Category Archives: bookshelf

Being a bicycle and book enthusiast, I’ve amassed a bit of a collection of books and other media about bicycles or cycling. In the past some folks have expressed interest, so I’ll post about one here occasionally. It might not always be a book. It could be an old catalogue, a movie, a pamphlet, or a special magazine. It may not, strictly speaking, be about bicycles either, but it will be something I personally consider to be part of our “bicycle library” for some reason or another.

Diane too, through her years in the bicycle industry, and now frequently interviewing authors on her Outspoken Cyclist radio show, continues to bring some magnificent books home.

Motorcycle Handling and Chassis Design: the art and science

Foale, Tony
Spain. 2002.
ISBN 978-8493328610

When I first heard of this book, probably around the time it was published, I just… had to have it.  At the time it was challenging just to figure out how to get one.  Entirely self published and distributed from Spain, this treatise is arguably the most definitive writing on the hows and whys of handling in single-track vehicles.  As should be obvious from the title, it’s not about bicycles, but you don’t need a deep imagination to recognize how much can be learned about bicycle geometry from studying motorcycle dynamics.

Bicycles of course do appear in the text a couple times, and are used to experiment and clarify some of the physics principles governing steering and lean-angle.  We must however bear in mind an important point about the differences between motorcycles and bicycles with regard to analyzing their handling characteristics.  On both machines the rider is a critical element to be considered as part of the machine.  The motorcyclist however is a relatively small percentage of the machine’s (bike and rider) overall weight, often less than 35%, while of course a bicyclist comprises the vast majority of the machine’s weight, rarely less than 80% for adults.  Add to that the sheer differences in power, and these have profound effects on the vehicles’ centers-of-gravity, and how the rider manages the CoG.  Tony FoaleAnother distinction (of many) is wheel and tire size, weight, casing design, pressures, and forces.  Although mostly the same effects exist in the tires and wheels of both machines, the magnitudes of those forces are so vastly different that we must be very careful with any assumptions we make about their similarities.  In numerous instances a line of understanding, in terms of handling design, cannot be directly applied between the two vehicle types.  Nevertheless this book provides tremendous insight, at the very least, into the sorts of things a serious bicycle designer should be considering and trying to understand.

Motorcycle Handling and Chassis Design is one of my favorite books on my shelf, but I’d only recommend it to others who are also interested in the rather dry details of handling geometry in bikes.  The clarity in the writing, the comprehensive analyses, hundreds of photos, diagrams, and graphs, and the well thought out explanations are astounding.  Sure it reads a bit like a text book, but anyone would be hard-pressed to explore and report on such a technical topic more effectively.  The author‘s brilliant efforts to go light on mathematics, but instead illustrate with practical theory and experience, must not go unrecognized.

I understand a new edition was released in 2006.  I have not seen a Spanish version, but my paperback copy is entirely English, and written so well it’s difficult to imagine it having been translated.  The latest edition claims to be even better than mine.  Hmmm… What’s a book junkie to do?

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The Secret Race

Coyle, Daniel & Hamilton, Tyler
Bantam Books. New York. 2012.
ISBN 978-0-345-53041-7

I’ve lost count of the number of times The Secret Race was recommended to me, after I had read it.  Co-authored by Daniel Coyle, this mostly first person history of Tyler Hamilton’s experiences with performance enhancing drugs in the peleton is quite possibly the most forthcoming account of drug use in professional cycling we’ve yet seen.  It’s not always easy to stomach, and of course there’s no way to know just how truthful or complete Tyler’s side of this story is, but most fellow skeptics seem to agree, the exhaustive details make a lot of sense, and are too deep and interconnected not to believe.TSR

By Lance Armstrong’s third TdF win, I was one who believed most successful professional bicycle racers were at least occasionally guilty of drug use, particularly Mr. Armstrong.  That’s not meant to be an I told you so, as for the most part I don’t care, but it may help to illustrate just why I’ve been rather bored with the controversies over the years.  I don’t like it, and certainly never approved, but it hasn’t interested me much either.  This book has, so far, been the only exception.  Once I started reading it, I was as hooked into the story as anyone.  The excellent writing certainly doesn’t hurt.

Speaking of the writing, my partner Diane interviewed the author, Dan Coyle, on her Outspoken Cyclist Radio show, back on October 6 of 2012.  He happens to live, at least part of the year, here in northeast Ohio.

Eric’s Big Day

Waters, Rod
VeloPress. Boulder. 2013.
ISBN 978-1-937715-23-6

Erics Big Day, is a whimsical children’s book that takes young Eric on a journey to visit his friend Emily in the next town to share a picnic.ebd

Eric packs his knapsack with a multitude of items including a large balloon and some sticky candy, all of which it turns out will come in handy as Eric meets bicycle racers on the road along the way who need his help to cross the finish line.

The book is beautifully illustrated in a pen and ink with color wash style that is reminiscent of a New Yorker magazine cover or a French panel of sketches.

Although the story is meant for children 4-8, some of Eric’s clever fixes for problems along the way will remind many of us of the things we have done to keep our bikes on the road when we had nothing but a dollar bill to stuff into a torn tire.

reviewed by Diane Lees

LeMond’s Pocket Guide to Bicycle Maintenance & Repair

LeMond, Greg
Perigee Books. New York. 1990.
ISBN 0-399-51511-9

An impromptu gift from my dad, and an interesting manual, if for little more reason than it’s an early attempt of Mr. LeMond’s at publishing.  There really isn’t anything profound in its advice, but today it may come in handy for anyone hoping for a deeper LeMond1understanding of the mechanics of a racing bike from the ’80s.  It discusses things like repairing a tubular tire, overhauling loose crank bearings, changing freewheel cogs, and adjusting Campagnolo delta brakes; largely outdated by now, but well organized and still good information.  One of the more interesting parts, for me, is the “Acknowledgements” page.  Here, Greg discusses not only influences through previously winning Le Tour de France, but offers fresh (at the time) comments on his hunting accident, involving his brother-in-law.  Greg LeMond’s first tour wins, and news of his shooting, were all at a time when I had a teenager’s enthusiasm for our sport, to which Greg contributed significantly, and any advice about how to work on my bikes was welcome.

By this time nearly everyone has seen it, but in case you haven’t, here’s an illustration of Greg LeMond’s mechanic skills, working on a bicycle.