9 Great Motorcycle Books

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

  • 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.

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