Thursday, February 6, 2014

BIKE BOOK REVIEW: Park Tool Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair, Edition 3

Readers, since it's winter - typically when bicycles need more maintenance - here's a rerun of a recent Jim's Tech Talk column I wrote for RoadBikeRider all about a helpful new guide to bike repair.

As bicycles get more sophisticated, what with advances in carbon frames and components, electronic drivetrains and hydraulic-disc brakes for the road, not to mention the myriad of new bottom bracket and headset configurations - it’s pays to keep on hand an excellent up-to-date bicycle repair manual.

Enter, Park Tool's 3rd Edition Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair by Calvin Jones ($24.95; available in bicycle shops, bookstores and online/the link above).

While there are lots of things to like about this 241-page softcover book packed with color photos, among my favorite features is that it’s for all bicycles. So, this one book tells you what you need to know to fix all the bikes in your stable from your favorite road bike(s) to your kids’ cruisers or mountain bikes, to your spouse’s everyday get-around machine.

Both older bikes and modern ones are covered, too. And, there’s even a section on internally geared hubs, which are found on many city bikes - a type of road bike growing in popularity as our commutes get more traffic choked and frustrating.

Also, because this book comes from one of the world’s leading, oldest and most innovative bicycle tool manufacturers, the step-by-step procedures and tips and tricks are explained with detail about using tools, too. And, because Park has extensive bike repair help on their website where all their tools are explained, the book refers you to their excellent online sections for even more information.

Trivia: Park Tool’s roots go back to 1956 and a small fix-it shop in St. Paul, Minnesota called Hazel Park Radio and Bicycle. When they became a tool company, they dropped the rest and simply went with Park Tool Company.

I think you’ll also like the clear and simple directions. Some repair manuals are over complicated, which can lead to confusion or simply being afraid to tackle something well within your ability but that appears overly difficult because there’s simply too much information to digest.

Park’s step by steps and procedures - even on high-tech, newer adjustments like setting up Campagnolo EPS and Shimano Di2 electric shifting, or fine-tuning those hydraulic discs I mentioned - are short and sweet and to the point. And when more information is helpful, Jones points you in the right direction.

Tip: Keep in mind that besides this bike repair book and others you might own, there’s an increasing wealth of information on component makers’ and some manufacturers’ websites. There has to be because the companies are producing new designs so quickly that the paper and ink publishing world just can’t keep up. So you’ll want to supplement any repair book’s recommendations with what you find out online.

But there’s plenty in this book to keep your wrenching going smoothly, from charts of recommended torque settings (all-important with carbon bicycles/parts), headset standards, tool lists for setting up your home and on-the-road workshops, a nice glossary so you get your terminology correct talking to your mechanic at the shop and even a fun section all about dealing with breakdowns on the road and trail. I’m sure you’ll be very happy you have a copy in your home shop.

From Park’s website, here are a few more details: 17 chapters; extensive table of contents for easily finding what you need; through-axle systems; tubeless-tire conversion systems; SRAM XX1 11-speed freehub removal/installation; Campagnolo Power Torque cranksets; Specialized S-Works cranksets; BB30 crankset system; PF30 bottom-bracket system; BB86 and BB92 bottom brackets; 11-speed chains/ 11-speed Campagnolo chain installation; 11-speed derailleurs; Shimano Di2 electronic shifting; Campagnolo EPS electronic shifting; Shimano 9000 derailleur adjustments; Shimano and SRAM clutch-type rear derailleurs; SRAM Red derailleur adjustments; Tektro hydraulic brakes; headset standards and SHIS standards, and more.

Tip: For more tool and bike repair tips, check out Calvin’s Corner where Park Tools’ Calvin Jones, the author of the Big Blue Book, offers tales and insights from his work at Park and as a professional USA Cycling mechanic and instructor for USA Cycling’s mechanics' program and Park Tool’s shop-mechanic training program, too.

To successful and enjoyable bicycle repairs,