Motorcycle Gear: Milwaukee M12 Cordless Soldering Iron

I was elated to see this new Milwaukee battery-operated soldering iron hit the market.

People couldn’t understand why I was so stoked, but I was. To me, it’s liberating to not plug a soldering iron into a wall outlet or unravel yards of extension cord. The portability of a self-powered tool just makes it more valuable to me.

Cordless Soldering Iron from Milwaukee tools
Adjustable cordless soldering Iron from Milwaukee tools.

Now this is not the first time a soldering iron has been made sans power cord. I’ve seen some that run on butane like a cigarette lighter. But even that version has limitations. Buying the fuel and refilling the iron just seemed like a chore to me, and that’s why I never acquired one. But this Milwaukee version, powered by its popular M12 lithium battery pack system, makes total sense. Best of all, I already have the battery and charger in my toolbox. The M12 tool system includes over 80 different tools and accessories. I already own and regularly use the M12 drill, bit driver, and jig saw in my garage.

Cordless Soldering Iron from Milwaukee tools
A steady green LED shows the cordless soldering Iron is ready-to-use.

The Milwaukee M12 soldering iron heats quickly—like 18 seconds quick—and maintains optimal temperature during use. It offers 750 F max temperature and 90 watts of heat output. Two trick features you won’t find on conventional wired soldering irons are the built-in ready-to-use (steady green LED) and safe-to-store indicator lights (a red LED indicates the tool is off but still hot). So, no more scorched fingertips trying to figure out if the tool is ready.

The body of the soldering iron flexes and locks in one of three positions. So, you can now have a straight 180-degree soldering iron, a 45-degree tool, or a 90-degree version; just choose the orientation depending on where it’s needed and click the pivoting head in place. No more struggling to point the soldering iron in tight confines. It’s about 10″ long and weighs under half a pound. There’s a built-in LED worklight, too. The tool comes with two different soldering tips: one pointed and one chisel tip. And changing from one to the other is a snap with its tool-free bit change design. A threaded collar holds the tip in place.

Cordless Soldering Iron from Milwaukee tools
A red LED indicates the cordless soldering Iron is off but still hot.

Because I already own an M12 battery and charger, I opted for the tool-only version, which comes with two soldering tips. But you can also get a complete kit with soldering iron, battery, case, charger, and two tips. The M12 soldering iron comes with a five-year warranty.

The Milwaukee M12 soldering iron makes a nice addition to my power tool arsenal, and my old-fashioned pencil-style hardwired soldering iron has a new home­—the trash can. RC

Motorcycle Gear: Legend Gear LA5 Tool Bag

Not to mock anyone for having to carry tools on his bike, but you never know when a vintage bike—or even a modern one—can have a failure on the road. I don’t go on a trip without some basic hand tools stashed away on my bike somewhere. And even if not for my own peace of mind, I may be able to help someone else who has broken down.

I never was one for old-fashioned tool bags hanging from the frame downtube with a handful of tools banging around inside. So, when I came across this new Legend Gear LA-5 bag made by SW-MOTECH, and distributed in the US by Twisted Throttle, it piqued my interest. Now, you may think of Twisted Throttle as the place to go for adventure bike riding gear (and you wouldn’t be wrong), but this Legend line is its foray into some relaxed-look, vintage-themed products perfect for any cruiser or café racer.

Legend Gear LA5 Tool Bag

All Legend Gear bags have a rugged, handsome look and feel. They’re made of premium materials and have weather-resistant features. The military-style webbing attachment system is popular these days and can be found on backpacks and gear bags everywhere. But I honestly think this is the first time I’ve seen it utilized on motorcycle luggage. The benefit of this mil-spec material is a multitude of loops and tie-down points for a universal fit no matter where you decide to mount it: frame, handlebars, sissybar—wherever.

Four mounting straps are included, as is a shoulder strap should you need to carry your tools off the bike. It can also be worn as a belt/waist pack, but be prepared for the fanny pack ribbing you’re bound to get.

Legend Gear LA5 Tool Bag

The body of the brown and black bag measures about 9.5″ x 2.75″ x 4.5″, provides 1.6 liters of storage, and is made of premium Napalon synthetic leather and a coated water-resistant canvas that has that classic weathered look. The cotton canvas is wax-coated to protect against UV damage. To keep Legend Gear looking new you should wax regularly and avoid storage in direct sunlight. But for a more vintage appearance, wax less often for some faded glory.

The main flap features a Velcro closure and a simple J-shaped anodized aluminum buckle, with a water-resistant zippered pocket and strap mounts. Inside the main compartment is a padded splash-proof inner lining to keep things from clanking around.
This LA5 toolbag is just the tip of the iceberg of Legend Gear baggage. SW-Motech also offers tail bags and a variety of similarly styled soft-sided saddlebags. RC