What do you get if you gather together some of the leading cycling journalists and ask them to contribute to an in depth historical encyclopaedia of cycling hardware? You get Bike! by Aurum Sports Press.
Weighing in at a hefty 1.5kgs, Bike! is a beautifully designed and researched history of the most significant marques in cycling manufacturing - alphabetically listed from Atala (who in 1948 sponsored a certain Giovanni Pinarello for the Giro) through Colnago, Cervelo, Flandria, and a wealth of bike building history - to close with Wilier Triestina. Yes - that Wilier - who surprise, surprise are Italian not German as I and probably many of you have long assumed. Wilier it seems is an acronym of the phrase 'L'Italia liberata e redenta' with 'W' as an abbreviation of 'Viva' at the front which, as all you fluent in Italian know, means "Long live Italy, liberated and redeemed." Oh, and Cannondale are named after a small railway station in Connecticut...There you go. Just a few snippets that illustrate the richness of Bike!
The quality of writing is superb: A forward by Robert Penn, introductions by Richard Moore and Daniel Benson and then a wealth of considered bike building history - including the key moments and photos of the legends that rode them. From end to end it's a cycle nerd's oily dream come true.
For those of you with the Cyclopedia app for iPad the quality of the bike photography will be familiar. Late at night, curled up in bed with 'Bike!', rain lashing against the winter windows, you can almost feel the 1950's Italian sun on your face and the scent of Adriatic orange blossom radiating off the page as you ogle Coppi's famous Bianchi frame in glorious close up, reach out to stroke that beautiful glossy Bianchi bottom bracket and..Sorry. Where was I..?
Clever touches abound: the small coloured tags to link images to text rather than the 'Top L, Bottom R' system works well (unless you're unfortunate enough to be colour blind) and every page has been considered alongside it's neighbours to produce harmony and balance throughout. There isn't one badly designed spread or mediocre image in the whole 352 pages. The book concludes with a full list of TDF winners by name, frame maker and group set - which should finish the Campag v Shimano argument once and for all. Shimano need another 17 TDF wins to equal Campagnolo - so stuff that up your Dura-Ace and smoke it.
The editors have chosen well. The bespoke frame building geniuses Pegoretti and Masi (who have built frames for champions such as Pantani and Merckx plastered with the decals of different sponsorship manufacturers) sit alongside modern mass market technological giants like Cervelo, Trek and..er..Giant. It's not just frame manufacturers - the history of Campagnolo, Shimano, Sram, and Mavic are covered in full. For anyone like me who's had a pair of those very useful Cinelli Spinacci bars hanging up in the shed for the past 15 years the full tale of how the bars were passed by the UCI and then banned by Jean Marie LeBlanc in 1997 is here. Since Jean Marie has now passed away - can I put them back on the bike again? They were brilliant.
The book's only fault is the vulgar exclamation mark in the title. In a Lynn Truss type fit I'm currently taking a black marker pen to the hardback cover of my cover and tippexing the white pages. I wouldn't want to tell teach such fine writers their business but an exclamation mark (unless following a verbal scream: eg: 'Aaaeeiii!!') is a desperate bid for attention - something this very fine book doesn't need. Did Enzo need 'Ferrari!' or Ernesto 'Colnago!' I rest my case. I imagine Aurum wanted to guarantee attention on the book pile for Christmas by shouting! about their product. 'Bike' would have been enough and as classy as the book itself. 'Bike!' is still a triumph and worth every penny.
A triumph and worth every penny... even with the exclamation mark
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bike! A Tribute to the World's greatest bike designers
Size tested: n/a
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Well, from a book point of view probably the most technical thing I can tell you is this...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
I'd give it a 9.5 (4 and three quarter stars if I could) and it would be close to a 10 if I wasn't so exclam allergic
About the tester
I usually ride: Dolan Prefissio - winter bike My best bike is: Condor Moda Ti - summer bike
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Dabble in Triathlon