The trouble with many bicycle repair and maintenance manuals is the intimidation factor, at least for casual cyclists. Demystifying basics like fixing a flat, adjusting brakes and lubricating a chain, is what Peter Drinkell’s new The Bike-Owner’s Handbook is all about.

Drinkell, a road cyclist and photographer who is known in cycling circles for the book Great Road Climbs of the Southern Alps for Rapha, says inspiration for his new guide came from the many people he meets who take up cycling, perhaps later in life, become passionate about the freedom, efficiency and fun it offers, but for reasons of embarrassment or lack of confidence haven’t learned to take care of their bicycles. Thus, they remain dependent on bicycle shops for relatively minor fixes.

bike owners handbook - spread

Learning to take care of one’s bicycle delivers multiple benefits, Drinkell says: It helps assure mechanical reliability on the road, but also provides personal satisfaction for the owner, leading to a closer relationship with the mechanical miracle that is the bicycle.

Designed with the urban cyclist in mind, the slim paperback, measuring 5 in. by 7 in. is compact enough to carry in a purse or bike bag. The laminated cover, with an elastic closure, is easy to wipe off in case of an encounter with moisture or grease.

bike owners handbook - photo spread

The contents include four major sections on flats, brakes, gears and basic maintenance. A drawing of the anatomy of a bicycle is provided for reference. Each chapter is further subdivided into step-by-step instructions accompanied by hand-drawn illustrations that Drinkell compares with those in bicycle manuals of yore, as well as Drinkell’s pristine photos of bicycle components and tools. A feature that I particularly like about the book, as a person who needs a lot of reinforcement for learning, is the QB code that appears at the end of each section. Snap the code with your smartphone, and you can view a video of the repair at hand. For example, in the flat-repair chapter, the section on “Extracting an Inner Tube,” includes not only illustrations, but also a video that re-enforces the information. So, in theory, if you were stuck on a ride with a flat, you could review the essential repair steps at roadside.

It is this belt-and-suspenders approach, among other user-friendly features, that truly makes this a bicycle maintenance guide “for the rest of us.”

The Bike-Owner’s Handbook, Peter Drinkell, Cicada Books, paperback 112 pages, $14.95

Photos: top, Peter Drinkell; others via Selectism

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