Whether you’re flipping paper pages or using a mouse to turn a page, a shop manual is indispensable
When working on your motorcycle, one of the most valuable tools you work with is your shop manual. It contains detailed procedures on how to service your bike. It provides info on the fuel system, engine, transmission and drive systems, ignition and electrical systems, and chassis. It also includes wiring diagrams and service specifications. Most manufacturers offer printed service manuals, which probably are the best sources of information on specific models.
Recently, I wanted to buy a factory service manual for Roxanne, my girlfriend, in order to service her Street Twin. Unfortunately, I discovered that Triumph does not sell service manuals. I couldn’t buy either a printed manual or a digital version. Instead, the company offers temporary access to an online service manual for a fee. Subscription fees begin at US$7.50 for one hour of access, and rise to US$3,780 for one year. This can be rather expensive for a do-it-yourselfer looking to refresh a top end.
My other option was to obtain a Haynes service manual. Haynes has been publishing service manuals since 1965, and its vast library covers countless motorcycle brands and models. The information within these manuals is based on a teardown and rebuild of the models covered. However, sometimes the information available is not as complete as a factory manual would offer, especially for more complex operations. Still, Haynes’ manuals cover wiring diagrams, and service and torque specifications.
John Haynes, founder of U.K.-based Haynes Publishing, died in February 2019. Then, in April 2020, Infopro Digital acquired Haynes’ company. Among other things, Infopro specializes in digital publishing and when that company announced last December that Haynes Publishing would cease to print new service manuals, I wasn’t surprised. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that Haynes will cease to produce new service manuals; instead, manuals for new vehicles manufactured from 2021 onward will be available online only. However, the existing manuals will still be offered in both printed and online versions.
A move to digital manuals over the past decade mostly involved converting printed material to digital files. The most common of these is a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. This digital file looks identical to the original printed document, page by page, and may even feature internal links that take you directly to desired sections within the file.
Haynes online manuals are quite different. They are not digital copies of the manuals; instead, they are produced specifically for online use. You use dropdown menus and submenus to access service information. That information features text descriptions of the task at hand and images for reference. The online manuals have more images than the printed versions do, and these high-resolution images are in colour. Within the text are links that take you directly to other sections related to the job at hand. Certain words and terms within the text are underlined, and clicking on them opens a text bubble that provides a convenient descriptive that is equivalent to what would be found in a glossary, which usually is found at the end of a printed manual.
Should you work in a garage or area where internet access is not available, you can either print a section beforehand or save it as a PDF file on your computer or a thumb drive to read later when offline. What you cannot do – at least, not easily – is save an entire manual to your computer in one step. You can do it section by section, but that is a tedious operation that requires renaming files.
I had the option to purchase either a printed or online version of the Street Twin manual from Haynes. I opted for the latter, paying a one-time fee of US$29.99 (CDN$38) to get lifetime access. (A printed version of the manual from fortnine.ca costs $39.99.)
To get online access to a Haynes manual, you must register, find the manual you need, pay for it and then bookmark the main page so you can find it readily. An online manual is complete and offers the same information as the printed version, albeit in a different format and layout. About the only glitch I discovered is the wiring diagrams, which are viewed as either zoomable HTML or Flash displays, and the display is very small. Printing a wiring diagram is no better, as the image will be blown up to full size and you can only print small portions of it on different pages, then stitch them together in a poster-sized image.
After sampling the online Haynes manual for the Street Twin, I concluded that while that manual is useful for the most part, it is neither as easy nor as convenient to use as the printed version, and doesn’t offer a tactile sensation I appreciate. Therefore, despite my subscription, I will be placing an order for the printed version.