Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tinker, Biker, Beggerman, Nerd

Title: The Urban Biking Handbook
Author: Charles Haine
Bookmark: a business card with a ludicrously long title

For Christmas, I asked for a book on building (and repairing) one's own bicycle.  I had been inspired by an event I attended in November (the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show), and an article from a magazine I picked up at said event.  Beautiful bikes, custom-built to be a perfect fit for both the size and riding preferences of their owners.  Pricy, of course, because they involve someone making a frame to fit your frame, but I figured it could be a good project for me; I love biking, and I feel that a mechanical engineer who doesn't know the second thing about his car's engine should at least be able to take care of his own bike, or stop calling himself an engineer.

The book is specifically targeted at people who do the majority of their biking in cities.  So far, that isn't me, but while that is the book's promise, the scope is a bit broader than the cover might imply.  It even has good information no matter how much biking experience you have.  Some of the chapters (what to wear while biking) and How-Tos (jumping a curb or fixing a flat) are stuff I've known since my early teens, but others (the wide variety of, and subtle differences between frame types; how to grease and re-pack bearings) were fascinating new stuff for me.

Haine would benefit from a good proof-reader--there were some weird typos, and a couple instances when the large intro to a chapter, printed bold in the margin, was just a paragraph of text from that chapter (including one instance where it was the entirety of the chapter)--and I was disappointed both that the very brief section on the cases for and against helmets had ANY case against helmets.  For that matter, it also bothered me that many of the pictures which showed bikers wearing helmets (there were at least as many without) showed helmets that were improperly adjusted.  Hopefully, anyone looking to get into biking would consult more than one book, but as someone who's been bounced off one or two cars who weren't paying attention to me OR road laws, WEAR YOUR DAMN HELMET!  And take a look at the book--good information, lots of pictures.

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posted by reyn at 11:50 AM


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