Eben Weiss is the Bike Snob behind the blog BSNYC, and this is his fourth bike book. He braggingly titled it The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual: The Universal Guide to Bikes, Riding, and Everything for Beginner and Seasoned Cyclists. That’s a hard title to live up to, but I think he’s done it, and I think everybody who can both read and ride and eat should consume every page. Do I agree with everything in it? Actually, yes. True to form, Eben makes sense of nonsense and talks straight and unapologetically about bikes, riding, gear, customs, ways, pretention, touring, racing, bikes in society, culture and subcultures, keeping your bike, and riding with children. Maybe you know most of this already. That’s fine. In that case, he doesn’t talk down to you; he affirms what you already know or believe, and he clarifies things you’re fuzzy on, Here’s one of the things he says about helmets, p. 101:
“Most companies and shops will tell you to replace your helmet after three years. I am highly skeptical of this. Your helmet is made from EPS foam. More and more cities are banning EPS foam because it’s environmentally unfriendly and floats around in the ocean for a thousand years. Yet it lasts for only three years on your head? Come on. Replace your helmet if you crash on it. Otherwise, the most likely reason you’ll want to replace your helmet is because you found a cooler one.”
And here’s him on riding around dogs, p. 168:
“The dog owner out perambulating on the mutiuse path will make a great show of their mastery over the canine as you approach. “Odin? Sit!” they boom authoritatively, indicating that you should proceed. But Odin the bichon fries has other plans, and thanks to that twenty-foot retractable leash (or a complete lack of a leash) he has plenty of time to overtake you and sink his tiny little teeth into your calf before you’re able to sprint away. Unless it’s a certified seeing-eye dog or a German shepherd under the command of an actual Navy SEAL, assume that every dog is liable to do whatever the hell it wants, and that its owner is mostly powerless to stop it.”
One more, from a chapter titled Your Place In Society. On p. 178:
Be modest. “…It’s important not to lose sight of two things: (1) Riding a bike is so simple that even a three-year-old can do it, so get over yourself already; (2) there are people who have been doing it way longer than you, so don’t think you know everything. Be content to be just another person on a bike.
That last sentence is my favorite in the whole book. It alone is worth the $19.99 cover price, which brings up my only criticism, not of Eben but of the publisher: Quit the mind games, add a penny.