Is print dead? I consume current events almost exclusively online lately, reaching for my beloved old leatherbound tomes usually only in the last half-hour before toddling off to Dreamland with a warm glass of milk. Some magazines are hanging in there, but many are slowly sliding off to oblivion. There’s just no way for a thing printed on dead trees to match the speed of the internet. But maybe that’s a good thing for really good books worth reading? Just in time for the holidays, we’ve rounded up the Best Books for Motorcyclists. (Having said all that, most of these are also available electronically.)
Now in its third edition, Neil Spalding’s inside look at how MotoGP bikes work is about as, ahh, inside as you can get – over 300 pages and 650 color photos and illustrations, most from Neil’s own inner-pit archives. For Neil, it’s all about the machines and how they work. Written by a former racer himself (Ducati Supermono among other things), a very plugged-in journalist and a man who pays the bills building slipper clutches, this book is really a labor of love, and the next stage in a lifelong quest to understand how two-wheeled things tick. This time we delve into the science of chassis flex, aerodynamic wings, seamless-shift gearboxes, etc. Big, heavy and glossy, it belongs on your coffee table year-round.
You’ll have to pay, though, because there’s no US source for the book as of now and it’s only available from Neil’s own publishing company – but worth every shilling.
Hot off the presses and written by former Motorcyclist magazine editor Aaron Frank (who’s lived in Milwaukee the last 14 years), this is the story of H-D told in a different way, through 45 objects from the H-D Museum’s collection. Sounds intriguing, especially if you plan to visit the museum anytime soon or already have, and one reviewer has already described Aaron’s prose as “above average.” High praise indeed for a Motorcyclist guy!
$24.13 on Amazon
Guy Martin, most famous for being an Isle of Man racer, has in fact written several books, none of which I’ve read, but I think I will start. For one thing, I’ll finally be able to understand most of what he’s saying, and he seems like a really interesting human with stories to tell – beginning with the scatological derivation of the title of his latest book, which you can sample on the Amazon link.
$7.61 in Hardcover – Amazon
Joe Berk has been riding to Baja for decades, as well as China and God knows where else. Moto Baja is his fourth travel book, and it claims to contain everything you need to know to have a fun- and fact-filled tour of our favorite Californian appendix. Berk is besties with Joe Gresh; how could this book not be good?
$23.95 in Paperback – Amazon
And speaking of Guy Martin and Isle of Man TTs and all that, Guy’s written the foreword for John McGuinness’s new autobiography. McGuiness, of course, is Mr. TT and possibly still on pace to beat Joey Dunlop’s all-time win record at the ripe old age of 46. As our British friends would say, top geezer.
$28.94 on Amazon
Stanley and Mark Dibben
By the famed TT racer and with a foreword by MO’s own Andrew Capone, this one covers two world wars, two world motorcycle championships, two world land speed records, and scores of business successes and lessons along the way. All threaded through the life and times of the true ‘most interesting man in the world’, the still-sprightly at 93 years of age Motorcycle Grand Prix Champion, Stan Dibben, and his son, the brilliant academic Mark Dibben. Capone says it’s “a unique motorcycle racing potboiler, history lesson, entrepreneurial how-to, and business academic tome. All in one.” Where do we sign up? Here.
$49.95 Australian (about $32 USD)
Jeff was astounded to learn you could make a living writing about motorcycles when we first bumped into him on a photo shoot in Malibu, circa 1990-something, and he’s been doing it, mostly, ever since. Amazon says, “Buchanan infuses his writings with philosophical observations derived from his myriad two-wheel travels, expounding on topics that transcend the realm of motorcycles, touching on the shared, universal themes of life. Collected Wanderings is a compilation of Buchanan’s favorite and most heartfelt articles and columns, culled together from a globetrotting career spanning fifteen years.” Must be nice. We mostly just do listicles…
$9.95 Paperback at Amazon
This one’s five years old now, but still full of classic rants Mark’s penned over the last 20 years – and now appearing monthly in Classic Bike magazine. What? Buy something anyway, MG needs a hand operation so he can get back on the horse that bit him.
$22 Paperback – Amazon
Former Editor-in-Chief turned PR mogul Kevin Duke, just like Ali G, wants to know why, if it’s so good, there’s not a children’s version of Sesame Street? At the same time, he urges us not to forget the kids at Christmastime. MotoMice “is a children’s picture book about a diverse group of riders joining up on their way to a rally that promotes acceptance of the positive aspects of motorcycling and harmoniously bringing together disparate groups of riders,” said Kev in his review of the book earlier this year.
$16.99 Hardcover – Amazon
Get out there and read like your brains depend upon it, people.