Best pliers for motorcycle mechanics

Sometimes, you just need to get a grip… with these sets of pliers.

Four pairs of pliers and wire cutters

by Jim Blackstock |

Any home – or even professional – mechanic knows that sometimes, you need to get strong with a bike. Occasionally you need the big breaker bar for a stubborn nut or bolt; sometimes you need the big hammer to bring a little persuasion to bear and sometimes, you need a pair of pliers to grip something strongly or in a spot you can’t get to.

Contrary to popular belief, a pair of pliers isn’t designed purely to exert more force than your hands are capable of, though of course they can do this. They are designed to hold, grip, place and offer additional dexterity that you can’t manage with your hands.

There are different types of tool which we will consider as ‘pliers’ here. These include traditional and long-nosed pliers, side cutters (which typically come in a set of pliers), water-pump pliers, electrical pliers/wire-strippers and self-locking pliers, or mole grips.

There are, as with all tools, certain aspects to look for. Handles should have some form of covering to make them more comfortable in use but bear in mind the softer this is, the less ‘feel’ you have for the work you are doing.

Size is also important; clearly a large pair of pliers will be able to exert more force or grip better than a smaller pair but will lack the precision and access of more diminutive tools.

Material is also a key element; the gripping edges of the jaws need to be harder than the workpiece, otherwise they will become damaged somewhere along the line. Conversely, you need to be careful of this if you are working on softer components, such as those formed in aluminium, for example.

Also when looking for tools, we find it’s best to try to find from a reputable manufacturer; we don’t mean buy a pair of pliers that costs as much as your motorcycle (unless you’re a professional of course), just go for a name you’ve heard of. That way, you should get something that is made of good material with a design that will last you a long time.

Here are some pliers we reckon should do a great job.

1. Draper 160mm DIY


Draper is a name that has been around a long time in the tool world and while this budget set may

Draper 160mm DIY


All-in-one set

Great value

Good reviews


Reports of inconsistent build quality

2. Silverline Self-locking Pliers


Like the Draper set, this set of three pairs of self-locking pliers from respected manufacturer

Silverline Self-locking Pliers


Three self-locking pliers in one set

Good starter set

Varying sizes offer versatility


May not stand up to harder or pro use

3. Mannesmann Electrical Pliers


If youu2019re looking for precision rather than brute force for more intricate work (such as on

Mannesmann Electrical Pliers


Precision when needed

Plenty of options for grip

Sprung handles useful


Don’t have the clout of larger models

4. Stanley Compound Action Pliers


If you need a little more force than your hands are capable of producing on their own, then this

Stanley Compound Action Pliers


Provide greater force than hands alone

Respected manufacturer


Jaws open less than normal pliers

Longer than normal pliers

5. Presch Water Pump Pliers


Water-pump pliers are incredibly useful and this set from Presch (no, Iu2019ve never heard of them

Presch Water Pump Pliers


Work in a wide range of sizes

Grip anything from small cables to large pipes

Long handles give high grip force


Can be a bit cumbersome

6. US Pro Circlip Pliers


You might only need these once but when you do need them, they will be invaluable. You can get

Circlip Pliers


A tool for each job

Well designed and built

Sturdier than interchangeable heads


Take up more room than interchangeable versions

7. Draper Crimping Tool


While not strictly pliers, these crimping tools are well worth the less-than-a-fiver investment to

Draper Crimping Tool


Strip wires easily for electrical projects

Crimp terminals in correct size and shape

So cheap, worth buying


Basic design

Non-ratchet wire stripping

8. Pipe Clamp Pliers


Not an essential but if you find yourself doing lots of work on motorcycles u2013 more than simple

Pipe Clamp Pliers


Makes opening hose clamps easy

Covers most types of clamp

Get to hard to reach clamps


May not need during routine maintenance

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