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Essential Road Bike Maintenance from popular cycling channel GCN comprises easy to follow maintenance walkthroughs, plus tips and tricks on road bike upkeep. It's definitely aimed at the beginner, and it's nicely written and illustrated – a great start point if you want to tackle specific tasks, or simply brush up on your knowledge.
GCN's book – that's the Global Cycling Network – is logically set out. The first 60-odd pages are a very basic introduction to the different bikes commonly found on the road, their parts, and how to set one up right out the box (yep, it even covers 'how to inflate your tyres'). After that it delves into specific sections such as transmission, braking, wheels, frames and forks, and cleaning.
The chapters are all where you might expect to find them even with very little knowledge, and fairly comprehensive. The transmission section covers everything from shifter maintenance to replacing jockey wheels, for instance, and each job gets a difficulty rating and time estimate.
Each task is laid out with simple, step-by-step instructions and clearly-shot images to match. I find them genuinely easy to follow. The vast majority come with QR code links to GCN videos that should help, too, though you could always just search for the videos...
You get 71 walk-throughs and 64 videos linked to them, and each is intuitive and easy to follow. There's no doubt GCN has set a high standard for tutorial videos in recent years – presented well by knowledgeable presenters, you could argue the videos are what really make this book as helpful as it is.
This manual also covers the tools you need, dividing them into essentials and 'great to haves' (there are 13 in total, so it's hardly a prohibitively long list). This is followed up with handy tips and the mistakes to avoid when using them.
The book also delves a little into solving common problems and niggles. Got a creaking seatpost? Need a bit more comfort from your handlebar? Wondering how to set up your cleats? All are covered, and much more besides.
Flaws? While bikes are arguably becoming more and more uniform in design, you may find yours doesn't quite conform to the specifications assumed here. Cable routing is assumed to be internal, and I can't remember encountering much on external routing at all.
Sure, it's easier to service than internal routing, but if you're a beginner I think that you're likely to want some specific guidance for peace of mind.
At a penny short of £20, for a resource you could well be referring to for years to come it's good value. For comparison, Zinn & The Art of Road Bike Maintenance is also £19.99, though arguably pitched towards a slightly more advanced mechanic, while Haynes' The Bike Book: Complete Bicycle Maintenance 7th Edition is £18.99.
Essential Road Bike Maintenance is a useful, high quality catch-all book to get you started, or help you polish your skills without having to book onto a mechanic's course. For that, it deserves real credit and gets the thumbs up from this particularly untalented mechanic!
If you don't already own a mechanical manual, this one is well worth considering.
Accessible and up to date – perfect for beginners or those looking to broaden their knowledge
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: GCN Essential Guide to Bike Maintenance
Size tested: 280mm x 216mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
GCN says: "For road, gravel, commuter and hybrid bikes, Essential Road Bike Maintenance is intended to be a proper bible to all those essential bike maintenance, repairs, and set-up tasks that we all need to know."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pages: 260 (120sm)
Size: 280mm (h) x 216mm (w) (portrait)
Cover Finish: 300gsm, silk stock with anti-scuff matte laminate and spot UV gloss finish
Good quality, matt finish high-stock cover, with good quality paper.
The book has started to fray at the corners, but that's to be expected in a workshop setting – if it stays looking as new, chances are that you're not using it properly!
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's easy to follow.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to read, includes video tutorial links, and covers the latest and most common standards.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not for those with older or 'non-standard' bikes.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's right on the money: Zinn & The Art of Road Bike Maintenance is also £19.99, though arguably pitched towards a slightly more advanced mechanic, while the The Bike Book Complete Bicycle Maintenance 7th Edition (Haynes Manual) is £18.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a great introduction if you're just starting out in home repairs, with great insights, tips and tricks. It covers all the bases and is clear and easy to use. It's not for expert or even confident intermediate mechanics, but it's great for beginners. It's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: I ride: I would class myself as:
I regularly do the following types of riding: