Product Review

F4/F4i Motorcycle Service Manual

by JeF4y

I've always been a factory manual kinda guy, so I was somewhat skeptical when Clymer contacted me asking if I'd like a manual to review for all of you. Being in the middle of tearing down a pair of F4 motors, I figured it'd be the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

2 days later, and it's here.

The manual at a glance is different from the factory service manual in that it's twice as thick, and covers not only the F4, but also the F4i.

Flipping through the pages, it becomes obvious why the manual is thicker. It is LOADED with pictures. A quick comparison from Clymer for pages & images compared to the factory manual is 576:301, and 5:1 for pics. That's pretty significant when it comes to a maintenance manual.

So I headed to the basement with factory and Clymer manual under my arm, and went for the motors. Step 1 was to indoctrinate the nice new pages of the Clymer manual to some grease. This took all of 5 minutes. Then came the wearing in the spine of the manual. No problem, just flip to the section you want and set a transmission main shaft on the book. Hey, that's 2 birds with one stone :-)

Getting into the motor and into the groove of the Clymer manual took a bit of time and effort simply because I'm used to the factory layout. However, the mass of pictures really helped this process along. One difference which I did note was that wear limits, and specs were placed at the end of the chapter versus once at the beginning and then throughout the section as in the factory manual. Some of the torque values are included within the section, but others remain in the tables at the end.

Talking to the Primedia guys, they said this was because of the multiple year span. This makes sense, and isn't really an inconvenience.

The procedures, values and specs are spot on. Actually the procedures are a bit more "dummy" oriented than the factory manual which came in VERY handy while performing some transmission work. I started out using the factory manual, but flipped through the Clymer at the same time, and the extra pics and details were a life-saver. Factory manuals are made with a good deal of implied knowledge. This is more "weekend-wrench" oriented.

My thoughts on it are that this is an excellent manual for an individual who is NOT a mechanic or very knowledgeable on the interworkings of a motorcycle. If you know what you're doing, a factory manual is the nuts & bolts of what you will need. However, the Clymer took it down a notch which was pretty helpful for the average Joe who needs to check his valve clearance, replace a thermostat, or go as far as removing a motor and gutting it. Additionally, the manual has COLOR wiring diagrams. Very easy to follow!

In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with the manual, and wouldn't hesitate recommending it to anyone needing a manual. Again, it's not the factory manual, but there is nothing in the factory manual which isn't covered in this manual. I can't think of any 'dislikes' I have to this manual. I've recently debated a number of people on the value/validity of Clymer as a shop manual versus the factory manual. There are many folks out there who will always say that "Factory is the best", but these are people who likely have not had a chance to use the manuals side-by-side.

Will I continue to buy factory manuals? You bet. Simply because they're out the day the bike hits the floor where the Clymer manual will always be a bit behind. However, if they were both out on day one, I'd probably save my self a few bucks and go with the Primedia manuals. On a plus side of "delayed-release" manuals, it gives Primedia a chance to understand the "real-world" bugs of the bike before releasing.

From the manual editor:

we have a motto: "just the facts." We are not writing novels. If it takes 500 plus pages to write the 'biography' for the CBR600 then that is what it takes. We simply refuse to 'cookie cutter' the machine to an established formula. And it is this inclusive attention to detail that sets a new standard in workshop manuals. - editor James Grooms

So, where can you get one??? Well most bike shops will carry them. You can email Jennifer at Lake Country PowerSports internet parts ( and she would gladly order one up for you. Or you can order it directly from Primedia