Top positive review
Essential reading for enthusiasts
on February 26, 2002
Museums, exhibits and the books devolving from them only hint at the mysteries they purport to show but rarely reveal. This is particularly true of exhibits of things that move, whether airplanes, cars and motorcycles on one hand, or people on the other. Once mummified via restoration and encapsulated in historical review, these lively subjects lose their kinesthetic value and become dessicated.
Within the limitations of those realities, here is a book that is endlessly fascinating and pleasing, replete with photos that while technically excellent are for the most part static and thus devoid of context. The essays, although pleasant, lack edge and passion, thus failing to evoke the adrenal glands (which operate at high levels when pushing a motorcycle to the limit).
The descriptions of the machines, from knowledgeable masters such as Kevin Cameron, capture the essence of what the designer tried to do and how well he (no known female motorcycle designers, but correct me if I'm wrong) hit his target.
This is a book to which one can return again and again with pleasure. For a rider who has survived (I confess, in context, that I'm the survivor of 1.6m miles on two wheels) and ridden any of these wondrous devices, the book is a channel back in time that the book conveys magnificently.
It is to the credit of the Guggenheim and the sponsors, such as BMW, that the show/book could be produced and could demonstrate to a wide public the fascination of motorcycles and riding them.
Even non-riders, who have seen motorcycles on the road or who may know motorcycle enthusiasts, will start to comprehend the addictive fascination that possesses riders who can't stop. If you are persuaded to ride, please wear the best gear you can afford, get training and realize that roadcraft only comes from mileage undertaken humbly but decisively, the kinesthetic realities no book, however good, can convey.