book review: the bike-owner’s handbook

it is hard to take good pictures of books.

One of the great pleasures of reviewing books from Cicada Books, a London-based publisher, is that they’re all gorgeous, which is exactly their goal: they publish the book equivalent of an incredibly well-brewed small-batch craft beer, or a gorgeous screenprinted limited edition 7″ cover. They’re a pleasure to hold, and to read, as works of art — and they’re equally useful, from Graphic USA to their newest, The Bike-Owner’s Handbook.

Carrboro and Chapel Hill are bicycle towns; bike lanes galore, a couple of good bike shops, and a population that likes to get around without using a car, which is tough when the bus system is what it is (useful, but not the public transportation of a big city). So: they ride bikes. I, myself, even own a great mountain bike, though it needs new tires and a lot of oil on its chain before I can use it again, but at one point in my Chapel Hill residence, I rode it a lot, mostly from my apartment up several big hills to campus.

The Bike-Owner’s Handbook is a guidebook to taking care of your ride, a delightful little pocket – or saddlebag – sized volume with step by step instructions for doing almost any kind of maintenance a bike owner could encounter. It’s full of gorgeous hand-drawn graphic instructions in between the text, from standard puncture repair and chain replacement to the “not for the faint of heart” gear adjustment and the somewhere in between brake maintenance. It’s the kind of thing that you could tuck in the side pocket of a bag, lightweight and compact, and take with you on a long ride if you’re not familiar with standard repairs (in case of emergency, of course!)

The sections are separated by lovely black and white photographs of cycles, cyclists, and tools — it’s a tiny little thing, this book, but it’s been put together, as all Cicada’s books are, with great care and affection, and it’s gorgeous as well as useful. Which, frankly, is what I think everything in the world should be: gorgeous and useful. Cicada just does it particularly well, and this release, for a community like the Thrill that loves their bikes, is highly recommended.

You can order it from Amazon here.

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