Complete Idiot's Guide to Motorcycles
By the Editors of Motorcyclist Magazine with Darwin Holmstrom &
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, and
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 motorcycle related.
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 Motorcycling Community”.
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 review.
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 accompanies motorcycling.
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 riding.
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 point”).
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 bike.
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
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