Complete Idiot's Guide to Motorcycles - wBW
By the Editors of Motorcyclist Magazine with
Darwin Holmstrom & Simon Green
Paperback: 420 pages
Dimensions (in inches): 9 x 7.3 x 1
Publisher: Alpha; 4th edition (January 2, 2008)
List price: $19.95
Book Review by "Smalls" for webBikeWorld.com
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles, now in its 4th edition,
is packed with information for newbies, and even seasoned riders may
learn something new.
This comprehensive book covers subjects ranging
from the history of motorcycles to buying a bike, learning to ride,
Last Halloween, I decided to learn to ride and get my own motorcycle.
A friend taught me some basics and I spent only two short, chilly
afternoons on his dirt bike before the freeze-your-behind-off
weather of Northwestern Montana hit.
The riding season was over.
There I was, with a craving that couldn’t be satisfied for at least
another six months. Since I was just getting into the sport, I decided to
use the time to learn
as much about it as possible.
Thus began my thirst for knowledge on anything and everything
At the start of my quest, the only things I could tell you about a
motorcycle was it had two wheels, a clutch, throttle and brakes.
And I knew what a V-twin was.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles is a great place to start
and a handy resource. Descriptive and easy to read, there is a
vast amount of knowledge to be gleaned from it.
The book is divided into five parts: “Biker Basics”, “So You Want to
Buy a Bike?”, “On the Road”, “Living with a Motorcycle”, and “The
Each part has a summary of what to expect; each chapter begins with
a synopsis of what will be covered and ends with “The Least You Need
to Know” to recap what was learned. This layout emphasizes and
drives home the key points; it also makes it easy to do a quick
Fun facts, a little humor, and personal stories make the material
enjoyable. To quote the authors, they have added “tips and
information that will help you ride better and safer without looking
like a dork in the process.” I definitely needed help in that area!
The authors take you from start to finish, in an orderly manner,
beginning with a history of motorcycles and types of bikes, and
concluding with races, clubs, rallies, and the lifestyle that
So much is covered in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles
that it is impossible to mention everything in this review. Nevertheless, some of the key subjects include engine types, parts
of a motorcycle, choosing the right bike to match your skills and
needs, and tips for purchasing a bike.
Once the reader has gained an understanding of motorcycles and how
they work, the material focuses on areas such as learning to ride,
getting an endorsement, pre-ride inspections, hazardous riding
situations, group riding, packing for trips and even dirt bike
Routine maintenance and basic repairs are covered in detail, and the
fun part, customization, is also discussed.
The updated fourth edition added a color insert with beautiful
photos listing “recommended buys” for beginning, intermediate, and
experienced riders in each category of motorcycles: Tourer and
Cruiser, Sport-tourer, Supersport, Superbike, Standard/Naked, Retro,
Dual Sport, and Enduro.
The appendix - in all editions - contains an extensive guide to
buying new and used motorcycles with detailed summaries and pictures
of almost every model available, along with the editors’ picks for
“Best First Bikes".
Several pages of updated resources and contact information for
classes, clubs, and races are also included in the appendix, along
with a glossary.
Very educational for a newbie, this book could also teach veterans a
thing or two.
I’m surprised by how many long-time riders don’t know about
counter-steering and the friction zone. These are basics taught
in every Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and are building blocks
for riding a motorcycle (earlier editions of the book use the term
“friction zone,” while the fourth edition calls this the “biting
I originally borrowed the 2nd Edition of The Complete Idiot’s Guide
to Motorcycles from the public library because I wasn’t sure how deep
into the sport I’d get or if it was just a phase. But I became totally
hooked, and the book gave me a head start for the MSF Basic Rider
Course along with a wealth of knowledge for purchasing my first
Going to motorcycle shops and actually knowing what I am talking
about is empowering.
It’s even more fun talking to male riders who are caught off guard
by how much I know about engines. Not that I’m an engine guru by any means –
but how many women know the four strokes of an engine, three types
of final-drive systems, and the difference between a Thumper, a Boxer, and
These are a few of the many things discussed in The Complete Idiot’s
Guide to Motorcycles. It seems I’m becoming a total gearhead, but
that’s okay as long as I’m not a squid.
Pictures and illustrations, sprinkled throughout the book, provide
visuals for many of the topics. The only thing missing is a diagram
illustrating the various engine components. However, this book is not meant to be a
comprehensive resource for motorcycle engines, but it still does a great job
teaching the basics.
Now I am ordering the updated fourth edition to have on my shelf as
a valuable resource.
Whether you’re new to the sport or have been riding for years, The
Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles, 4th Edition is comprehensive,
easy to read and understand, and a great resource.
Review Date: June 2009. Buy
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motorcycles
and help support
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