the modern bicycle can be seen as simplicity itself; the ideal mode of transport for the contemporary individual. ideal for gaining and maintaining a comfortable level of fitness, partaking of the daily commute and slapping a number over the back pockets and either tearing off into the distance, or perhaps more likely, hanging on the back for grim death. with a well-proven and relatively simple method of transmission, wheels that need little, yet arguably simple maintenance and tyres that can mostly cope with the entire gamut of uneven road surfaces, needing only replacement tubes in the event of a puncture on the road, its simplicity commends itself.
granted, as with any item of frequently used machinery, there are features that require periodic fettling to keep all running smoothly, but many of those too can be achieved with a few tools and a bit of common sense. but as a particularly apt quote has said "if it were truly common, more folks would have it." in my early days of offering cycle maintenance to the cyclists of the island and those visiting in summer, i was confounded to note that several of the local motor mechanics would bring their offsprings' cycles for fixing.
with the motor car rather obviously being several levels of complexity above that of the common or garden velocipede, i (wrongly) assumed that mending an errant derailleur would be child's play for a trained motor mechanic. take a few steps back, however, and it's perhaps obvious to note that the mechanical principles behind the bicycle are just not the same as encompassed by those on four wheels. and require a substantially different toolset.
and while i am in the process of proclaiming the devilish simplicity of the bicycle, i am being somewhat naive. yes, even though colnago's hydraulic disc equipped c59 with its campagnolo eps electronic eleven speed shifting is comfortably more rudimentary than the hubble telescope, it's a darned sight more complicated to setup and maintain than sharpening a pencil. and the increasing level of sophistication shows little sign of levelling off and settling down anytime soon.
so while i have, somewhere in the cupboard under the stairs, a well-thumbed copy of richard's bicycle book, were i to find it, the late mr ballantyne's diagrams and words of wisdom would probably bear scant relevance to the carbon, steel and wiring looms currently filling thewashingmachinepost bike shed.
there is, of course, the well-respected local bike shop or lbs, where an errant bicycle can be dropped off for fettling by one more qualified than oneself. if you're at all nervous of inadvertantly creating mechanical mayhem, that is perhaps the more practical option. but even those behind the counter, dressed in a cinelli apron and grasping a multi-tool of allen keys will be less than impressed with a nonchalant "it's making a noise somewhere". i think something a mite more specific would be most welcome.
so even if you have no intention, no facility or no toolset with which to attack velocipedinal maladies, it does no harm at all to have an informed overview of just how your bicycle does what it does. and such knowledge can pay great dividends when time comes to upgrade a few parts, or invest in a whole new bicycle. then at least you may be able to see beyond the sales talk.
however, there is a substantial number of cyclists of all styles and abilities who are not only prepared to get their hands dirty, but eager to acquire the knowledge required to carry out simple, medium and complex tasks. even on a superficial level, there is great joy to be had in collecting a comprehensive selection of quality bicycle specific tools.
at least i think there is.
the haynes manual is a well-known aspect of the motor industry. anyone with any pretensions of understanding the car they've just purchased, particularly if it's in used condition, almost feels compelled to acquire the appropriate haynes book, even if it spends the rest of its career in the glove compartment. it is therefore hard to argue with their expertise in producing pedigree maintenance manuals, and quite likely a pedigree of which one can feel confident in taking advantage of.
advanced road bike maintenance is perhaps a slightly misleading title, for though there are many aspects and procedures that most certainly come under the heading of advanced, simple jobs such as mending a puncture, or replacing a gear or brake cable are also explained in detail. there are probably few nowadays who have need of gluing a tubular, but if you have, then page 69 would make a good starting point.
in my long-gone days of selling bicycles, i was wont to leave the little paper books tagged to the gear levers in situ for the benefit of the cycle's new owner. its multi-lingual pages described in simple detail just how to adjust recalcitrant indexed gears, a few millimetres askew due to cable stretch. however, more often than not, the bicycle would be brought back after a week or so, the whole transmission system in a state of confusion. from then on, i removed the little booklets, for it was far simpler to remedy the situation myself, than allow the ham-fisted to meddle naively.
the haynes manual explains in clearly defined and illustrated steps just how the cable tension ought to be set, resulting in perfect gearshifts each and every time. the authors however, suggest placing the chain in the smallest rear sprocket before making subsequent adjustments, yet campagnolo suggest placing it upon the 5th smallest sprocket.
in view of the manual's advanced status, i was slightly surpised there were no instructions on how to repair or adjust the internals of brake/gearshift levers from any one of the major three. and in view of how time is marching on, i was also confounded that the chapter on disc brakes made no mention of hydraulics. the fact that these are not competition approved by the uci really ought not to be the deciding factor. (in mitigation, this is a 2013 english translation of a 2011 german language edition. however...)
electronica is at least given a token mention. though concerned only with di2 from shimano (campagnolo's eps isn't even mentioned) there is a three-step description on fitting the wiring loom and just as many informing how to check and charge the battery. to be honest, much of this is covered in the manual accompanying a di2 equipped bicycle, but it's at least nice to see modernity getting a look-see.
however, there is a great deal to commend this excellent road bike maintenance manual. from the opening chapter covering a basic toolset, expanding into the more rarefied of items, to cosmetic frame repairs and travelling with the bike. with the almost complete lack of standardisation and compatibility within the bicycle industry, it cannot be a simple task to offer a one size fits all approach to both the mechanically inept and the technically superior. authors dirk zedler and thomas musch have made a reasonably fine job of doing so. the text is clear and mostly closed to misinterpretation, while the substantial number of colour photographs make it a simple task for the most technically incompetent to follow each stage of the job in hand.
perhaps the most annoying feature, and it's one that afflicts each and every maintenance manual on the market, is that the bicycles and components illustrated are quite immaculate. rare will be the occasion that the home mechanic will find themselves working on such pristine componentry. that, however, is a cross we all have to bear whatever our level of expertise/
if you're at all interested in maintaining your bicycle, or even simply understanding enough to make sure the guy or gal at the lbs is appraised of from precisely where that grinding noise originates, haynes manual of advanced road bike maintenance would be a decent choice from the bookshelf. maybe if a reprint becomes necessary, printing on grease-resistant paper in ring-bound format would make it a tad easier to work through several of the procedures. if bicycle technology development continues at its current pace, i sincerely doubt this will be the final edition.
wednesday 15th july 2013