at my gear, I am sure that I have several items for which I don't have a real good reason to haul around. My favorite 'lucky' riding socks have holes in them.


Premier Member
IBA Member
Interesting timing of this post resurrection...

If I look carefully at my gear, I am sure that I have several items for which I don't have a real good reason to haul around. My favorite 'lucky' riding socks have holes in them.
My wife and I recently returned from a short, 5-day, 2100-mile, jaunt up to Wyoming to be one of the thousands of crazies that chased a couple of steam locomotives across the state.

As I stared at my tried-and-true tool bag, I made the executive decision to remove a few of those items I've been carrying around for years, not only in this bike, but my other bike as well.

I didn't need them, I didn't have a use for them, so they sat on the top of my toolbox while we were gone. The spaced gained was negligible, but knowing there would be certain conditions that I would not be able to deal with while on the road in some remote areas was a good test.

Will those items stay out of the tool bag? Not quite sure, which is why they've not been put back into proper drawers in the tool box.


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IBA Member
Carrying parts I am not. Anything that actually breaks on our bike that cannot be repaired with Gorilla Tape or Zip Ties will likely need to be replaced. Beyond the extremities like tires, brakes, and lights, small are the number of bits on a K16 that can be replaced without an entire tool kit. If it comes down to needing such parts to continue riding, I will purchase the necessary tools while I wait for the parts.

I will be carrying tools and supplies to be able to troubleshoot and repair any problems with my add-on auxiliary devices, brakes, and tires/wheels. I will also be carrying the OEM lug bolts for the rear wheel in case we have a tire issue and are forced to mount a MC tire on the rear.

Jack D

Premier Member
Most likely there is an internet forum for your bike. Find it and read everything you can and you will likely find out all about potential problems and workarounds.

Patrick Ford

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
Tire plugs and a pump, the tools needed to get either wheel off if you have to buy a tire on the trip, and few fuses. Replacement bulbs for tail, brake, and running lights.
I might add that every bike I have owned had different sized fasteners that were in the stock bike kit or aftermarket kits. I will typically take a nasty winter day in the shop and go over most every nut and bolt on the bike and put together a tool kit of my own with the tools I used to check the bike. This way you are sure you have most every tool you will need without carrying tools you would never use.