complete road bike maintenance. guy andrews. bloomsbury publishing ring-bound softback. 208pp illus. £18.99

complete road bike maintenance

some of you may have appraised yourself of the movie/photo-essay about mercian cycles on rapha's website. half slide show, half podcast, the remit of this media item is to explore the history and work of the derby-based framebuilders, who have been crafting fine steel bicycles since the mid 1940s. the reason for this major exposure, aside from the fact that their craftsmanship deserves all the plaudits available, is that the latest member of the rapha continental in the uk is now aboard a cycle from shardlow road.

however, one of the idiosyncracies brought to light during the commentary of mercian owner, grant mosley, a feature that must be all but lost nowadays, was the number of roadies who would commission a new frame every year painted in an identical colour to last year's frame. this was essentially to fool her indoors into thinking that money had not been spent on a new bicycle frame each year. with so many manufacturers shifting from the frame-only paradigm, and fewer cyclists aboard a material other than carbon, this is a dying state of affairs.

however, for those who still express a preference for purchasing the very frame, steel or otherwise, that will fulfil their every dream (at least until next year) there comes the comcomitant necessity of adding the componentry that will turn it into a bicycle of merit. and no matter which way you look at it, that's going to involve either the friendly local bike shop, or a far more onerous solo effort. and that, as you will have reailsed by now, requires a healthy dollop of knowledge and ability.

the bicycle, by and large, and certainly in comparison to an airbus a380, is simplicity itself. as an individual, i am a rather adept mechanic, even if i do say so myself, though i confess i draw the line at electronics and hydraulics. those delights are just a park tool kit too far i'm afraid. assembling, maintaining and repairing the common or garden road bike is relatively easy. and i am very much of the opinion that if i can do it, pretty much anyone can. yes, somewhere about i have copy of barnett's bicycle manual and an aging version of sutherland's, but mostly i have learned by getting things wrong and figuring out how not to repeat the exercise.

nowadays, however, there really is no believable excuse as to why you should need to follow in my tyre tracks, and one of the principal reasons is sat on the arm of chair as i write.

guy andrews may be best known to most of you as the editor in charge at rouleur, not only a highly respected writer, but a pretty darned good photographer into the bargain. as if those abilities were not sufficient to make his mark on the world of cycling, guy is also a remarkably accomplished cycle mechanic, having presented at least a couple of workshops with rohan dubash over the years. though he has produced previous cycle mechanic books, this edition from bloomsbury publishing is listed as their first with the author.

this is a book that imbues an immediate sense of trust to the newly constituted bicycle mechanic if for no other reason than its published format. not everyone owns a carefully laid out workshop with a place for everything and everything in its place, augmented by a sturdy workbench featuring a wheel-truing stand and hefty vice. some of us plonk the workstand outside the back door, and leave all the tools, components and irritating plastic bags and boxes atop the coal bunker. in which case there is no greater aid to fixing stuff than the ability to lay the pages of the repair manual open flat.

inside the stiff card cover is a ring-bound manual. obvious, but rare.

guy deals with all the basics such as frame materials, types of road bike, and sets of tools depending on budget and ability. there then follows a well laid out, well illustrated manual describing the main jobs that the home mechanic may find himself/herself required to carry out. where necessary, andrews offers the knowledge required for frame repair, though several of the tools required for these procedures are likely beyond the financial wherewithal of me and you.

though the manual describes the various shifting systems, it stops short of delving into the minutiae of dismantling and rebuilding these units. probably a wise move, though one or two of us are always keen to stretch our knowledge just a bit further than we should. however, the task of fitting cables into obscure places is suitably covered. my inference that fixing bicycles is relatively easy is borne out by the clear manner in which the step by step instructions are related to the avid reader. clarity is guy's watchword.

the rear of the book contains a glossary of terminology used in the book, including several terms it would be prudent to know before dismantling stuff you know little or nothing about. if you're only going to buy one book to keep you on the straight and narrow when it comes to bearings, spokes, cleats, headsets, this is probably the one you want.

there's even a chapter on how to fit mudguards correctly, something that you might well be grateful for as 2013 heads towards the tail end of the weather.

if you'd like to win a copy of guy andrews' 'complete road bike maintenance' simply tell me of which esteemed publication he is currently editor in chief? answers to by wednesday 28th august, remembering to include your full postal address. first correct answer out the toolbox wins.

wednesday 21st august 2013