Bike maintenance has always been a complicated matter to me as I have always been rubbish when it came to DIY. When I was a kid, my dad often took me down to the basement to help him in constructing a piece of furniture or welding together two pieces of metal, that were to serve some important purpose in the kitchen. I was always more interested in the newspapers that were laid on the floor to protect it, thus I didn’t learn much from him.

Therefore I haven’t learned how to maintain my bike, even though I have been riding for more than 17 years now. I know it is lame. So I said to myself: let’s end this once and for all and set out to learn how to look after and service my bike. After some research, I ended up buying a book, Zinn & The Art Of Road Bike Maintenance, a comprehensive guide to bike maintenance. It seemed to be a well detailed book with informative graphics, so I assumed it would be a good starting point.

Reading the book and actually servicing a bike are two very different things, so I wanted to figure out, if the book was able to walk me through the not too complicated task of assembling a bike from a box, as it had arrived from the manufacturer. I paid a visit to Evans Cycle’s Westend store’s workshop to test my theory. I agreed with Dan, their chief mechanic, that I would assemble a bike and once I felt I was ready, he would assess how I had done.

Here’s a quick video of the assembly.

Bike maintenance for dummies from Evans Cycles on Vimeo.

It took me a bit more than two hours to assemble a Specialized Allez road bike. It was pretty straightforward; there were only two occasions, when I had to ask for help, other than that, the instructions in the book were able to guide me.

The first occurrence was when I wanted to insert the gear cable into the front shifter. It took some convincing, but with Dan’s help, I managed to insert it. The other problem I had was with adjusting and aligning the front derailleur. Quite likely, I didn’t follow the procedure step by step and that’s why I ended up with a loose cable. It was typically the kind of situation, where it’s a bit hard to explain things in writing but a video could have sold my problems easily.

My greatest worry was whether I was able to do the cables properly or not, but it turned out to be much easier than I expected. Setting up the brakes was pretty easy, too, reading carefully the instructions in the book did answer most of my questions.

As a conclusion, if you fancied dipping your toes into bike maintenance, this book is a great starting point and will answer most of your questions. It covers all the big brands and all the latest technology but there is always the odd component that is not featured in the book. Best if you have a friend you can ask in case you get stuck. But reading the instructions thoroughly could never hurt.