Bikes, bikes, glorious bikes. Those of us who regularly mount a mechanical goat and canter through the city, are quite emotionally attached to our rides, much like how other people fawn over their automobiles. Like them, we two-wheel operators also enjoy looking at other people’s rides, and when it comes to books illustrating some of the beauties of cycle history, there’s some lovely ones to be found. Here’s a list of bike porn showing all sorts of bells, whistles and racey bits.
[ts_amazon_link asin=1452101671 title="Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design"]
Written by Viennese designer Michael Embacher, who possesses one of the world’s greatest collections of creative, rare and offbeat bicycles, this hardcover coffee-table book is an homage to bike design. Cyclepedia illustrates innovations over the past century, detailing 100 chosen models with nice glossy photos of racing bikes, high-tech hybrids and their components. There is also foreword by passionate cyclist and clothing designer Paul Smith.
[ts_amazon_link asin=1579546692 title="The Noblest Invention"]
The editors of Bike Culture magazine have put together this fantastic historic compendium celebrating the unique interaction between man and pedal-powered machine. It features a forward by Lance Armstrong, 250 color and 50 black & white photographs, and a selection of informative and personal essays chronicling the evolution and impact of the bicycle on global culture. From Leonado de Vinci sketchbooks to its ‘invention’ in 19th century Paris and on to the multi-billion dollar cycle industry today, this book was released to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Tour de France and is nothing short of a bible unto the bike.
[ts_amazon_link asin=0847830942 title="The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles"]
With all the cheap plastic gubbins being churned out by some bike manufacturers these days, it’s fascinating to read about and see some of the exquisite, classic rides of French Cyclotourists of the 1930s. As the title-The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles-suggests, this book is a celebration of craftsmanship. Details and illustrations of fifty stunning hand-built models will make any longtime bike racing enthusiast drool, with brands including La Gauloise, Reyhand, Schulz, Barra, Alex Singer, and Ren Herse.
[ts_amazon_link asin=1864704233 title="Custom Bicycles: A Passionate Pursuit"]
A study of the world’s most notable makers of contemporary bespoke bicycles, the book details manufacturers from the UK, France, Italy, US, Germany and Australia. It’s illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and the forward is written by legendary British cycling commentator Phil Liggett, which makes it something special before you’ve even seen the bikes.
[ts_amazon_link asin=0760310459 title="The American Bicycle"]
For those riders focused on American brands of bicycles and their history, this book lays it all out. From the high-wheelers of the late 1800s; the “balloon tire” era in the 1940s and 50s; high handlebars and banana seats of the 1960s and 70s; and the high-tech, mountain and race bikes of today, it’s all here. With photos of early made-in-the-USA bone-shakers and stories of the first bike racing heros, this book fully unearths North America’s fascination with the bicycle.