Consider giving a book a home this winter. Besides bringing joy and inspiration into your life, moto-book ownership offers many rewards. A book can give you a glimpse into the minds of the world’s top racers, transport you to a dusty barn hiding a vintage treasure, or offer you a chair in the Chopper Shaman’s workshop. Though they can often be hard to put down, moto-books require little maintenance and are fine when left on their own for long periods of time. So visit our bookshelf and drag a knee down the reading rainbow on a rainy day with one of these exciting reads.
INDIAN LARRY, CHOPPER SHAMAN
By Dave Nichols, with Andrea “Bambi” Cambridge
Published by Motorbooks (2010)
‘Indian’ Larry DeSmedt was an extraordinary man and a celebrated custom bike builder made widely famous by Discovery Channel shows, most notably the Biker Build-Off series. Larry’s storied life ended suddenly when he was killed in a stunt accident in 2004, but his legend was already very much alive by the time of his death. Larry had become known as much for his heart and soul as for his incredible artistry and skill.
Indian Larry, Chopper Shaman is written by Dave Nichols with the help of Larry’s widow, “Bambi” Cambridge, and details Indian Larry’s life through accounts by his closest friends, business partners, and loved ones. It covers his story from youth through death–one of rebellion, addiction, and irrepressible creative drive. The book features dozens of color photos and showcases his world-famous bikes in jaw-dropping, multi-page spreads.
In life, Larry’s story touched thousands of fans and fellow riders who have travelled their own roads through alienation, loss and hardship to find redemption and happiness. This beautiful book is engaging from start to finish, and a fitting tribute to the wide world of Indian Larry.
Nichols, Dave and Andrea “Bambi” Cambridge. Indian Larry, Chopper Shaman. Minneapolis, MN: Motorbooks, 2010.
MOTOGP TECHNOLOGY, 2ND EDITION
By Neil Spalding
Published by Haynes (2nd Ed. 2010)
Once you fall down this fascinating rabbit hole, you won’t be able to stop reading. MotoGP Technology is a colossal book, in size and in scope, and one you’ll treasure for years to come. It’s the most complete book on the daunting subject of premier class bike mechanics, and anyone with an interest in racing will enjoy it–regardless of your level of technical know-how. It covers everything from brakes, electronics, riders, aerodynamics, engines, to the many, many challenges teams face in their quest to shave milliseconds off the best lap times in the world. Spalding’s writing is smooth and, despite the complex topics, easily digestible.
The second edition was published in 2010 and covers the 990cc GP bikes of the 2002-2007 era as well as the current 800cc machines. Bikes detailed include Honda’s RC211V and RC212V, the Yamaha M1, Ducati Desmosedici, Suzuki GSV-R, Kawasaki ZX-RR, and also bikes from Team Roberts, WCM, Aprilia, Moriwaki and Ilmor.
With MotoGP Technology as your race-season companion, you’ll quickly gain an advanced understanding of what makes these bikes and their riders tick, and in doing so, enrich your own enjoyment of the race and admiration for the competitors.
Spalding, Neil. MotoGP Technology, 2nd Edition. Sparkford, England: Haynes, 2010.
GRAND PRIX MOTORCYCLE RACERS: THE AMERICAN HEROES
By Norm DeWitt
Published by Motorbooks (2010)
For anyone with an interest in the motorcycle racing of today or yesterday, Norm DeWitt’s Grand Prix Motorcycle Racers: The American Heroes is a must read. The story starts appropriately when Kenny Roberts dropped a knee on the international racing scene in the late ‘70s, and ends with the most recent American World Champion, Nicky Hayden. The book primarily focuses on celebrating the achievements of the seven American World Champions: Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Kenny Roberts, Jr., and Nicky Hayden. It also includes chapters on American racers who never quite made it to the international top spot but had exceptional careers–riders like Randy Mamola, Colin Edwards, and Doug Polen.
DeWitt carries the reader rapidly along with fascinating anecdotes, and the book is filled with tales that convey the intensity of the riders and championships they battled for. If you grew up following Kenny Roberts and Eddie Lawson, DeWitt’s riveting account will bring you back to a golden era of racing in the ‘80s. If you follow current AMA or MotoGP racing, the Grand Prix story will give you a richer understanding of what racing is today. The heroes of American racing helped transform the sport during a time of incredible advancement in technology and technique, and they remain the superstars that inspired today’s champions to drag an elbow.
DeWitt, Norm. Grand Prix Motorcycle Racers: The American Heroes. Minneapolis, MN: Motorbooks, 2010.
LEANINGS: THE BEST OF PETER EGAN FROM CYCLE WORLD MAGAZINE
By Peter Egan
Published by Motorbooks (2009)
When Peter Egan was learning how to fly airplanes, he rented a Cessna 150. A friend asked him, “Isn’t that like the Chevy Vega of airplanes?” “There is no Chevy Vega of airplanes,” Egan said, “Anything that flies is better than a Vega.” “That’s more or less how I feel about bikes,” he told the interviewer as he recounted the story. The exchange tells a lot about Egan, because as much expertise as he has on his subject, motorcycles, he has love enough for them all.
Peter Egan is one of the world’s finest moto-journalists, and Leanings: The Best of Peter Egan From Cycle World Magazine, is a collection of his columns that ran in Cycle World from 1977 to 2002. Each column is preceded by a short retrospective commentary by the author. The entries are funny, endearing, delightfully written, and cover topics that span the diverse world (literally) of motorcycling. As you read his stories of adventures in restoration, travel, challenge, and cycle-obsession, you’ll enjoy the ride and find a great friend in the process.
Egan, Peter. Leanings: The Best Of Peter Egan From Cycle World Magazine. Minneapolis, MN: Motorbooks, 2009.
GHOST RIDER: TRAVELS ON THE HEALING ROAD
By Neil Peart
Published by ECW Press (2002)
I’ve heard it said that for many of us, our deep love of riding comes from a place inside where we find peace in the catharsis of doing nothing, forgetting everything, and focusing only on the bike, the road, the movement. Neil Peart found that literally moving through time was the only way to become whole again after being completely torn apart by tragedy.
In 1997, the Rush drummer and author of Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road lost his teenage daughter in a car accident. Still reeling from the devastating loss, his heart-broken wife passed away just ten months later. Peart did the only thing could to live through his inconceivable grief–he took to the road on his BMW R1150 GS. A limitless trip without a destination turned into multi-year ramble across Canada, up to Alaska, and down through the United States and Central America.
As it turns out, Peart is a great writer, and in Ghost Rider he carries us along on his journey as he comes to terms with his incredible losses, and eventually returns to rebuild a life for himself. It’s a poignant, thoughtful book, and a quiet one, and gives the reader a small sense of the healing and peace Peart found in his journey.
Peart, Neil. Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road. Toronto: ECW Press, 2002.
THE VINCENT IN THE BARN: GREAT STORIES OF MOTORCYCLE ARCHAEOLOGY
By Tom Cotter
Published by Motorbooks (2009)
You’ll keep a keen eye on the dusty corners of garages after you read forty tales of some of the most enviable motorcycle finds in the world in this selection. Tom Cotter scoured the world’s collector circles for the forty best stories of motorcycle ‘barn’ finds and brought them together for The Vincent In The Barn: Great Stories of Motorcycle Archeology. The book features stories of uncovered treasures from premier collectors like Jay Leno and Dale Walksler, as well as tales of true chance finds discovered by unwitting motorcycle enthusiasts.
Cotter’s collection includes the bizarre story of the Bay Area’s ‘Madman of Marin County’, George Disteel. After Disteel’s son died in a motorbike accident, Disteel began hoarding Vincents, Nortons, and other bikes and storing them in the many barns and sheds on his properties. After the eccentric Disteel died and authorities discovered the surprising extent of his properties, witnesses described scenes that included finding as many as twenty Vincents in one spot. The Butterfield Auction House was hired to sell the recovered bikes and all were sold, both running and non-running. One Vincent Black Shadow was sold to Arlen Ness for just under $2000, which he restored and later sold.
Look for Cotter’s other book, The Harley In The Barn, also available at Road Rider. Before turning his sights on motorcycles, Tom Cotter, a motorsports industry veteran, wrote The Cobra In The Barn and The Hemi In The Barn.
Cotter, Tom. The Vincent In The Barn: Great Stories of Motorcycle Archeology. Minneapolis, MN: Motorbooks, 2009.
RING OF FIRE: THE INSIDE STORY OF VALENTINO ROSSI AND MOTOGP
By Rick Broadbent
Published by Bantam Press (2009)
Our fascination with sport goes way beyond the winning or the losing; it goes deeper than an interest in who finishes first or scores the most points. It’s about all of the human drama that goes along with the quest to be number one–about fiercely dedicated competitors pitted against one another, their struggle and triumph, and their inevitable heartbreak and pain. Ring Of Fire: The Inside Story of Valentino Rossi and MotoGP, is a book about those things, and it’s absolutely captivating.
Rick Broadbent is a man from the paddock, a journalist with years of insider’s stories to tell about the very real riders behind those triple-digit speeds. Though the name implies it’s a book about Valentino Rossi, Broadbent intertwines the exciting story of Rossi’s ascent to legendary status with the story of one of his boyhood heroes, Mike ‘Mike the Bike’ Hailwood, who followed his calling and returned to win the Isle of Man in 1978 after an eleven-year absence from motorcycle racing. But Broadbent doesn’t stop there, and Ring Of Fire is filled with many behind-the-scenes anecdotes about Rossi’s competition, the old guard–Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau–and the up-and-coming–John Hopkins, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Jorge Lorenzo, and Dani Pedrosa.
Broadbent, Rick. Ring of Fire. London: Bantam Press, 2009.