This past March at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show there was an interesting panel discussion on the subject of "Building the Long Distance Bicycle." Even though I was unable to attend the show this year, I know the discussion was interesting thanks to David Rowe. David was not only part of this discussion, he edited a transcript of the discussion into an eBook, which I recently read.
The book is probably the best single, one hour discussion of what goes in to making a good long distance bike. If you are new to randonneuring or riding distances beyond the century mark and want to get up to speed quickly, this is a good way to spend $9.95 and an hour or so of your time. Fit, comfort, bike geometry and frame materials are all discussed as are fenders, lights, wheels and other components. Even though the forum was held in the context of a show highlighting the virtues of various custom builders, the information presented is also very useful to anyone adapting an existing bike for distance riding.
I can't say that I learned a lot of new stuff from this book, but I've been lucky enough to live in an area with an active randonneuring community. This book reminded me of countless discussions I've had with knowledgeable riding buddies over the years. And the book does have some great little nuggets, like Steve Rex pointing out that "the foot-shoe interface is more important than the pedal-shoe interface" or Terry Z explaining why he favors Ultegra components over DuraAce.
The eBook is available for $9.95 here:
By the way, don't let the eBook format put you off. If you really like reading your words off dead trees, you can print the PDF file out, bind it in calf-skin or whatever you like. But once you have a book in digital format, you can keep it on your laptop, send it to your PDA or whatever. And if you don't like reading words off screens, what are you doing reading this review on a blog?
For more thoughts on eBooks, check out Cory Doctorow's essay Ebooks: Neither E, Nor Books.