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Bicycle: The History Paperback – August 16, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
David Herlihy deserves high praise for his definitive work which so well illuminates our magnificient bicycling heritage.
It reads easily. I had great difficulty putting it down even for a break.
Santa Fe Bikes & Gallery
Why? The bicycle was that deeply yearned-for device that would satisfy the centuries-old desire for cheap personal transportation.
David Herlihy's wonderful book tells the story of the invention and development of the bicycle from the first dreams set down on paper centuries ago to the present high-tech carbon fiber lightweight. While he covers the entire history of the bicycle, his main emphasis is on the nineteenth century, from 1817 when Karl von Drais made a two-wheeled hobby horse that would facilitate walking, to the bust of the great 1890's bicycle boom.
Along the way Herlihy ponders a couple of interesting questions. What, exactly is a bicycle and who invented it? That inquiry led him to conclude that Pierre Lallement, a Frenchman, is our hero. For the forty years after Drais built his "Draisine", the greatest mechanical minds searched for an efficient way propel the machine, but to no avail. It was Lallement who had the brilliant insight to attach pedaled cranks to the front wheel and turn them with his legs. And thus, the bicycle was born.
This early bicycle, or "Velocipede", was a far cry from the chain-driven modern bicycle that appeared in the late 1880's.Read more ›
Anyone who has been reading the Detroit newspapers for the last 10 years or so has seen all these arguments used repeatedly against hybrid cars, fuel cell technology and any number of non-fossil-fuel vehicle prototypes. (Only substitute "movie stars" for "dandies.")
Yet the arguments cited above come from the mid-19th century, and their target is a simple tool the whole world now takes for granted: the bicycle.
The peculiarly gleeful, small-minded scorn unique to Luddites of any era is vividly brought to life in "The Bicycle," David V. Herlihy's wonderful illustrated history.
In hindsight, it seems there could be no simpler or more obvious invention. Yet Herlihy demonstrates that the bicycle went through a very long and complicated struggle to get where it is today.
For decades, the velocipede was little more than a glorified scooter, an "aid to walking" powered by kicking the ground. Herlihy picks his way through the variants that come and go, including the 1814 "draisine" of German inventor Karl von Drais, and it's a maddening story indeed. One poor entrepreneur after another goes boom and bust as people latch on to the fad and then tire of it. "Chain the goddamn wheel to a crank!" you want to scream, but history is a cruel one-way mirror.Read more ›
Major technological changes (such as penny racer, to safety bike, and fixed to free wheel) the book glosses over changes in brakes, gearing and such.
An excellent book, for social history, not much for hardware.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simply one of the best written and illustrated books on bicycle history, an anchor of any serious collection.Published 13 months ago by A. Lee Finkel
A very engaging, well-researched, fast read with well-selected pictures. Here's a summary of the first four chapters:
1696 Jacques Ozanam’s (French) discussion of the... Read more
It was a very nice book and had a lot of good information and nice pictures. I just thought it would be a little more centered on the history of bicycle's in America. Read morePublished on April 16, 2014 by Southern Gal
The author knows the history of bicycles like no other. Go for it. Read and enjoy. You will not be disappointed.Published on November 5, 2013 by Rondo
This piece of literature is incredible. As an avid cyclist I simply cannot put it down.
"Bicycle" is an in-depth history of man's most ingenious and efficient... Read more
Gave this book as a gift and my friend loved it. A real bicyclist and history buff. Lots of information.Published on April 11, 2013 by B. L. Blair
It's tremendous buying so cheaply. It works fine. Since several of my friends have asked me to acquire the reference also, since the price is excellent.Published on February 5, 2013 by Rosa Veronica Torres
Mr. Herlihy has written the definitive history of the incomparable invention we now know as the “bicycle”…
This archival-quality book is highly suitable for... Read more
If your library doesn't have this, buy this book because almost every sentence taught me something and I have every bike book on Amazon and I have restored 50 bikes. Read morePublished on September 11, 2012 by Raymond I. Spangler