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The Bicycle Book [Hardcover]

Bella Bathurst
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Mar 2011

A rip-roaring narrative celebration of the 21st century’s great transport success story: the bicycle. Millions of us now cycle, some obsessively, and this glorious melee of history, contemporary anecdote and lycra-clad pedallers is the perfect read for two-wheelers of all kinds.

Two wheels. A frame. Two pedals. What could be simpler than a bicycle?

And yet the bike--old, and cheap, and slightly comic--continues to inspire a passionate following. Since the millennium, its use in Britain has doubled, and then doubled again. Thousands now cycle to work, and more take it up every day. In trial after trial, it is the bike which reaches its urban destination faster than the car, the bus, the underground or the pedestrian. Self-reliant and straightforward, cycling has recycled itself. It is an antiquated idea, and its time has finally come.

But what is it about the bicycle that so enchants us? And why do its devotees become so obsessed with it?

Acclaimed author Bella Bathurst takes us on a journey through cycling’s best stories and strangest incarnations, from the bicycle as weapon of twentieth-century warfare to the secret life of couriers and the alchemy of framebuilding. With a cast of characters including the woman who watercycled across the Channel, the man who raced India’s Deccan Queen train and several of today’s top cyclists, she offers us a brilliantly engaging portrait of cycling’s past, present and world-conquering future.

The result is a story of passion and obsession, of exultation, endeavour, and risk. Above all, it is the story of partnership between man and machine, perfectly balanced--a story of love and souplesse.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (31 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007305885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007305889
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 288,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Drat and double drat. I had an idea for a money-making venture. I would write a quick book in praise of cycling... Curses, curses, when I find Bella Bathurst has blown me out of the water with her Bicycle Book, and she has done it beautifully...In Bella Bathurst the bike has found the best and brightest booster so far."--Boris Johnson, Mail on Sunday

"[Bella has a] sharp eye...[and] elegant prose: like a tail wind pressing on your back, it propels the reader through the pages... With The Bicycle Book Bathurst adds her voice to the call that we are now at the dawn of a new golden age of this versatile machine."--Robert Penn, The Observer

"...everything you ever wanted to know about the bike, its history and use"--Sunday Times

"...filling a yawning gap in the market... Bathurst is an ideal observer: someone who is interested in finding out, not showing off. Someone with a keen eye for the ridiculous, but who isn’t supercilious"--Scotsman

"Her joyful freewheel through the world of bicycles and the people who ride them not only affirms her as an elegant chronicler of quirky subjects, but fills a gap in the pantheon of cycling literature... The Bicycle Book is unique in appealing to both cycling nuts and those of us who mean to dust off the flat-tyred two-wheeler"--The Economist

From the Back Cover

Two wheels. A frame. Two pedals. What could be simpler than a bicycle?

And yet the bike – old, and cheap, and slightly comic – continues to inspire a passionate following. Since the millennium its use in Britain has doubled, and then doubled again. Thousands now cycle to work, and more take it up every day. In trial after trial, it is the bike which reaches its urban destination faster than the car, the bus, the underground or the pedestrian. Self-reliant and straightforward, cycling has recycled itself. It is an antiquated idea, and its time has finally come.

But what is it about the bicycle that so enchants us? And why do its devotees become so obsessed with it?

Acclaimed author Bella Bathurst takes us on a journey through cycling's best stories and strangest incarnations, from the bicycle as weapon of twentieth-century warfare to the secret life of couriers and the alchemy of framebuilding. With a cast of characters including the woman who watercycled across the Channel, the man who raced India’s Deccan Queen train and several of today’s top cyclists, she offers us a brilliantly engaging portrait of cycling’s past, present and world-conquering future.

The result is a story of passion and obsession, of exultation, endeavour, and risk. Above all, it is the story of partnership between man and machine, perfectly balanced – a story of love and souplesse.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force 26 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover
Cycling books seem to be pouring out just now, but this one stands out from the crowd. Bella Bathurst has pulled of a rare trick. Her panoramic view of all things two wheeled digs deep into the cycling tribes but also offers a window into the world of lycra for the bemused or curious. In taking such a balanced and well-researched view she liberates cycling and the cycling book from the ghetto of the male enthusiast. The extended interviews with a host of cycling characters go much further than the PR-fed fare in magazines and newspapers. Some offer searingly frank insights into the physical and psychological effects of racing to the limit. There is also a good sprinkling of quirky history plus a useful glossary and weblinks for follow-up. In short a book written with what cyclists call 'souplesse' - grace, harmony and flow. Chapeau!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Made me laugh out loud! 18 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is full of interesting snippets. I'm a fifty something year old who has recently rediscovered the joy of cycling, along with my wife. I read this cover to cover on a long haul flight and couldn't put it down. It covers a wide range of topics in sufficient detail to give a useful overview. For example, although I have watched the Tour de France on tv on and off, I hadn't really understood the tactics and the background. I especially liked the chapter on how to ride in a city - every word of it resonated with my experiences. But the very best was the section describing different types of cyclists and their attitudes. This book is on my list to give to both of my adult children who also cycle (and who fit two of the types described in the book). I'm sure I'll re-read it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Simply brilliant 3 Jan 2012
By MJF1017
Format:Hardcover
Received this book for Christmas and it is quite simply brilliant.

Whatever your cycling interest you will find something here for you. Every chapter had flawless writing. If you want a gift for a cycling friend or family member then this is the book to get. They won't stop thanking you for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 27 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book, came very quickly, easy to read style, not just for cyclists its for everyone, would recommend to all
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Easy Read for the Casual Cyclist 14 Nov 2012
By Richard Allen TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
In her foreward the author describes the book as a series of articles on aspects of cycling that aren't well documented in other books. Certainly she covers a very wide scope; frame building, bmx, city couriers, Indian rickshaw riders(!), etc. It all feels a bit random at times, but all the articles are of some interest, and as someone who has read a lot of bicycle books over the years, I still found things that were new to me. Yes, there are inaccuracies, and it will be much too superficial for a serious roadie. But as a dip into the world of bikes for someone who doesn't already have a vast library of bicycle books, it's an interesting enough book written by an enthusiast for all things bike.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bella's brilliant bicycle book 31 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating study of bicycles and their builders, plus the widely varying types of people who ride them whether for pleasure (or danger!), transport or professionally. It is full of interesting detail, and not without some humorous glimpses into the sometimes bizarre world of bike riding.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a well written, entertaining and light hearted look at cycling. The books structure takes the reader through frame and design, styles of riding and dress, types of bike and the various historic and geographic influences on the bicycle and our love of it. This isn't a 'technical' manual for cycling better or faster, but rather, it is a meander through our long-term love affair with the bicycle and an exposition of the joy that it brings wherever, whenever and whatever it's form.

A highly entertaining read for cycling enthusiast and those with a causal interest alike.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read 10 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An extremely readable style and a very wide-ranging look at cycling from many angles. Often amusing and always entertaining. Thoroughly enjoyed it and read it on the recommendation of my brother who is a much more serious cyclist than I am and who is very keen on it.
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