After a mere 15 minutes of looking through the bike repair how-to guides included in Bike Doctor 2.0, I decided that the app was worth the $5 I paid for it. Normally, I'm a tight-fisted miser disinclined to spend even 99 cents for an app, so paying five times that much represents an extraordinary leap of faith. But I happen to be a fairly obsessive cyclist who always feels guilty about not doing enough of my own bike maintenance. $5 to put me on the track to doing some of my own bike repairs? For a guy who already owns three sets of riding gloves? What was I waiting for?
Bike Doctor 2.0, as the name would suggest, is the recently upgraded version of an app that's been around for a few years and received generally good reviews. The brainchild of LondonCyclist's Andreas Kambanis, it now includes 41 illustrated how-to's. Everything from the intimidating -- "Fork Sag Adjustment" or "Replace a Rear Cassette" -- to the absolute basics, like fixing a puncture or avoiding the "Seven Rookie Maintenance Mistakes." (Oh, and by the way, if you are some kind of hammerhead who is already preparing cutting remarks about how trivial it is to replace a rear cassette, well, all I can say is this app isn't for you! Stop reading! Go for a ride, jerk!)
Bike Doctor 2.0 has me psyched to try things like truing my own well. Adjusting the tension of all the spokes on a wheel so it doesn't wobble back and forth and rub the brake pads is a task I've always left up to the bike shop mechanic. But it also feels like something I should be able to do, and Bike Doctor 2.0 makes the process look straightforward. But I was also impressed with much more basic advice. I've taken off my rear wheel scores of times to fix flats, but I never realized that best practice is to make sure the chain is on the big ring and smallest cog before starting. That tiny bit of advice was worth at least a dollar of the purchase price.
The obvious great advantage of having a repair manual as an app is that one is already highly likely to be carrying one's phone when riding. An actual paperback manual is far too cumbersome to tote. I'm actually looking forward to the next mechanical mishap that occurs when I'm off in the East Bay hills somewhere, and I pull out my trusty app to guide me through my necessary repairs.
So -- I'm off to the bike shop to get my own spoke wrench, and then it's back to the hills! Cyclists who want to up your game: This app's worth looking at.