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The Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles Paperback – January 23, 2013
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This is the motorcycle memoir for those who are sick of memoirs--or motorcycles. It is a book for people who don't know what the big deal is about riding, or why the Guggenheim Museum in New York, in a swirl of controversy, would exhibit motorcycles as works of modern art. "Riding on a motorcycle can make you feel joyous, powerful, peaceful, frightened, vulnerable, and back out to happy again," Pierson writes, "perhaps in the same ten miles. It is life compressed, its own answer to the question, 'Why?'" --Maria Dolan
Top Customer Reviews
She does give you all the clues you will need, so don't despair. It's just that you're on your own in figuring out what the clues mean.
The Fallen Bike Incident is a good example of Pierson's lack of self-knowledge, and why this book is accused of male-bashing.
In the rain, Pierson's bike has fallen over due to the soft, wet surface she has planted her side stand in. This is a classic blunder. It's in the curriculum of the motorcycle safety course (of which Pierson is a graduate) and she even mentions elsewhere in the book how, for this very reason, wooden blocks were passed out in the dirt parking lot of a motorcycle rally. You can easily conclude that it is her own damn fault her bike fell over, but you won't read her admitting it in so many words, and this lack of personal accountability is everywhere in The Perfect Vehicle.
In her motorcycle class she has been taught how even a grandmother can lift up even a fallen Honda GoldWing (800+ pounds of bike), but for reasons unexplained, she is unable to lift her sub-400 pound Moto Guzzi. Again, no admission that she failed to learn the very thing she was specifically taught to do; you just read that it didn't work out and draw your own conclusion.Read more ›
Ms. Pierson has pretty much bared her soul in this book, and my attention never wandered from start to finish. She's a strong, yet vulnerable woman who embarked on a quest to reconcile her desire to find a man worthy of her love with a need for independence and adventure. Motorcycling was the medium that allowed her to explore both of these (apparently) conflicting dictates of the heart. After much relational and highway mileage, Ms. Pierson seems to have made peace with herself, and this book is a well-written chronicle of that journey.
"The Perfect Vehicle" does contain some interesting facts about motorcycle history, rallies, and so on. However, it's Ms. Pierson's relationships and riding experiences combined with the resulting insights that really make this book shine. Some reviewers have slammed her for being a man-hater, too introspective, or a Moto Guzzi snob, but I disagree (well, the Moto Guzzi bias might have some merit, but I have a similar affection for Harleys, so I won't cast stones). If I grow half as much as she did via motorcycling, I'll consider the money invested into my H-D Fat Boy well spent. "The Perfect Vehicle" is a great addition to the motorcyclist's library, and anyone who has a passion for adventure and self-discovery will enjoy it as well.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
In the Forward (and the Postscript, for that matter), her writing is concise, poetic, wonderous ... it is art. And it's about the motorcycle - exactly what the title promises it will be. It is simply awesome.
But from there on, she takes more twists and turns than her favorite ride. And they don't really live up to the title or its subtitle. Instead of addressing "the Perfect Vehicle" or "What it is about Motorcycles", it addresses Melissa's own journey.
And in this, I feel like she cheated us. She might have more aptly entitled it "Motorcycles, Men, and Me". And - even with that - it could be a good story. But that tight, crisp, clean writing in the Forward is not present throughout much of the rest of the book. It is more flowery, rambling, unfocused, and off-point from the title. This is where it dips to 2 Stars.
She also tends to spend a lot of time grinding an axe about her experience of being a FEMALE rider in what she perceives to be a Man's realm. But then again, maybe that points out to a dated book (she's relating experiences from the mid 90s). This is maybe 3-star writing.
I've been motorcycling for only 4 years. I got started in Thailand when a woman from German talked me into motorcycling with her through the Golden Triangle area along the Burma-Thai border. Now, when I bike in Idaho, often as not at least 1/3 of the riders I'm with are women. They are on Beemers, Harleys, Yamahas, Suzukis ... and this is IDAHO. Not exactly what you'd call a liberal state.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like Motor Guzzi, but found a lack of continuity in her story telling. Overall I enjoyed the book.Published 1 month ago by William Holden
It's just a bad book. She learned to write prompt thank you notes from her parents, and "practically everything else" from bikes, but she doesn't show it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Chris
The Perfect Vehicle is a pleasure to read from the start to the end you wish would never come. A guilty pleasure to be sure. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Randall Youness
Great overview of motorcycling including history and other areas.Published 5 months ago by Richard Baim
I love seeing female riders excited enough about riding to write about it. This particular rider is extremely verbose in her prose and praise for the two wheels that move the body... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jeff C
Excellent book on what makes riding a special experience unsurpassed by other modes of transportation. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Keith D. Keller