I along with other true bike geeks, love cycling books. I’ve never really had any decent books on cycling. My collection of various motorcycle manuals, encyclopedias and history books is quite large, but nothing really for the bicycle. So I added a few to my Christmas list. Everyone loves giving books for Christmas. Somehow you feel like your spreading intelligence or something. First off, the Paterek Frame Building Manual. This might not interest every bike geek, but the true obsessive bike geeks, the bike geeks who wonder about geometry, and why one bike handles one way and another bike so differently, and how different changes to a fork will make the bike handle better with a large load, those bike geeks would certainly enjoy this book. Even if you weren’t planning on ever building your own bicycle, this is a very interesting read and there is much to be learned about the bicycle from reading a book such as this. I do intend to get into building some frames, but first I want to have theory in my head. Memorized. A part of my brain. My hopes is that I would at least understand while I’m building the bike, how every detail will affect the outcome. Of course much of this has to come from actually building bikes, but it can’t help to have the theory there in the first place. This book is an excellent book. If you don’t want to fork out the cash (it’s not a cheap manual) you can download the 1st version free here.
Second book; 100 years of bicycle component and design The Data Book. This is a very interesting book. It’s a chronological look at the history of the devices that we use on our bikes and add to them. Starting with the simplest of brakes that were not much more than a lever and a string, to some very complicated means of stopping the bike and changing it's gears. Some work better than others, but it is very interesting to learn the thought process that has gone into the design of bicycle components. To certain levels it helps you understand why we are using the components that we use today. You can see where they came from. To improve things in the future, it helps to understand the things of the past. A very interesting book. I’m careful to not call it a read, as it’s mostly pictures and diagrams. My kind of book for sure.
Lastly, and probably the most universally interesting books is the Classic Age of the hand build bicycle. This book is spectacular! Incredible photography and history. This book will take you through the early designs and styles of bike in the beginning of the 1900s through the modern handmade bikes of the 80s. I’ve learn more about cycling, and the history of the sport from this book than any other. I’ve read the whole thing cover to cover twice since Christmas and I can’t get enough. I realized that my style of riding suites the style of the cylotourist and I have been unknowingly setting up my bikes to perform to that end. This book will captivate even your non-cycling friends when they come over for coffee or dinner. A book that should be left out on the coffee table. Great to read from cover to cover, or simply peruse through pages at random. While this book is not cheap, it is worth every single penny and then some. I’m so glad that Vintage Bicycle Press has done the work to get books like this together.
Also from Vintage Bicycle Press, I received a one year subscription to Bicycle Quarterly. Wow. I used to buy Bicycling Magazine, and sift through it for the little nuggets that actually pertain to the cycling that I like to do. Steel frames, practical bikes, cargo bikes, generator hubs, carrying a camera on your bike. Not much of that can be found in carbon cluttered, lycra-clad mainstream cycling press. Vintage Bicycling Quarterly is a great, great publication with pages of informative, entertaining articles. What can be learned from these volumes is priceless. Practical tests on everything from Rando bikes, cargo bikes, brake pads, tires and dyno hubs. What a great collection of information. As with these other books, I’ve been picking this magazine up over and over since Christmas, and haven’t even had the urge to buy an overly glossed up mainstream mag. If you don’t get this magazine yet, you should.
If you've been searching for some good analog content on the practical bicycle, check out any of the above. You will enjoy them.