Several weeks ago the kind folks at Bike Doctor sent me a promo code for their iPhone/iPod Touch app so I could play with it and write up a review. All testing was done on an iPhone 4.
The App it self provides 23 bike repairs which can be filtered by bike type (road, hybrid, and mountain). The repairs are organized into categories (General, Brakes, Wheels, Crankset, Chain, Handlebar, Derailleurs and Saddle) and can either be selected from a list or by viewing an image of a bike and selecting the part that’s giving you trouble.
Each repair starts with a screen that tells you what you need – for front derailleur adjustments, a screwdriver and an allen key – followed by an introduction to the repair. Once past the introduction, instructions for the repair begin.
In the past few weeks I’ve only had occasion to use the app for a couple of repairs, but in reading through the rest most of the advice seems in line with what little I already knew and other resources I’ve used in the past (I’ll be reviewing the Bike Repair app here soon). When making adjustments to the front derailleur, the app instructs the user on how to check and adjust the height and angle of the derailleur before making any adjustments to the limit screws or cable tension.
Bike Doctor will definitely get the job done but there are a few things that would improve the app. The first thing I noticed was the in Repair navigation. To move from one step to another the user taps a button to navigate forward and backward. While this is easy enough to figure out, I found myself constantly trying to swipe the screen to turn pages and would have at least liked that option.
More often than not, the instructional images are helpful, but only if you know what you’re looking for. In my review I did not find a single image with a graphic overlay that might help to illustrate what the user should be looking at. Instead, the images are just photos of the part of the bike being discussed. As a user with limited mechanical skills, a few arrows might have been helpful along the way.
Finally, while the directions are accurate and fairly easy to follow, much of the text is written in a colloquial second person that, while some might find comforting-like getting advice from a friend, I found distracting. Also, I’m pretty sure that the author didn’t use a single comma:
There are a number of settings you can play around with to try and get it just right. The first I would say is the height and angle. Then you can also try the high and low limit screws. Finally you can look at the gear cable tension.
While there are a few things that could be done better, the app does what it sets out to do-it provides a casual rider a pocket reference guide for basic repairs-and it does it for $2.99. Overall, I’d recommend it as an option for anyone who spends a lot of time on the bike and would prefer not to have to pay a mechanic for every little repair.