Suggested Reading: Books


If you like riding vintage steel bikes, you probably like reading about them as well. Here’s a listing of some books and magazines that record the history of their development, the key marques, as well as the events and races that championed their evolution. Below are the books with a capsule description of their content. I’ve tried to give the most recent publication dates.

“Italian Racing Bicycles: The People, The Products, The Passion” – Guido Rubino. 2011. Short vignettes about particular builders, specific bicycles and component manufacturers. Beautiful.

“The Dancing Chain: The History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle” – Frank Berto. 4th Edition. 2013. Very detailed description of equipment developments along with the significant designers, manufacturers and bike racers who utilized the products. Interesting note: the English manufacturers ignored derailleur development for almost 40 years because they favored rear hub shifting – the Sturmey-Archer approach. The Tour de France organizers outlawed derailleurs in the race until 1937 at which time it was noticed that cyclo-tourists were oftentimes beating the professionals to the tops of the climbs!

“Kings of the Road” – Robin Magowan. 1987. Wonderful anecdotes about the great racers and races.

“The Unknown Tour de France: The Many Faces of the World’s Greatest Bicycle Race” – Lee Woodland. 2009. Vignettes and anecdotes about the greatest of all bicycle races and the men who rode in it.

“A Century of Paris-Roubaix” – Pascal Sargent translated by Richard Yates. 2001. If you saw the most recent race, you have to be amazed by the skill and courage of the riders in this event. Greatest of the classic one-day races. It is said of French and Belgian bike racers, if you aren’t suffering, you aren’t racing; hence the obsession both with cyclo-cross and riding the treacherous cobbles of Flanders.

“Bad Blood: The Secret Life of the Tour de France” – Jeremy Whittle. 2009. The unsavory underbelly of the race. A deserved skewering of the hypocrisy surrounding doping in professional cycling.

“Bicycle Quarterly Magazine”. Originally focused on randonneuring bikes and themes. Now expanded to other aspects of road bikes and racing.
“Cycle Sport Magazine”. Focus on professional racing.
“Velo News”. Focuses on racing, racing related equipment and the professional racers.
“Road Bike Action Magazine”. General interest.

All of these books are available through Amazon or ABEBooks online. Perhaps my readers can suggest others titles worth seeking out…


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