Saturday, March 1, 2008

Chainbreaker Bike Book

For those who are interested in such things, the world is full of bike books. lists 1128 of them - books on bike building, bike repair, bike history, buying a bike, etc. ad infinitum.

As a dedicated book buyer and and bike geek, I own twenty-odd bike-related titles myself. I recently picked up the single best bicycle book I have ever seen, and that's not an exaggeration. "The Chainbreaker Bike Book," by Shelley Lynn Jackson and Ethan Clark, is a comprehensive, complete and utterly accessible introduction to the world of D.I.Y. bike repair. The co-authors are self-described bike punks who have gathered a wealth of experience to share with amateur and professional mechanics. The book, published by independent Microcosm press, is designed like a zine - the entire thing is hand illustrated and peppered with well selected photocopies from other books or journals. The language is informal, but the knowledge is both first-rate and non-technical. The chapters cover everything from buying used parts to conducting a proper step-by-step overhaul, to bike aesthetics and fashion. Unlike many bike books which feature an abundance of tech specifics and sing the praises of needlessly expensive specialized parts, there is nothing intimidating about this book.

Honestly, ANYONE who rides a bike and has half-a-mind to learn about repair and maintenance, who wants to learn some bike building skills, or who is interested in the philosophical cult of beauty and simplicity that surrounds bicycles should spend $14 on this book. In addition to being an extremely practical manual, it's an inspiring and dedicated work of art.

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