Motorcycle Riding Books | Speed Reading

Words: Ari Henning

Photos: Joe Neric

Pixels are still a long way from rendering the printing press obsolete, and in the meantime there are a lot of good books to digest. For those who love reading about motorcycles as much as riding them, these texts promise hours of entertainment and education.

1 |  The Daytona 200

[Historically, no other motorcycle race in America is as prestigious as the Daytona 200. The Daytona 200 chronicles America's premier motorcycle competition from its birth on the beach in 1937 through its move to the high-banked superspeedway in 1961 to the modern era of 200-mph Superbikes. Written in 2003 by Don Emde—himself a former Daytona 200 winner—this book tells the story of the racers and race teams in vivid detail. Part I takes you through the decades, recounting each running while providing insight into the evolution of the track and the event. Part II contains comprehensive statistics from every year of competition. This $39.95 tome is hands-down the most comprehensive study of the Daytona 200, and a great read for any racing enthusiast.

2 | Ben Spies

[Ben Spies' rapid rise to international stardom has captured the attention of American race fans, but few know his whole story. Ben Spies: Taking It To The Next Level gives a full account of the Texan's incredible career, from his early days as an amateur club racer to his unstoppable progression through AMA and World Superbike into the MotoGP World Championship. Author Larry Lawrence spent months researching this book, and draws on interviews with "Elbowz" and his family, friends and teammates, revealing a complete picture of his inexhaustible drive to be the best. This 160-page book is filled with hundreds of color photos, and begins with a forward from Spies' mentor, Kevin Schwantz. The large-format paperback sells for $29.95; or $39.95 autographed by Spies himself.

3 | Grand Prix Motorcycle Racers

[Until the 1970s, American roadracers were barely a blip on the radar screen of international competition. Grand Prix Motorcycle Racers: The American Heroes is the story of those legendary Yanks who beat the Europeans at their own game, including Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Kenny Roberts Jr., and the most recent American world champ, Nicky Hayden. Written by Motorcyclist contributor Norm DeWitt, this $20.25, 272-page volume also includes chapters on America’s World Superbike Champions.

4 | An Age Of Superheroes

[Even Valentino Rossi—who penned the forward for this book—acknowledges that the 500cc two-stroke era was the Golden Age of Grand Prix motorcycle racing. Before traction control, engine management and acres of runoff, back when the bikes were evil, tracks were lethal and racing was funded by Big Tobacco, a few men revealed themselves as being a special breed. Kevin Schwantz, Wayne Rainey, Mick Doohan, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Gardner will go down in history as the manliest world champions of all time, and this book is all about them. An Age of Superheroes: A Time Before Traction Control reveals the complete history of GP motorcycle roadracing between 1988 and 1993. The only thing that would make this $43.19, 240-page history lesson better would be a scratch-'n'-sniff whiff of two-stroke exhaust!

5 | Taking It To The Limit

[Legendary filmmaker Peter Starr is a Motorcyclist contributor, which is how we learned of his latest work, Taking It to The Limit: 20 Years of Making Motorcycle Movies. If you’re a fan of Starr’s films, you’re sure to appreciate this behind-the-scenes look at what it took to capture such amazing footage and weave such terrific stories. This $49.95, 272-page hardcover book contains more than 500 photographs and comes with a 60-minute DVD featuring clips of Mike Hailwood’s return to the Isle of Man TT in 1977 and Kenny Roberts’ return to mile dirt-track racing in 1985.

6 | American Dream Bikes

[Some say American motorcycle manufacturing is stagnant, but this book proves otherwise! Written by Motorcyclist contributor Alan Cathcart, American Dream Bikes explores America’s best homegrown motorcycles. From sportbikes like the MotoCzysz C1 and Fischer MRX650 to totally outrageous customs like the Confederate Wraith B120 and Ecosse Heretic to more mainstream machines such as Victory’s Vision and Harley’s XR1200, Sir Alan has ridden them all and recounts the experience in vivid detail. This $40, 240-page text is a proper salute to American engineering and ingenuity and a compendium of modern Made-in-the-USA motorcycles. To get your copy, contact Parker House Publishing at 651.235.2776 or find it at an online bookseller.

7 | In Shadow Of The Devil

[Moral values wouldn't seem like a compelling sub-plot for a novel featuring motorcycles, but that's exactly the case here. Written by late Motorcyclist contributor Lynn Wineland in 1999, In Shadow of the Devil: A Saga of Retaining Values in a World Gone Mad follows one family's attempts to pass down its core beliefs through much of the 20th century. Though ostensibly fictional, those who knew the author will recognize many of his life lessons and personal experiences, from competing in early SCTA speed trials and the ISDT to piloting an F-100 Super Sabre. A thick read at 560 pages, it's available in hardbound form for $30 or as a softcover for $25.