Saturday, December 14, 2019

Frank Berto, RIP

Frank Berto died last weekend. The bicycle world is richer because of his long and productive life, and poorer now with his passing.

A lot of what I know about bicycles, I learned from the many books and technical articles by Frank Berto. He brought scientific rigor and historical perspective to the pages of Bicycling! magazine (it used to have the ! mark in the title) and in recent years his work has appeared in Jan Heine's fine magazine, Bicycle Quarterly.

Frank didn't just write or accept things as "that's the way it's always been." He tested things, dove deep into history, built machines to test hypothesis, and then wrote beautifully and completely about the things he'd found. For my money his masterwork was his book, The Dancing Chain. This comprehensive analysis of the development of the derailleur-equipped bicycle is encyclopedic in scope, engagingly written and, to those of us who the rest of the world calls bike nerds, fascinating. Every book and article I've read by Frank Berto has been worthwhile and informative. His book, The Birth of Dirt, is a fine look at the origins of mountain biking.

Jan Heine wrote a brief tribute to Frank Berto on his blog at:

A longer feature on Frank Berto will appear in the next issue of Bicycle Quarterly.

Rest (or Ride) in peace, Frank.

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