Have you ever tried to fix a problem on your bike and actually made it worse? Speaking for myself, I am a bit nervous when it comes to gears; I’m not yet completely confident that I can set up the front and rear derailleurs with the limit screws, tension screws and cable tension for absolutely perfectly tuned gearing. I need practice, and to get it right, professional guidance makes sense.
Essential Bicycle Maintenance & Repair targets road bikes and, in essence, is a good reference for standard servicing and repairs. The author, Daimeon Shanks, has worked as a mechanic for Jonathan Vaughter’s Garmin-Transitions pro cycling team and has followed a logical and methodical approach in creating this book.
Beginning with a checklist of tools and bike cleaning, each part of the bicycle is addressed individually: Frame & Fork, Handlebars & Stem, Saddles & Seatpost Wheels, Tires, Brakes, Cranks & Chainrings, Shifters & Derailleurs, Chains & Cogsets and, Pedals & Cleats.
Within each section there is a broad introduction, and introductions to each sub topic, followed by step-by-step instructions accompanied by black and white photos. For the gears you will learn how to install shifters, cabling, then install and adjust rear and front derailleurs. There is a page and a half on trouble-shooting and then detailed instructions for installing and adjusting Time Trial shifters and Shimano Di2.
As this is a general maintenance book, it would be impossible to cover every single variation and problem-shoot every single problem. The instructions are general and, depending on your equipment, there will certainly be variations. This book, however, provides a good introduction; for people who haven’t any experience servicing a bike, the concepts and mechanics are explained and it provides the broadest possible coverage. In the case of bottom brackets, for example, we learn of the English and Italian BB standards, and there are specific instructions for BB30 and BB90 bottom brackets as well as Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo specific cranks.
The author assumes some knowledge, or lets say willingness to learn. In some of the steps it is important to understand the terminology and concepts in order to continue. For example, the function of a cone in a wheel hub is explained, however, if you jump ahead into a set of instructions, you may need to return to the start of the chapter to pick up the basics if you don’t already know them.
As an avid cyclist I actually found that I was able to sit down and enjoy reading through a few chapters the first time, rather than relegate this book to just as a reference for specific maintenance or repair tasks. Daimeon Shanks has taken the time to provide background information which simply makes for a better understanding, explaining the difference between brands or systems and also throwing in a few anecdotes.
There is a slight American flavour to the book when it comes to suggestions or recommendations for oils, cleaners and degreasers, for example; some of the suggested products are not freely available in Australia. I feel that the author has overlooked including a bike work-stand as recommend equipment for repairing and servicing a bike; this is a missing-link in many of the repairs and servicing duties.
As a bonus, there is a short section towards the end covering bike fitting. While this would never be a replacement for a professional fit, it does provide an introduction into the topic, even comparing some popular bike fitting theories. The lesson is that even with a high-tech bicycle in tip top form, if it doesn’t fit the rider then there is a lot of wasted potential.
Without any doubt, you will find similar bicycle maintenance and repair books with the same level of depth. This book has been well planned and is also up-to-date (published 2012). Even better is that it is a very affordable $23.95. While there is also an eBook version, that is probably less practical unless you are happy getting grease all over your laptop or iPad as you flip through while fixing your road bike.
Essential Bicycles Maintenance & Repair is available online from Human Kinetics for $23.95 or from all good book stores.