Book Review – It’s All About The Bike

It’s All About The Bike – The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels

by Robert Penn

This is a simply delightful little book. If you are a keen cyclist then you definitely should read it. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a book so much for a long while.

The author Robert Penn is a keen cyclist, who has cycled most days of his adult life. He owns many bicycles, but has decided it is time for a new bike and he wants it to be a special bike, one he can grow old with, and one that will be “his bike”. So, he decides to travel the world, seeking out the best custom-built frame, the best headset, the best wheels, the best tyres, the best components to build his dream machine from the ground up. He tries to get inside the manufacturing process and see each piece of his dream machine being made.

The book is also a very comprehensive, and interesting, history of the bicycle, exploring not only the invention of the bike, but the evolution of the various components too. Did you know the important part the bicycle played in the emancipation of women, and in the creation of decent roadways in the civilised world?

My favourite part of the book was his visit to Marin County, California to get a custom-built wheel set, where he relates the history of the mountain bike and rides the famous Repack track.

In the last chapter this quote really struck a chord with me, because it describes so beautifully the feeling riding my bike gives me;

“Rhythm is happiness. This is the beauty of cycling – the rhythm puts serious activity in the brain to sleep: it creates a void. Random thoughts enter that void – the chorus from a song, a verse of poetry, a detail in the countryside, a joke, the answer to something that vexed me long ago.”

Another book that I highly recommend!


5 Responses to “Book Review – It’s All About The Bike”

  1. Kath (My Funny Little Life) Says:

    I like the idea of finding “the” bike. This reminds me of my piano playing – when I played the grand piano (which I got later) at a music store for the first time, it felt like coming come, and I never wanted to go away from it again. (It took almost two years of painfully missing it until I finally got it. :))

    I believe that the right bike / instrument for you is one that allows you to get the best out of yourself. This doesn’t mean that it makes things easy (in fact I had to practice my touch for several months on my grand piano until I could finally play reliably well, touch-wise), but it gives you a very differentiated feedback and thus allows you to train your sensitivity with it.

    • ajh Says:

      The great thing about a custom built bike is that the frame is built to fit your body exactly. A proper “fit” on a bike is so important not only for performance, but to stop injury too. Having a frame built to suit you personally is the ultimate in fit I guess, and definitely something I can’t afford!

      Is “fit” important with a piano too? Do they come in different sizes for different people? You can tell I am not very musical!

      • Kath (My Funny Little Life) Says:

        No, pianos have all the same sizes usually, but they are very different with regard to how the keys respond and how they sound. So while a piano won’t be customed for you personally, it’s still important to find one that suits your touch and style of playing. 🙂

        One day, Andrew … the bike … 😉

  2. Rabia Aamir Says:

    hi andrew

    read the blog and loved it!
    we would like to print it in our magazine, The Fourth Article.

    just need your full name as the writer


  3. Book Review: #12 - It's All About the Bike by Robert Penn - Let's eat Grandpa! Says:

    […] Andrew’s Blog: “If you are a keen cyclist then you definitely should read it. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a book so much for a long while.” […]

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