Socket to me: Best socket sets for motorcycle maintenance

Best socket sets
Best socket sets

Most motorcyclists will tackle some form of work on their bike at some point and if you do, one of the first items you need in your tool kit is a socket sets.

Depending on whether you enjoy working on your bike(s) yourself, you might just want a small-ish kit to tackle the basics, or you might want something that includes every conceivable drive, socket and tool that you’ll ever need.

Which type of socket set is best for you?

When working on a motorbike, a 3/8in-drive set is likely to be your go-to. It should handle most of the fittings you’re likely to come across, from bodywork to engine and brakes to suspension. You might sometimes come across some fittings that are smaller than a 3/8in set will handle – brake bleed nipples for example or fastenings with limited access — and in that case, a 1/4in drive set might be useful.

In a similar vein, you may come across the need for something with a bit more clout to it; wheels spindles, for example and in this case, a 1/2in drive set will give you the strength you need.

What to look for in a socket set for your motorcycle

When you’re looking at sets, consider how much you’ll be using them and if you want something with a tactile handle, perhaps with some silicon grips to make use more comfortable and look at the socket design – a 12-point socket can mean smaller angle of rotation for tricky fastenings but six-point ones can give a more secure grip.

The best socket sets for your motorbike

Editoru2019s pick
Price: $35.62

Sometimes, things go wrong and everyone will have experienced the sinking feeling when a socket starts to move, only to round-off the nut or bolt in question. Once that happens, you need to stop and reach for the specialist tools. These 3/8in drive rounded-nut socket from Blue Spot come in handy when a normal socket cannot grip the fastener for whatever reason, it has rounded off, is damaged, rusted or painted. As they turn, they increase grip and can be used with impact drivers as well as regular ratchet handles.

MCN Rated: Comprehensive set with a lifetime guarantee

Tested by Gareth Evans. Quality 5. Value

"It says ‘car’ in the name, but this little kit has served me really well while looking after the Triumph Trident 660. I’ve used every one of the tools provided with the kit and all of the extensions, including tackling one pesky frame bolt that needed the longest possible combination.

"The spanners feel top-quality, are made from chrome alloy steel and come with a lifetime guarantee, just like all of the firm’s Advanced range of tools, and they’re angled to reach tough nuts and bolts too.

"The six-point sockets come with standard and deep conventional fittings, plus torx and hex to boot. They fit via a pleasing push-button system on the trio of long-handled wrenches in varying sizes.

"Alongside that there are snips, pliers, screwdrivers and a ball pein hammer for when things get really serious. The metal carrying case features smooth ball-bearing drawers that are locked in place when the lid is secure, while everything is held in position with super-strong foam inserts."
The ultimate socket set
Price: $492.16

Packed to the rafters with pieces (149 pieces in all) this socket set offers support for 1/4", 3/8" And 1/2" drive sets. The kit is fantastic value for money all things considered and will offer Sealey's usual excellent quality. The knurled ring of the handles offer extra grip and includes wobble extension bars.

A simple, high quality socket set
Price: $60.99
Alternative Retailers

Another big name in tools, what this set from Teng lacks in quantity, it should more than make up for in quality. A plastic-encased handle with thumb direction lever and push-button socket release means the socket stays on the handle until you want it to come off. There are only nine sockets included but they look quality and the included extensions are used with the sliding T-bar unit.

Operating like a spanner but with the convenience, security and grip of a socket ratchet handle, this allows sockets to be used on long fixings where the limited depth of even a deep socket would prevent their use. The sockets are driven from the outside and allow the socket and handle to fit, and work, over any length of fixing. Not a staple but could be useful in your tool arsenal.

Best basic socket set

Not a huge offering but a good one from motorcycle accessory specialists Oxford. This plastic-gripped 3/8in ratchet handle uses push-button socket release for security and comes with 10 sockets, from 10-19mm. It uses a 72-tooth ratchet so you only need 5 of rotation to move a fastener on but its main strength is its strength, we've tried and tested this and it is seriously impressive, far stronger than any fixing it is ever likely to encounter. Excellent value.

If you're lucky (or committed) enough to own an air compressor and an impact gun, which can make stubborn fixings comply with your wishes, then a decent set of impact sockets is a must. These are tougher than the sockets usually found in sets and feature just six drive sides for better grip on the fixing and less chance of damage. This set comes with both 3/8in and 1/2in drive. Short and deep sockets are also very useful.

Sometimes, and it will happen eventually, you need to get a bit brutal with a stubborn fixing and that's where an impact driver can help. It works a bit like an air-powered impact gun, except here, you set the driver up on your fitting and hit it with a hefty hammer. This transmits a shock to the fitting to try to break 'stiction', for example if the fitting is corroded. It also provides a small turning force to try to break that force holding it back. A very useful addition to any tool box.

Not that we would ever advocate using this instead of a proper socket but there are times when this tool may just come to the rescue. It has 54 steel pins inside that fit around whatever fixing you are working with, from 7mm to 19mm hex and can, apparently, help with damaged nuts, bolts and screws. It could also be useful for other fixings, such as hooks for example. Comes with 1/4in and 3/8in drive adapters. For the price, if it gets you out of trouble once, it's worth it.

How MCN tests products

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