Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 first 'ride' review

Between Zwift and Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023, do we even need real bikes?

What is a hands on review?
A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator
(Image: © Bike Mechanic Simulator)

Early Verdict

While having the potential to be a useful learning tool, inconsistencies in accuracy prevent Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 from being a truly helpful guide. However, there is fun to be had in the business management side of things. As this is a demo, all aspects of gameplay are subject to further improvement and development, so it is one to keep an eye on.

Pros

  • +

    Quasi-useful tool to familiarise yourself with bike components and their placement

  • +

    No DOT fluid skin irritation or mess of any kind

  • +

    ‘Fun’ business management simulation

Cons

  • -

    Incompatibility with MacOS and integrated Intel graphics

  • -

    Poor performance

  • -

    Lack of real technical depth

  • -

    Reverse-threaded cassette lockring

  • -

    Quick release skewers on driveside (cardinal sin)

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Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 isn’t the fully-fledged bike maintenance simulator as its namesake suggests, with repetitive minigames taking the place of real repairs. However, there is enjoyment to be had with the business simulation and the quirky nature of the game itself.

As an armchair cyclist living in a rented top floor flat, I don’t have the space to tinker with my bikes, blunting my maintenance skills. I hang my head in shame as I bring my beloved chariot to a bike shop to be handled by a stranger. 

Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 offers the possibility to dust off my cerebral cobwebs and sharpen my competence from the comfort of my own home, mess and stress free.

The full release will focus on expanding your business, with bigger shops to move into and the ability to customise them as you see fit. You’ll even be able to ride the whips that pass through in a skate park that appears seriously reminiscent of BMXing games of yore. There will be a storyline that the developers say will centre around events and retro bike restoration.

I’ll be looking to see how useful a tool Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 can be as an introduction to the world of self-repairs. Whether the simulation is accurate or if discrepancies get in the way of itself and, perhaps most importantly, if the simulation strikes the right balance between realism and fun.

Design and gameplay

Upon launch, you find yourself in an impossibly clean bike shop (where are all the greasy rags, mouldy mugs of tea and burst inner tubes?). 

The demo lets you repair three different varieties of bikes in various states of disrepair. Some require major disassembly to get them in working order again. You need not worry about where most of your tools are fortunately, simply selecting a part will automatically use the correct instrument. A workbench at your disposal offers you a pump, wheel stand and truing station for dealing with wonky wheels.

The full version will give you the option to customise the shop as you see fit. However, for the demo version, the choice of decor is out of your hands. That said, I doubt anyone will be getting rid of the pink neon ‘Live love Ride’ sign in the full game.

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator

A mantra to live by   (Image credit: Bike Mechanic Simulator)

Exploring the rest of our new digs, I spotted the front desk stocking some unfortunately cropped editions of Bicycling magazine. There are even old editions of Procycling magazine (R.I.P) lining the shelf below; the November 2020 Tour de France review edition, if you were wondering. 

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator

Unexpected advice (Image credit: Bike Mechanic Simulator)

Our first task is to hop on the computer and see what jobs we have lined up for the day. Here we can move bikes to and from storage and the stand as needed, and the computer also has a shop where you can buy components, a calendar outlining the day's jobs, and ‘Peloton’. 

In Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023, Peloton is not an indoor training platform. It is, in fact, a cycling-themed version of Snake – a perfect way to procrastinate at work (art truly imitates life).

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator

Working hard or hardly working? (Image credit: Bike Mechanic Simulator)

Each component in the shop outlines its key specs. Eschewing any sense of subjectivity, every component also has a "bling factor", which is heavily skewed towards anything carbon or aero.

Lucious sweepy bars that bread-baking corduroy-wearing Instagram goblins might like are spuriously rated 1 out of 5. As a velo-agnostic rider, I cannot condone this Lycra-ganda.

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator

Instagram would like a word (Image credit: Bike Mechanic Simulator)

After coming to terms with living in this unjust carbon dystopia, I follow the tutorial's prompt to move the customer's ArrowBind Ice Shock mountain bike onto the workstand. 

Upon turning around, I can see the bike has appeared in the workshop. There is no opportunity to catch the handlebars on every protruding object in the narrow hallway (minus one point for realism). Clicking on the bike, the in-game tutorial highlights what needs to be done.

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator

Make sure to follow our socials for an upcoming review of the XRAM ZZ1 (Image credit: Bike Mechanic Simulator)

Here we can see all the components from trusted manufacturers such as XRAM (yes, really) in place, but virtually maintaining the bikes is, unfortunately, a rather shallow affair. 

To remove a tyre, you hold down a button for a few seconds as the tyre lever effortlessly glides across the rim. Anyone who has actually changed a bike tyre will know this isn’t realistic at all – where is all the swearing and mashed fingers? 

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator

Working on pre-broken big box bikes is quite realistic to be fair (Image credit: Bike Mechanic Simulator)

Distressingly, as I followed the tutorial and disassembled the bike, I discovered the cassette lockring is reverse-threaded. I found this more upsetting than is reasonable but, perhaps most egregiously of all, the quick-release for the front axle is on the drive-side. 

Dear reader, remember this is a demo and everything is subject to change, but I will be in correspondence with the developers to ensure this affront is resolved. 

In summary, the repairs we have access to so far boil down to very simple minigames, which quickly become repetitive. 

“Our main objective is that the game is not only a realistic simulator, but also a good entertainment and something to chill at," explained Tomasz Sobiecki, CEO of Manager Games S.A. about the toned-down simulation. "For this reason, Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 will, to some extent, as far as the mechanic job is concerned, be simplified." 

Unfortunately in its desire for ease of use, it has found monotony instead.

Occasionally, you will have to make use of the shop to order in replacement parts. To select components, you apply a compatibility filter, which narrows down your selection to only a few options. I only realised you could filter after going back to the demo to gather screenshots though, which meant a lot of my playthrough involved squinting at component names and trying to match them up. This would prove nigh-on fatal later on. 

Choosing standard or premium shipping poses another quandary. As a frugal business owner looking to maximise my margins I, of course, opted for standard shipping as the demo graces you with ample time for your repairs. 

To help pass the time before your delivery, there is a basketball and hoop to practise your trick shots on. I would have challenged you to best my record, but I accidentally sent the ball launching out of bounds and into the car park, unable to retrieve it. 

With days to go until the customer was due in the shop, I was relaxed, and everything was going well.

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator

LeBron could never (Image credit: Bike Mechanic Simulator)

After my well-deserved recreation, the packages arrived dumped at the back of the shop with no signature required for my expensive order – now that’s immersive. 

When opening each box, the components are automatically transferred to your inventory. You are then left to recycle the boxes and styrofoam into a bin that is clearly marked “paper only”. Ecocide aside, I was keen to get the bike finished so I could shoot some more hoops.

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator

This is gaming taken to its conclusion (Image credit: Bike Mechanic Simulator)

My sense of ease was shattered when I realised I had ordered a seatpost instead of a bottom bracket. 

You might reasonably ask how I managed this catastrophic failure, but the fault does not lay directly at my cleats. After researching Polish bike terminology, I discovered that a bottom bracket is commonly referred to as a “support” and the localisation has carried over into the game. I misinterpreted this as butt-support support and, without due care, ordered the wrong part.

My precious profit margin was obliterated as I frantically raced to the computer to order the correct part and, seeing as there was only a day left till the deadline, I had to opt for same-day shipping. 

As I waited for the delivery I couldn’t even bring myself to play basketball – my clammy palm kept slipping off my mouse. I was a wreck. Pacing around the shop, my anxious stupor was finally broken by FedEx the Redeemer. 

I raced to the back and found the 'support' in its little box. I couldn’t even stop to recycle – time was of the essence. 

If it were not for the automated process of disassembly, I would have been reduced to tears as I tried in vain to remove the old bottom bracket. The camera swings round to the non-drive side to take apart what appears to be a mirrored BSA bottom bracket. My desperation left no time for passing judgement, I had to press (thread) on.

A screenshot from Bike Mechanic Simulator, showing a torque wrench working on a bottom bracket

Sacrilege (Image credit: Future)

With the new bottom bracket installed, I raced to the computer to mark the bike as completed. I watched as I barely broke even. The relief was palpable.

Honestly, this was the most interesting and entertaining part of the game. As said, the management and business side of the game will be the main draw and the pseudo-stress-induced fun I enjoyed here bodes well for the full release. The trailer shows off the bigger shops you can move into and the customisation on offer, which goes some way to explaining the aforementioned simplification of repairs.

I can appreciate wanting to avoid a game becoming so realistic that it feels like a job – one that doesn’t pay for the avocado on toast – but cyclists are a masochistic bunch, so it may be better for multiple difficulty settings to cater to any play style. 

Compatibility

For the PC nerds in the audience, despite being equipped with a modest gaming laptop (Razer Blade 2019 Base, RTX 2060, 16GB RAM, i7-9750h), I found the performance of Bike Mechanic Simulator to be wildly variable given its somewhat simplistic presentation. This would be offset with a display capable of variable refresh rates but there should be an option to cap the framerate too for those (most of us) who don’t have such luxuries. Hopefully, this can be improved upon through further optimisation.

What's more, the game cannot run on Intel’s integrated graphics. Indeed, when I tested this, I was promptly met with a system error. If your machine doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card and/or doesn’t have an AMD CPU, you’re unfortunately out of luck.

Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 also doesn't support MacOSX, nor does it appear the developers will make any attempt to do so.

Verdict

Although this is merely a demo – and, therefore, a provisional evaluation – I can say that Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 is worth considering for those who enjoy light simulation games with an interest in cycling. However, it most likely won’t satiate those seeking a more technical experience. 

The mechanics of the game leave room for improvement, but it has potential as an introductory tool for beginners to familiarise themselves with the workings of bicycles - albeit without detail on actual repairs - and for those who enjoy management sims.

You can check out the demo for yourself on Steam, and the full Bike Mechanic Simulator 2023 is set to be released later this year for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. 

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