Easy Rider. Motocross Grand Prix. James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. The motorcycle is a global icon of untamed freedom, symbolizing a daring and reckless lifestyle of adventure. Yet there are few books that chronicle how and when this legendary vehicle roared down the open road. Motorcycle explores the roots of the rebel’s ultimate ride. After early incarnations as a nineteenth-century steam-powered bicycle and multi-wheeled vehicles, the modern motorcycle came into its own as a cheap, mobile military asset during World War I. From there, it rapidly spread through modern culture as a symbol of rebellion and subversive power, and Motorcycle tracks the symbolic role that the bike has played in literature, art, and film. The authors also investigate the international subcultures that revolve around the motorcycle and scooter. They chart the emergence of American biker culture in the 1950s, when decommissioned fighter pilots sought new ways to satiate their desire for thrill and danger, and explore how the motorcycle came to represent the untamed nonconformity of the American West. In contrast, smaller scooters such as the Vespa and moped became the utilitarian vehicle of choice in space-starved metropolises across Europe and Asia. Ultimately, the authors argue, the motorbike is the exemplary Modernist object, dependent on the perfect balance of man and machine. An unprecedented and wholly engrossing account, Motorcycle is an essential reading for the Harley-Davidson roadhog, bike collector, or anyone who’s felt the power of the unmistakable king of the road.
By TigerLady "motojournalist" - March 1, 2009
This book explores the motorcycle as a design object, from its humble beginnings as a bicycle with a motor bolted onto it, through a century of design evolution and innovation to modern times. It turns a wide-angle lens on the history and development of the machine, and how people have reacted to it--both those who love it and those who hate it. It focuses beyond the tunnel vision of the American landscape and bike industry to an international, multileveled, and complicated story, and rescues the motorcycle from triviality (in the US) by treating it as a serious engineering feat which has polarized societies since its inception. A good companion read is Steven L. Thompson's "Bodies in Motion."
By L. Wolf, - December 13, 2008
MOTORCYCLE is a fascinating look at this compelling "objekt" of power and beauty,and its great significance not only as a machine but as an aesthetic and pop cultural icon. The authors have provided interesting historical and social insights in their look at the motorcyle, and their lively prose is punctuated with compelling photographs. Alford and Ferriss have done a thoughtful,sophisticated job of analyzing the impact of the motorcycle on cultural imagination--and our ideas about motion, freedom, gender, and the future--as well as illustrating its importance in art, design, literature and film. Clearly, the motorcycle is much more than the sum of its parts, as this ambitious and well-wrought analysis shows. It makes one want to put on some goggles and hit the open road--with the book in one's pack, of course! Vroooom!
Intelligence meets motion
By TJT - December 5, 2008
The book Motorcycle is for all those who want to know everything there is to know about the role that motorcycles have played (and continue to play) in the world's culture. My own fascination with them began in the early 1960s as I envied those fellow teenagers who had mopeds and Honda 50s. Freedom, cool, and speed are the words that come to my mind when I think of those days.
What is fascinating about this book is that it is everything you would expect a book about motorcycles not to be .... highly relevant and intelligent. Bring your brain ... it's a book to savor.
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