9 Great Motorcycle Books

Read our reviews of motorcycle books that cover a wide variety of topics from history to restoration.

| September/October 2015

  • The Complete Book of Classic and Modern Triumph Motorcycles 1937-Today
    Image courtesy Motorbooks
  • The Comprehensive Vintage Motorcycle Price Guide, 2015-2016
    Image courtesy Whitehorse Press
  • The Beginner’s Guide to Classic Motorcycle Restoration
    Image courtesy Veloce Publishing
  • Greeves: The Complete Story
    Image courtesy The Crowood Press UK
  • The Birth of Motocross
    Image courtesy Enthusiast Books
  • Unusual Motorcycles
    Image courtesy Haynes Publishing
  • Vintage Dirt Bikes Enthusiast’s Guide
    Image courtesy Wolfgang Publications
  • CBX Book II
    Image courtesy Ian Foster
  • “King of the Beach” Dick Klamfoth
    Image courtesy Butch Baer

1. For the first time ever, The Complete Book of Classic and Modern Triumph Motorcycles 1937-Today collects all of the motorcycles from what’s arguably the most famous name in motorcycling in a single volume. Written by respected Triumph expert Ian Falloon, this latest work covers all of Triumph’s major and minor models, with an emphasis on the most exemplary, era-defining motorcycles such as the Thunderbird, Tiger, Trophy and Bonneville. The new Hinckley machines such as the Speed Triple, Thruxton and Daytona 675 are covered as well, along with important non-production models and non-factory racing and speed-record-setting motorcycles that have become integral parts of Triumph’s reputation. 256 pages. Price: $50.

2. Compiled by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, The Comprehensive Vintage Motorcycle Price Guide, 2015-2016 provides price data for dozens of motorcycle brands from Ace to Zundapp and includes major marques such as BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda and Triumph as well as lesser known or more specialized ones such as Ariel, Buell, KTM, Pope and Whizzer. This edition also contains a new section for Douglas prices. Formed by the opinions of dealers, auctioneers, collectors and experts in the vintage field and confirmed by hundreds of hours of research and data entry, it is the most accurate price guide written for vintage motorcycles. Prices are derived from actual sales between knowledgeable enthusiasts and values are given for six quality grades, ranging from rat-bike to like-new. It also includes a full description of how each price grade is defined, and how to recognize which grade a particular bike belongs in. Printed in a handy pocket size, it is the perfect companion to have with you at the next motorcycle rally or auction. 240 pages. Price: $15.95.

3. Thinking about starting on your first motorcycle restoration? The Beginner’s Guide to Classic Motorcycle Restoration is here to help. The book is designed to guide the reader in detail through every stage of classic motorcycle restoration. From sourcing a bike to outlining each of the techniques, tips and tricks used by experts, this guide will save you time, money, and (best of all) show you that even without expert knowledge and a fully fitted workshop you can still restore your dream bike. Packed full of photographs and filled with detailed, hands-on instructions, this book is the perfect companion for any classic motorcycle enthusiast wanting to conduct their own restoration. 144 pages. Price: $49.95.

4. Greeves: The Complete Story provides a detailed history of this once proud British marque, famous for the trials and offroad bikes it manufactured from the early 1950s to the 1970s. With production histories and specification details for all main models, it is an ideal resource for anyone with an interest in these classic competition-oriented motorcycles. In 25 years, Greeves produced around 25,000-30,000 machines — a relatively modest number when compared with some of their contemporaries such as BSA and Triumph. Yet Greeves was not small in ambition or achievement, a fact that is resoundingly illustrated in this new book. 224 pages. Price: $49.95.

5. The Birth of Motocross is the story of the beginning of what has become America’s No. 1 dirt sport when Motocross was “imported” into America, first as the Inter-Am series in 1968-1969 and then as the Trans-Am series in 1970. During this era, freelance writer and photographer Robert Schleicher traveled to what would become the most famous tracks in the U.S. to cover the new-to-America Motocross races. Usually with only a snow fence separating him from the competitors, Schleicher was able to dramatically capture the intense battles between the best European riders (Torsten Hallman, Roger DeCoster and others) and the new Americans like Gary Bailey, Dick Mann, Jim Pomeroy and more. Vintage Motocross racing grows in popularity every year, and this rare look into the early years of the sport will stoke the avid to newbie fan with almost 100 color and more than 100 black-and-white classic racing images. The bikes, the riders and the tracks are all here like you’ve never seen before. 126 pages. Price: $29.95.

6. Unusual Motorcycles by Francois-Marie Dumas is a fascinating look at odd, obscure and downright weird motorcycles, from a 5-cylinder wheel-mounted radial built in 1895 to wild track-equipped go-anywhere machines. The famous makes and models dominate motorcycle history, but many great inventions never reached the spotlight. In the shadow of the popular bikes, lesser-known, sometimes wacky motorcycles were conceived and constructed. These designs missed out on success for a number of reasons: lack of resources or technology, bad design or simply bad luck. Unusual Motorcycles pays tribute to these weird and wonderful bikes neglected by history. Accompanied by 500 color and black-and-white photographs, it’s a wild collection of also-rans that includes race bikes, road bikes, unusual engines, sidecars and scooters. 207 pages. Price: $39.95.

7. Have you decided you want an old dirt bike like the one you had when you were young? Then you’ll be glad to know that the Vintage Dirt Bikes Enthusiast’s Guide is here to help point you in the right direction. Compiled by Doug Mitchel with input from vintage dirt bike collectors and restorers across the country, the book covers more than 50 individual models and includes important info like relative cost to acquire, value when finished, and which bikes are likely to offer the most fun for the money. Readers will also find what to look for when checking the condition of items such as paint, suspension, frame and engine. A general section at the back of the book helps the reader decide where to buy classic bikes, where to get parts, who to call for help, and which parts of the restoration should be farmed out to experts with specific skills. 144 pages. Price: $27.95.

8. CBX Book II by Ian Foster is the update of his popular CBX Book, published in 2011. The first book sold out in six months, so Ian began work on the new volume. Originally intended as a 200-page companion to the original, CBX Book II became something much more and ended up bigger than the original, with more pages and information. The same CBX history and model introductions as before are included, but are now updated, and a whopping 85 percent of the contents are new. The book includes chapters on the incredible CBX specials being built around the world, personal photos from CBXers who bought their bikes in the 1980s, along with a record of all the CBX brochures produced by Honda around the world. A fantastic bonus is an included DVD for studying the images in the book in further detail. 442 pages. For price and more info, contact Louis Mintrone at usedcbxparts.com

“King of the Beach” Dick Klamfoth

On Dec. 20, 2014, a fire destroyed the home of legendary racer and three-time Daytona 200 winner Dick Klamfoth. Dick and his wife, Bev, are fine and living with family, but the fire destroyed all of their possessions, including their home and barn and everything they contained. Through a variety of donations in the months since, the Klamfoths are on their way to recovery, but they still have a ways to go. Indian motorcycle historian Butch Baer, the son of former Indian Motocycles employee and AMA stalwart Fritzie Baer, is pitching in to help with a new book, “King of the Beach” Dick Klamfoth. A biography of sorts, the book relies on period articles and reports to track Klamfoth’s incredible racing career and his many victories from 1947 to 1962. It’s a fantastic look at an amazing career, and all profits from sales of the book go to the Klamfoths. 207 pages. Price: $60.

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