The Elite Bicycle is the kind of glossy hardback you need to chain to the coffee table to avoid it being smuggled out of the house and into someone’s pannier.
Although it would appeal to the hardcore bicycle fetishist, it is also an easy and appealing read for someone who may be new to cycling but who wants to understand others’ obsession.
It hits the right balance of being techy and factual, but with masses of human interest – the characters behind iconic brands and in the workshops – as well as including beautiful photography that really sets the scene.
There is a sense of different local and national cultures, with each workshop visit and interview, which gives this book the feel of enjoyable travel writing. Featured brands you will have heard of include: Mavic, Continental and Cinelli. Brands you should know about include Cyfac, Ira Ryan and Winter.
Background history also gives each brand a sense of place and importance, celebrating the “passion of people who are still content to make things in small quantities, by hand” as Paul Smith says in his introduction.
Lots of stunning photos, quotes — from famous figures as well as bike-makers — and captions make this a book you can dip into and flick through. Or, if you want to dedicate some sofa-time to serious reading, the main text is certainly enthralling as well as being rich in personal observation and anecdotes.
Having pondered giving this book to my brother for Christmas, I think I’m just going to have to buy him another copy. It’s that good.
Author: Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife with forward by Sir Paul Smith
Price: RRP £35 (Hardback)
More information: The Elite Bicycle
What Velopress say about The Elite Bicycle
The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.
In chapters featuring some of cycling’s greatest craftspeople, The Elite Bicycle offers up a conversation with the men and women who make the most coveted bicycles. Lavish, oversize photographs and personal interviews invite readers into their workshops to show the melding of old-world craftsmanship with space-age materials in fascinating studios and factories that fabricate superb machines.
The Elite Bicycle is both an homage to the bicycle maker and a collector’s piece in its own right, celebrating the stories behind the greatest bicycles and components in the world.