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The Competition Bicycle: the Craftsmanship of Speed: A Photographic History Hardcover – 20 Apr 2012
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About the Author
Jan Heine is an avid cyclist and the editor of "Bicycle Quarterly," a magazine devoted to bicycle history and classic models. Jean-Pierre Praderes is a freelance photographer whose award-winning work has been featured in numerous magazines and books, including "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles "and" The Art of the Racing Motorcycle."
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I got this book on a Tuesday, let it sit until the weekend, and then couldn't put it down. Usually, with picture books, I pretty much ignore the text, but I got hooked on the text here, looking for explanations of how this or that worked, why it was designed as it was, and so on. If anything, I'd liked to have seen more of that. The 75 year anniversary Campagnolo picture book did a little better job of that, but of course they had a different job -- celebrating and explaining all the Campagnolo innovations.
There are 34 bikes in all. Here are some highlights:
- Frank Bartell's Willy Appelhans Six-Day from 1935
- Rene Vietto's Barralumin aluminum framed Tour de France bike from 1948
- Bruce Waddell's Cinelli Supercorsa from 1965
- Merckx's De Rosa (branded Eddy Merckx) from 1974
- Francesco Moser's bizarre hour record bike from 1984
- Andy Hampsten's Landshark (branded Huffy) from 1988
In the back of the book are geometries and dimensions for each of the bikes.
There's nothing from Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain, Graham Obree, or Lance Armstrong. The newest bike in the book is Tony Rominger's 1994 hour record bike, so Armstrong may just be considered too recent.
All in all, a beautiful book. If anything, I just wanted it to be bigger and more complete.
The photos are atypical high quality images expected in a coffee table book, as is the size and format.
An interesting aspect of these bikes is that each bike profiled was hand-built, and for the most part the bikes are all in original condition with a few that look as if they were frame up restorations. Also, just about every bike profiled is an original machine with an actual competition history. As stated in the closing line of the preface "These are the actual bikes on which great champions and other competitors surged towards the finish line".
My son and I read this book the second it came in the mail - we are always impressed by how little the bike frame has changed since its first conception. It is almost impossible to tell the difference in the bikes profiled in this book from 1894 to modern variations. An interesting aspect of the book is the Specifications pages near the end that show each bike frame's angles and variations, as this was about the only way to truly tell that there were differences in the frames.
I am always interested in the variations of the technical components and mechanisms found on bicycles and how something often appears years ago and then because it is so ahead of its time fades out of production before reappearing as the new look. There is quite a bit of that to find in these bikes just as there is quite a bit of items that are well put to rest and retirement. It is also interesting to see items that go and come a few times like tapered cotter bolts holding crank arms to BB hangers.
If I had to point to the one item in this book that is my favorite bicycle component it would have to be the design and sizes of the front cranks. There are some truly large cranks on some of these bikes, as well as some beautifully designed ones.