Book & Video reviews

During the winter months, when the roads are covered in Snow, Ice, salt and all manner of nasty anti bike & anti rider substances, there is nothing better than sitting down with a drink of your choice and immersing yourself in a good book or video recounting the wonderful experiences and challenges of those people who have the good fortune or sheer determination to make their dreams come true.

The following is a list (in no particular order) of books or videos that members have found enjoyable. If you have any favorites that you feel would be of interest, please forward the details with a short review via the enquiry form on our Contact us page (Choose 'Website Issue/Enquiry' as the subject).

Riding the Edge

Riding the Edge
  • Type: Book
  • Title: Riding the Edge
  • Author: Dave Barr
  • Publisher: Dave Barr publications
  • ISBN: 1-879854-11-2

If you want an example of sheer bloody minded determination in the face of all that life can throw at you, then read this book. Dave Barr has strong opinions and does not suffer fools gladly. But I suspect these are qualities you may need to ride over the world (not just around it) covering 83,000 miles in three and a half years. And just to make life difficult, do it on a Harley with next to no money! Oh, and Dave has lost both his legs and rides with prosthetics which require as much servicing as the bike.

This is a facinating story, although not particularly well presented as Dave has shunned a traditional publisher which also makes the book a little harder to obtain. But you can contact Dave direct via his Dave Barr website or, I got my copy from Moto-Bins (click the link for books & Literature). - Glenn Knowles.

Into Africa: Sam Manicom

Into Africa
  • Type: Book
  • Title: Into Africa
  • Author: Sam Manicom
  • Publisher: Trafford Publishing (UK) LTD
  • ISBN: 1-4120-5498-2

This book records the adventures of Sam Manicom as he travels from Jersey to Cape Town. I'm fascinated by these stories of personal independent travel through the lesser known parts of the world, probably because it's something I have always dreamed of doing, but know that in reality I don't have the courage to face the sort of events that will inevitably occur on such a journey. It does not help that this book doesn't open at the start of the journey. Rather, Sam first takes you to one of the most dramatic incidents in his trip before back-tracking to the beginning and then leading you on this wonderful journey through the heart of Africa - Glenn Knowles.

Motorcycle journeys through the Alps and Corsica

Motorcycle journeys through the Alps and Corsica
  • Type: Book
  • Title: Motorcycle journeys through the Alps and Corsica
  • Author: John Hermann
  • Publisher: Witehorse press
  • ISBN: 1-884313-32-9

This is one of those books where you loose yourself and suddenly realise you've just spent several hours unintentionally planning your next big trip to Europe. John Hermann is an American, and his style of writing is similar to several other American books I've read, in that there an element of humor that some find irritating but I find entertaining. Regardless of the writing style, this book is a venerable encyclopedia of Alpine and Corsican passes.

There are a total of 79 'trips' ranging from around 60 kilometers to around 300 kilometers, each trip taking in several passes. The book is full of tips and local knowledge for each of the areas covered. Add the generous sprinkling of photographs and the narrative, and you end up with a must have book for anyone planning (or just dreaming of) an Alpine trip - Glenn Knowles.

Jupiter's Travels

Jupiter's Travels
  • Type: Book
  • Title: Jupiter's Travels
  • Author: Ted Simon
  • Publisher: Penguin Books but may be hard to find
  • ISBN: 0-14-005410-3

Is there anyone who has not read this book? This is the book that inspired Obi-wan and Charley to ride around the world. First published in 1979, this book recounts the journey of Ted Simon who at the age of 46 (in 1973), and having just passed his motorcycle test, set off to ride around the world on a Triumph. This is an iconic book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ted repeated his journey 26 years later at the age of 72!. You can read some of his story on Ted's website - Glenn Knowles.

Running with the Moon

Running with the Moon
  • Type: Book
  • Title: Running with the Moon
  • Author: Jonny Bealby
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN: 0-09-943665-5

After his partner dies suddenly on holiday, Jonny Bealby falls into a spell of prolonged depression. In order to help him out of this and to try and rediscover some meaning in his life, he embarks on a motorcycle journey through Africa (has anyone noticed a pattern in the type of books I read?). This is more of a romantic account of yet another fascinating journey complete with the apparently obligatory war torn countries and corrupt border controls. A very enjoyable read for those cold winter nights - Glenn Knowles.

Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Type: Book
  • Title: Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Author: Robert M Pirsig
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN: 0-09-932261-7

Believe it or not, I first came across this book as 'recommended reading' for a computer course I was on. It turns out to have nothing to do with computers and very little to do with motorcycles.

I can't really say much about the content (it's factual, not a story) without spoiling the impact of the book. Personally, I found this a very hard book to read but also strangely compelling. It's more to do with a way of looking at life and the way we approach things and I suppose it could translate into how we should approach our riding! Try it for yourself - Glenn Knowles

A Twist of the wrist (I & II)

A Twist of the wrist
  • Type: Book
  • Title: A Twist of the wrist
  • Author: Kieth Code
  • Publisher: Code Break, US
  • ISBN: 0-9650450-1-3 (I), 0-9650450-2-1 (II)

Keith Code, best known as the founder of the California Superbike School, wrote 'A Twist Of The Wrist' some twenty odd years ago. You would think such a book would have become obsolete with the intervening years of motorcycle development, but in fact, it remains one of the best respected reference books for serious riders.

The follow up, 'A Twist Of The Wrist II' was written several years later but can easily be read before its predecessor as it describes the basics of high performance bike riding by explaining step by step throttle control, steering and braking. The first deals with cornering and psychological matters that can affect your riding. Both are written in simple, short sections that make everything look so obvious that you wonder why you had not worked it out for yourself!

Keith Code has trained more riders than anyone else in the world, and it is his method that make him so successful. The book is easy to read in short bursts and makes you start thinking about what you are doing instead of jumping on the bike and hoping for the best.

I believe there is a third book called 'The Science of Motorcycle Riding'. Both 'Twist' books are available on DVD for the lazier readers - Louise Bennett.

Leanings

Leanings
  • Type: Book
  • Title: Leanings
  • Author: Peter Egan
  • Publisher: Motorbooks International
  • ISBN: 0-7603-1158-7

Peter Egan is a columnist in the US monthly “Cycle World” and also writes for the car magazine “Road and Track”. I’d never heard of him until, by chance, I came across this book in a London bookshop. An American living in Wisconsin, the chap’s that rare combination, a great writer and an avid bike enthusiast.

This volume is a collection of articles and columns written over the past twenty five years or so. Included are a take on how many motorcycles are truly necessary, the nearly lost art of the kickstart and a detour to Wolverhampton:

“There’s nothing quite like chasing a violent thunderstorm halfway across England in June to make you feel like a charmed motorcyclist. Fifteen or twenty miles ahead, angry black clouds tower over the landscape, shooting pitchfork lightning and shaking the ground with thunder. Meanwhile, just behind the passing storm front, you ride in a serene, sunlit world of blue skies, glorious rainbows, wet streets, and villagers emerging from their homes to inspect the fallen branches and missing shingles.”

There are tales here of good bikes and wretched bikes, of touring on a Honda 50 (168 mpg!) and on a Ducati 900SS. But, for me, the very best bits could only come from the pen of a completely unreformed bike nut.

If you enjoy tales about motorcycling, you’ll find this book a real gem - Simon Hadden.

Race to Dakar

Race to Dakar
  • Type: Book & Video
  • Title: Race to Dakar
  • Author: Charley Boorman
  • Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
  • ISBN: 0316027111

We got a great Chrissy present that we highly recommend reading/watching. "Race to Dakar" by Charley Boorman in book and DVD so as the winter wind howls and throws rain at the windows one can be sweating it out with Charley and two pals over the sand dunes and it is really exciting.

We thought Simon Pavey was the real star of the show but then I'm biased as he trained me on the BMW Offroad course in Wales last April and what a master tutor he is - Carole Kibble.

On any Sunday

On any Sunday
  • Type: Video
  • Title: On any Sunday
  • Publisher: Lace International Ltd

I first saw this at the cinema when I was a teenager. This was the reason I bought an FS1-E. And the rest, as they say, is history.

This film is a light hearted look at the many forms of motorcycling that were around in the 70's. But don't let the age put you off, this is as fresh today as it was when it was launched. It's one of those feel good documentary style films covering various forms of track, hill, offroad, ice & desert racing. It even has the late & great Steve McQueen.

Warning: Watching this video can result in a sudden and uncontrollable urge to grab your gear and jump on the bike for a ride. If you get the chance, buy the triple DVD box set which contains 'revisited' and 'Malcolm Smith' bonus discs. Please don't confuse this with 'On any Sunday 2' which is apparently awful (unless you know different) - Glenn Knowles.