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  • Price Range $19.95 ~ $36.95 Shop Now
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  • 5
   11 of 11 members found this review helpful 11 / 11 members

I’m currently rebuilding my Honda  XR650R from the ground up after an unfortunate crankshaft failure last summer. Although I'm confident in my mechanical abilities, there are many details to a rebuild that can only be found in a make/model specific repair manual. Most (including myself) would head straight for the OEM  service manual, but what if all of the same information is readily available in an aftermarket manual with a wallet relieving price tag? Clymer  Manuals advertises their books as containing every bit of information needed to maintain and repair your bike, so when they offered up one of their paper books,  as well as digital online access, for evaluation, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how Clymer stacks up against the factory Honda repair manual.

I have used the factory manual for my bike for years and it's quite comprehensive, but it's written with the assumption you are working in a fully equipped shop vs. the more typically equipped garage a shade tree mechanic has at his or her disposal. A good example of this is swing arm bearing replacement.  While the Honda manual calls for using three manufacturer specific tools, the Clymer repair manual clearly lays out how to set the swing arm in a press and make due with a piece of pipe. Of course, there are going to be times when the only option is an OEM  tool, and in those cases, Clymer conveniently includes the part numbers.

So far in my rebuilding efforts, every piece of info I've needed, Clymer included. Every torque spec is easily found, instructions are step-by-step, and useful pictures and illustrations are included. For me, when working on my bikes, finding and fixing an electrical issue is both intimidating and annoying. I was pleased to find a full, in-depth electrical section that explained tests and diagnostics as well as full color wiring diagrams in the back of the book. The Clymer manual is ready to get you back on the trail!

Pricing... A Clymer repair manual can be in your mail box for around 30 bucks where the OEM repair manual comes in at about 130. I'll admit, I was initially skeptical of using a manual produced by anyone other than Honda, especially at a hundred dollars less. After completing a few jobs, I am confident that the rest of my rebuild will go just as smoothly with the Clymer manual next to me.

Clymer also offers an on-line manual; a great addition or alternative to the more traditional paper format. The online manual costs $19.95 per year and gives you the ability to access and print information however you like. I leave greasy fingerprints all over my manuals, and the rest of the house for that matter, so having the ability to print what I need is extremely helpful.  With the digital version I don’t have to worry when I mark my territory on the pages. I checked the online manual on both my laptop and smartphone and it worked flawlessly. The best part of the online version is its search function. It's like being able to Google a mechanics brain for MY bike. Search, Print, Repair, & RIDE! It's an incredibly useful option and my only complaint is not being able to purchase the online content permanently.

After having the opportunity to use all of the Clymer repair manual resources, I am confident that an average Joe, with some mechanical knowledge and initiative, can tackle rebuilding an entire bike. It also busted by skepticism that at its price point, there is no way it could stand up a factory manual. Good job Clymer!


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  • 4
   3 of 3 members found this review helpful 3 / 3 members

I've used them over the years both alone and along with a OEM manual. I can only specifically recall my most recent use, with a first generation KLR 650. This was my second KLR and I recalled from my first in the early '90's that the factory manual was 2 parts, the first was a KLR 600 manual and the second was all the changes for the 650. Very confusing and time consuming flipping back and forth. I was able to maintain my bike for 4 years and 13,000 miles without issue with the Clymer and don't recall needing additional information.

One thing about after market manuals in general is they don't have to tow the company line and often have tips on alternative ways to do things and ways to improvise special tools. The best case for me is to have both the OEM manual and an aftermarket such as Clymer.

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· Edited by FaceDeAce

  • 4
   1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

I have used the Clymer manuals for cars, trucks, street bikes, dirt bikes, quads, snowmobiles, PWC/SeaDoo, outboard motors, pretty much everything that would be worked on in a home garage.   I found the Clymer's to always be excellent for key information as mentioned (general assemblies, torque specs, some part numbers, alternative techniques).  I have also found them at times to be lacking in detail, but that is usually only when am working on a fairly complex assembly that typical garage mechanic would likely bring to the shop instead of tackling themselves.  (complete v6/v8 engine rebuild, automatic transmission rebuild, ...)

I do like the OEM manuals better.  If you cannot spring for the OEM manual, and there are actually times where there is no OEM manual available -- definitely consider Clymer or some others.  They are very good to get you through just about anything you would be doing yourself in your garage.  Certainly better than not having anything and relying on forums.  I prefer to have the books.  Like brendo, getting some smudges on the pages I view as a good thing - literal fingerprints that I've actually looked at that page!  I like the convenience of having it on the work bench to flip through as the job progresses.  I don't care if it gets smudged, that is what it is for, and can be wiped down later. The online features are nice for preplanning and referencing, however I certainly don't see my fragile tablet or phone skidding around the workbench between wrenches and punches, no would I want to be tapping and swiping on screens with residues of varsol and atf on my hands.

Overall the Clymer gets a 7 or 8 out of 10 and this goes for most every vehicle they put a manual out on that I have used.  Some are definitely better than others, but they will get you by.

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