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Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2012
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
on December 8, 2011
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! But I don't hold a grudge -- it's one guy's collection, and it's amazing! I agree that bike design can have a sense of humor, but more of today's important bikes would've made me happier.

Next, Embacher's text occasionally sparkles, but often seems to be riffing a bit too much. A highlight or two is noted then the subject might wander. Light is OK, but you might notice the lightness in this case. Also, it's German translated to English, which is also usually fine here, but is noticeable fairly often.

This basic book first came out as a German book called "Smart Move." That book included a few pages about the famous touring exhibit and the rationale of the collection -- helpful! It was also candid about the quirky nature of the collection (which still didn't really help it as a bike book, in my view). Thankfully, this new "Cyclepedia" doesn't have as much of the quirky bent and includes more pages, which extra coverage is used on bikes which are classic or useful -- good!

Whew, what complication for a pretty book! Now, just enjoy the photos...

(As a disclaimer, I publish a book, sold here, of pretty bike design called "The Recumbent Bicycle," and a website/magazine of indie outdoor culture which has an anthology, sold here, called "Out Your Backdoor.")
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2014
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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on September 22, 2012
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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on October 14, 2013
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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on August 5, 2012
The book is a joy to browse, and production values are very high. The text is informative, although the selection probably is more a reflection of the author/collector's preferences and values. Still a great read and value.

For more, be sure and get the iPad app of the same title. It compliments the book nicely, and shares the high production values of the print edition.
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on January 15, 2012
I gave this as a holiday gift to my daughter and son in law and all through the week my son in law kept going through the book with great appreciation. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my children live in Portland, Oregon. In any event it's a fabulous history of the bike, with great illustrations from all the various countries who developed different configurations.
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on December 12, 2011
It is a fine looking and interesting collection. My issue is not with the publication.

I was disappointed that it arrived with a dent in the cover and there was no way I was going to waste the carbon shipping it back and forth another time. Amazon needs to look at the product before they throw it in a box.
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on February 25, 2014
I saw Cyclepedia when it was at the Portland Art Museum. I've enjoyed the opportunity to revisit, in greater detail, the bikes featured at Cyclepedia. There seem to be lots of books of the "101 Bikes That Changed The World" genre. I've read a few, this is my current favorite.
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on October 6, 2014
.....a lot of my family and extended family bikes...this is a GREAT book especially for the RETRO guys that remember the GOOD OLD DAYS when they WERE fast!!! HA! Cool stuff....a little shocking how many of them I rode and raced and how OLD they look now. Really nice book.
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