City cycling is in many respects Richard’s Bicycle book updated and repackaged for a new audience and none the worse for it. Ballantine tackles cycling from the vantage point of city riding and breaks the book into five different sections. Each flows effortlessly into each other, and doesn’t feel tired or reptitive despite having a very familiar format thanks to his conversational, authoritative and engaging delivery.
The first section opens with the argument for cycling, types and choosing the right bike for the right purpose- everything from fixed gear track bike to recumbent. Where to buy, what to pay and the pros/pitfalls of buying second hand before discussing clothing, routes, riding in traffic and crucially the bicycle as a vehicle.
He remains refreshingly real about theft and personal safety, giving a wealth of advice without letting it cloud the experience. Having cut my “serious” cycling teeth on Ballantine and a Holdsworthy Butler at the tender age of thirteen, I was surprised to find a more balanced, constructive attitude toward drivers and driver behaviour. His earlier books echoing the experiences of riding formed on the mean streets of New York, earning him the reputation of being OTT.
Make no mistake, he’s sharply critical of poor road user behaviour- the caricature of SUV super mom appealing directly to my prejudices but the tone is less alienating to a new audience. Pin sharp photography, good humour and much family inclusion gives a softer edge to his authority. There’s the time honoured maintenance and repair sections including how to choose and cultivate good shop service. He keeps this taut- based upon the principles of how difficult components work rather than falling into the trap of detailing specific component servicing/repair- dooming books to instant obsolescence.
Those looking for a more generic guide to cycling encompassing racing, club riding and specific disciplines will need to look elsewhere. City cycling is an informative and engaging book for novices and seasoned riders alike and mighty good value giving change from a tenner.
One of the most engaging books on the subject-a must for every cyclist’s bookshelf!
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Snowbooks City Cycling
Size tested: n/a
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?
City Cycling is a book designed to teach riders to cope with all aspects of cycling as an urban pursuit. Something I'd generally agree with, although it does feel very much like a revised and updated Richard's Bicycle Book tailored specifically toward an urban context.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
302 ppgs, £9.99 Covers all aspects in detail and with a passionate, yet very, very engaging style.
A real page turner-read in two evenings cover to cover.
Hardback would be nice.. might find itself very well read.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
An engaging, informative read for cyclists of all ages and experiences.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lively,passionate, flowing delivery from someone who knows and loves bikes and cycling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, although will agree to differ in the context of adjustable stems.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Unreservedly
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,