If you’ve been riding for even a short time, you know that the mechanical state of your bike can make the difference between a great ride and a chain-sucking, ghost-shifting curse-fest. Learning how to fix your bike quickly and properly is a key mountain biking skill, and lets you maximize your time on the trail while minimizing your time at the repair shop.
That’s where Mel Allwood’s book Mountain Bike Maintenance: The Illustrated Manual comes in. Mountain Bike Maintenance is a guide to nearly all aspects of bike repair, from trail-side emergency repairs to Sunday afternoon overhauls. The presentation of the material is top-notch, with lots of clear, well laid out pictures for every step of the repairs accompanied by concise, well written instructions. Allwood does a great job of simplifying even complex procedures like brake bleeding and wheel building, and is able to instill the reader with the confidence to tackle these jobs on his own.
What is particularly nice about Mountain Bike Maintenance is the way that Allwood lays the foundation for building your knowledge and repair skills before steering you towards the more difficult jobs. The book begins with a great introduction to the tools you will need, looking at what you should stuff in your pack for a ride, what you should keep in stock for routine repairs, and which specialty tools you’ll need for tackling occasional bigger jobs. The book then delves into excellent coverage of most basic repairs, such as fixing a broken chain or twisted link, managing a broken gear cable, or of course, repairing a puncture.
Also noteworthy are the troubleshooting pages included at the end of each section, enabling you to quickly link your bike’s symptoms to their causes and solutions. Poor shifting in the larger sprockets, for example, could be the cause of either poor chainline or a bent derailleur hanger, and the book provides nice ways to solve both of these problems.
It’s hard to find any real shortcomings in Mountain Bike Maintenance. While it is true that there are alternative (and free) sources of great information on bike repair, such as Park Tool’s website, the presentation of the information in Allwood’s book tends to be better than online resources. Also, one of the inherent drawbacks of a mountain bike repair book is that it is impossible to keep up with the bleeding-edge technology, and therefore new developments like external bottom brackets aren’t covered in Mountain Bike Maintenance. However, the book is still impressively current, and finding a repair that is missing coverage is a rare occurrence.
Overall, then, Mountain Bike Maintenance gets a hearty endorsement. Its clear, straightforward presentation of an impressive array of repairs mean that this will quickly become your Bible for tackling new projects. It’s available online at the big retailers, but call around at your local bike shops and see if you can pick it up from one of them.
Title: Mountain Bike Maintenance: The Illustrated Manual
Author: Mel Allwood
Publisher: Firefly Books
Copyright: 2004, Carlton Publishing Ltd.
Length: 256 pages