A lot of these guides come across my desk, all asking for a DC review. I’m never excited to see them, because they’re never really interesting reads. Occasionally, though, one shines through the muck. This one, The Bike Owner’s Handbook by Peter Drinkell, came all the way across the pond, and when I opened up the package, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. This is what a how-to book should look like, and this is how it should function. I’ll tell you straight off that this is my favorite bike handbook so far, if for nothing else than the aesthetics and the functionality. You’ll immediately be reminded of Moleskine journals when you pick this up, right down to the elastic that keeps the pages bound together when it’s stuffed in your hydration pack. The cover is thick and tough, which means you won’t be dealing with torn pages after years of use.
Inside you won’t find anything too surprising, except for one key feature: QR codes that lead to instructional videos. That means instead of reading a step-by-step manual on how to change your brake pads, you can scan the QR code with your phone and watch a quick tutorial. I’ve known about QR codes for quite a while now, but I really saw no real functional purpose for them. Companies often use them to advertise specials or discounts, which I find silly: I have to use my damn phone to get ten cents off your soda? This, however, is a functional, practical use for QR codes that I think makes a great addition to this book.
The illustrations are rudimentary but clear, and the photos are just interesting enough to make the pages fun to flip through. The writing is nothing to get too excited about, but it’s clear, edited well, and concise so you’re not reading a novel when all you need to know is which way to turn your high limit screw.
I would recommend this for do-it-yourselfers who are new to the game, or for folks who want to know the basics should you get stuck out on a long ride with no other knowledgeable mechanics to help you. Also, bike shop owners, this is a great one to have on your counter as an impulse buy. It’s attractive, clear, and a great way to get your customers tinkering (which inevitably means they’ll be coming back to you for advice).
That said, it is by no means a repair bible. Readers will have questions, which is a good thing, if you ask me. Too many of these handbooks try to explain everything in detail, which means it’s easy for the reader to get bogged down. This book does exactly what it’s supposed to do: get the reader the basics, and encourage them to seek out more information at their local bike shops.
Though not a compelling read, I’ll give it 5 out of 5 spores from D2. Worth the money, worth the read, mostly thanks to its functionality and clear writing.