The British Motorcycle
Directory - wBW
by Roy Bacon and Ken Hallworth
Hardcover: 288 pages
Dimensions: 28 cm x 22 cm
Publisher: Crowood Press, England (Printed and Bound)
850 B&W Photographs
List Price: £35.00 or $59.95 US
wBW Book Review by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
I guess I'm the resident British Bike
nut, although just about all of us here at webBikeWorld
cut our teeth on a British bike of one form or another
back in the '50's and '60's, so anything from the
Motherland is near and dear to our hearts.
I'm not sure if motorcycle riders born
from the '70's on realize just how critical, how
important and how influential the British motorcycle
industry was to the sport of motorcycling throughout the
world; how big and how long-lived that industry was --
and how quickly and sadly it faded.
In fact, I'll go as far as saying that
every single motorcyclist everywhere in the world owes a
huge debt to the British motorcycle industry. I
doubt very much if we'd be where we are today without
that ground-breaking history.
Also, I'd like to give a big thank-you
to Crowood Press for publishing, printing and binding
this book in England. The huge publishing
conglomerates have surely given up on publishing
esoteric tomes such as The British Motorcycle Directory,
and to make matters worse, they seem to print nearly
everything in a least-cost country with profit the only
motive. But it just wouldn't seem right to publish
a book such as this anywhere other than Old Blighty.
I have no connection whatsoever with
Crowood other than as a fan of their work, and I can
highly recommend checking out their website to see a
variety of books that probably can't be found anywhere
else; works ranging from "The Handbook of Stage
Lighting" to "Russian Piston Aero Engines" and much
more, and most at bargain prices.
All-righty then...on to the review.
We've said this before and it bears repeating: Roy Bacon is very well known to regular webBikeWorld book
review readers as the author of many motorcycle books, including the
Guide and its companion, the
Motorcycle Buyer's Guide;
British Motorcycles of
the 1930's and many more.
Roy Bacon is one of the world's best known
motorcycle historians and a prolific writer, and he has partnered with Ken
Hallworth on The British Motorcycle Directory.
Hallworth was the Secretary of the Vintage Motor Cycle
Club and the founder of the widely read Old Bike Mart
The British Motorcycle Directory could
probably be thought of as "the encyclopedia of British
motorcycle manufacturers", but a book of that name has
already been published. The British Motorcycle
Directory includes 850 (I'll take their word for it!)
photographs and it covers -- get this -- over 1,100
British motorcycle manufacturers from 1888 onwards.
The British motorcycle industry was
"full steam ahead" back in the first half of the 20th
Century, and the book has entries for them all, from
"A&A Autocarrier" to "Zephyr" and everything in between.
Some of the lesser-known or shorter-lived marques yield
only a brief paragraph, but the more popular brands get
This is not really a "sit down and read"
book; it's more like a good resident of a coffee table that can be
perused at will and it will surely stoke the imagination
-- and, for me, the desire to locate, purchase and
restore one of those very rare bikes.
Just to make it clear, the book is
formatted like an encyclopedia, from A to Z, so don't
expect to find a huge amount of information on each
marque; instead, there are brief entries and the book's
value comes more from its breadth rather than its depth.
Two nits I will pick is that: 1) I think
it is a serious oversight to not have an index of any
type in a book of this nature; and 2) It would have been
nice to have some color photographs, at least of the
bikes made after the 1960's.
Not having an index is the more serious
of the two, but nevertheless, the A to Z format at least
makes up for it.
So if you're a British bike fan, you may
certainly want to have a copy of The British Motorcycle
Directory on your bookshelf (if not your coffee table),
for its historical significance and certainly for the
fun of it. The book can be found at discount and
-- who knows -- maybe you'll remember enough about an
obscure marque to win back the price with a bar bet some
"Flaming Helmet" Book
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