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Tuesday, April 13, 2004


If I could give one bit of advice to newbie commuters and DIY mechanics: Besides spending time in your lbs and asking lots of questions of your mechanic, besides searching through lots of on-line catalogs and bicycling sites and bookmarking your favorites, besides utilizing on-line communities such as bikeforums.net to thier fullest, besides getting a good repair manual for your home library, and besides just doing it; It would be to get your hands on a hard-copy paper tools and parts catalog with lots of pictures as soon as possible.

All of the afore-mentioned options are good choices, and of course I want to support paper free resources in favor of electronic and human as much as possible. But for me this isn't possible 100% and I wouldn't ask it to be so of anyone else. There is nothing in my mind like having a good fiberbound catalog in front of me that I can easily flip through and back and forth from page to page, whether in bed or at the breakfast table; and that I can see pictures of the tools I need, and of the parts that might be confusing me (a cog vs. a crank vs. a cartridge for example, might sound naive, but when your starting out into the details the learning curve is def there, and the terms are a part of it).

So just yesterday, after bike commuting for almost a year, and struggling with on-line searches for parts, stops at the lbs that are sometimes fruitless or inconvenient, and looking over my bike questioningly at times, my first bike parts and tools catalog came in the mail, bike tools etc., and I feel like a light bulb went on in my head after just one flip through. My visual mind meets my cognitive and it all starts to fall into place a little more for me; a dozen or more lubricants side-by-side on one page (and divided into wet and dry, with descriptions and tech hints); pages of fasteners that I often searched long minutes for at the hardware store, often not finding exactly what I was looking for as a replacement and having to instead substitute something that eventually worked, now all lined up and described and priced; and much much more. Do yourself a favor and pick up a good catalog today.

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