- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Rodale Books (November 15, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1579546692
- ISBN-13: 978-1579546694
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Noblest Invention: An Illustrated History of the Bicycle Hardcover – November 15, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
This nicely balanced coffee-table volume (featuring 250 color and 50 black & white photographs) from the editors of one of the sport's premier magazines covers more information in its six chapters than any six recent books on the subject. Straightforward and well-researched essays cover every aspect of what has become a major sports and recreation industry-and a range of clever sidebars illuminate all sorts of bike-related odds and ends, such as how riding a bike helped Albert Einstein develop his theory of relativity. "What Every Kid Wants" is a short reverie on the significance of bicycles in childhood, with such sweet insights as the appropriateness of bikes as a parental gift: "It's a metaphor of what they must do to raise us: Provide us with the tool we need to leave them." "Bicycling Culture" looks at the diverse worldwide impact of cycling; "History" and "The Art of the Cycle" are cogent looks at those subjects, from early Leonardo da Vinci drawings through the disputed "invention" of the bicycle in 19th-century Paris to today's multibillion-dollar bicycle industry. However, it's the wonderful illustrations that will make this an essential holiday or birthday gift book for any bicycling fan.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Inside Flap
Why We Ride
From the time we first wobble away from Mom or Dad on two wheels, we're hooked. The mobility, the freedom that the bicycle brings is our first taste of independence. For many, that feeling persists, and bicycling becomes a lifelong love. It represents the promise of the open road, the enthralling sense of speed, the quiet places, the challenging trails--all in the pleasant company of family, chums, or just yourself. And then there's that moment of terrified, bittersweet pride when your own child rides on once you have let go.
The Noblest Invention celebrates this unique interaction between humans and machine. The editors of Bicycling magazine have created a unique history of the bicycle that illustrates, through personal essays and breathtaking photography, why this simple machine has captured the imagination of people of all ages around the world. Chronicling the evolution of the bicycle from the primitive wooden Laufmaschine to the high-tech mountain bike with its specialized frame and suspension, this book takes a fascinating look at the innovations, the early creators and their wares, and how the bike has had an impact on culture as a tool in the workplace and as an inspiration for artists and writers alike.
From the timeless allure of the greatest annual sporting event, the Tour de France, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, to the mystery of the bicycle's true inventor (did da Vinci really have a hand in it?), take a trip with this remarkable feat of engineering. Remember, relive, and most important, enjoy the ride.
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The book, with a pleasantly-written introduction by Lance Armstrong, is divided into six chapters which cover, in this odd order, the love of children for cycling, bicycling culture, the history of the bicycle, arts and the bicycle, the mountain bike and the Tour de France. The book seems to be directed towards very recent converts to cycling. There is a disproportionate number of photos of Lance Armstrong, admittedly a great cyclist, and the fact that the racing sections really focus on the Tour de France, with only a nod to the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta and nothing on the great Classics races, makes the slant towards readers in the United States very clear. The photos of racing are not well-captioned, nor would they be considered great examples of the kind in any case. There are some errors that fact-checking should have quickly found, such as confusing a safety bicycle with a velocipede in one caption. There is also the claim that derailleurs were not allowed in the Tour de France until 1929 when the correct year is 1937--which says something about those iron-legged racers who ground their way up mountains to the cheers of their fans, who had already ridden up on the peaks thanks to their variable gearing!
Other aspects of cycling, such as the exciting Six Day Races still run in front of big crowds in Europe, are given short shrift, but the non-competitive aspects of cycling suffer the most--a few pictures of Chinese peasants carting produce,nothing about bike commuting and, most disappointing of all, a single solitary picture of cycletourists on Page 96. Travel by bicycle opens up beautiful areas of the world to the cyclist, such as the Alpine Panorama Route in Switzerland, or the Pacific Coast Highway in California. And while RAGBRAI is shown, why nothing about the masochistic Paris-Brest-Paris ride?
Not a coffee-table book, nor a real history of the bicycle (to its credit it mentions that the famous crude drawing of the bicycle found in Da Vinci's notebook could be a fake), I would characterize this book as Nice to Have but certainly not Truly Great. The best book in this genre remains Pryor Dodge's totally enchanting and quite eccentric "The Bicycle." Even if it has a shiny black dustjacket too.
The book has a vast array of cycling informationthat is a pleasure to read.
I would recoment this book to anyone.
My book was a second hand book from a library. the book was covered in a protective film which too me a while to remove but the book inside was in perfect condition.