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The Upper Half of the Motorcycle: On the Unity of Rider and Machine Paperback – Aug 1 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Whitehorse Press (Aug. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1884313752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884313752
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.6 x 27.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"There are a number of books available that'll explain the dynamics of motorcycling and how to take advantage of them, but there are few, if any, that first focus on you, the rider. Bernt Spiegel's book, "The Upper Half of the Motorcycle on the Unity of Rider and Machine," is in its ninth printing and finally translated into English. A German behavioral psychologis, Spiegel uncovers new insights and gives unique perspectives that challenge the reader to think about riding from an intrinsic standpoint instead of a mechanical one." - Sport Rider

"Spiegel says motorcycles can function like a body part; i.e., a prosthetic limb. In fact, some amputees become competitive athletes. He uses physics, biology, psychology and anthropology (and other sciences) to look at the human/motorcycle unit. The subtitle nails it: "...on the unity of rider and machine," and he offers fascinating techniques to integrate the function of the motorcycle into your unconscious. it's an ideal gift for the motorcyclist who likes thinking about the "how" and "why" of riding. So popular, it's gone through nine printings and three editions in German. Now in English, thanks to translator Meredith Hassal." - Motorcycle Consumer News

"Wunderbar! This legendary and highly popular motorcycle strategy book by Bernt Spiegel, that explores the unity of rider and machine, has been on my wish list for a long time. Unfortunately, I can't read German. Fortnately, the good folks at Whitehorse Press have made an English translation possible. No other book defines the man-machine unity like this one does. Danke Whitehorse Press!" - Rider

"Few motorcycle books tackle the physical and mental facets of motorcycling the way The Upper Half does. It provides practical information for improving "riding behavior" and delves into aspects of motorcycling that promise to deepen the understanding of the machines we love." - Motorcycle News

About the Author

A behavioral psychologist, design consultant, university professor,and founder of the Spiegel Institut in Stuttgart, Bernt Spiegel has spent more than 50 years working on man-machine interface issues. This book reflects his unique views of the physical and psychological relationship riders have with motorcycles and the concept of motorcycles coming to function as an“artificial limb” for master riders.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a motorcycle instructor/trainer for 35+ years at all levels I was looking for an in-depth explanation of how and why the motorcycle and rider behave the way they do. Spiegel's approach may be too esoteric for those who are not analytical by nature. for those of us who are, this is a good exposition with a lot of value for trainers in particular. For riders who don't teach others, there is still a lot of insight into how riding goes from a mechanical process for novices to intuitive for the experienced, advanced level rider. Hope you like learning how the brain works!
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By Pierre Patry on Oct. 7 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A absolute must for any motorcyclist that really want to conceive how man and machine (motorcycle) work together.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 31 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Not for Everybody - But it Should Be Jan. 9 2011
By T. Wright - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been riding my whole life and I read a lot of books on motorcycle riding techniques. I also train new riders. This book gives an insight into the coordination of man and machine that I've never seen touched on before. Its not an easy read. You have to deeply consider what he is explaining. But once you understand his approach to rider/motorcycle operation new skills will surely follow.

If you desire to get the most out of your riding, becoming a more proficient rider, and really understanding what is going on as you motor down the road this book is worth reading. The author presents frequent examples to help you understand the point he is making.

This book will earn a spot on my shelf as a valued reference tool.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Transformative! July 1 2011
By Craig Roberts - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does for motorcyclists what Wolfgang Langeweische's seminal work, Stick and Rudder, did for aviators. It builds and sharpens skills through a thorough understanding of how the machine in question acts in its natural, steady state and -- more importantly -- WHY it reacts to our control inputs the way it does and why, in many cases, its proper control requires counter-intuitive actions and reactions from us.

Admittedly, Spiegel's book is not as reader-friendly as Langeweiche's. Spiegel is a behavorial psychologist and it shows. He obviously enjoys and takes great pride in his analytical talents and peppers his work with sometimes esoteric observations and anecdotes. Yet, the more scholarly and initially less accessible aspects of the work are nicely balanced by simple, useful and practical training and riding hints and tips. Taken as a whole, the book comes together nicely in the end though, as others have noted, it may require some rereading in parts. Study rather than casual reading of Spiegel's book is well worth the effort and the "aha!" moments experienced by the serious student can be positively transformative.

Not incidentally, Meredith Hassall, who must have been faced with a formidable task, translated this book from German into English expertly and beautifully. Wunderbar!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The 'mental' side of motorcycling - what no one told you. March 29 2012
By Conrad - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book that deals with the mental side of motorcycling - all the things that no one told you, and you need to know.

First of all, I need to mention that this is a fairly heavy read. It's not a book that you can expect to read through and understand, I found that I needed to re-read certain portions numerous times until I understood it completely. This could be due to the fact it is a translation from a German language original, or maybe Mr Speigel has written it as he thought best. I have been recommending this book to alot of people, but always with that caution - which seems well justified now that I read other reviews here and find that there is even a medical doctor who has failed to comprend the great points to be found in this book...

To anyone who is skeptical that Upper Half could actually contain any valuable information that you haven't heard before, just stop to think - how many times have you heard a motorcycle racer say that racing is 10% physical and 90% mental? There's a reason for that. For anyone who takes the time to really think about motorcycling - indeed performance motorcycling - it's obvious that there is a very large mental component involved. What I find very surprising is that there are not many books or instruction that deals with the mental side. Upper Half is a valuable resource that practically fulfils that entire void and answers questions that you hadn't even thought about.

If you have ever struggled with being 'afraid' to use greater lean angle, or being unsure about the limits of traction - this is the book that can answer your questions. Rather than just telling you what to do, or what not to do, Upper Half actually explains the reasons behind why we are afraid to use extreme lean angles, and why we can have such trouble coming to terms with the traction provided by modern sports tyres. This is a great approach. Personally I found it to be much more powerful and effective once I know the reason why, rather than just doing something without knowing the reason for it. I spent some time thinking about the points in this book, and once I 'got my head right' it was amazing that it had an instant effect on my riding, and every aspect of my riding - road, track, and everything in between.

For anyone who is thinking that they are interested in learning more about the mental side of motorcycling, but aren't sure you can make it through some heavy reading - I would recommend starting with Total Control by Lee Parks, which touches on some points in a much easier to read manner. For people who want more - Upper Half is comprehensive and sure to inform.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The upper half of the motorcycle Feb. 24 2011
By Vink - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An extremely in-depth view of the mechanisms and sensory factors of human movement. How that affects what we do, and perhaps why. The book explains the authors view of the connection between man and his environment and how our perception is actually extended into our environment. Also how tools are an extension of ourselves and how the motorcycle is actually an extension of our self in our environment, and how to use it as such. A brilliant book with advanced concepts that are broken down into easy to understand chunks.
It's well worth it.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Insights on How to Ride Aug. 18 2010
By E. Bianchi - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've only read about a third of this book to date, but I feel I can recommend it even so.

This book is about YOU! What YOU have to do to control your motorcycle, make it go where you want it to, and not screw up.

Although I started riding over 40 years ago, I learned some very basic, new stuff early in the book. Like, did you know there are TWO ways you can exit a corner? (You can countersteer, or you can simply roll on more throttle -- both will cause the bike to straighten up.)

The author says that riding a motorcycle well takes just about all the capabilities that a human being has. I do think he is right.

This book is about how to make sure your capabilities are up to the task.

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