Park Tools Big Blue Book Of Bicycle Repair by C. Calvin Jones.
This is a top drawer book. It really is. Calvin’s 35 years in the bike industry working variously as a professional and Olympic team mechanic, teacher and industry consultant make him an authority on the subject of bike repair and maintenance. The book leads you through the basics such as fixing a flat and also instils in you the confidence necessary to undertake more complex tasks such as derailleur adjustment and replacing a bottom bracket. It is beautifully illustrated with crisp, clear photographs utilized to guide you through every step of whatever repair or maintenance procedure you are undertaking. It’s laid out logically in chapters that deal with the different components of a bike. Tires And Tubes, Rear Sprockets, Pedals and so on.
The detail is impressive and the attention paid to the differences in rival manufacturers’ components would make even a novice feel capable of at least basic bike maintenance. The first chapter, Basic Mechanical Skills, doesn’t assume the reader has any prior technical skills and makes the book all the more impressive because of this stance. In plain English it explains the concept of Mechanical Advantage, how to work best with two wrenches and also shows where mechanical advantage might be gained while working on your bike when it’s only possible to use one wrench. The importance of correct lubrication is discussed. As is the differences between various lubricants and their appropriate uses. The book goes so far as to explain the physical properties of various lubricants. Who knew, that grease was merely a mixture of soap and oil, the oil suspended in the soap, for example? Torque is explained in matter of fact, easy to comprehend language. The tone of the writing is measured and in no way condescending or intimidating. There’s also an extremely useful guide to On-Ride Repairs. A chapter best digested prior to setting off on any long range rides.
The Big Blue Book is a worthy addition to any cyclist’s bookshelf. But it’s also more than a manual; it’s also a very dangerous book. Dangerous? In what way? Well, if you’re anything like me, as you read the book, and it’s written in a way that most cyclists will want to read it cover to cover rather than just dip in and out as and when problems occur, you may find yourself mentally assembling a comprehensive tool kit. A tool kit that will consist entirely of Park Tool products. Who amongst us couldn’t find a way to justify purchasing a repair stand for instance?
“The repair stand (work stand) is the basic and most crucial piece of equipment for any shop or home.”
Makes perfect sense to me. In fact I don’t know how I’ve managed so long without one. Sadly, the wife doesn’t seem to agree. She thinks it’s quite alright to flip the bike over and work on it upside down. She’s mad, right?
There’s a fantastic photograph at the bottom of page 8 of the current (2nd) edition showing a work bench layout with a wall mounted pegboard filled with gorgeous blue handled Park Tool tools. Not only do I think it looks great but I also want it for myself. No, that’s not right, I need it. That’s right, I need this exact same set up. In my mind, I’ve already cleared a space in the garage for it. In fact all that remains is for me to find the second job that will actually pay for all these wonderful new toys, erm, tools.
I know the bottom bracket on my bike has 20 splines. This means the appropriate tool is Park Tool BBT-22. How do I know this? Page 85 has a table clearly showing various bottom bracket fittings and the Park Tool that fits it. There are 9 different bottom bracket fittings shown and 9 different Park Tool products, one for each different style. I want them all. Just in case. You will too.
The paradox of this book is that ostensibly it could save you a lot of money on costly repairs but, if you’re weak, and Lord knows I am, it could easily turn out to be the most expensive book you’ve ever purchased. That said, I have no hesitation in recommending this title to any cyclist (road or mountain) because the information and the way that information is presented really is top notch. Buy this book but don’t say you weren’t warned.