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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No really, it IS all about the bike!
I purchased this after having watched the TV documentary of the same name and i was not let down!
I had some initial reservations about watching the programme, city guy moves to wales to rediscover himself and finds cycling in the process, it has british movie industry written all over it! The lifelong passion for the bike that was revealed however left me once...
Published on 30 July 2010 by Paul Etherington

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars No Book of Popular Bike Culture (elitist)
Maybe it is my fault for not reading the book description properly but what I wanted was a book on popular cycle culture, how the bike has become a vehicle of empowerment providing liberation and and breaking down class barriers at a price most people can afford. THIS book is completely the opposite. The author a former CIty Lawyer turned journalist and TV presenter...
Published 1 month ago by Matteo_B


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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No really, it IS all about the bike!, 30 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I purchased this after having watched the TV documentary of the same name and i was not let down!
I had some initial reservations about watching the programme, city guy moves to wales to rediscover himself and finds cycling in the process, it has british movie industry written all over it! The lifelong passion for the bike that was revealed however left me once again chiding my own preconceptions, and yet another inward promise to be more open minded and less reactionary!
Obviously the book fleshes out the broad strokes painted on the tv, but the passion and almost reverence that comes across is a joy to read. Clever writing prevents the book going the way of a sentimental eulogy to craftsmen passed, and instead reveals a soaring demand for the bespoke bike, albeit for a very different user. As a cyclist myself i was particularly gratified to learn that the principal aim of the author attaining his dream bike was to ride it all the time, celebrating it through use, and not just having it as another expensive accessory, (penn himself compares the skill and artistry of a framebuilder to that of a watchmaker or tailor)thus needing it to be absolutely perfect in every detail. Any jealousy at the author having the time and money to be able to trek globally in order to acquire the components for his dream bike are soon forgotten thanks to the total passion that is revealed for every detail of the bike through very skilled writing. It's always gratifying to connect with a fellow bikie, even if through the pages of book, and i was very pleased to see that i already own most of his selected reading!
If you like cycling, buy this book.
If you like travel, buy this book.
If you want a dollop of inspiration to get you back on your own bike, buy this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and inspirational!, 8 April 2011
By 
R. taylor "One Man Banned" (Wakefield, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I bought this after reading an excerpt in a craft magazine.
Having just started cycling regularly again, and planning some touring, this was perfectly timed to inspire me to look beyond what my LBS offers.
Firstly, this book combines a great potted history of bikes and cycling with Robert's personal quest for his ultimate bike. The historical stuff is all very interesting and well presented, never boring, and overall very informative while remaining fun.
On to the inspiring stuff: I have been planning to invest in a proper touring bike, and had a shortlist of four or five - none hand-built, all from my LBS - when I picked this book up. Whilst I do. It have the time, money nor inclination to travel and research in the same way, I am now far more aware of the components and how they are made, and what the true functions are.
Wile I don't have the money for e Rourke frame - the builder Robert chose for his frame - I searched out one of the other frame builders he mentioned, and am planning a visit to Bob Jackson's workshop and shop in Leeds soon (I am currently selling like mad on eBay to fund the new bike!) and am as yet not certain if I will be able to buy a custom frame or not.
The information Robert presents is both incredibly interesting and useful - this book has been the most useful tome whilst I consider my next push-iron.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is planning to spend good money on a bike, anyone with an interest in bikes, and anyone who cycles regularly.
Simply brilliant!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 7 Jan 2011
By 
Ivan (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
I gather this book was related to a television series, though - as I prefer life without television - I did not see the programmes.

I enjoyed the book very much and recommend it to bicycling enthusiasts.

Why?

'All About The Bike' interweaves masses of information about the history of the bicycle (and of companies associated with that history) with the writer's quest to assemble a bicycle that would be perfect for his own use. From what he tells us, it is clear that the adventurous Robert Penn is one of the most serious and devoted cyclists you can imagine: he has pedalled his way round the world and been on numerous other cycling expeditions. So he knows his subject.

But he can certainly write, too! It is unusual to find a book about cycling that is so literate. The use of vocabulary is sharp and you are frequently struck by the originality and effectiveness of a simile. Yet the writing has the fluency of good journalism.

And the book has been well edited: I did not notice any typographical errors.

Within the book there are, unfortunately, no colour photographs. (I suppose that helps keep down costs.) But the illustrations, though generally small and black-and-white, are always useful and effective. And the photo of the writer's 'dream bicycle' - appearing on the dust sheet in colour - is a useful point of reference.

The hardback feels luxurious in the hand, too, and is printed on good-quality paper.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book and then get out and ride!, 10 Aug 2011
This review is from: It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness On Two Wheels (Paperback)
This book was a very, very fun read. In a former life, some 20 years and 50 pounds ago, I rode, raced and worked in a bike shop. Robb's story reminded me of the pure fun, enjoyment and joy that I find in riding my bicycle. I pulled out my old Bianchi, tuned it up and have looged some 500 miles since mid June. I encourage everybody to get back on there bikes to just ride and live!

Oh, and watch the one hour BBC special based on this book. You can find it on YouTube.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For armchair cyclists (like me), and those of you who know your stuff, 28 July 2010
By 
R. Pryor "Rachel Pryor" (Bath, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Rob's enthusiasm, not just for bikes, but also for the climate their innovation has created, springs out of this book. I enjoyed the people he met - the kinds of people who for me become legends in their determined application of skill, creativity and other nuttiness. Tripping along with him as he watched a welder, I found myself halfway through a piece of fairly complex engineering, only to find that I still understood and I could feel and in some way touch the simplicity and development of the technology. I'm not an engineer, so I love a book that takes me back to fettling in the garage with my Dad. Magic.

Connecting me with the heartbeat of our talented forbears (the British contributors to the development of cycling) , their sharing of genius with those across borders, and to their present incarnations, makes me feel hopeful for Britain too - and that's a gift for me. Ta, Rob.

My only problem with the book is that I unwittingly read it without thinking of the obvious result - that the discomfort of my own bike - and the reasons for that - is now achingly clear, and I guess I might just see if I can find a local frame-maker.... and some cash... :-)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired, 20 Dec 2010
Very simply this book is a wonderful exploration of the bicycle and the building of the dream bike. An inspiration for any enthusiast and a great read. I never watched the TV programme so cannot report on how it compared but enjoyed the book very much. The only problem is I now want my own version of the dream bike!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and compelling, 3 Sep 2010
By 
The author has done a lot of cycling on many different bikes including round the world via some pretty hard core routes. He decides to build a bike, his perfect bike, from scratch. He has a steel frame hand built by a master craftsman and then travels the UK, Italy and the USA not only sourcing the components but meeting the master craftsmen behind some of the finest components available. On the way through he weaves a brilliantly compelling story about the history of cycling and the history of each of the technologies that make up the modern bicycle.

Totally recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A biking genius, 9 Aug 2010
By 
Book Reader (Previously of Staffordshire) - See all my reviews
Rob Penn has captured the spirit of the bike and why we cycling obsessives become so obsessed in this gem of a book. It'll teach you not only about the history of the bike but also some top tips on how your trusted steed works which will help keep you riding. Travelogue, history and maintenance manual all in one! Genius..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars no stabilisers required, 1 Jun 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness On Two Wheels (Paperback)
At 46 my joints decided that running was starting to hurt, lets try cycling. Came across the book by accident but it has given me a new lease of life and has drawn me into whole new world. Not only has it informed my decision to start cycling but has provided me with a whole new topic of interest and conversation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal xmas gift, 3 Jan 2011
Having bought the book as a gift for our cycle mad son, he is doing lands end to john o groats in may, we were very relieved when he found he could not put it down, truly absorbing.
he says I can borrow it after lajog as a persuader to be his back up on the trip!
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