Motorcycle Book Reviews

Motorcycle.com Staff
by Motorcycle.com Staff
If you ride a motorcycle, winter can be a harsh mistress. It can be especially harsh if: 1) You live in a cold climate; and 2) You just watched Daytona coverage. Serious jones for anything motorcycle occur under such conditions. But even prior to Daytona, the odd day of good weather can make taking on the role of mere observer difficult, so you ride near or far, freezing important body parts in any case. The few nice days are, of course, followed by a new blast of winter, forcing you to put away the bike and gear for another month or two.

In such severe cases of moto-lust, anything will do: arenacross, qualifying results, or for the truly desparate, yet another rerun of ‘American Thunder’ on Speedvision, errr… SpeedTV. A headier way of dealing with these cravings is known as ‘reading’, as in actual books as opposed to posts like “d00dz, [email protected] CrazE!!!!!” on your favorite website.

There are well-known classic motorcycle books, ‘Hell’s Angels’ and ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ among them. The number of motorcycle-centric books, however, is growing rapidly. The three books summarized below are all worthy reads, but each in their own way...



Leanings
Peter Egan

Motorcycle-centric rating: 10
Inspiring: 6
‘I did not know that’ factor: 6

The first half of ‘Leanings’ is collection of CW feature articles written by Egan, including his first published freelance article about riding a Norton from Wisconsin to Seattle, and breaking down in Montana along the way. Egan also recounts his experiences on guided tours in both Europe and New Zealand and riding and ultimately buying a Vincent.

Peter Egan’s monthly column in Cycle World is a good a reason to buy a monthly publication as there is in publishing. As much good fun as the first half of the book is, Egan knows to save the best for last. The second half of ‘Leanings’ is a collection of CW monthly columns describing all things the draw us to riding motorcycles: the thrill of buying a new bike, the mid-winter ride turned bad, and the constant search for the perfect bike(s).

Whatever ‘It’ is, Peter Egan has ‘It’ when it comes to writing about motorcycles. If you just need a break from the winter blues, this is the one to read.


Ghostrider
Neil Peart

Motorcycle-centric rating: 4
Inspiring: 10
‘I did not know that’ factor: 8

If ‘Leanings’ is all about the fun of motorcycles (and it is), then ‘Ghostrider’ is about riding to survive. After suffering a string of personal losses in the late nineties, Neil Peart, drummer for the rock band Rush, turn to traveling by motorcycle to stave off the demons.

‘Ghostrider’ is not only a wonderfully told motorcycle adventure, but it is also a look at a Neil Peart himself, and human fragility. Peart describes his journey in such rich detail, you don’t so much read about, as see and experience it. You also come to know Peart as more than a musician, but as a lover and student of nature, and a remarkably resilient man. Anyone who has battled or run from the demons will find inspiration in Peart’s words. Anyone else can just enjoy the ride.

In ‘Ghostrider’, Peart describes a concert at The Gorge amphitheater in 1997. I was in the audience that night. Frankly, I don’t remember much about the show, except for Peart’s masterful drum solo. I still remember the images of that complex, virtuous performance years later. ‘Ghostrider’ is that kind of book.
Investment Biker
Jim Rogers

Motorcycle-centric rating: 4
Inspiring: 4
‘I did not know that’ factor: 463

If ‘Leanings’ is about fun, and ‘Ghostrider’ about healing, then ‘Investment Biker’ is an education. ‘Investment Biker’ is the story of Jim Rogers, an (apparently very successful) investor who chucks it all and rides around the world on his BMW, along with his girlfriend (also on his (other) BMW).

If ‘Investment Biker’ had been on the syllabus for my history classes in high school, I’d be way smarter. Rogers delivers his first socio-economics and history lesson in the first 20 pages, and keeps the hammer down all the way through the book. If this sounds boring, think again, as he not only manages to pique your interest with his description of people and places, but also provides a sense of how things got to be this way.

Keeping in mind that ‘Investment Biker was first published in 1994, consider the following quotes from ‘Investment Biker’:

“We tend to not understand that a large part of Western history over thirteen or fourteen hundred years has been Muslims again Christians….

…. They’re not over yet, these global battles, it may not be Communism versus Capitalism next time. One of thrusts of the future could well be the revival of Islam versus Christianity…”

Egad.

If you subscribe to anything other than a strict Capitalist, supply and demand view of the world, you may find ‘Investment Biker’ a tough read. That said, it’s important to remember that Rogers is a member of a select club that has ridden a motorcycle around the world. For no other reason, this book deserves a read.
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Motorcycle.com Staff
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