Reviewed by Mykle Hansen
Photography: Momentum Contributors
A Cooperative Guide to Flat Repairs
By Mark Lipe, the workers of CityBikes, and members of the Portland cycling community, 2009
245 pages, $10 USD + shipping
Oh, come on! A 245-page guide to fixing a flat on your bicycle? That’s like publishing a monograph on shoelace-tying, or a five-volume set of illustrated guidelines on how to change a light bulb… isn’t it?
Honestly, it’s not. Rest assured, you’ll never need to read all 245 of these pages, because this book is written in a choose-your-own-adventure format that will lead you directly to just the necessary instructions for your particular type of bike, brakes, axle, wheel, tire and tube. But for this review, I read every single page and thereby gained a new appreciation for the depth of experience and wisdom that good bike mechanics bring to their work.
I have a ton of sympathy for bike mechanics. They earn a fraction of what automobile mechanics make and charge less for every comparable service. Yet, while car owners react to the stratospheric cost of their vehicles’ maintenance with relative maturity, when those same people waltz into my local bike shop with a front wheel shaped like a Pringle’s potato chip, they whinge mightily about the thirty-dollar cost of a replacement. “Why, I only paid one hundred dollars for the whole bike!” they say. “Can’t you just bend it back? Why not? It looks easy!”
This book was born from one mechanic’s desire to teach the average customer how to perform the single most commonly requested bicycle repair: fixing a flat. Six other experienced mechanics, three editors, four illustrators and a photographer contributed their wisdom and advice. In the resulting 245 pages, the task of flat repair – from initial diagnosis to riding happily away – is delicately dissected, copiously illustrated, and utterly explained in friendly non-technical language. Absolutely nothing is left out.
Here’s my only complaint: weighing in at three pounds and measuring 8.5 x 11 inches, this book will never be part of a bicyclist’s emergency repair kit, where it would be most welcome. I’d like to see this book in a digital version that fits on my phone. Information is power!