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The Cycling Bible by Chris Sidwells is an all-in-one guide to bikes, kit, fitness, nutrition and training. It's aimed primarily at less experienced cyclists, but even the most hard-bitten rider could probably learn something. However, being quite a broad-spectrum guide it doesn't hang together that well, and I can't help feeling it might have been better split into two separate books, each focused more closely on its target audience.
Intended as a support manual for every type of rider from novice to experienced, The Cycling Bible's 255 pages are jam-packed with information. Divided into 11 sections, it covers why you should cycle in the first place, how to kit yourself out to start, and then a guide to the various different types of cycling – both on and off-road. After that, the book starts to get into the whys and wherefores of skills and fitness, bike position, training and nutrition. It finishes up with a section on caring for the bike and advice for keeping it running optimally.
The initial sections are most obviously focused towards those only recently embarking upon their cycling journey. The information is easy to follow and covers most areas where novice riders will have questions. A bias towards road cycling is evident in most of the advice, particularly in clothing selection.
This does set the tone for the rest of the book, which is very much centred around road riding and its particular requirements and challenges. Although techniques for off-road riding are discussed very well, they do feel like an add-on, while the rest of the guide remains true to road cycling.
The section dealing with strength training and stretching is excellent, giving some helpful tips in an arena that's all too frequently ignored by those just wanting to get out on their bike. However, guidance elsewhere in the book on training and performance feels very full-on in comparison. The language, advice and approach are much more tailored towards experienced cyclists looking to improve their technique. There is a wealth of useful information, but it's not necessarily aimed at the same audience as the earlier introductory sections of the book.
This is the main quibble I have with The Cycling Bible – it tries to cater to all riders, but some of it caters exclusively to novices while other bits seem to be aimed at the needs of the more experienced. It's a modest-sized book, but not small, and it feels like perhaps there could have been two books rather than just the one. Instead, the single volume feels a bit inconsistent in tone, language and accessibility, and might actually appeal to fewer readers as a result. It's a shame, as the information is excellent when taken in isolation, it just doesn't hang together very well.
Beginners will appreciate the guidance on bikes, kit, some of the techniques, the strength and conditioning and some of the more basic training tips, while more experienced riders will likely find themselves focusing only on the second half of the book.
And at £25 it's not an inexpensive purchase. There aren't very many 'total guide to cycling' books out there to compare it with, but given that it's pretty much a book of two halves, it's perhaps not as good value as buying a couple of books that offer a more dedicated insight into a smaller segment of cycling. Muck, Sweat and Gears by Alan Anderson focuses on the background and history of cycling very well for just £9.99, The Complete Guide to Cycling Psychology is £16.99 and a good option for those looking to hone their performance with a better mental game, while The Bike Book for £18.99 is a great in-depth guide to how to keep your bike running smoothly and efficiently.
If you're after a single-volume, broad-spectrum guide, The Cycling Bible is well presented and offers some good advice and information, but it does come across as trying to appeal to two very different sectors of cyclist.
Well written and informative but in trying to be something to everyone it doesn't quite hit the mark
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road.cc test report
Make and model: The Cycling Bible by Chris Sidwells
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?
From the publisher: "The Cycling Bible by renowned cycling author and journalist Chris Sidwells is a comprehensive guide to help you get the most out of cycling, whether you go road cycling, gravel riding, mountain biking or enjoy any other kind of two-wheeled fun.
Based on the author's extensive experience and research, this book collates the knowledge you will need to specifically train for the technical, physical and mental aspects of cycling training. It includes riding positions, strength and conditioning, endurance training, the psychological side of training, tailoring nutrition to your goals and bringing it all together to create your own training plan. It also deals with choosing the right bike for you, making essential safety checks and carrying out maintenance.
Extensively illustrated and packed full of action photos, The Cycling Bible will help and motivate you to improve and develop as a cyclist and find even more joy in this fantastic sport."
It felt like a book of two halves, with the first half focused towards beginners and the second towards the more experienced.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Split into 11 sections focusing on everything from reasons to ride, types of cycling, kit, bikes, setup to technique, fitness and training.
Paperback ISBN: 9781839811210
The book delivers in terms of quality of information and advice, it's just too polarised in its approach.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The strength and conditioning section was really informative and accessible.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The way the book tried to cater to different levels of experience but failed to integrate the information very well.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The information contained in the book is excellent. I just think that two volumes – one for novices and one for more experienced riders – might have worked better in terms of flow and focus.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.