Tuesday, November 01, 2011

50 Good Bicycle Books

Let me start off with a few disclaimers.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are lots of good books about bicycles out there. This list started with me scanning my shelves and saying "Oh that was a good book... and that one... and that one... and then I started quizzing friends in real life and on Twitter and Google+. And then Amazon has this "people who liked X also liked Y" feature that can lead to all kinds of cool things. I finally drew an arbitrary line at 50. If your book or your favorite book isn't on the list, it sure doesn't mean it's not great.

I gave up at categorizing the list. Some books are how-to and some are history. There are books about touring and racing. There are kids books on the list and some biographies. There's at least one novel. A lot of books could fit in more than one category. So I just present the books in alphabetical order by title.

I don't describe the books, but each title links to an Amazon page with description, reviews, etc. If you hate Amazon and want to support your local bookshop, go find these books at your local store. I am an Amazon Affiliate so if you do wind up buying one of these books on Amazon after clicking a link from here it will not cost you anything extra but about 6% of the purchase price goes to me. That's the main way I keep the bits flowing through this blog, so if you choose to do that, thank you very much.

Finally, if you have some great bike books that I've missed, post them in a comment here or email those titles to me at kentsbike(at)gmail.com. If I get enough good stuff, I'll compile a second list.

Here's my list of 50 Good Bike Books:


100 Years of Bicycle Component and Accessory Design: Authentic Reprint Edition of The Data Book by Noguchi-san

A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium by Joe Parkin

Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook: Worldwide Cycling Route & Planning Guide by Stephen Lord

Anybody's Bike Book: A Comprehensive Manual of Bike Repairs by Tom Cuthbertson

Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride by Peter Zheutlin

Ascent: The Mountains of the Tour De France by Richard Yates

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

Bicycles & Tricycles: A Classic Treatise on Their Design and Construction by Archbald Sharp

Bicycle: The History by David Herlihy

Bicycling Science by David Gordon Wilson

Bicycling The Pacific Coast by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall

Bike Cult: The Ultimate Guide to Human-Powered Vehicles by David B. Perry

Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling by BikeSnobNYC

Bike Touring: The Sierra Club Guide to Travel on Two Wheels by Raymond Bridge

Boy Racer: My Journey to Tour de France Record-Breaker by Mark Cavendish

Cycling's Golden Age: Heroes of the Postwar Era, 1946-1967, The Horton Collection text by Owen Mulholland, foreword by Eddy Merkcx

Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi by William Fotheringham

Franklin Rides a Bike by Paulette Bourgeois

Gracie Goat's Big Bike Race by Erin Mirabella

His Finest Hour by David Neuhaus

Into Thick Air: Biking to the Bellybutton of Six Continents by Jim Malusa

It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels by Robert Penn

Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet by Mia Birk

Lance Armstrong's War: One Man's Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour de France by Daniel Coyle

Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer by Andrew Ritchie

Miles from Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure by Barbara Savage

Momentum Is Your Friend: The Metal Cowboy and His Pint-Sized Posse Take on America by Joe Kurmaski

Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell by the sportswriters of L'Equipe

Park Tool BBB-2 The Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair - 2nd Edition by C. Calvin Jones

Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes

Racing Through the Dark by David Millar

Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best

Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France by Richard Moore

Take a Seat: One Man, One Tandem and Twenty Thousand Miles of Possibilities by Dominic Gill

Team 7-Eleven: How an Unsung Band of American Cyclists Took on the World - and Won by Geoff Drake

The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America by Robert Hurst

The Art of Wheelbuilding: A Bench Reference for Neophytes, Pros & Wheelaholics by Gerd Schraner

The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills by William Saroyan

The Complete Do-It-Yourself Bike Book: Everything You Need to Know to Fix, Maintain and Get the Most Out of Your Bike by Mel Allwood

The Dancing Chain: History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle by Frank Berto

The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles: Craftsmanship, Elegance, and Function by Jan Heine

The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance by David Herlihy

The Man Who Loved Bicycles: The Memoirs of an Autophobe by Daniel Behrman

The Rider by Tim Krabbe

The Spring Classics: Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races by Philippe Bouvet and others

The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History by Sue Stauffacher

Tomorrow, We Ride by Jean Bobet

Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist by Willie Weir

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy


Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA


keithmo said...

A few to consider for your next list:

"Ghost Trails: Journeys Through a Lifetime" by Jill Homer

"Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide" by Jill Homer

"Eat, Sleep, Ride" by Paul Howard

"Cycling the Great Divide: From Canada to Mexico on America's Premier Long Distance Mountain Bike Route" by Michael McCoy

"The Cordillera Volume 1" edited by Eric Bruntjen

"The Cordillera Volume 2" edited by Eric Bruntjen

"Twenty-Nine Hills" by Marty Basch

Egad, a pattern. I guess I like to read about the GDMBR.

Kent Peterson said...

Hi Keith,

I mentioned Jill's books and some of the other Divide books in some previous posts and I probably erred to much on the "nobody but me is that obsessed with the Divide" direction! All good books on your list.


Nick P. said...

Hi Kent,

Great blog! Here's another one for the list...

"Hell On Two Wheels" by Amy Snyder (Her account of the 2009 RAAM Race)

Peter Flint said...

One book I particularly enjoyed is:

"The Lead Goat Veered Off: A Bicycling Adventure in Sardinia" by Neil Anderson.

I know it's been mentioned on various bike lists in the past, but I don't see it here. An enjoyable read about traversing Sardinia. Available at Amazon or here:

Another good one that seems to be available used via Amazon is:

"Round Ireland in Low Gear" - a travelogue of an elderly couple who set off cycle touring around Ireland in the dead of winter in the mid-1980's.

Not flawless and it drags occasionally, but often very entertaining and an interesting snapshot of a very different Ireland than exists now.

WMdeR said...

Dear Kent,

"Need for the bike" Paul Fournel, translated from French and published by U. Nebraska press.

It is a memoir of sorts, and is one of the most observant reviews of a life spent awheel I've read. It is a fantastic book.

M. Fournel is an experimental writer, publisher, and an avid rider. His passion for both his work and his play shows, and is conveyed with wry wit, restraint, and insight.

The French language edition (Besoin de Velo; Ed. de Seuil) is a truly outstanding and luminous read.

The translation omits some material he wrote as a journalist (of sorts) for a French newspaper, but retains the heart of the work.

Reading either is a pleasure. Strongly recommended.

Best Regards,

William M. deRosset
Fort Collins, CO

jeffy said...

"Spokesongs: Bicycle Adventures on Three Continents" by Willie Weir

"The Bicycle Wheel" by Jobst Brandt

Anonymous said...

I checked this one out from the local library. It's held my interest. http://www.amazon.com/Art-Urban-Cycling-Lessons-Street/dp/0762727837/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320177244&sr=1-1

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Hi Kent,

The Quotable Cyclist by Bill Strickland is an often refered to staple on my bookshelf.


Anonymous said...

I know that your real reason for the list is that you have run out of bicycle reading material and you know that if you make a list, people respond.

My entry is less about the title than about reminiscing being a 13 year old with a new bike in 1970 - "The Complete Book of Bicycling", Eugene A. Sloane. I devoured that book, even the boring bits.

Gene in Tacoma

Doug said...

The books about bicycling that I have read most recently and enjoyed were:

The Masked Rider:Cycling in West Africa by Neil Peart. Neil is the drummer and lyric writer for the rock band Rush. He spent much of his off time from the band touring by bicycle. This is about one of his tours in Africa.

The Happiness of Pursuit by Davis Phinney. A book about the career of the U.S. pro with the most career wins and his battle with early on-set Parkinson's.

I'll also give a shout out for Jill's books.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this list, Kent!

Another vote for Jill Homer's Ghost Trails! Oh, and I also think Stan and Jan's Berenstain's children's book, The Bike Lesson, is an entertaining read.

ronrich said...

Hi Kent

Any of the several bicycle touring books by Josie Dew, a Brit. 'Travels in a Strange State' was her account of riding across the USA.

And a new one, "On Bicycles", edited by Amy Walker, ex of MOMENTUM magazine. Contributions by 30 plus writers, including me (a bit of shameless self-promotion).
Amazon link is:

Ron Richings
Vancouver, BC

Bob said...

I would like to suggest Around the United States by Bicycle. It's the story of 2 young adventurers who touched on every state and territory in the continental United States in 1904. It's available for download at:


Jim Laudolff said...

Kent, I just stumbled on this one at the local lib.

Cycling - Philosophy for Everyone: A Philosophical Tour de Force by Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza, Michael W. Austin, Fritz Allhoff and Lennard Zinn (Aug 17, 2010)

Kind of a mismash of essays, most of them on the academic side but interesting.

Jimbo said...

How you could leave Dervla Murphy entirely off your list boggles the mind. Full Tilt tells the story of how she rode from Ireland to India by herself in 1963. Unbelievable stuff. She wrote a much more recent account of riding through Africa (at quite a senior age) in Ukimwi Road and South From the Limpopo.

A great kids book is Mike and the Bike. My son looooooves it.

kfg said...

Three Men on a Bummel: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2183

Rando Ramblings said...

Across Asia on a bicycle: the journey of two American students from Constantinople to Peking / by Thomas Gaskell Allen, Jr., William Lewis Sachtleben ; with additional notes by Michael W. Perry, editor.

1890, the Tale of the Safety Bicycle takes on the unknown, introducing cycling to China.

"We were actuated by no desire to make a “record” in bicycle travel, although we covered 15,044 miles on
the wheel, the longest continuous land journey ever made around the world."

Peter said...

Nice list! Thanks for posting.

Consider also:

"The custom road bike" by Guy Andrews

"The bicycle: myth and passion" by Francesco Baroni

"So you want to build an HPV?" by The British Human Power Club

"High tech cycling" by Ed Burke

"The complete book of distance cycling" by Ed Burke & Ed Pavelka

"Bicycle design" by Mike Burrows

"Journey to the centre of the earth" by Richard & Nicholas Crane

"Cystom bicycles" by Christine Eliot & David Jablonka

"Bicycle builders Bonanza" by Brad Graham

"The competition bicycle" by Jan Heine

"Rough ride" by Paul Kimmage

"The French revolution: cycling the Tour de France" by Tim Moore

"The touring bicycle" by Tony Oliver

"Bicycle commuting for fun and profit" by Ed Pavelka

"Hell on two wheels" by Amy Snyder (as mentioned in another comment)

"Around the world on a bicycle" by Thomas Stevens

Boon Hughey said...

Really nice to see Tom Cuthbertson on your list, but it would have been extra nice to also see his delightful work "Bike Tripping" included as well. It delves more into the philosophy of enjoying the bicycle lifestyle than "Anybody's Bike Book," which is more centered on wrenching.

Dan O said...

Add this to the list, "Heft on Wheels" by Mike Magnuson....


Richard said...

"The Wonderful Ride" about George Loher, an Oakland butcher, who rode from San Francisco to New York on the rail lines and riding a Stearns Yellow Fellow.

Check it out if you can find the time.


Raymond Parker said...

Good list. I also have a copy of Pedaling Revolution.

About 15 years-ago, I stumbled on a remaindered hard-cover copy of Travels with Rosinante, a round-the-world odyssey, by Bernard Magnouloux.

It's a great read and I was surprised to receive a humorous comment on my bicycle touring page from Bernard, earlier this year.

A book I also recommend on that page is Into The Remote Places by the late Ian Hibbel--a classic if you can find a copy.

Also on my bookshelf:

The Wind in My Wheels and Travels in a Strange State, by Josie Dew

Stealing from a Deep Place, by Brian Hall

On the Trail of Marco Polo, by Brady Fotheringham

And as someone mentioned, anything by Dervla Murphy is a safe bet.

Barb Chamberlain, Bike Style Spokane said...

The Wheels of Chance, by H.G. Wells. Not at all like his science fiction; a young draper's assistant goes off on a cycling vacation and helps a damsel in distress. It and the next two I mention are available as a free download at manybooks.net

Fun for its old-timey melodrama: The Affair of the Avalanche Bicycle and Tyre Co., Ltd., by Arthur Morrison (1897). The shenanigans of the stock market and speculators have been with us for over a century.

I second the motion for Across Asia on a Bicycle, by Thomas Gaskell Allen. What an amazing journey! They spoke none of the languages of the countries they rode through, didn't use interpreters, and at one point mention casually that they had covered around 200 miles that day through mountain terrain. They carried everything, which in China meant carrying pounds and pounds of metal cash to pay for things along with other supplies.

Fan girl moment: I got to meet Mia Birk, author of Joyride, just yesterday. She was at the Pullman campus of Washington State University (I work at WSU Spokane). She's awesome.

Anonymous said...

Wow! this was a great list... I've read a lot of books from your list which are quite nice. I found a good read bicycle book too which I couldn't see from your list. Its being authored by Dave Stamboulis http://www.amazon.com/Odysseus-Last-Stand-ebook/dp/B00D4LMIU2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370163239&sr=1-1&keywords=odysseus+last+stand

Tom Bruce said...


Have you seen my book "Every Inch of the Way; My Bike Ride around the World". It's about a 9.5 month, 23,000 km bike tour I did in 2011. You might be interested to read it.

More info here www.tombrucecycling.com

Book available on Amazon here: