With the temperatures falling outside you may not be getting on your bike as much as you’d like, especially if you haven’t stocked up on your wool clothing. So it’s the perfect time to catch up on your reading. As bike popularity is exploding, so are the number of books written about the love and care of a bicycle. Whether you embrace bike riding as a fun way to spend an afternoon, a sport, or a way of life, reading about the bike will quench your thirst when you’re not in the saddle. So what’s the best book written about bicycles? We offer up our picks for the most enjoyable reading journeys. Is there a bike enthusiast on your Christmas list this year? Any of these books would make great gifts.
Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling
After maintaining his popular and anonymously written Bike Snob NYC blog for many years, Eben Weiss came out of the cycling blog closet this past spring when he released his first book, Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling. If you’re a fan of the blog, you may be surprised to find that the book is quite different and doesn’t contain the high amount of snark found on the Bike Snob NYC. It’s been criticized because of this by his most loyal of fans, yet I found the book to be much more accessible to the masses. He covers a multitude of topics, from a short and entertaining history of the bicycle, to the breakdown of cyclist subsets (are you a roadie, an urban cyclist, or a retro grouch?) to a condense, yet thorough guide for basic maintenance and safety tips, including the frequently blundered How to Lock Your Bike.
Not to worry though, there’s still plenty of the Bike Snob humor as everyone, including himself, is a subject for mockery. Perhaps the best chapter is the one titled, Why Is Everybody Trying to Kill Me?, in which Weiss rants poetic about the perils and annoyances of riding on the road. As an ex-bike messenger himself, he implores us to never be afraid to ride our bikes, that cyclists have every right to be on the road, and that “telling a cyclist to ride on the sidewalk is like telling a driver to drive through a shopping mall”. Editor of Bicycling magazine, Bill Strickland said “Bike Snob should be lovingly gifted to all new cyclers- and forcefully smacked against the heads of all the jaded know-it-alls who take the sport way too seriously”. Overall, as opinionated as the Bike Snob may be, his love for the bike is apparent when he says that “the most important thing for the advancement of cycling is for people to be seen on bikes”. So whether you ride a Trek Madone or a fixer upper you got off Craigslist, all that’s important is that you ride.
Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance
Long considered one of the best books on bike maintenance, Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance was revised for the 3rd edition in 2009. Lennard Zinn, bike racer and designer, is a big name in the bicycle industry. Winter is the perfect time to catch up on routine bike maintenance and what’s great about Zinn’s book is that it’s written for both the beginner and experienced bike owner, dividing repairs into 3 levels of difficulty with a description of the tools you’ll need for each. He starts with the basics, including pre-ride inspections and emergency repairs, to the most advanced of upgrades, including hub and cassette overhaul. For this latest addition he’s added info on the newest components as well as expanded coverage of cyclocross. Includes a troubleshooting index, gear chart, glossary, and over 350 illustrations.
Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities
Jeff Mapes is a political reporter for the Oregonian and an outspoken cycling advocate. His book is a treatise on the efforts of urban cyclists to “seize at least a part of the street back from motorists.” Though this book at times borders on tedious and may only appeal to bike advocates themselves, it’s an important commentary on how other bike friendly cities have succeeded. Reporting on the overall benefits to public health and the environment, he also gives important statistics for those bike commuters who sometimes find the need to defend themselves against car lovers. Mapes also covers the need to get kids riding bikes again and the important role women will play in a true cycling revolution. If you bike to work or would like to someday, Pedaling Revolution will get you inspired.
Sold in paperback on Amazon.
The Bicycle Book: Wit, Wisdom & Wanderings
The Bicycle Book: Wit, Wisdom & Wanderings is a collection of stories, essays, and cartoons to honor one of the most efficient inventions in history. The book starts off with an editorial by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Thomas Hylton on bike-friendly cities. Other highlights include an interview with Chris Carmichael, long-time coach to Lance Armstrong, predictions on the future of the bike from Dirt Rag publisher Maurice Tierney and Richard Fries, publisher of Bike Culture, several essays by Pulitzer-Prize nominee Gianno Bellofatto, and Bits and Bolts from Ask the Mechanic, all interspersed with hilarious cartoons. Editor Jim Joyce, founder of The Bicycle Exchange, donates 15% of the profits from this book to the League of American Bicyclists, SoldierRide, and the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ tandem cycling program. This is a book you can leave on your coffee table and randomly read sections over and over.
A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer’s Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium
Joe Parkin left the states in 1987 as an amateur bike racer and headed for Belgium on the advice of Team 7-Eleven Racer Bob Roll who said that if he really wanted to be a serious cyclist, Belgium was the only place to do it. This isn’t the story of the Tour de France winner. This is the story of the underdog and one man’s quest to race with integrity in the cutthroat world of pro cycling. Many cycling enthusiasts have praised this book as the best book on bike racing ever, mostly for its’ authenticity. Sports writing can have the tendency to be dry, but Joe Parkin turns out to be an excellent writer and this page-turner of a book would be interesting even to those who don’t know much about bike racing. The quirky title is a Belgian expression meaning something out of the ordinary. Joe Parkin is truly a unique individual and you won’t soon forget his story.
A Dog in a Hat can be purchased on Amazon.
Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100
This book is great because it not only provides an extensive guide for fitness techniques in and out of the saddle, but it is interspersed with history, mini-biographies, and interviews with famous cyclists such as Gary Fisher and Missy Giove. Cycling and fitness writers Roy M. Wallack and Bill Katovsky cover the gamut on bike riding from protecting your knees and back to how cycling can sharpen your mental focus and stave off depression to bicycle sex and the impotence connection: myths and solutions. Includes a 10-step cycling specific yoga routine, nutrition tips, safety advice, and a list of must-do hill climbs, mass city rides, and cross state events.
You can get Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100 on Amazon.