capsule review

Break It, Fix It, Ride It 1.0

Whether you're a hard-tail, back country, single-track rider, or a suspension softie from the city whose bike never touches anything more rugged than an urban park, there's something in Break It, Fix It, Ride It's (BFR-It) repair and maintenance software for you. This mountain bike repair software covers all levels of mountain bicycle repair, from beginner to expert, and presents the information in an easy-to-understand manner that doesn't overwhelm users with a mish-mash of diagrams and text. Break It, Fix It, Ride It, despite its cumbersome name, is one of the most practical and worthwhile investments for the mountain bike enthusiast .

Pedal Away

The software's interface is friendly and highly intuitive. On program startup, a tutorial demonstrates how to use BFR-It to diagnose problems (such as what causes your brakes to squeal) and to perform routine maintenance work (such as cleaning and lubricating a bicycle chain).

If all you know is that the thingamabob that changes gears isn't working, BFR-It makes it simple to diagnose and repair the problem without looking up parts in a manual. The program is graphical: you select a problem area from an image of a mountain bike, then all other images either recede in the background or disappear altogether to prevent confusion. Images are high-quality, high-resolution photographs, making it easy to locate a specific bicycle part to repair. By clicking an area of the bike and then scanning the image-based submenus, even novice users can quickly diagnose and fix problems. What's more, by using BFR-It, you're likely to learn the terminology and inner workings of a mountain bike. The software even lists the specific tools required for each job, some of which are specialty tools. In addition to repair instructions, each aspect of mountain bike maintenance is addressed.

A Smooth Ride

Navigating BFR-It is a breeze -- it's easy to navigate through the tiers of information. Numerical instruction sets help new users find just what they're looking for, and advanced users can jump directly to problem spots.

As to the knowledge base itself, BFR-It is hard to beat. The software does not list or quote repair or parts prices, but it does cover general maintenance for every part of the mountain bike. BFR-it is the rare application that gets both the technology and the subject matter exactly right.

A version patch that fixes an issue with the rear tire tube instructions is available for download on their Web site.

Macworld's Buying Advice

At $30, Break It, Fix It, Ride It costs little more than books that cover the same subject matter. However, the interface is easier to navigate and the interactive content is easier to understand. Anyone with a mountain bike will find this program worthwhile. The only caveat -- and it doesn't qualify as a con as it is inherent to the platform -- is that the software won't work as a roadside assistance repair manual, unless users happen to have their laptops with them.

Toolkit in a CD?Figuring out the brakes is a cinch.Tire maintenance explained in a nutshell.Navigating the menus is second nature.
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