Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Bike Deconstructed

The Bike Deconstructed is an elegant book. Subtitled "A Grand Tour of the Modern Bicycle" this 8 by 10 inch volume is a nearly 200 page visual and textual examination of the various mechanisms that combined make the delightful machine we call a bicycle. It is a book best browsed, taken in small chunks and contemplated over time. For that is exactly what Richard Hallett did in constructing this book.

With clear photographs and prose, Hallett examines each bit of the bicycle. As each part is contemplated histories are revealed and options explored. Hallett's gaze is through the lens of now, but the past is not forgotten, indeed as Faulkner noted, it's not even past. So we see electronic shifting but also hub gears. Carbon fiber is here but so is steel, aluminum and titanium.

This is a book a child will find fascinating but The Bike Deconstructed will also reveal some new insights to the even the most grizzled of bike gurus. This is a book for those that gaze at bicycles with a sense of wonder. This book informs that wonder and the knowledge of the parts increase our appreciation of the whole.

Fans of recumbents and mountain bikes may lament that their machines are not considered here but Hallett has chosen to restrict his scope in this volume primarily to the conventionally framed modern road bicycle. I cannot call this a fault of the book, for the extreme focus has brought forth great clarity.

This book, like the bicycle itself, offers something for both the poet and the engineer. That something is beauty and it is presented beautifully in the words and photographs that fill the pages of this book.

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