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Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design Hardcover – August 3, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Equal parts illuminating and aesthetically transfixing, Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design is bound to tickle your curiosity, quench your design eye, and make your hands itch for the handlebars." -BrainPickings

"From the sleek to the strange to the truly innovative, 100 detailed bike profiles will captivate cycle aficionados." - Fast Company

"Even if you've never picked up a surfboard, Ghost Wave will propel you to one of the most dramatic spots on Earth. "- Scientific America, Book Club selection

About the Author

Michael Embacher is a designer who lives in Vienna. He boasts one of the world's greatest collections of bicycles.

Paul Smith is a world-famous designer and a passionate cyclist.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; 7.4.2011 edition (August 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452101671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452101675
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Diego Llaneza on March 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I purchased the app, that is basically a very, very smart interface with all of the bikes in the book. I found it greatly interesting - specially the timeline feature - and enjoyed the possibility of playing around with the image of each bycicle.

But then i saw some of the typical icons where not included ... Then had to google the author. I found he is a very talented collector and designer. This shows very well indeed in this compendium of bikes. But theni found this is his collection, not the world's iconic bicycles.

That may - for anyone wanting to learn more about how bicycles evolved through history - be a major drawback. It is for me. Seminal introductions by giants as Raleigh, BSA, Campagnolo are not included, and if you don't bear in mind this is just one (huge) collector's collection, you might miss out how important they were in history.

Having said this, the book will make a great passtime to discuss some bike models and innovations with your friends. I recommend buying it ... Together with another, more comprehensive, publication out there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Potter on December 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is basically the best photo overview of bike design. The diversity depicted is inspiring. I just love a big bike book.

Chronicle Books knows what they're doing -- they consistently pick great topics and execute them well. Whenever you see the "spectacles on a spine" you know you're in for a treat.

(Say, I just heard there's now a "Cyclepedia App" available offering zoomable and 360-degree views of all the bikes! ...Plus extra historic footage. [...]

This book is very satisfying. Still, it has a couple aspects that make me hunger for the next big bike book... I suppose no bike book is exhaustive, and there's always room for more -- but a couple came close in their day (Richard's and Durry/Wadley's). This book has a couple aspects that might baffle a reader. First, the book is a presentation of one architect's amazing collection. This is mentioned nowhere. Michael Embacher's collection is world famous in a few ways, including because it has been touring on its own as an art exhibit with bikes displayed on an amazing S-track near the ceiling of galleries. It's been quite an attraction. This exhibit is shown in a tiny sidebar pic in the book but not explained.

Next, Embacher is not a bike buff per se, but a Viennese designer. He picked bikes that seemed quirky and cool to him. He was even accepting of failure. He went for audacity. If a laugh resulted, that was fine.

Now, many of the bikes depicted are enduring classics. But there are so many amazing bike designs that both astonish and succeed which don't appear. I miss them! Goofy false-start bikes might be more satisfying if successes along similar lines are included. (For instance, it only brushes the ultra-creative world of recumbents.) Oh, to have seen a dozen more 'just right' bikes!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By PaddleBikeHike on November 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's almost two halves to this book. The first half contains excellent photos and descriptions of very cool well thought out and built bikes which are fascinating. I will look at this half now and then. Suddenly there are pictures/descriptions of folding bikes which are cool but it goes on and on with the folding bikes. Seriously how many folding bikes can you look at?
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By Vernon Forbes on September 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you like to look at interesting & unusual bicycles this book is an outstanding value. The pictures are crisp studio portraits, several of which are poster-quality. This is an important record of bicycle innovation and an important addition to the library of any serious enthusiast.

This book is a catalog of the author's personal collection of idiosyncratic 20th century bicycles. It is the only catalog of any bicycle collection currently available. The table of contents lists 97 bicycles. It is not a historic collection so much as a collection of 20th century bicycles; 71 of them are after 1976. The oldest bike is 1922, three are from the 1920s, five from the 1930s and five from the 1940s. The bike collection lists 38 racing (including 2 Cinellis, a Kestrel, and breath-taking Sabliere and Bianci C-4 pages) 26 "urban", 24 unusual folding, 19 touring (which includes 2 Herse bikes and a Baines), 5 mountain bikes, 4 tandems. 2 cargo and 35 what it describes as "curiosity" bicycles, which include bicycles with spring frames, shaft drives and a 1996 two-wheel drive, to name a few. The collection is a catalog of the variety of human ingenuity developing different braking, gearing and frame designs.

The photographs are high quality close-ups. The book emphasis is on the collection. The sometimes awkwardly translated text is casual and unfootnoted, like a museum display pointing out interesting details about the bikes rather than details about history.

This is the second catalog of the Embacher collection. The first one was Smart Move- Bicycles From the Embacher Collection was published in 2007 which had 48 bicycles. Cyclepedia has 97 bicycles, 41 of which are in Smart Move and is more affordable. This catalogue is one of few bicycle collection catalogues ever published and is the only one in print.
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By Paul on October 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The traditional diamond design bicycle frame in alloy steel has dominated the bicycle market for a century-and-a-half, but other designs have been attempted with various levels of success.
Michael Embacher covers a huge collection of eclectic forms, shapes, and materials. Clean studio photos, from many angles, show the iconic details and give real perspective to these beautiful machines.
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