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The Biography of the Modern Bike by Chris Boardman



A really interesting, beautifully laid out and thoroughly researched book

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The Biography of the Modern Bike investigates and documents the important developments in cycling and bike technology, from the safety bike to what we might see from cycling in the future. It brings together Chris Boardman's encyclopedic knowledge of cycling technology with some great imagery, all in a beautifully laid out book.

There are few people as qualified as Boardman to discuss such development. He is known as the godfather of modern cycling, given the impact he has had on new cycling technology, and with his Boardman Bikes brand has stayed up to date with all the latest technologies.

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It's a beautifully laid out book, featuring some great shots of modern and historical bikes, and images to demonstrate why certain concepts work and why others don't. The heavy use of pictures gives it the impression of a coffee-table book, but it goes much further than simply gawping at nice looking bikes.

Throughout, the writing is concise and understandable, meaning that those who do not have intimate knowledge of the difference between an Italian and British thread or the different grades of carbon fibre can still easily understand the concepts. But it doesn't gloss over the more complex subjects, instead it makes them accessible to almost anybody.

The Biography of the Modern Bike by Chris Boardman - pages

Having gone cover-to-cover through the book, as far as I can tell there are no obvious elements of the modern bike missing. Everything from the different types of early drivetrains used through to the benefits of specific body positions while time trialling are discussed.

The Biography of the Modern Bike by Chris Boardman - pages 3

The only downside is that with innovations within the cycling industry moving so quickly, a book like this is likely to miss some kind of major development within the next three years. Its historical story and research are timeless, though, concisely documenting technological development.

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Despite his career being spent mainly on road racing or track bikes, Boardman's book doesn't just concentrate on these. He looks at a wide variety of bikes, from BMXs and mountain bikes through to electric and cargo bikes. It is tilted slightly towards the evolution of the road bike, which is only to be expected given Boardman's history, but it certainly can't be accused of ignoring any kind of bike – even recumbents have a place.

Overall, as something to flick through to learn about the history of bike technology, I reckon this book is an ideal partner.


A really interesting, beautifully laid out and thoroughly researched book

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Make and model: The Biography of the Modern Bike by Chris Boardman

Size tested: Hardback

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Aimed at those looking to learn more about the development of modern bikes, those with an interest in the development of technology or even just those who like having a good looking book on their coffee table.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Format: Hardback

Pages: 288 pages

Publisher: Octopus Publishing Group

Publication Date: 02/07/2015

Category: Cycling

ISBN: 9781844037834

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£25 is about the going rate for books like this, and it can also be found cheaper online.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Really interesting and well written, not overly technical in language and describing even complex concepts in an accessible way.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The thorough detail that has gone into the research.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

It's a book, so predictions may be out of date eventually.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

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Very well written, illustrated and researched book from the godfather of British cycling.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 27  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

George is the host of the podcast and has been writing for since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between. 

Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.

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