Bike Repair App

New bike repair app could be a big money saver

A new interactive bike repair app for the iPhone and Android systems could save users some serious coin at the bike shop by providing easy to follow instructions for DIY maintenance. Made by Atomic Software, the app offers a comprehensive breakdown of bike parts and common symptoms to help users diagnose and fix anything from a chain in need of lube to basic wheel truing. With both written and visual instructions, it makes basic repairs seem considerably less intimidating. It even has a section devoted to cycling-related aches and pains.

Despite the fact that repairs like adjusting derailleurs, tightening headsets, and replacing tires are quite straightforward tasks on most bikes that are in decent condition, many still view the tune-up as a yearly necessity. It isn't. If you take relatively good care of your ride throughout the year, only one-off repairs should be required to keep you rolling. That's why this app impresses me. Over the years, I've learned how to do quite a few adjustments and repairs, but inevitably over time I forget the nuances and end up lacking confidence when I approach anything more than a surface clean or replacing inner tubes.

In the past I'd make good use of the maintenance tips on the Park Tools website to refresh my memory, but the browsing experience is crappy on my phone, so it's not that convenient when I'm outside with my bike in the stand or, of course, if I'm on the road or trail. Needless to say, having such information available on a phone is a far better solution. But it'd be a moot point if the interface and instructions weren't up to snuff. Fortunately, the opposite is true. I think the bike repair app is an easier to follow guide that anything else I've used, including large format books.

The key is the interactive nature of the user interface, which lets you diagnose problems by typical symptoms or by part. Once you pinpoint what the problem is, which can take up to four steps, the majority of the fixes don't seem so complicated. And, in the event that something strikes you as way over your head, the app should still help you to explain to your mechanic what the problem seems to be, something that often proves a challenge.

The app costs $2.99, but considering that if it saves you on one repair it will have paid for itself, I'm happy to recommend taking the plunge. The one caveat is that, as Gizmodo's review notes, it's pretty easy to get one's phone all greasy when using it as a repair guide. Still, I'm willing to put up with this considering the potential time and money it might save me.

THE SKINNY

Pros

  • Easy to use, intuitive interface
  • Wide-ranging breakdown of repairs
  • Inclusion of aches and pains diagnostic

Cons

  • Can't enlarge photos
  • Seems oriented (at least visually) to road bikes
  • Grease on the screen!

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