Book Review Fifty Bikes by Daryl Connelly

The history of cycling in fifty bikes

Written by Tom Ambrose, and published by Crows Nest in 2013. ISBN 978 1 74331 754 9

Review author:  Daryl Connelly is a Bicycle Tasmania member living in Forth, on the north - west coast. When he’s not cycling, beekeeping or chasing the kids, he’s a business advisor with Cradle Coast Innovation. Daryl would love to hear from other members via daryl@darylconnelly.com on email or @darylconnelly on Twitter.

I was delighted to find myself faced with around 50 bike related titles to choose from in a Carlton bookstore recently. Even among such good company, this little book stood out, with its hard cover, compact size and burgundy page marker contributing to its vintage good looks. It set me back just under $30.

Each of the book’s fifty short chapters focuses on either a particular type or model of bike, except for those two or three which deal specifically with particular parts or components. The book begins with the earliest human powered vehicles of the 18th century, and ends with today’s electric bikes and some futuristic looking prototypes.

This book is a far cry from the dry, reference book that such a work could easily have become, and outlines the human, technical and where appropriate, business story behind each innovation, in an entertaining and accessible way.

The book is beautifully illustrated, and touches on aspects of the human – bike experience that I had not previously considered, such as the role that bikes played in the liberation of women, and the use of bikes during wartime.

As well as appealing to cycling nuts of all ages and stages, this book will appeal to anybody with an interest in human ingenuity and sport, and in particular, the relationship between the two. Fans of Le Tour, will enjoy some of the lesser known anecdotes that the author has managed to dig up and weave into the book. It would make a great gift.

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