Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Bicycle Book, various contributors (2006)

Weidenfield and Nicolson 1 841882 633 2 144pp £12.99

A general introduction to cycling for leisure and transport, illustrated with colour photographs in a magazine style and aimed at adult readers

I am guessing that most sales of this book are made to gift purchasers. Your husband, wife, teenager or whatever, has shown a sudden interest in cycling and this volume solves the present problem come Christmas time. If I am right, lets hope that this is not the third cycle-related tome that they unwrap on the big day.

It takes readers through much of what they will need to know to buy a bike that meets their needs, to start making journeys, and have the know-how to undertake basic repairs. The chapters on carrying children by bicycle and transporting bikes on the back of cars are possibly the clearest signal that the target audience probably grew out of BMX riding some time ago.

The spread of photos, and the design of the book make it an attractive thing a which to look. And the content is all good, sound stuff, expressed with the professional lightness of touch that the authors bring from their magazine background.

There is little here, however, to get the blood pumping. It would have been easy to add panels on some of the wilder aspects of bike culture that might have really stimulated the imagination of an interested innocent. If you want a book for which the recipient will really thank you, consider alternatives.

PS December 2008

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