I recently bought one of those newfangled “smart” thermostats, the third-generation Nest, not because I thought to myself one day, “You know what this hallway wall could really use? A tiny round LCD screen that lights up and tells me the weather when I walk by!” Certainly not because I was like, “Man, we could sure use one more node from which The Man and / or Big Marketing can eavesdrop on us here at World Headquarters.” No, it was the hardware—I touched one, and it felt good, smooth, solid, substantial, like a Pazzo lever compared to the cast silvery dog shit that comes on some bikes.
Stick with me here—we’ll get there.
Photos: Angelica Rubalcaba
For me, the most striking thing about the Nest, apart from how captivating, almost hypnotic, such a formerly inconsequential device can be, was its included installation kit: an unpretentious little screwdriver with swappable, magnetic tips, and some other miscellaneous, very specific bits and bobs.
I think it was a more complete kit than came with the last few bikes I’ve bought, and it got me thinking about the “tool kits” that come with modern motorcycles, a topic I used to love to bitch about until I decided bitching about the state of the motorcycle industry was more relevant to our times.
If your credit card is your toolkit, or your bike never breaks down, you can go ahead and skip to the Dorsoduro review—but rest assured, doing so will pretty much guarantee that your bike will break down in a storm, at night, and you will have forgotten your credit card. It’ll be something simple, an “If I just had a goddamn screwdriver and pliers,” scenario. If you’d only read this review and picked up a Cruz Speedkit JAS, you’d be good. Instead, you’re drenched and down, cursing your luck.
We tried, man.
If you’re hip to motorcycle stuff—and our readers are an exceptionally hip bunch—you may know of Cruz Tools, California-based maker of specialized tool kits for cool people like motorcyclists and musicians. Their model and brand-specific kits are well-regarded, and with good reason—they’re well-matched and comprehensive. I remember being stoked at finding a Cruz BMW kit for a song at a swap meet. Best purchase I ever made—my R1200R never broke down, until I took the Cruz kit out and sold the bike.
Cruz’s compact Speedkit line consists of three versions intended for light ‘n’ fast travelers: the DMX for off-road (and the party up in here, up in here!), the EU for the tiny espresso crowd, and the JAS for riders of Japanese machines. All three pack into compact, sturdy 7” x 2” x 2” pouches that should fit where the tool kit ought to be on most bikes, and differ in what specific tools are included.
I’ve been using the Speedkit JAS, and by using, I mean riding around with it. As a bike with a plug kit never suffers flats, a motorcycle properly equipped with a toolkit will generally not break down.
So I took matters—and wrenches—into my own hands. I took the JAS out to the garage, and emptied the pouch on my rolly-cart to do some wrenching. Like clowns from a Beetle, the tools just kept coming.
Inside the JAS’s zip-up pouch were two wrenches: a 14 and 17mm and a 10 and 12mm; a 5.5” pair of slip-joint pliers; a long, two-in-one spark plug socket, 5/8” (16mm) and 18mm with a lever; a nifty little screwdriver with two Phillips heads, two slotted heads and a ¼” nut driver; an 8mm nut driver and T20, T25, T27 and T30 Torx bits for the driver; 3, 4, 5, and 6mm hex wrenches; and a tire pressure gauge. All this weighs in at one pound, six ounces, pouch included.
The screwdriver and pliers feel compact, like 7/8 size, but all the tools feel solid and workmanlike. The bits all use ball detents to prevent them from falling out at maddeningly inopportune moments. They aren’t fancy—this is a thirty-something dollar kit, after all—but the Speedkit JAS, like all the Cruz kits I’ve had my hands on, contains good quality tools. There are no rough edges on the castings, the heads hold up under proper use, and the whole thing actually packs nicely back into the pouch.
Please don’t misunderstand. “Good quality tools” isn’t damning with faint praise, and “workmanlike” isn’t a veiled diss. We Americans have recently engaged in something of an adjectives arms race—what was once good became great, then awesome, then stellar, and eventually the meaning of all these words was gone, like the tool kits that used to come with motorcycles. Cruz makes good tools.
If you own a modern Japanese motorcycle that came with a sad hole where its tool kit should be, Cruz’s compact, simple but well-chosen, reasonably-priced Speedkit JAS can fill that hole and make your motorcycle complete.