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Richard's 21st Century Bicycle Book Paperback – 1 Mar 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press (1 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585671126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585671120
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 17.7 x 2.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,430,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
What a wonderful book! Really updated for the new century. 16 July 2001
By John H. Henderson - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a fabulous general book on cycling.
I was looking for a general book on cycling and was deciding between this and Bicycling for Dummies. I let Bicycle Book's dense text, many pages and a statement on the cover of, "the bestselling bike book of all time with over 1 million copies sold!" sway me to buy it.
My biggest concern with an update of a book first written in 1972 is whether it was really rewritten, or just had some new bits tacked on. (The way to "modernize" a photography book is tack on a chapter on digital imaging.) I was extremely pleased while reading this book to see that the whole book seemed to have been written yesterday, so if it is an update, Ballantine when through a lot of effort to review and update every paragraph.
This book is so complete and covers every type of bicycle, not focussing on just road bikes and mountain bikes. In addition to the expected chapters on cycling history, types of bikes, and bicycle maintenance, he includes chapters on learning to ride a bike (a method guaranteed to have anyone riding a bike in 15 minutes!), riding in traffic, urban commuting, cargo cycles and trailers, careers in cycling, veteran and classic bikes, and more. Ballantine is also a big proponent of recumbent bikes, and include a rather extensive chapter on that subject. (About has me convinced to skip the conventional "safety" bike and get a recumbent!)
Unlike many authors, Ballantine is not hesitant to actually recommend certain manufacturers for different components. This is invaluable for a beginner biker like myself, who is trying to identify the quality products on the market - a task that would otherwise cost a lot of time, money and heartache. The author includes extensive addresses, references and internet URL's for organizations all over the world. The book is directed to the American audience, but the author seems to be British, or lives, or has lived, in Great Britain (it wasn't clear to me). Anyway, this brings an international experience to the book that adds a lot of value.
Some people might be bothered by the author's belief in biological evolution and global warming, and by his anti-automobile stance. This is not too pervasive, though, except in the last chapter, and doesn't distract too much from the author's knowledge of the subject. The book is mostly illustrated with faux etchings of images from the classical ages of biking and includes no actual photos. Some photos of modern equipment would be nice. (In fact, other reviewers praised Ballantine's out-of-print Ultimate Bicycle Book for its photos, so we know he can do it.) Thumbing through the book and seeing the old-timey drawing and no modern photos is one thing that made me wonder if the book had been truly updated.
I might still give Cycling for Dummies a chance. It looked pretty good, but I certainly give Richard's 4-and-a-half stars.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Bicycles 101 - or everything you wanted to know & then some! 17 Jun. 2001
By Stephen Taylor - Published on
Format: Paperback
In the late 70's, I was lucky enough to purchase a copy of Richard's Bicycle Book, 1978 edition, which told me everything I needed to know to setup and maintain my 10 (well, actually 12) speed bike. [I still own this edition - probably a collectors piece now, except it is well thumbed...]
However, as a recent convert to a Mountain Bike, I was looking for something similar, but somewhat more up to date. I ended up with a couple of books by Leonard Zinn, and something called Mountain Biking Skills - all of which are excellent books as far as I can tell. But they all assume you know the basics. For example, they all refer to "spinning", but assume you know what that means.
Richard's new book provides that information. It has the basics, and goes much further than that in that it explains why and how as well as what. And it is not just about mountain bikes. It gives equal time to all bicycles - road, commuter, track, mountain, recumbent & HPV.
But do not get me wrong, it is not just a book for beginners. For example, it is the only book I have found so far that not only talks about how to shift, but also how to select ratios, determine what you have and determine what you need, and then build and maintain it.
The guy is obviously a cycling fanatic, but he presents his ideas pragmatically and intelligently. I wish I had found this book two years ago (obviously not possible without a time machine), but am glad I have found it now. Can anyone tell me how to give it 6 stars out of 5?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A fine introduction to bicycling 24 July 2004
By A. Underwood - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wanted to get back into bicycling and felt that I should start again as a complete novice. This book did a great job of explaining all the different kinds of bikes as well as giving a solid introduction to the world of bicyling. Ballatine writes in a concise, peppy, and easy-to-read style, and the great old-fashinoned illustrations add a nice variance to the text. Please be aware though, his audience is clearly the absolute beginner, so if you are an intermediate to expert cyclist, look elsewhere.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A great all around bicycle book 13 Sept. 2003
By Frank Forrest - Published on
Format: Paperback
Richard's 21st Century Bicycle Book is a great book. Ballantine starts off the book with the basic reasons why bicycles are the best form of transportation and it's effect on human society. This may turn off some people as he is very passionate about saving resources. If you are anti-green, you would probably do well to skip the beginning. Be that as it may, it is a very good introduction on bicycles. The book covers the dawn of the invention of the bicycle and the various early forms of the bike. The rest of the chapters delve into the different bike configurations, the components of the bicycles, how to ride and fit your bike to your particular body size, a great review of the futuristic bikes coming our way, servicing your bike and various odds and ends. Richard Ballantine writes in a vivid and entertaining manner and draws from personal experiences to keep the book fresh. This book gets 4 and 1/2 stars. Very good information about bikes.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Best general Bicycle book I've ever read.. 31 Dec. 2001
By SamsUncle - Published on
Format: Paperback
Just finished reading this book and I forced myself to write a review for this book because of how good it was. I mean I have read many bicycling related books and this one is in my opinion the best out there. Information-packed, cover all variety of bikes and human powered vehicles. I also thought it was quite funny with the beautiful classic illustrations throughout the book. If you want to buy only one bicycling book ever then this should be it.
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