Author Topic: Book review: "It's All About the Bike"  (Read 162 times)


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Book review: "It's All About the Bike"
« on: August 29, 2011, 12:48:53 pm »
Is this the first-ever book review on this forum? I don't recall seeing one before.... 

Regardless, I wanted to share my impressions of a wonderful quick read that I stumbled upon last week at a bookstore in Vancouver, while I was there on business.  The author, Robert Penn, is a British journalist who is also a bike fanatic.  The book is one-half history of the bicycle, and one-half his quest for his dream road bike, with the two themes intertwined from page-to-page throughout the book. 

On the latter theme, he is not seeking the latest high-tech carbon gee-whiz mass-produced technology.  But rather has more noble ideals in that he seeks high quality, durability, longevity and performance in a daily-rider race bike.  No planned obsolescence for him, but frame and components that are the best in the world, and will last decades.  Custom frame made in England; hand made wheels from California; Italian drive train and get the idea.  What makes it interesting, is that he visits each of the factories and workshops where all the parts are made.  His descriptions of the characters he meets and the products they make is fascinating.  The chapter on the wheel builder in Marin County, CA, the birthplace of mountain biking, had me laughing out loud.

Blended in to all of his roving adventures, is the history of the bicycle itself, and the innovations that developed along the way, many of which are over 100 years old but are more-or-less unchanged today -- the diamond-shaped frame, the spoked wheel, the roller chain, etc..  Again, absolutely fascinating to read about all this.

The BBC also did a documentary based on his quest:
There is a 5-minute audio clip interview with the author that is worth listening to.

You can get the book here:
(It seems all the Amazon reviewers agree with me...    8) )

The book is very well written, with a nimble, quick-witted style.  All-in-all, a delightful read, and highly recommended for anyone passionate about cycling.


« Last Edit: August 29, 2011, 01:33:38 pm by Svend »