FAVORITE TOOL | SECRETS FROM FACTORY MECHANICS
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Words and Photos | Lutes
In any profession, experience can teach you a lot. And to become a factory level mechanic, you must work your way up, prove your knowledge, and earn your keep. Most wrenches for top riders have been at it for years, and most of them have their own secrets for maintaining their bikes. Whether it's a certain technique for building a bike or a specific way of checking everything over between practice sessions, no two mechanics do everything the same. With this in mind, we cruised the Supercross pits to quiz mechanics about their favorite tool. Most of the answers we received weren't what we were expecting, but all of them will give you a glimpse into how meticulous professional mechanics actually are.
OLIVER “OLLY” STONE | PLUG CAP PLIERS
"It just makes it easier to remove the plug cap from the engine. These days plug caps are so short and stubby, and this tool has some grip on the end, is simple, and makes it quick and easy to pull the plug cap straight out of the engine. If you're doing a motor swap, and the bike just came off the track, a pair of pliers like this makes it a lot easier."
JADE DUNGEY | INTERCOM TIRE GUAGE
"My favorite tool is an Intercomp tire pressure gauge that goes from zero to 99 PSI in increments of 0.1. I can really fine-tune the air pressure with this gauge. Usually I like to run about 11.8 PSI."
NATHAN ALEXANDER | SHALLOW SOCKETS
"I like the shallow stuff, because it doesn't rock when you're turning the nut or bolt, and it fits perfectly. With no slop, it's less likely to round off the bolts and the socket just sticks right on the bolt."
RENE ZAPATA | CUSTOM STEERING STEM WRENCH
"It's a steering wrench with one side that adjusts the spanner nut and the other adjusts the steering stem nut. It also has the connection for a torque wrench on each side, so you can properly torque the nuts. Being able to torque it is important, because you don't have to crank down on it, and you know it's always set at the proper torque spec."
BRANDON ANDERSON | SNAP-ON TECHANGLE DIGITAL TORQUE WRENCH
"The Snap-on TechAngle is pretty awesome. It gives you all the values you need, but I always use Neuton Meters. The cool thing about it is that when you build a bike, you can pre-set all your torques on it. You just push a button and you don't have to worry about going from 20 Newton Meters to 100—or something like that."
CHRIS LAREDO | CUSTOM SPROCKET NUT WRENCH
"It's an extra long 12mm Snap-on box-end wrench that I've ground down about 3mm or so. I use it for sprocket nuts, so I don't round off the nut itself by using a regular wrench. That way, I can get proper torque on the nut and make sure the sprocket bolts don't come loose. It's convenient to have a skinny wrench like this, because on a lot of wheels, it seems that about every other sprocket nut comes in close contact with a spoke. It's really difficult to get a regular wrench in there, so I ground this one down—MacGyvered it a little bit—to make it work."
DANIEL CASTLOO | STANDARD TORQUE WRENCH
"A torque wrench is my favorite tool. For me, it's a versatile tool and can be used on different areas of the motorcycle; you can do plastic bolts with it, or motor mounts, or just about anything. I feel like a torque wrench is the tool that can get the job done. If you don't have your torque wrench at the track, you're kind of screwed. Some people try to claim that they have a torque wrench in their elbow, but let's be real… they just grab their torque wrench (laughs)."
DEREK DWYER | FLUSH CUT PLIERS
"I like the flush cut pliers, because any mechanic would know that when you're digging through your bike and a Zip Tie scratches you, it sucks. That's why I like them—they can cut Zip Ties nice and flush and it makes the bike look good."
KELLY LUMGAIR | SPOKE TORQUE WRENCH
"The spoke torque wrench is my favorite, because it's good to get the wheels at the correct torque. When you're building a new set of wheels, you're able to build them to the same spec and torque; it definitely speeds up the whole process. You want every wheel to be the same. Different tension on the spokes could lead to a different feel for the rider. It's pretty important to keep everything consistent."
JORDAN TROXELL | METRIC RULER
"The metric ruler is becoming my favorite tool this year. It's something new for me, because I've started measuring a lot of things for set up—levers, shifter, brake pedal. Stuff like that. I even go as far as measuring how much his rear brake pedal compresses. I've been using it a lot to keep his race bike and practice bike identical, so he can't tell a difference when he goes back and forth."