Why Are Bike Manuals So Bad?

Discussion in 'Your Bloody Soap Box' started by Carrera, May 17, 2007.

  1. Carrera

    Carrera New Member

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    Time to sound off big time!
    Is it just me who gets frustrated by the stupidity of the current crop of so-called experts who write bike mechanic manuals. :mad: I've just been left dumbfounded by a paragraph that tells the would be to mechanic to "select the right gear before changing the gear shifter cable". :confused:
    Er, does this writer assume we're psychic or something? Wouldn't it be somehow useful to state which gear specifically is the right gear? The only way I could guess my way through this is that is it must be the same as a roadbike where you change right down to the limit of the cable.
    What happens is I know far more about roadbike mechanics than I do about MTB and after my roadbike was stolen, I bought a cheap MTB for general knocking around to work and back. However, I don't know how to change gear cables on grip-shifters as of yet and made the silly mistake of assuming a bike manual would explain it.
    I mean, surely, it isn't so hard to describe a basic mechanical process with clear illustrations in steps and then actually list and illustrate the parts involved.
    I have a Haynes manual to my boat engine and find this is far better with broken down, exploded illustrations and a bit more detail.
    So far all the MTB manuals I got from my library seem to assume you already know how to do the job at hand, which is kind of crazy. :confused:
     
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  2. p38lightning

    p38lightning New Member

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    Well I must agree that you've hit on something. The problem seems to lie in the fact that the manuals are written by mechanics and not by technical writers. Let me use an analogy. Windows XP has documentation written at different levels. At the bottom there is the highly sucessfull "For Dummies" stuff. Que writes to intermediates, and Microsoft more towards the advanced or professional. All this stuff is ultimately written by tech writers. This seems not to be the case with bike repair manuals. Even worse is that the manuals are not consistant throughout a given volume. More advanced proceedures seem to assume that you've done this before and know "THE RIGHT GEAR" rather than being more digressive and explanitory.

    What we need is a cyclist Tech Writer to sit down with a good mechanic and have a bunch of everyday home repair bike mechanics do the editing!
     
  3. stevebaby

    stevebaby New Member

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    Carrera, the "right" gear should read "gears",i.e. "1" for the FD/chainrings and "8/9"(or whatever) for the RD/cassette.
    This lets out the maximum amount of cable, necessary so that you will have all your gears when you put it back together. As you seem to have figured out already...same as a roadie.Try the link below. Park's website seems better than most bike manuals.Lennard Zinn's book isn't too bad for most things, but I agree, most of the manuals are pretty poor.
    http://www.parktool.com/
    Welcome to Park Tool Company
     
  4. willocrew

    willocrew New Member

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    They try to make it sound like rocket science.

    Everyone does it. Lawyers too.
     
  5. Carrera

    Carrera New Member

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    It was my own fault this time round. If I'd read further ahead I'd have seen that the "right gear" is usually highlighted by a mark or line on an MTB but normally it's the very last gear.
    I'm basically having a blitz on bike and boat mechanics/electrics so have a few manuals I keep going through.
    It can be confusing, though. I don't know whether my MTB has cones and cups with free bearings or even sealed bearings (unlikely as it's a cheap model).
    Really I'm a roadbiker but now I have a spare MTB I might as well figure out how it's maintained.
    Another thing I'm not too sure on is the gear cables on my MTB. On a roadbike, you just pull up the brake leaver to change cables but I understand many MTB's have a hatch. I've found a small screw near the cables on my MTB so it looks as if this is how I can get at the cables, by unscrewing the small, plastic cover.
    Oh, the boat is back on. There was a big layoff but I sorted out the paperwork and can keep the boat. I'm just in the process of finishing off the outboard bracket that I'm bolting on the stern, using marine ply.

     
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