A Bicycle in Good Repair – Summary

A Bicycle in Good Repair is written by Jerome K. Jerome. The common man’s car is a bicycle as it is the cheapest mode of conveyance and transport. But it needs to be kept in proper working order.

Summary

I

The narrator, one evening, accepted his friend’s proposal to go for a long bicycle ride on the following day. He got up early and started waiting for his friend. His friend came half an hour late. He examined the narrator’s bicycle. He shook the front wheel with force. He didn’t heed the narrator’s request not to hurt the machine.

The friend declared that the front wheel was unsteady and it could prove dangerous. He asked for a hammer. He took the front wheel off the fork and held it between his legs. He found fault with the bearings. He set about repairing the machine. He unscrewed it, and the little iron balls rolled away. They collected some sixteen of them. The narrator put them for safety in his hat.

II

Next, the friend handled the chain. He took off the gear case. He claimed to know all about a bicycle. He removed the gear box but lost the screws.

The narrator was too weak to check the friend from doing further mischief. The friend went ahead. He tightened the chain till it would not move. Then he made it very loose. He finally decided to fix the front wheel in place. The narrator then changed places with him, and put the wheel in tight position. He laughed and admitted that he was an ass. The reason was that they had forgotten to put the iron balls in place.

The narrator looked for his hat in which he had put the balls safely. But the hat lay upturned and the balls were scattered. They could find only eleven. They fixed six on one side and five on the other, and half an hour later the wheel was put in its place again. But it wobbled even then.

The narrator was impressed not so much by his friend’s skill at repairing the bicycle as by his confidence in himself and his hopeful attitude.

The friend got encouraged. He then set to refix the gear-box. He put the bicycle in different places and positions for the job. He lost his balance and hurt himself on the head. Then he lost his temper and tried to punish the bicycle. It was a sort of fight between man and machine. The tough bicycle showed spirit. It freed itself from his hold and hit him over the head with its handle.

At a quarter to one, the man thought that the work was done. He himself was dirty and bleeding. He cleaned himself and the narrator then sent him home. It was difficult to decide who had suffered more — the friend or the bicycle.

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