Book recommendations

Espresso vecchio

Über Member
South Norfolk
Hi all.

I thought it might be interesting for us all to discover some cycling books that other members know about, but I couldn't find a dedicated thread. Apologies if there is a thread which I've missed (and if there is such a thread then maybe the mods could move this).

My starter: 'The Dancing Chain' by Frank Berto. It's mainly about the history of the different solutions for having more than one gear over the last 150 years, but it also includes a huge amount of information about bikes in general, social and economic trends, different bike companies and influential people. Very liberally illustrated with original diagrams of different mechanisms on every page, and some photos. Although Berto is American, the vast majority of the text is about the contributions of each of the European countries and Japan. Lovely to dip in and out of.

My hardback copy goes back a decade but a newer edition is now in large-format softback too, about 400 pages. It is on Amazon of course but the best place to start looking might be Bookfinder (another great site for buying any book, by the way) where the best current price is ~£21 incl postage. There's also one on Ebay at £18 though most there are much more. Just the thing for winter.

More suggestions please.
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Paul Fournel's "Need for the Bike" and "Anquetil Alone". Two very different subjects - one about the pleasure of cycling, one about a Tour de France champion - but both written in a fresh, disarming style that really conjures up an atmosphere.

Smokin Joe

Legendary Member
View attachment 557659No longer in print but definitely worth planning a tour of the second-hand bookshops within riding distance to see if you can pick up a copy. 1952 double Olympic champion and the gruelling realities of the 1955 Tour de France. Highly recommended.
I think I was in my last year of school when I borrowed that from my local library. I do remember it as a brilliant book and would love to get hold of another copy.


A quick look on ebay found this, it has been reprinted :smile:
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I just finished ‘One more croissant for the road’. Food writer Felicity Cloake cycles round France eating good food. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it brought some joy into a rubbish year although it made me angsty to cycle round France again!


Kilometre nibbler
Only the French could do this: the bicycle as philosophy, [...]
In a vaguely similar vein there's Guillaume Martin's "Socrate à Vélo". I've not read it, my French isn't good enough but there's a review here.
Two unusual teams ride the Tour de France, one Greek and one German, made up of thinkers like Socrates, Nietzsche, Epictetus and Machiavelli. That’s the premise “Socrates on a Bike” but it’s also an autobiographical account from Guillaume Martin,


Senior Member
One to skip is Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington. She was a recreational cyclist who discovered a talent for triathlon and achieved some incredible results in the sport. But it's just one of those books that never really goes much deeper than 'And then I did this... and then I went here...'. . She had obvious issues with eating disorders and an unhealthy perfectionism, and it could have been a valuable insight into the mental issues of being an elite athlete, but these are just mentioned in passing.

My OH really enjoyed Pants of Perspective by Anna Macduff.
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